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
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 however, “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 one 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. Another point is that 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.
How to get the spellings right?
There are a bunch of spelling rules, ones that you learnt in grade 5 or 6, 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)
List of High Frequency words from the IELTS Listening tests.
Refrigerator/fridge (note the absence of d in the long form)
Let’s now categorize the spelling challenges a little more
Words with a single consonant followed by double consonants:
The following are common words that have a double consonant followed by a single consonant
Here are some common words with two pairs of consonants:
Some words are difficult to spell based on their pronunciation
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
Finally, we have pairs of words that sound the same but have different spellings and/or meanings (homophones)
Lose ≠ Loose
Affect ≠ Effect
Principle ≠ Principal
Allowed ≠ Aloud
Quite ≠ Quiet
Mall ≠ Maul
This list is neither exhaustive nor sufficient but it will go a long way in readying you for the IELTS Listening Section