Idiomatic expressions for the IELTS Test

Using idioms is a way to show the examiner your talent with vocabulary and increase your score in the speaking exam. Using a few of the phrases below is a good way to get a score of 7 or higher.

Summary of some common idioms
On the gobusy
up-marketrelatively expensive
work flat outwork very hard
chill out torelax
the in thingfashionable
at the height of fashionfashionable
up-to-the-minutethe most recent
off the top of my headwithout thinking
run of the millaverage, typical
soul matesomeone you trust deeply
a sounding boarda good person to talk to
in high spiritshappy
bump intomeet
once in a blue moonnot very often
have a chin-waghave a conversation
on cloud ninehappy
down in the dumpssad
the real McCoygenuine, not fake
the wee hours    very early in the morningafter midnight
make a fuss overoverly care for someone/something
early birdsomeone who gets up early
Using Idioms

In order to understand these idioms better you can see the examples usages of these idioms below and also if you want to you can download my MP3.

1. On the go (Busy) => In this modern high-tech world, most people especially young people are usually on the go with modern technology like cell phones. I’ve been on the go all day and I’m really tired.

2. Up-market (fashionable) => The younger generation buy up-market clothes to impress their peers. Celebrities have to wear up-market clothes to show their fans how successful they are.

3. Work flat out (work very hard) => I believe that if we work flat out using all our energy, we will be successful in the future.

4. chill-out (relax) => Students usually chill-out by going on picnics after their exams.

5. the in thing (fashionable) => Eating healthy food and getting regular exercise are the in thing as trying to be healthy is now really popular.

6. at the height of fashion (fashionable) => Televisions were at the height of fashion in the 1980s.

7. up-to-the-minute (the most recent) => Nowadays, the internet includes up-to-the-minute news stories.

8. off the top of my head (without thinking) => When Mary asked John about his plans for the holidays, he replied “off the top of my head, probably I’ll go to my lakeside cottage.”

9. run of the mill (average, typical) =>. He gave a fairly run-of-the-mill story that quickly had everyone bored.

10. soul mate (best friend) => A husband and wife should be soul mates to each other in their married life.

11. a sounding board ( a good person to talk to) => My mother is really a good sounding board for me whenever I face difficulties in my life.

12. in high spirits (happy) => When I passed the exam with flying colours, I felt in high spirits.

13. bump into (meet without planning) => I usually bump into my old friends once a month at Starbucks.

14. once in a blue moon (not very often) => If you exercise once in a blue moon, you will have a high chance of getting cardio-vascular diseases.

15. have a chin-wag (have an informal conversation) =>. Every Friday, I like to meet my mates at the bar for a chin-wag.

16. on cloud nine (happy) => When parents hear good news from their children’s success, they feel on cloud nine.

17. down in the dumps (sad) => My uncle was down in the dumps when his business went bankrupt.

18. the real McCoy (genuine, not fake) => The stamp on the certificate is the real McCoy.

19. the wee hours (very early in the morning after midnight) => Asthma patients can have an attack in the wee hours due to variations of hormone levels in our body.

20. make a fuss over (overly care for someone/something) =>. Don’t make a fuss over this, it is really quite trivial.

21. early bird (someone who gets up early) => My uncle is an early bird he gets up at 6 o’clock every morning to do exercise.

18 thoughts on “Idiomatic expressions for the IELTS Test”

  1. Thank you so much! Your web site is extremely helpful and I’ve got absorbed in it, since the time I bumped into it :). Bless UUUU!!!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for joining my site. Please let me know if you need help with anything.

  2. Mohammad Arshi

    Hi mr mike , I bumped into this page , and I found some useful tips. Thank you for improving my writing as well as simplifying speaking for those who are appearing Ielts.

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