Improve your IELTS listening score by learning synonyms

You might not have noticed, but the IELTS listening test does, in fact, indirectly assess your vocabulary knowledge. You may have seen that examiners frequently use synonyms in Listening tests to perplex test-takers. Only a student who has a strong command of vocabulary and synonyms can give the correct answer in many cases.

In this article, I  will discuss the function of synonyms in IELTS listening.

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Why synonyms are important in IELTS Listening?

In the IELTS test, you have 30 seconds to look at the question paper at the start of each part of the listening test. You should use this time to anticipate what you’re going to hear on the recording.

You can start by focusing on the words that carry the most meaning, also known as “keywords”. You can use these to get a sense of what to listen for. But wait! It’s unlikely that the recording will contain these precise words. It’s considerably more likely that you hear different words that have the same meaning. These are known as “synonyms.” Examiners employ synonyms to determine whether you truly understand the text’s meaning or you just recognise the words.

As you listen to the recording and get a quick glimpse at the questions, pay attention to the words that have meanings similar to the phrases and words in the questions. For instance, you could hear “number of people who buy” in the recording, but in the question “customers” is written instead.

The significance of synonyms is more clearly seen in the summary completion questions; In these questions, candidates should be ready to read and complete the summary at the same time they listen to the recording.

The IELTS Listening section is designed to assess your ability to understand the main idea of a paragraph and the range of possible synonyms. In other words, examiners try to determine whether you can grasp the overall meaning of the recording; this unquestionably shows the significance of knowing synonyms.

Using and understanding synonyms comes naturally to native English speakers. However, it is crucial for non-native English speakers to purposefully use them in everyday conversation so that they become second nature.

But how can you do that? Answer: You should develop a strong vocabulary.

Developing a strong vocabulary is essential for success on the IELTS. To do so, as you learn new words, look up their synonyms in the dictionary as well. Pay attention to the synonyms in questions while you practice Reading and Listening. Try to use synonyms when you write or talk.

When you are expanding your vocabulary, circling keywords can prove to be a great practice. After circling the words, look up their synonyms and list them all. For example, when you encounter the word “great”, you can find several synonyms, such as “remarkable, fantastic, extraordinary, wonderful, sublime, and unmatched”. Did you see how easy it was to learn synonyms and develop vocabulary from one single word?

Now let’s take a look at the different types of vocabulary you’ll face on the IELTS Listening test:

Part 1:

Part 1 of the Listening test includes basic vocabulary you would have learned when learning English for the first time. A two-person discussion taking place in a typical social situation will be heard. The vocabulary will consist of well-known words related to daily life events, occasions, locations, activities, work, and leisure.

Even though these words are often used, they are frequently replaced by synonyms, sentences are paraphrased, and words are spelt inaccurately. Not knowing about these tricks costs you precious points in the most straightforward section of the listening test.

Part 2:

You will hear a monologue in the IELTS Listening test’s Part 2, which happens in a typical situation. You could hear a lecture on local amenities that describes the design of a recreation centre or a list of the rooms in a particular building. This section of the test contains a range of question types, some of which may require maps, so knowing some relevant keywords and their synonyms may be beneficial.

Note: To prevent mixing your right with your left while looking at a map or graphic, the first piece of advice is to write L and R on either side of your booklet whenever you come across one. It would also be helpful to make a compass with the points North, South, East, and West if it hasn’t already been done for you. In test situations, remember that you can feel tense and confuse left with right, making it hard for you to comprehend the description.

Part 3:

You will hear a discussion between up to four persons in IELTS Listening Test Part 3. Typically, this conversation will take place in an educational or training environment, such as when a university instructor talks to two students about an assignment.

For this portion of the test, it may be beneficial to be familiar with academic language relating to learning, studying, and testing, and of course, their synonyms.

Part 4:

Part 4 of the IELTS Listening test is the most challenging. However, common words are employed in the vocabulary. Since Part 4 is grounded in academia, similar to part 3, a variety of academic subjects may be discussed.

One last tip. In the IELTS Listening test, you might hear speakers from the united states, the United Kingdom, Australia, etc. There are great differences between popular words in British and American English, and these might appear in the test as synonyms.

By being exposed to dialects of English, you can learn synonyms in a pleasant and engaging way. Travelling is one of the best methods to expose yourself to various English dialects. If, however, that is not a viable choice for you (like most of us), you might want to try reading blogs, watching YouTube videos or TV shows, or listening to podcasts.

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