Synonyms – a common list for IELTS, TOEL and TOIEC


What are synonyms?

IELTS exams are full of synonyms – two words that mean nearly the same thing.

The IELTS reading paper made me feel sick.

After I did the IELTS reading paper, I felt ill.

Sick and ill are synonyms.

How they are used on the IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC exams

In exams you’ll find that the questions often use synonyms. For example.

Pete went skiing last month and broke his leg in three places. Lucky guy!

What part of his body did Pete injure? His leg.

Break (past tense broke) doesn’t mean the same as injure, but in the context of this sentences it does! So, it’s still a synonym.

More help on the internet

Get a big list of synonyms here

Play some synonym games here with Word Frog

To get the score you want, you’ll need a big vocabulary! Here’s a big list of synonyms for you learn! Print it off, stick it on your door, your wall or your fridge.

Amazing — incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, extraordinary
Angry — mad, furious, enraged,
Answer — reply, respond, retort, acknowledge
Ask– question, enquire of, interrogate, examine, quiz
Awful — dreadful, terrible, unpleasant
Beautiful — pretty, lovely, handsome, attractive, gorgeous,
Begin — start, open, launch, initiate, commence, originate
Big — enormous, huge, immense, gigantic, vast, colossal
Break — fracture, shatter, smash, demolish,
Bright —brilliant, sparkling, shimmering, radiant, vivid
Calm — quiet, peaceful, still, tranquil
Come — approach, arrive, reach
Cool — chilly, cold, frosty, wintry, icy, frigid
Dangerous — perilous, hazardous, risky, uncertain, unsafe
Decide — determine, settle, choose, resolve
Definite — certain, sure, positive, determined, clear, distinct, obvious
Destroy — ruin, demolish, extinguish
Difference — disagreement, inequity, contrast, dissimilarity, incompatibility
Dull — boring, tiring„ tiresome, uninteresting
Eager — keen, fervent, enthusiastic,
End — stop, finish, terminate, conclude, close, halt
Enjoy — appreciate, delight in, be pleased, indulge in, like
Explain — elaborate, clarify, define, interpret, justify, account for
Fair — just, impartial, unbiased, objective, unprejudiced, honest
Fall — drop, descend, plunge, topple, tumble
False — fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue,
Famous — well-known, renowned, celebrated, f
Fast — quick, rapid,
Funny — humorous, amusing,
Get — acquire, obtain, secure,
Go —depart, fade, disappear, move, travel, proceed
Happy — pleased, contented, satisfied, delighted, elated,
Hate — despise, loathe, detest, abhor,
Help — aid, assist, support, encourage
Hide — conceal, cover, mask,
Hurry — rush
Hurt — damage, harm, injure, wound, distress
Idea — thought, concept, conception, notion, understanding, opinion, plan, view, belief
Important — necessary, vital, critical, indispensable, valuable, essential, significant, primary
Interesting — fascinating, engaging,
Keep — hold, retain, withhold, preserve, maintain, sustain, support
Little — tiny, small, diminutive
Look — see, glance, watch, survey, study
Love — like, admire, esteem, fancy, care for
Make — create, originate, invent, beget, construct, design, fabricate, manufacture, produce, build, develop
Mark — label, tag, price,
Neat — clean, orderly, tidy,
New — fresh, unique, original, unusual, novel, modern, current, recent
Part — portion, share, piece, allotment, section, fraction, fragment
Place — space, area, region, location, situation, position, residence
Plan — plot, scheme, design, draw, map, diagram, procedure, arrangement, intention
Popular — well-liked, approved, accepted, celebrated, common, current
Put — place, set, attach,
Quiet — silent, still, soundless
Right — correct, accurate, factual, true,
Say/Tell — inform, notify, advise, relate, recount, narrate, explain, reveal,
Scared — afraid, frightened,
Show — display, exhibit, present, note, point to, indicate, explain, reveal, prove, demonstrate, expose
Slow — unhurried, gradual, leisurely, late, behind, tedious,
Stop — cease, halt, stay, pause, discontinue, conclude, end, finish, quit
Strange — odd, peculiar, unusual, uncommon
Tell — disclose, reveal, show, expose, uncover, relate, narrate, inform, advise, explain, divulge, declare,
Think — judge, deem, assume, believe
True — accurate, right, proper, precise, exact, valid, genuine, real, actual
Unhappy — miserable, uncomfortable
Use — employ, utilize, exhaust, spend, expend, consume, exercise
Wrong — incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken

Check out Richard L King’s books for more help with your IELTS


Improve your IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC reading speed. Skimming and scanning.


You don’t always get better at reading just by reading. To get the score you need in the IELTS, TOEFL or TOIC you need to read quickly and accurately.

Change THE WAY you read to improve your speed

Learn to SKIMread quickly and superficially so you find out only the important or significant details.

Learn to SCAN – search the text for important words to find the exact piece of information you need.

You already know how to SKIM and SCAN in your language.

You MUST learn to do this to get better at academic English.

Download our worksheet –  Improve your IELTS reading speed – click the picture below.

improve reading

For more help with your IELTS, TOEFL or TOIEC, check out Richard L King’s book – Teach yourself IELTS reading.



IELTS / Academic Reading skills – Survival Guide


Here’s a lesson to help your IELTS / TOEFL / ESOL level 2 students get more practice in reading skills.

  1. Before students watch the  Bear Grylls video, have them discuss these questions in pairs.”Have you ever been to the desert? Where? When?” “What would you do if your car broke down in the desert fifty miles from anywhere?” Elicit their answers when they finish.

2. Explain that you are going to give students a top ten survival guide that they can put in their wallets and carry around with them. Print out a copy of 10 Survival Tips You Should Put In Your Wallet For Any Situation from by clicking the picture below. Survival guide

3. Put students into pairs, A and B. Explain that they are going to write some academic questions about the content. Have students A read section 1-5 and get students B to read 6-10. Give them ten minutes and each student must come up with questions for their content. Explain that  3 questions should be easy, 3 should be reasonably hard and 4 should be difficult. They should write:

  • 5 true / false / not given questions
  • 5 questions that can be answered in three words or less.

4. Get students to answer each other’s questions and then check the answers with each other.

5. IMPORTANT PART: Discuss with students how they found it when writing the questions – was it easy? Did they struggle to make them simple or tough? Did it help them understand how academic style tasks are written?

Apart from being a good academic reading task, the 10 survival reading tips are very interesting and are designed to fit into your wallet in case there is an apocalypse or something… they might come in handy one day…

For more help with IELTS reading, check out Richard L King’s epic, Teach Yourself IELTS reading here







IELTS Reading – Multiple Choice Questions


Selecting the right option from a list of possible answers is probably the most common assessment method in the world. Such questions are easy to set and mark and are a common feature of exams and test across the globe, including the IELTS reading examination.

Advantages of this method of assessment

This type of question is quick to administer and to check, and, provided they are carefully written, can also be a good indication of whether a candidate understands a particular theory or text. These types of questions can assess a range of different types of information from individual words to comprehension. Modern technology has taken advantage of this form of assessment and even paper based multiple choice exams can be marked very quickly by machines, students shade in a box on an exam paper and these can be scanned by a computer at a fantastic speed. This makes a test both cheap to administer and cheap to mark.

Drawbacks of multiple choice questions

There are quite a few criticisms of multiple choice questions. For a start they can’t check deep knowledge of a subject in the way that a question with even a very short answer can. Indeed, a candidate can guess the answers and get a question correct without having any knowledge at all. Statistically, someone randomly choosing an answer would have a one in four chance of getting it right depending on how many answers there were to choose from.

How multiple choice questions are used in the IELTS exam

On academic IELTS papers, multiple choice questions are used fairly sparingly and often in a more complex way than traditional multi-choice answer questions. Candidates are sometimes given a series of answers in a box, they are then given a number of questions and asked to match the questions with the answers. Another trick is to ask candidates to choose two answers from a list after having chosen just one in a previous multiple choice question.

How to tackle multiple choice questions

Firstly, don’t assume that the answer will be simple, read the question and make sure you understand what the task is. Look for negatives such as ‘which of the following is NOT…’. Attempt to eliminate the answers that are incorrect and by doing this you should be left with the correct one.

Also, try not to spend a long time on just one question. If you really can’t figure out the answer it’s best just to use your judgement, choose one and then move on.  You won’t lose any marks on the IELTS reading exam for making an educated guess.



IELTS Reading exams: Improve your reading speed



Improve your IELTS reading speed

improve reading

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.

Here we go again.

This week, I’ve got some great IELTS reading material to share from Richard King’s top quality book: Teach yourself IELTS reading. This time we’re looking at how to improve your reading speed on the IELTS reading exam.

Thanks for the materials Rich! You can buy his book from Amazon here:



YouTube Presentation Lesson for ESOL / ESL and IELTS

This is a really simple lesson using to get students to give an interesting and persuasive presentation.

Set up

I used this lesson with a group of pre-intermediate learners but the idea could easily be extended to higher levels and might tie in nicely for students preparing for speaking exams such as IELTS or Cambridge ESOL.

You will need an IAWB (Interactive White Board) or a projector with sounds linked to the internet so that students can show a movie on youtube. Students will also need computers to search for a youtube video they like although this could be done as homework in prepartion for the lesson.


1. Ask students of they watch youtube and what kind of things they watch.

2. Now ask students to find something on youtube in English that they really like. It could be something that makes them laugh, a trailer for a film, an advert, a speech, a part of a film or an interview. Explain that they are not allowed to choose a music video (as there isn’t always a lot to talk about and they don’t always have a lot of English.)

3. Tell students that they now have three minutes to make a short presentation. They will explain why the film they have found on youtube is interesting and try to persuade the rest of their class to watch it. After everyone has finished presenting the class will vote and the youtube video that gets the most votes will be shown on the big screen.

Extra Tips

– make sure students have a time limit for their presentations as some talkative students will talk for a long time and some will not want to talk for very long, by having a time limit you will encourage shy ones to speak for longer and comfident once to condense what they have to say.

– make notes as you watch each presentation so you have some feedback to give them when they’ve finished. Make sure at two out of three comments are positive.  You can comment of their pronunciation, sentences you liked, their body language, their content – what they did or didn’t explain and of course how persuasive they were.