How To Practice Synonyms and Paraphrasing For IELTS

Synonyms and Paraphrasing

Do You Panic When You Open A Test Paper And See Words You Do Not Know?

Synonyms and ParaphrasingIt is important to remember that even native speakers of English do not know all the words in some texts and you need to do what they do, i.e. work out the meaning of a word from its context.

This simply means seeing how the word links or relates to the words, phrases and sentences around it. Let’s look at an example:

“Professional athletes are more likely to have offspring that are athletic too as their genes will be passed on to the next generation.”

Here you may not know what the word offspring means, however, you may know that genes get passed on to the next generation through a person’s children, you can therefore logically deduce (workout) that offspring means ‘child’ and then be able to answer the question.

This skill is crucial for doing well at IELTS. Here is How To Practice Synonyms and Paraphrasing For IELTS:

Synonym And Paraphrasing: Practice 1

To practice this technique, ideally you will need a partner. All you need to do is to select a text related to any of the 14 main topic areas that often come up in IELTS.

This could be from a newspaper, journal or book. Next, print out the text and then with a black marker pen or using tip-ex remove random key words from a text. The article can be as short or as long as you like.

You might end up with something like this article from the BBC web-site:


For Your Partner To Complete:

A new study reveals how crocodiles’ eyes are fine-tuned for lurking at the water __________ to watch for prey.

The “fovea”, a patch of tightly packed receptors that _________ sharp vision, forms a horizontal streak instead of the usual circular spot.

This allows the animal to scan the ___________ without moving its head, according to Australian researchers.

They also found differences in the cone cells, which ____________ colours, between saltwater and freshwater crocs.


Swap articles with your partner and try and complete the missing words. Ask yourself what type of word is missing; is it an adjective, noun, verb or adverb? Once you have identified this, have a guess at what word might fit.

Following this, view the completed text and see if you have selected the same word, or a word that is a synonym (a word with the same meaning).

The more synonyms and correct guesses you manage to get the better. Doing this increases your synonym power which will have a positive impact on virtually all parts of the IELTS test.

The missing words in this case are: surface (noun), delivers (verb), shoreline (noun), senses (verb).

Synonyms and Paraphrasing: Practice 2

Select an article you have read recently that you have found difficult. Ideally this will be on a typical IELTS related topic.

Now, write or type out 20 words that you found difficult on to pieces of small card. Place the cards face down in the middle of the table in a pile.

Turn over the first card and try to make a sentence using a synonym for that word, or if you can’t use a synonym by using a group of words (paraphrase) instead.

Immediately check your answers online with a synonym generator or with your teacher or a study partner.

If you get a particular word wrong then put the card to the bottom of the pile and come back to it again later. If you are correct place it in a new pile.

You can alternate ‘goes’ with a partner’ and score points in this manner.

Alternatively, with all of the cards face up, candidates could say a synonym or paraphrase for one of the words and a partner guesses which word it is, again with a competitive element.

Advanced students could then spread the cards face down in front of them and then summarise the entire text verbally being careful to use synonyms or paraphrases of the words only.

This could then be written up from memory as a summary task to consolidate the new vocabulary.


How To Beat The IELTS Examiner!

Once you get good at synonyms you may start to realise how IELTS papers are actually written.

Basically, an article is selected and the questions that test your understanding of the text are written.

However, examiners cannot just use the same words in the text, as that would make it too easy. So, instead they ask the questions using different words, synonyms or paraphrases.

Once you have spotted this pattern and practiced a great deal as above, you will find the IELTS test gets a lot easier.


Use The 3 R’s For IELTS Synonym and Paraphrasing Success

As you are doing exercises such as those above, you need to:

Record – Make  note of all the new words you are learning. Include a definition, example sentences, synonyms and a personalised picture to help make it memorable.

Review – Set aside a specific time each day when you can remind your self of the new words. Ten minutes a day is better than 70 minutes once a week. Regular practice is key.

Re-test – Test yourself to see how well you are doing and identify areas of weakness. Why not have a competition with a study partner for added motivation.

You could use a software service such as Quizlet to help you do this.

Doing this will give you the maximum chance of remembering all your synonyms and paraphrases and ultimately improve your IELTS band score!

Do you have any questions or good ways for remembering new vocabulary? Please share them below…