Is spelling holding back your IELTS score?

Spelling is key to improve your IELTS score
How do you study spelling?

Quiz time! Which one is correct?

  1. Effect someone or affect someone? 
  2. Resterant or Restaurant? 
  3. I defiantly think or I definitely think?
  4. I eat desert or I eat dessert? 

In the IELTS exam, you will be docked points for wrong spelling. While most students spend a lot of time learning vocabulary, or understanding how the exam works, they often forget to learn how to spell. Whether you’re taking the listening, reading, or writing portion, remember to check your answers for correct spelling! 

Spelling matters

Spelling is important every time you write. If you send emails or text messages, you need to know how to spell correctly. Correctly spelled texts give the other person a good impression and lets them see that you pay attention to detail. 

In the exam, you will be asked to write out some answers. In such cases, all the words you write need to be spelled correctly. In the reading section, this is easy, because you can check for correct spelling in the actual text. In the Listening and Writing portions, however, there is no way to check. In Listening, even if your answer is correct, the wrong spelling will make you lose the entire point. Moreover, in Writing, spelling/grammar covers 25% of the overall grade! So, how should you study? 

Learning how to spell can be tough. Even native speakers have trouble. However, there are a few strategies to help you learn the most efficiently. It requires a lot of practice and repetition!

Similar to how you probably had to memorize multiplication tables by heart, English-speaking children had to write words over and over to memorize the spelling. No matter how much time you have before your test, you should take some time to practice spelling.


Here are a few tried-and-true ways to improve:

  • Write down the words you spelled wrong in a notebook, and practice writing them at least five times every day for a week. 
  • If you’re practicing writing an essay, use a spell-checker to help you check for the words you spelled wrong, and practice writing them correctly.
  • If you still have more time before the exam, there are also online lists of words that people often misspell, which you can use to help you practice. Go through them and check to see if you can spell each word correctly. 

There’s really no quick way to learn how to spell, so that means you should get started now. Practice makes perfect! 

dock [verb]—to remove part of something

by heart [idiom]—learned in such a way that you can repeat it from memory

tried-and-true [adjective]—used many times in the past and proven to work well