Key Vocabulary Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Top Tip – Be expressive and go into detail
​English has a wide range of adjectives that you can use to give general or precise information. In order to increase your lexical range and accuracy (LRA) band score, you should use extreme adjectives when you are telling stories and giving opinions in the speaking test to add enthusiasm and colour. 

Read the following two examples.

Why are you studying maths at university?
Candidate 1:
I am studying it because it is interesting. I like it. It is useful.

Why are you studying maths at university?
Candidate 2:
I am studying it because it is a fascinating subject. I love the fact that maths is so ordered and provides definite solutions to problems. It also has a huge variety of real-world applications.

Exercise 1

​Answer the questions below by choosing an option from the drop down bar.
1. Which candidate provides a simple response without detail to the question?
2. Which candidate uses more interesting ‘extreme’ adjective?
3. Which candidate provides reasons for his answer?
4. Which candidate will receive a higher band for his answer?

​Exercise 2

Candidate 2 uses two extreme adjectives, which makes his/her speaking more expressive and increase the score for Lexical Resource and Accuracy.
Click on a word in the text and then in the gap next to the question. 
Click or touch a word above
1. Very interesting
2. Very big

​Using these strong or extreme adjectives makes your speaking more interesting and expressive. Now, let’s learn some more.

Exercise 3

​Which extreme adjectives do you know? Match the extreme adjective with its meaning.

Match the Adjectives | Part 1

1. boiling
2. tiny
3. ridiculous
4. hilarious
5. freezing
6. terrifying
7. deafening
8. gorgeous

Match the Adjectives | Part 2

1. exhausted
2. starving
3. soaked
4. filthy
5. ancient
6. packed
7. terrible
8. astounding

A Note on extreme adjectives

​We can use intensify adverbs such as really and absolutely with extreme adjectives but we cannot use very or quite with this type of adjective.

Exercise 4

Complete the following sentences with appropriate extreme adjective.
Tiny   ·  terrible   ·  terrifying   ·  ancient   ·  soaked   ·  packed   ·  gorgeous   ·  deafening   ·  hilarious   ·  freezing   ·  starving   ·  ridiculous   ·  filthy   ·  boiling   ·  exhausted   ·  astounding  
Click or touch a word above
1. The movie was so that I left the cinema half way through.
2. I read an story in the news that said people from Europe have around 5% of their genes from Neanderthals, which used to be thought of as a completely different species of hominid.
3. One time I took a boat from an island back to the mainland, the sky was clear but the wind was blowing and the waves were big and we got on the way and lots of people got seasick.
4. I have seen video of the subway in Tokyo and it made me laugh because the trains are so at rush hour that people are employed to push passengers onto the train so the doors can close.
5. When I first met her at the party I thought she was so I asked her for her phone number.
6. The worst journey I have been on was when I was driving through southern Spain in the summer and the air conditioner in the car broke, it was absolutely .
7. If I could go anywhere on holiday I would love to visit Egypt and see the ruins of the pyramids and the pharaohs tombs in the valley of the kings.
8. After I ran my first marathon I was so that I ate way too much food and made myself sick.
9. There is a legend that a ghost inhabits the old house and so many people refuse to go there after dark
10. Audiences around the world think that the English comedian Roan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean is and so Atkinson is thought of as one of the most successful comedians of all time.
11. animals such as ants and termites play a vital role in the ecosystem.
12. Canada is in the winter and that took a long time to get used to as my home country is very hot.
13. When I first rented the flat it was really and so it took a lot of work to make it livable.
14. The concert was and for the few days after it I had difficulty hearing.
15. The policeman said I had to get the application letter from the immigration department but the immigration department said I needed a letter from the police to get the form – it’s a problem.
16. After work I usually feel so I watch TV or read a book for a few hours.

Now you know a long list of extreme adjectives which you can use to make your speaking more expressive and interesting. Learn them and use them to ensure you get a high LRA band!

For lots more vocabulary lessons, visit our Vocabulary Page!