Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

You must use idiomatic language on the IELTS exam!

Today we share 4 idioms with animals.

These are easy to remember because they’re so fun and playful.

We’ll share them with example sentences so you can use them on test day.

Take notes today and practice using these when answering IELTS Speaking questions!

Today’s question

I found an idiom “the elephant in the room” while listening to another podcast.

I think it is easy to think of a visual image, so I can remember this idiom easily.

Can I use this expression in IELTS writing? 

Kana Tanaka

Great question!

You should be thinking about how informal language is.

This idiom is too informal for IELTS Task 2.

You could definitely use it in informal letters on Task 1 for the General exam.

However, it’s perfect for IELTS Speaking!

#1: Elephant in the room

I feel like I should address the elephant in the room.

You could then talk about systemic racism in the United States.

According to statistics, not everyone is treated equally by police officers.

This is a great idiom to discuss something that is controversial.

You could also talk about something troublesome about social media.

If you’re asked about the use of social media by young people.

Let us address the elephant in the room. The prevalence of social media has been proven to lead to self harm, especially among young women.

#2: Stubborn as a mule

This is perfect for describing people.

It’s especially appropriate for describing children or young adults.

Often if they get something in their head it’s very difficult to change their minds!

He’s stubborn as a mule! He refuses to eat anything I cook!

You can also use this in the negative to describe someone who is not stubborn!

I’m so glad my daughter isn’t stubborn as a mule!

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#3: Quiet as a mouse

This means a person is quiet and not extremely talkative.

They might be very shy.

My daughter is quiet as a mouse.

It’s like pulling teeth to get her to have a conversation with me!

You can also use this in the negative to describe someone who’s loud and boisterous!

She is definitely not quiet as a mouse!

#4: Sly as a fox

This could mean mischievous and deceitful.

It is often also used to mean strategic or cunning.

Jessica shares that her son is sly as a fox.

My son is very strategic when he wants to ask for something.

He starts a conversation naturally but has a plan for where it’s going.

You can, of course, also describe someone as not being sly as a fox.

My friend is so kind and would never deceive anyone.

She is not the type of person who is sly as a fox!


Today’s 4 animal idioms are extremely useful for IELTS speaking!

They are too informal for IELTS writing, so reserve them for the speaking test.

Practice sample answers using these.

It will help you get the idiomatic language you need into your speaking answers.

This is vital to score 7+ on test day.

For all the strategies you need, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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