Spellings of Common Words on the IELTS Listening Section

Published by Anirban Bose on

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

Happy Prepping!


The author conducts IELTS batch classes on the weekends at Whitefield, Bangalore. You can get in touch for batch classes or special one-to-one online tutoring as well as writing evaluations.


0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

WhatsApp chat