Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today you’ll learn 4 idioms to not say on the IELTS Speaking Exam, and learn higher-scoring phrases to use instead.

She was anxious about using some of the slang and idioms I teach, because they did not sound natural to her.

The fact is, in order to score a 7 or higher on the Speaking Exam, you must be communicating more like a native speaker.

Native speakers use slang and idioms in our natural communication, so you must try and fit some of these phrases in to score highly in Vocabulary.

Having said that, don’t use a phrase that you are very uncomfortable with, or it will sound awkward and forced.

Thus, choose 2-3 phrases that you like, that you identify with, and practice using those.

There are some idioms, however, that would not lead to a higher vocabulary score. Four of these are outlined below, along with phrases you should replace them with.





#1 Cost an arm and a leg

This is too common among students. Therefore, it will not help you stand out in front of the examiner.

Instead, say:

Pricey / spendy / a luxury item / a splurge

#2 Feel blue

This is cheesy, and is not really used today.


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Instead, say:

Bummed / in a funk

#3 Burn the midnight oil

This idiom sounds old, and is not a modern way to communicate the idea of ‘working all night.’

Instead, say:

Pull an all-nighter / put one’s nose to the grindstone

#4 Piece of cake

All students know this one!

Instead, say:

A cinch / brainless / not rocket science

Choose 2-3 of these phrases, put them in your vocabulary notebook, and practice using them in your own IELTS answers!

How would you use today’s vocabulary?

Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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