Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

One of the most common topics on all parts of the IELTS exam, including Speaking, is education, or school.

Do you know some interesting vocabulary for this IELTS “hot” topic?

In order to get a 7 or higher for vocabulary on the IELTS Speaking exam, you MUST use interesting, idiomatic language.

In this article, you will learn 5 very useful, and very natural, idioms that native speakers use all the time, but students almost never use!

Therefore, using these idioms on the exam will really set you apart from the other candidates and impress the IELTS examiner.


Teacher’s pet

Definition: A teacher’s pet is a student who the teacher likes the best, usually because that student is very well behaved, does all the homework and gets good grades.

IELTS example answer: I was a teacher’s pet in almost all my classes, and this made some other students make fun of me sometimes. However, that didn’t bother me because I always got better grades than them!


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A kiss-up, or to kiss up

Definition: A kiss-up is someone who always flatters, or gives compliments, to another person. In school, sometimes students kiss up to teachers to try and get better grades or, perhaps, get out of trouble.

IELTS example answer: Science was never my strongest subject in school, so I always tried to kiss up to the teacher at the beginning of the year. I would tell my teachers how young they looked, and sometimes I would bring them little presents.

Side note: This could be used to describe a person in any situation, perhaps a brother or sister who kissed up to your parents, for example. Get more idioms to describe family here, as this is another very common IELTS Speaking topic!


Draw a blank

Definition: When you cannot think of a word or idea, your mind is blank and empty.

IELTS example answer: The teacher asked me about the chapter we had read for homework, but I drew a blank. I suddenly could not remember anything about what I had read the night before.

Side note: This is also a great phrase for buying time on the IELTS Speaking exam!


Cover a lot of ground

Definition: This phrase means to go over a lot of material or information.

IELTS example answer: Although my test preparation class is only one hour, we learn a lot in that time. I’m amazed at how we cover so much ground in every class.

Side note: This could also be used when talking about work, such as when you describe a meeting in which you went over a lot of information.  

Get more idioms for describing work here, another very common IELTS topic.


Learn by heart

Definition: This is a lovely idiom which is synonymous with “memorize”.

IELTS example answer: In sixth grade, we had to learn all the states and their capitals by heart. I still remember all of them!


Part 3 Sample Answers

There is a good chance you’ll be asked about education on Speaking Part 3.

In this video, Aubrey provides band 9 sample answers for two IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions about education.

What is your opinion on the way languages are taught in schools?

What changes do you think will happen in the classroom in the near future?

She uses high level vocabulary.

  • Curriculum: The topics included in a course of study
  • Compulsory: required, mandated; something that must be done
  • Hit the books: study
  • Pass with flying colors: succeed

Practice using this vocabulary to boost your score for any education questions!


Watch the video now!




You definitely want to prepare to talk about education on IELTS Speaking.

This is an incredibly common topic on the IELTS exam!

You must be ready with interesting, idiomatic language.

Practice using today’s vocab and idioms.

Use shadowing to mimic the intonation of Aubrey’s sample answers.

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


Can you think of your own examples for using these idioms?

Leave your ideas in our comments section below!

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