Spellings of Common Words on the IELTS Listening Section

Spellings of Common Words on the IELTS Listening Section

The IELTS Listening section tests you on your ability to listen to a tape and answer direct questions about what was actually said. There will be a few sneaky questions where synonyms are used instead of the words used on tape.  

For example: Jim tells Tyra: “Please don’t be late. In fact, I suggest you reach the venue an hour ahead of schedule.” 

The question however might be: 

Fill in the blanks with no more than ONE WORD OR NUMBER. 

Jim asks Tyra to reach the venue ______. 

The answer is EARLY. 

But, the IELTS Listening section also tests you on an important parameter often ignored: SPELLING. 

One of my oft repeated advice to IELTS aspirants is to be prepared with the spelling. Let’s face it, you haven’t had a spelling test since grade 5 and chances are auto-correct and those squiggly red lines have done most of the spelling for you. Unfortunately, you can’t get away with bad spelling on the IELTS. 

I am often asked, “How important is spelling on the IELTS?”  

The answer is: Very Important 

Of the 4 skills (Reading-Writing-Speaking-Listening) tested on the IELTS, Speaking is the only skill that doesn’t require you to spell.  

Spelling mistakes on the writing tasks will be ignored to a certain tolerable extent. For example, if you have spelt ESSAY as ESSY, the examiner might consider it to be a typing error or an error due to speed, but if a particular word is spelt wrong more than once, then the examiner knows that you don’t know the spelling of that word. However, the good news is that even with a few errors, your writing score can be good to excellent. For example, the band 8 candidate produces “rare errors in spelling” while the band 5 candidate “makes noticeable errors in spelling”. 

The other two sections, Reading and Listening, are absolutely unforgiving. Recall that each of the 40 questions in those sections carries 1 mark for a correct answer and zero for a wrong answer or no answer. A spelling mistake on any of those 40 answers means your answer is incorrect. So, 4 spelling errors in the Reading or Listening sections means a loss of 4 marks. Spelling errors on the reading test should be uncommon since you mostly have to pick the answers from the text. Spelling errors are most common on the listening section, and they carry a heavy penalty. 

First, some good news 

The IELTS accepts both standard American and British spellings 

So, all these spellings below (and many more) are acceptable 

Enrol OR Enroll (single L or LL also in traveller) 

Colour OR Color (Absence of U also in labor, flavor, etc) 

Apologize OR Apologise (ISE or IZE also in organise, recognise,etc) 

Analyse OR Analyze (SE or ZE also in paralyse) 

But you CANNOT use both UK and US spelling in your test. The rules of spelling stand you can only choose which set of rules to follow. 

In this post we will look at the spellings of the most common words on the IELTS Listening Section. The IELTS does not have a recommended list of such words and there is also no way of predicting for sure the words you will encounter, so how did we come across a list of spellings of common words on the IELTS? 

Here’s how: the IELTS listening often uses audio clips related to academics and situations faced by students and immigrants such as finding new accommodation, buying a new telephone connection, discussing study options, a chat about a library or a new text book. That’s how this list was prepared 

How to get the spellings right? 

There are a bunch of spelling rules, ones that you learnt in grade 4 or 5, but they are numerous and complicated. These rules need to be very consciously considered and following them will improve your spelling skills in 6 – 9 months. Considering you may not have that kind of time set aside for IELTS prep, it is better you familiarize yourself with the most commonly used words. 

Though listening tasks 3 and 4 can be from a wide variety of topics, tasks 1 and 2 are generally concerned with education and living situations. So, let’s get to the spellings of a few common words   

Most Commonly Misspelt Words 

WEDNESDAY (pronounced Wenzday) and FEBRUARY (not Febuary) 

YELLOW (not yelow), PURPLE (not purpel) and MAROON (not muroon) 

MATHEMATICS (not mathametics) and ENGINEERING (not Enginerring)  

VEGETARIAN (not vegiterian) LIBRARIAN (not Libraian) ANTARCTICA (not Antartica)  

SOCIETY (not Sosiety or Soceity) GOVERNMENT (not Goverment or Gorment)  

DIFFERENT (not Diffrent or Differant) GUARANTEE (not Garranty or Guarentee) 

Let’s look at a list of High Frequency words from the IELTS Listening Tests. 

Errors in these words are mainly due to spelling them the way they are pronounced. 

For example: There is a D in BUDGET even though it’s barely heard in the pronunciation. 

Other Words are: 

Reservation  

Entrepreneur  

Senior  

Reference 

Participant  

Shopping  

Hierarchy  

Curriculum 

Complaint  

Periodical  

Supervisor  

Catalogue  

Candidate  

Sophomore  

Professor (No double F only double S) 

Extensive 

Convenience  

Syllabus  

Receipt  

Junior (OR not ER)  

Department store  

Luxurious  

Stationery  

Laundry  

Vacuum  

Leisure  

Opportunity  

Inquiry  

Recruit  

Interviewee  

Impression  

Appointment  

Compromise  

Diligent  

Perseverance  

Absence 

Temporary 

Fountain 

Continuous 

Hard-working (or hardworking, not two words) 

Irrigation 

Assumption 

Diary (as in notebook, milk products are DAIRY) 

Recognition  

Beverage  

Disease (illness, Deceased is dead) 

Gardening  

Dessert  

Appetizer  

Symptom (there is a p) 

Allergy  

Travelling 

Hiking  

Commute 

Depression  

Bankrupt  

Monetary  

Inflation  

Crisis  

Furniture 

Humidity  

Queue  

Anomaly  

Neighbourhood  

Burglary  

Unnecessary 

Scientist 

Superiority 

Culture 

Maintenance  

Plumber  

Refrigerator/fridge (note the absence of d in the long form) 

Damage 

Resources 

Rhythm 

Let’s now categorize the spelling challenges a little more 

Words with a single consonant followed by double consonants: 

Process 

Harass 

Disappoint 

Recommend 

Tomorrow 

Miscellaneous 

Questionnaire 

The following are common words that have a double consonant followed by a single consonant 

Parallel 

Apparent 

Exaggerate 

Occasion 

Here are some common words with two pairs of consonants: 

Success 

Possess 

Access 

Assess 

Address 

Accommodation 

Embarrass 

Some words are difficult to spell based on their pronunciation 

Separate 

Definite 

Temperature 

Literature 

Relevant 

Visible 

Attendance 

Ignorance 

Opportunity 

Surprise 

Then again, some spellings change when words change form or tense 

Different Forms, Different Spellings  

Occur – Occurred 

Commit – Committed 

Maintain – Maintenance 

Pronounce – Pronunciation 

Argue – Argument 

Success – Succeed 

Excess – Exceed 

Refer – Referred 

Begin – Beginning 

Now, we look at words that are often misspelt because of silent letters 

Words with Silent Letters 

Environment, Government, Column, Autumn 

Science, Conscious, Discipline, Fascinate, Ascend, Descend 

Knowledge, Acknowledge  

Finally, we have pairs of words that sound the same but have different spellings and/or meanings (homophones). Now this can be particularly tricky on a listening test and you will need context to figure out which word is in use.  

Homophones 

Lose ≠ Loose  

(Lose – misplace or not find something   Loose – not tightly fastened) 

Affect ≠ Effect  

(Affect – to impact or disturb Effect – consequence or outcome) 

Principle ≠ Principal  

(Principle – belief or value (system)  Principal – primary or main)  

Allowed ≠ Aloud 

(Allowed – given permission Aloud – Said out loudly) 

Quite ≠ Quiet 

(Quite – relatively Quiet – calm or silent) 

Mall ≠ Maul 

(Mall – a place to shop from Maul – attack as in by an animal) 

This list is neither exhaustive nor sufficient but it will go a long way in readying you for the IELTS Listening Section 

Happy Prepping. 

Anirban Bose

Anirban Bose

Anirban is an accomplished test prep teacher with multiple band 8 IELTS test scores and 99th percentile GRE test scores. He has been teaching for over fifteen years. His students have been accepted to Ivy League colleges and some of the most exclusive programs across the globe.

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get started with Capstone today.

Capstone is a leading provider of test prep tutoring since 2010. Attend a class for free.

Free Trial. No Payment Required

GRE PREP         

IELTS PREP

BLOG     

ABOUT US          

CONTACT US 

All test names are registered trademarks of their respective owners. 

© 2020 Capstone Tutorials. All rights reserved.

Congratulations!

Well Done,
You Did It!

Feel free to contact me, and I will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.

Anirban_Bose_Capstone
Anirban - Head of Academics
Anirban_Bose_Capstone
Anirban Bose - Head of Academics
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds

Register for the next IELTS prep class. Batch starts on 12th April, 2021

Dear IELTS aspirant! Join me for the most popular IELTS prep course. Since 2010, hundreds of successful students have realised their dreams every year. Join today for success!