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Improve your IELTS vocabulary on "Education"

Published on April 9, 2018

If you’re working to improve your English vocabulary for IELTS, it’s important to set goals and decide how much time you have available to achieve them. For instance, reading books in English can be an excellent way to learn new vocabulary, but this probably wouldn’t be the best method for you if you’re sitting your IELTS test in only a few days.

This series of posts on improving your vocabulary will present you with a practical way to learn new vocabulary specifically for your IELTS. Each post will focus on a common IELTS theme and will show you how to arrange words and phrases into vocabulary sets. Creating your own vocabulary sets, as opposed to simply memorizing long lists of words, will ensure that this learning opportunity is useful and relevant to you. To get you started, we will include examples of words and phrases that you can use in your sets, and ideas on how to expand them.

Vocabulary on education

Candidates are often asked to talk about their own education on the IELTS Speaking test, so it is important that you have the vocabulary required to talk about your school experience. Begin your vocabulary sets with words and phrases that are relevant to you personally, but that you’re not yet very familiar with. You can then extend your vocabulary sets with other words and phrases that you can use to talk or write about education in more general terms.

For your vocabulary sets to be effective, you will need more than just a list of words with a translation. There are a few other details that we recommend you include in your sets to help you learn and use the new vocabulary correctly. These details include the part of speech, the meaning, common collocations, examples and notes on pronunciation. Take a look at the vocabulary sets below. They have been divided into relevant sub-topics and include important information for each word or phrase:

Set 1: People involved in education

  1. undergraduate

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a student who is studying for their first degree at a college or university

collocations:

college/university undergraduate

first-year/second-year undergraduate

undergraduate student

example:

I was a 20-year-old undergraduate student back then.

pronunciation:

/ˌʌn·dərˈɡrædʒ·u·ət/

  1. tutor

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a teacher paid to work privately with one student or a small group

collocations:

school/college/university tutor

course tutor

personal/private tutor

example:

My parents got me a private tutor to help with my studies.

pronunciation:

/ˈtʃuː.tər/

  1. pupil (U.K.)

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a person, usually a child at school, who is being taught

collocations:

first-year/second-year pupil

school/primary/secondary pupil

example:

Teachers need to make sure that all pupils reach their full potential.

pronunciation:

/ˈpjuː.pəl/

Set 2: Types of school/education

  1. single-sex

part of speech:

adjective

meaning:

a school for either girls or boys, but not both ( antonym: mixed/coeducational school)

collocations:

single-sex school

single-sex education

example:

I went to single-sex school.

pronunciation:

/ˌʌn·dərˈɡrædʒ·u·ət/

  1. boarding school

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a school where students live and study

collocations:

go to boarding school

private/military/christian/catholic boarding school

example:

Students at boarding schools are under stricter discipline.

pronunciation:

/ˈbɔː.dɪŋ ˌskuːl/

  1. college

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a place of higher education or specialized professional or vocational training

collocations:

community/local college

attend/go to college

finish/graduate from college

to be at/in college

example:

After high school, I wanted to go to college and study graphic design.

pronunciation:

/ˈkɒl.ɪdʒ/

Set 3: University/college qualifications

  1. master’s degree

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

an advanced college or university degree

collocations:

a master’s degree in (subject)

to be awarded/to earn a master’s degree

example:

It took me over 2 years to earn my master’s degree.

pronunciation:

/ˌmɑː.stəz dɪˈɡriː/

  1. diploma

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a document given by a college or university to show that a person has passed an exam or finished their studies

collocations:

a college/university diploma

a graduate/postgraduate/professional diploma

a diploma in (subject)

a diploma holder

get/obtain/receive/have a diploma

example:

Diploma holders have a much better chance of employment than those with no qualifications.

pronunciation:

/dɪˈpləʊ.mə/

  1. postdoctoral (also informal postdoc)

part of speech:

adjective

meaning:

advanced work or study that a person does after completing their doctoral studies (PhD)

collocations:

postdoctoral work/research/project

postdoctoral fellowship

postdoctoral student/fellow

example:

She has supervised several postdoctoral projects at the university.

pronunciation:

/ˌpəʊstˈdɒk.tər.əl/

Set 4: University/college work

  1. research

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a detailed study of a particular subject

collocations:

carry out/conduct/do research

be based on research

academic/medical/scientific research

research findings/results

research into/on (subject)

example:

I read about a fascinating research project on songbirds and how they communicate.

pronunciation:

/ˈriː.sɜːtʃ/

  1. dissertation

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a long piece of writing on a specific subject, usually completed to receive a degree at a college or university

collocations:

undergraduate/master’s/doctoral dissertation

research dissertation

do/prepare/write a dissertation

hand in/present/submit a dissertation

a dissertation on (subject)

example:

Students can either write a dissertation or participate in a more practical project.

pronunciation:

/ˌdɪs.əˈteɪ.ʃən/

  1. seminar

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

an occasion when a teacher or professor and a group of students meet for training, discussion or study on a subject

collocations:

conduct/give a seminar

attend/go to a seminar

a series of seminars

example:

I attended every single seminar when I was a university student.

pronunciation:

/ˈsem.ɪ.nɑːr/

Other sub-topics that you can explore are primary/secondary school subjects (e.g. literature, geography, physics, etc.), education finances (e.g. tuition, student loan, enrollment, etc.) and school facilities (e.g. laboratory, campus, dorms, etc.).

To extend your vocabulary lists, take advantage of the many useful resources online: search for articles about education, look for vocabulary activities and use online dictionaries and collocation dictionaries. Once you have selected the new vocabulary that you can use on your IELTS test, write it down and don’t forget to include the useful details mentioned above for each vocabulary item. If you haven’t already done so, it would be a good idea to start a vocabulary notebook and keep it nearby when preparing for your IELTS test.

Keep checking out our blog for the next IELTS vocabulary theme - transportation. Stay tuned!