IELTS Speaking: What is Lexical Resource?

Table of Contents

by Saya Khimta

by Saya Khimta

IELTS Expert


IELTS Speaking is one of the test’s four sections that help assess your communication skills in English. The Speaking section takes place in a quiet room with a trained and certified IELTS examiner. In this face-to-face interview, the examiners use clearly defined criteria to evaluate your Speaking test. 

The 4 criteria are:

  1. Fluency & Coherence; 
  2. Lexical Resource;
  3. Grammatical Range & Accuracy;
  4. and Pronunciation.  

Each is worth 25% of your overall IELTS Speaking score. You receive your Speaking results on a band scale of 0 to 9, achieving either whole or half band scores (i.e. 6.0, 6.5, 7, 7.5…). A score is awarded for each of the above criteria, and you’ll also receive an overall IELTS Speaking score.

What is 'Lexical Resource' and Why is it Important?

What does Lexical Resource mean? 

In simple words, Lexical Resource is vocabulary. Adding useful vocabulary is a must for the IELTS test. However, it’s important to remember that examiners do not expect you to always write uncommon, difficult, or fancy words. Instead, they expect you to use words that find close association and relevancy to the topic. For example, instead of writing “development in technology,” you can write the more concise and relevant phrase “technical advancement.”

How much is Lexical Resource worth?

Your IELTS Speaking scores share a direct relationship with vocabulary. In general, if you use a wider range of vocabulary accurately, the higher your score will be. Lexical Resource is one criterion used to assess your IELTS Speaking test. 

An example of IELTS Speaking test scores. The overall IELTS Speaking score is an average of the band descriptor scores.

Fluency & Coherence (25 %)6.5
Pronunciation (25 %)8
Lexical Resource (25 %)7
Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25 %)6.5
Total IELTS Speaking Score7
What kinds of things will lower my Lexical Resource score?

While you can work hard to score more, there are also things you can do to save deductions to your score. I’ll explore this in more detail below: 

  • Repeating/reusing words

Repeating or overusing a word can harm your speaking score as it won’t show off your range of vocabulary. For example, instead of repeating the word ‘student’, you can use substitutions like ‘learner’, ‘scholar’, ‘pupil’, etc. 

  • Copying words directly from the task/question

Paraphrasing is the key. Do not copy the words from the task or question. Instead, use synonyms. See the example below.

Question: Are there any colors you dislike

Most common answer: Yes, I dislike brown. (dislike: a copy from the question) 

Best answer: Yes, I am not fond of brown. 

  • Using ineffective paraphrasing

While some of us underdo it, others overdo paraphrasing. We must accept the fact that not all the words that exist in English have a substitute. Forcing a substitution may mean that the whole context and meaning of a sentence might change. For example, “teenagers” and “youngsters” are two words that some people might use interchangeably. Although the words have similar meaning, the meaning is not the same: “teenagers” are people between 13-19 years old, whereas “youngsters” might include people up to 30 years of age.

How Can I Receive a Good Lexical Resource Score?

Examiners look at the range of vocabulary you use and how accurately you use it to express your opinion. Here are some of the important aspects of building your vocabulary: 

  • Understand collocation

Collocation refers to how the words are commonly used together. A cup of tea, take a look and pay attention are some of the examples. Though there is no general rule to learning collocation, experience and awareness help. 

  • Use uncommon expressions

Idiomatic phrases are an example of less common expressions. However, you must be careful to use them in relevance to the topic. ‘Piece of cake’, ‘break a leg’, and ‘up in the air’ are some examples of uncommon idiomatic expressions. 

  • Use synonyms

Try to use a variety of words that have the same meaning. For example, instead of ‘world’, substitute it with other similar words like ‘global’, ‘universal’, ‘international’, etc.

  • Use effective paraphrasing

Do not copy the words from the task. Instead, use alternatives, but effectively. For instance, if the question mentions the word ‘child’, you can use the word ‘kids’ instead. 

7 Tips To Score High in Lexical Resource

Following are a few more quick points you must always keep in mind to score high: 

Tip 1: Make a personal vocabulary list

Did you learn a new word or expression today? Will you remember it after 3-4 days? If not, write it down. Make a personal vocabulary list of all the new words and expressions you learn in a notebook.

 Tip 2: If you are not sure, avoid it

Using the same word, again and again, is not a good idea. However, using the wrong word in an attempt to add variety to the text is not a wise choice. If you’re not certain of the meaning of a word or how to use it, avoid using it incorrectly.

 Tip 3: Use words that are associated with the topic

Do not just stick to using synonyms. You can also use expressions instead. Rather than using “heating” as an alternative to “warming”, prefer using “the temperature is rising.”

 Tip 4: Use synonyms

Before you use a synonym it is important to analyze whether it is relevant to the context or not. ‘Youth’ and ‘teenager’ might appear to be synonyms that you can use interchangeably but this is not always the case. While teenagers are those in the age group of 13-19 years, youths may mean people who are 13 to 29 years. 

 Tip 5: Start preparing as early as possible

Begin your preparation ahead of time. Do not wait until the last minute to open books and explore resources. Start preparing the moment you decide to take the test. 

 Tip 6: Learn words from other resources

Books and the internet are not the only places where you can find good words. You can also pick up good words from other places like newspaper articles, magazines, movies, and much more. 

 Tip 7: Get professional help 

Never underestimate the power of a teacher in making your IELTS journey easy. You can either book a one-on-one session with a tutor or join an English language program online or in person. 

Getting help from IELTS professionals any time during your preparation is going to make your journey easier. IELTS professionals can help you improve your weak areas in less time and help you score higher on the first attempt.

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