IELTS Preparation: Why Memorization Is Not Always Useful (And Some Cases Where It Is) - IELTS University (Singapore)

IELTS Preparation: Why Memorization Is Not Always Useful (And Some Cases Where It Is)

The IELTS Exam is a skill-based exam and not a knowledge-based one. Remember that the examiners are assessing your ability to communicate in English in a natural manner. Your scores are based on your ability to provide sufficient evidence that you do have the required English Language skills. This means that rote learning entire answers will not really help you get the band score that you want. It's all about appearing as natural as possible in all four components. However, that said it is useful to be able to memorise certain pieces of information and then be able to adapt and use whatever vocabulary and phrases you have memorised in a meaningful way. In this article, we will take a closer look at memorisation and the IELTS exam.

Useful Items To Memorise


Having a wide range of vocabulary will help you in all four modules of the exam. You will be easily able to recognise difficult words in the listening and reading exams, and you will also be able to use these words and phrases to improve your speaking and writing answers. This will help you to more effectively communicate and express your ideas. Remember when learning new vocabulary, it is also important to learn more than just the spelling and pronunciation, you also need to be able to understand how to flexibly use a word in different contexts and grammatical structures.

Useful Phrases, Linking Words And Discourse Markers

There are some phrases that are useful to use during your speaking and writing exam. You only need to memorise a few good phrases, since you will only be writing one essay on test day. I suggest you memorise phrases that can be used in a variety of situations, interchangeably.

For example, ‘well, to be honest’,’ from my point of view’ ‘from my perspective’ etc.

Essay Structures And Templates

While it is definitely not useful to memorise entire answers, you can make a note of the different structures and vocabulary needed for different types of essays. This will significantly cut down on the time it takes for you to plan your essays.

Why Memorisation Doesn’t Work

It Can Lower Your Score

Another important point to note is that it is pointless to memorize answers, as this will only count against you. Doing so makes you sound unnatural and the examiners are trained to detect scripted answers. Instead, you could become familiar with vocabulary and phrases related to the common topics for this particular part.

Try memorising useful expressions, structures and vocabulary by practising using them as much as possible.

It Can Make You Nervous

Another downside to memorisation is that if you are asked an unfamiliar question, you might become flustered and unable to answer. It will also be highly suspicious to the examiner if you have delivered previously flawless memorised answers and are now struggling to answer a question that is unfamiliar to you.

Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of what you can and cannot memorise for the IELTS exam. If you have any further questions about this topic feel free to leave a comment.