IELTS Vocabulary: How Using Idioms Can Affect Your Score - IELTS University (Singapore)

IELTS Vocabulary: How Using Idioms Can Affect Your Score

If you are preparing for the IELTS exam, then probably heard about idioms is important when it comes to the speaking (and writing) test. However, most students have no clue about idioms to learn and how to incorporate them in a natural way into their responses. In this article, we will take a closer look at everything you need to know about idioms.

What Is An Idiom

An idiom (also called idiomatic expression) is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning conventionally understood by native speakers. This meaning is different from the literal meaning of the idiom's individual.

The use of idioms during your speaking and writing test can help you to sound more like a native speaker, but be careful, if you use them incorrectly, they might actually lower your score!

For example:

  • The test is a piece of cake.
  • I’d rather not jump the gun

When Should You Use Idioms


Idioms are an informal aspect of the English language, and therefore they should only be used during the IELTS speaking test. Since it is moral to mimic the conditions of an actual one-to-one English conversation.

When You Shouldn’t Use Idioms

Whenever a question requires a formal response, like for example an essay or a formal letter, it is unwise to use idioms to communicate your ideas. This is because idioms are a characteristic of informal speech. If you use an idiom for a formal answer, you signal to the examiner that you are unaware of the differences between formal and informal speech and this can negatively affect your task achievement scores.

Avoid Overusing Idioms


While it is good to show the examiner that you are comfortable with using idioms, it is important not to use them. Doing this will make you sound unnatural. You will end up focusing more on find idioms to use take than speaking and this can affect your fluency. Don’t use any idiom that you are not 100% familiar with.

Examiners can easily pick up when you use a phrase incorrectly and this will lower your score.

You can avoid this by making sure that when you learn new idioms you also practice how to use them in a natural way. Listen to how native speakers use these phrases in a conversation, and practice using them on your own by saying or jotting down a few sentences that indicate these idioms.

Hopefully, by now, You’ve learned a lot about idioms and the IELTS exam. If you have any further question feel free to leave a comment