Idiomatic expressions increase your IELTS vocabulary grade
By using idiomatic expressions your vocabulary grade is more likely to be a grade 7 or above. The criteria for grade 8 states “uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skilfully.” You can think of an idiomatic expression as a common phrase or saying that cannot be understood simply by hearing the words. The meaning is hidden and you often have to ask what the expression means if you cannot guess from the context. For example, to fire someone means to end their employment at a company. The fact that these expressions are harder to learn means that a student who does use them is beginning to sound more like a native speaker and deserves to have a higher grade for vocabulary. It is important to avoid expressions that are overused and have therefore become rather cliched [boring] perhaps the best example of an overused expression that many students like to use is “there are two sides to every coin.” If you really want to use an expression like this but want to avoid this one you can say something is a double-edged sword. For example, this could be developed into something like “for all of its advantages traveling overseas to study is something of a double-edged sword. For instance, relocating to any new place is stressful and so settling in a foreign country is even more so.
Here are some useful examples that can be easily used in your speaking test. As you look at each expression think about how you would use it to explain something that has happened in your life. Remember part 1 and part 2 in the speaking test is all about your life so try to see how these expressions can help you describe your life in a more interesting way.
to make a long story short = to tell a long story in a quicker way. It’s a rather complicated story but to make a long story short I managed to get back my stolen car and luckily nothing had been damaged.
practice makes perfect = doing something many times to be good at it. My parents told me many years ago but if I want to be good at anything then practice makes perfect so every day I would get up early and go to the swimming pool to train.
a piece of cake = you think something is very easy. I really thought the driving test was going to be very difficult because the examiner looked so grumpy but it was a piece of cake
under the weather = feeling ill or sick. I really wanted to go with my friends to the concert but I woke up feeling under the weather.
burn the candle at both ends = becoming tired due to too much work and play. I have been working a lot over time and also my best friend is in town so I feel like I have been burning the candle at both ends.
over the moon = feeling very happy. When I heard that I had won a holiday for two in Bali I was over the moon I just couldn’t stop smiling all day
a whale of a time = having a great time. Some of my very close friends decided to arrange a surprise party for my 21st birthday they hired a room in a local hotel and arranged for a jazz band to play all of my favourite songs. W we had a whale of a time.
a sweet tooth = enjoys eating sweet things. I have such a sweet tooth that I can’t walk by a candy store without wanting to go in and buy something.
recharge my batteries take a break to rest and relax after finishing my exams I really had to get away for a long weekend to try and recharge my batteries.
Pick about 10 idiomatic expressions practice using them in different situations and then try to use five of them in the speaking test remember that using too many is not a good idea.