Spellings of Common Words on the IELTS Listening Section

Spellings of Common Words on the IELTS Listening Section

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.

Budget 

Reservation 

Entrepreneur 

Senior 

Reference

Participant 

Shopping 

Hierarchy 

Curriculum

Complaint 

Periodical 

Supervisor 

Catalogue 

Candidate 

Sophomore 

Professor 

Extensive

Convenience 

Syllabus 

Receipt 

Junior 

Enrol 

Department store 

Luxurious 

Stationery 

Laundry 

Vacuum 

Leisure 

Opportunity 

Inquiry 

Recruit 

Interviewee 

Impression 

Appointment 

Compromise 

Diligent 

Perseverance 

Absence

Temporary

Fountain

Continuous

Hard-working 

Recognition 

Beverage 

Gardening 

Dessert 

Appetizer 

Symptom 

Allergy 

Travelling

Hiking 

Commute

Depression 

Bankrupt 

Monetary 

Inflation 

Crisis 

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)

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

Anirban Bose

Anirban Bose

Anirban is passionate about teaching and mentoring. He has more than 16 years of experience preparing students for GRE, GMAT and SAT.

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