A recycling arrow symbolises that many words are repeated in the IELTS General Training Reading

Common Words in the IELTS General Training Reading Test

Common Words in the IELTS General Training Reading Test

Hey! If you are a General Training test-taker, do you ever get the feeling of deja-vu when you do multiple practice exams? The feeling that even though the texts have changed, the questions you are being asked seem to be the same? Well, if you have, WELL DONE 🎉. You’re right – the same words are used again and again . And, that’s what I want to look at in today’s blog: the words that most commonly tested in Sections 1 and 2.

6 Facts about the IELTS General Training Reading Test 🗂

  • There are three sections in GT Reading: Social Survival, Workplace Survival, General Reading
  • In Sections 1 and 2 you will have MULTIPLE PASSAGES based on real life reading materials e.g. job adverts, course information leaflets, travel brochures, notices, public announcements, etc
  • ​Scanning is always an important skill in Sections 1 and 2, but not necessarily Section 3
  • The questions and texts change in every exam, but the KEYWORDS targeted in the answers are very often repeated
  • Task 3 is one longer more difficult passage (it’s often similar to Academic Reading Task 1

Why do words repeat in the IELTS GT Reading Paper?

So, how is it possible that certain words are tested again and again in the General Training paper?​ Well, it’s important to remember the General Training exam is designed to test if a person will be able to FUNCTION IN AN ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRY. Would you be able to arrive and open a bank account, find a job, join a gym, book a holiday or join an educational course? This is really the purpose of Sections 1 and 2 – finding out if you could survive in the world using only English?

If you think about it, this is also what the IELTS exam is testing in Listening Task 1 – I think of these sections as almost identical in that the questions in that both are short, and are designed to test if you can understand basic information or instructions, which is called Transactional English or Functional English.

And, as there are a LIMITED NUMBER of different transactions that can happen in society or at work, you will see the SAME keywords appearing again and again. I mean, how many different social survival and workplace survival questions can the IELTS test-writers possibly some up with?!

So, I have gone through a number of past exams, and taken out the keywords which have appeared more than once (and are likely to appear again).

These are NOT words that you will scan for, but words that you will need to check in order to verify the correct answer.

I have put the words in the table below and given you:

  1. a synonym
  2. a test-item that contains the word
  3. an example of a sentence that would verify that the statement in the question (so would be TRUE), and an example of a sentence that would contradict the statement (so would be FALSE)

I am not saying that these are the ONLY words that will be tested in the IELTS General Training Reading Test, but I am saying that they are LIKELY to appear on exam day 👈

Common Keywords(s)SynonymExamples
It is not necessary- don’t have to
- don’t need to
It’s not necessary to pay. T/F/NG
The festival is free of charge. (T)
There is a charge for parking. (F)
It is possible- can /may / might
- be able to
- is permitted
- are allowed to
It is possible to stay overnight. T/F/NG
There is a campsite. (T)
There is no on-site accommodation. (F)
It is compulsory- must
- have to
- need to
It is compulsory to wear a helmet. T/F/NG
It’s the law in England for drivers to wear a helmet. (T)
Cyclists can hire a helmet if they wish for £1 a day. (F)
It is forbidden- is banned
- is not allowed
- is prohibited
- cannot
A certain item of clothing forbidden in the church. T/F/NG
All visitors will be asked to remove their scarves before entering the site. (T)
We recommend that visitors don’t wear shorts or skirts as items that cover the knees are preferred. (F)
It is advisable- good idea
- should
- it is recommended
It is advisable to book tickets early. T/F/NG
As the show is very popular, we recommend that you book early to ensure your seat. (T)
Feel free to drop by any day – reservations are not needed. (F)
It is inadvisable- bad idea
- not a good idea
- shouldn’t
- not recommended
It is inadvisable to drive during the night. T/F/NG
Once the sun sets, kangaroos appear on the road and cause frequent car accidents, so it’s best to plan your day so that you arrive at your destination at sunset. (T)
The road over the mountains is well-lit and there are many 24- hour service stations. (F)
is/are suitable forTrainers are suitable for the hike. T/F/NG
The route is relatively easy and can be completed by anybody wearing closed shoes. (T)
We do not advise that you wear sports shoes as the path can be slippery. (F)
have to prove- provide proof
- show evidence
You have to prove your age to receive a discount. T/F/NG School students must provide ID showing they are U18 to get reduced entry. (T)
Happy Hour for all customers between 16.00 and 17.00. (F)
is aimed at- targets
- is designed for
- is suitable for
The lessons are aimed at people who already have some experience. T/F/NG
The course is suitable for those who wish to further their skills in accounting. (T)
Absolute beginners are welcome. (F)
short notice- given a short amount of time to complete somethingYou can usually arrange to meet a course tutor at short notice. T/F/NG
Your course tutor will be available between 2pm and 3pm every day. Just come and knock. (T)
Tutors are in demand, so it is essential you arrange an appointment as early as possible to avoid disappointment. (F)
no extra cost- freeYou can sometimes hire a bicycle for no extra cost. T/F/NG
Free bike hire on Sundays. (T)
There is a small fee for bicycle rentals. (F)
a refund- receive your money back
- full-refund = ALL MONEY
You will receive a full-refund if you are not satisfied. T/F/NG
Customers who feel that the course was not beneficial may receive their money back. (T)
If you are dissatisfied with the service, you can apply for a refund (which takes up to 14 days and will not include the booking fee or airport TAX). (F)
a restriction- a limit
- not allowed
There are restrictions on the types items you can bring into the country. T/F/NG
Before you go through customs, make sure you throw away any food items as you are are not allowed to enter with these. (T)
There are no customs requirements. (F)
are eligible for
a discount
- entitled to
- a reduction
Students are eligible for a discount at the university book shop. T/F/NG
Bring your student card to claim save 10% on all academic books. (T)
You should be aware that books are sold to everyone at cover price. (F)
in advance- beforeTickets should be booked in advance. T/F/NG
The performance is very popular so book early to ensure a seat. (T)
Tickets available from the box office on the day. (F)

So, how many of the words did you recognise? Are you sure you understand them now? If not, keep coming back to this list for help. Remember, the only way to improve is practise. Good luck!

We run a 5-day intensive course for both the General Training and Academic Reading modules every month. In these, you can learn how to tackle every type of reading question well and learn powerful techniques to help with time management. You ca find out more about them here 🚀

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