On the IELTS Speaking test, it’s very common for candidates to be asked questions related to their own school experience. Because of this, it’s essential that you feel confident using the necessary vocabulary to talk about your education.
To continue the IELTS vocabulary series for IELTS Speaking, this post will cover vocabulary about education, which could be helpful for you when encountering the topic in real-life situations or the IELTS exam.
Now look at the vocabulary sets below, and pay close attention to the details presented for each word or phrase.
IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Education
Academic year – the time of the year throughout which students attend school or university, usually considered from the beginning of the autumn term to the end of the summer term – He joined his new school at the beginning of the new academic year.
Acquire – obtain something for oneself – Hannah acquired a cheque of $500.
Admission test/entrance exam – a test designed to identify students who are capable of admitting a school or college – He obtained the highest mark in the admission test/entrance exam.
Analyse – inspect (something) systematically and thoroughly, typically in order to explain and interpret it – We need to analyse any new idea before coming to a conclusion about it.
Assignment – a specific task or amount of work assigned or undertaken by an authority – They had loads of homework assignments.
Audio – of or relating to the sound that is heard on a recording or broadcast – She listened to the audio script carefully.
Bachelor’s degree – a degree after four years’ study in a college or university – She earned a bachelor’s degree in law in 2018.
Coeducational school – a school where boys and girls study together – I studied in a coeducational school.
Cognitive – relating to conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning and recalling) – She developed her cognitive abilities in her secondary school.
Compulsory / major – subject/subjects that you must study to obtain a degree – She had four compulsory /major subjects in her first year of Bachelor of Arts in English.
Cramming – the act of trying to learn a lot very quickly before an exam – Cramming right before the exam is not a good idea.
Credit – a unit that represents a successfully finished part of an educational course – The students attended all the classes because each of those classes was worth two credits.
Curiosity – the desire to know about something or someone – The design of the building aroused my curiosity.
Curriculum – all the different courses offered by a school/college/university – Spanish is one of the optional foreign language on the curriculum.
Curriculum vitae / Resume – a summary of a person’s personal demographics, experience and skills – The Company has asked for complete curriculum vitae / resume of every participant.
Dean – the head of a university faculty or department or of a medical school – All the students much like the new dean after his visit to their dormitory.
Dictionary – a book or an electronic resource that catalogs the words of a particular language (usually in alphabetical order) and provides their meaning, or gives the comparable words in another language, often providing information about pronunciation, origin, and usage as additional information – I don’t have a Spanish to English dictionary.
Diploma – a qualification awarded to a student by a university or college or a high school – She’s achieved two diplomas in social work and child safety.
Discipline – a field of study – She was previously a student in science discipline at Stanford University.
Dissertation – a long piece of writing/article about a specific subject that is done to receive an advanced degree – The students submitted their dissertation on British Politics to their mentor before deadline.
Distance learning – a system of studying in which lectures are transmitted or lessons are conducted by correspondence, where the student does not need to be present at a school or college – Computer has helped enormously to spread distance learning all over the world.
Doctorate / PhD– the highest degree that is given by a university – She’s applied for a doctorate degree/ PhD in British Law in Queensland University.
Dormitory – a building or facility on a school campus where students can live – St. Gregory College has two large and separate dormitories for boys and girls.
Drop out – ditch or dump a course of study – She dropped out of college due to financial crisis.
Elementary education / primary education –the early stages of studying – We should give importance on elementary education seriously.
Encyclopedia – a book or set of books giving information on diverse subjects or on different aspects of one subject and typically arranged alphabetically – I have an encyclopedia of prehistoric animals in my collection.
Evaluation/assessment – the construction of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something – Many education specialists resent the evaluation/assessment methods used in the prevailing education system.
Faculty – a cluster of university departments concerned with a major division of knowledge – The Faculty of Arts in Cambridge University is extremely famous.
Higher education – any of various types of education following secondary education – Universities and colleges propose higher education opportunities for diverse students.
Inquisitive – tending to ask questions; having a desire to know to learn more – She seems to be quite an inquisitive woman.
Interview – a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation – I had an interview with the board last night.
Itinerary – a designed route or journey – All the students were given an itinerary before leaving the bus.
Language skills – skills relate to diverse aspects of using language; such as listening, reading, writing or speaking – Candidates in the IELTS exam are given band-scores on their English language skills.
Lecture – an instructive talk to an audience, especially one of students or teachers in a university – Today we have to attend three lectures about social changes and demographics.
Literacy – the capability to read and write – Many countries have experienced an upward trend in their literacy rate.
Master’s degree – a one/two years’ degree after achieving a bachelor’s degree – She’s also achieved a master’s degree in law this year.
Memorise – to learn something so that you will remember it exactly – I recall clearly that some of our primary school teachers forced us to memorise some poems.
Multimedia classroom – a classroom equipped with advanced technology such as laptops, tabs, projectors, digital chalkboard etc. – Nowadays most of the schools in developed country have multimedia classrooms.
Optional / non-major – parallel to the flat surface of the horizon; at right angles to the vertical – She studied Political Science as an optional / a non-major subject in her second year.
Pedagogy – the process and exercise of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept – A teachers’ training college is indeed a school of pedagogy.
Peer pressure – the strain of thinking about or doing something because other people in the same group do it – One of the main reasons of drug addiction is peer pressure.
Postdoctoral– a work that is done after achieving a PhD – She will go on working on a postdoctoral study in transformation of laws in the 20th century.
Portfolio – a compilation of materials that exemplifies one’s beliefs, skills, qualifications, education, training and experiences – This portfolio presents excellent insights into her personality and work.
Practical – of or concerned with the real doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas – I liked Mr Chao’s classes because he’d always had a practical approach to discuss a topic.
Presentation – a speech or talk in which a new product, idea, or piece of work is shown and explained to an audience – The company official has delivered a PowerPoint presentation on how to use the product.
Procrastinate – holdup or postpone an action; put off doing something – Many students fail to achieve their goal in time because they procrastinate intentionally or unintentionally.
Professor – a university scholar of the maximum rank; the holder of a university chair – The old professor passed away suddenly.
Pupil – student, one who has been taught – She had some successful pupils who keep contact with her regularly.
Put down – record something in writing – She put down the gist of the speech beautifully in her notebook.
Qualification – skill or experience or knowledge that makes someone appropriate to do a specific job or activity – All the applicants with best qualifications are requested to participate in the coming exam.
Reference – supply (a book or article) with citations of sources of information – He used reference from at least 8 prominent articles.
Research – careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something – This research on chimpanzees will change the course of studying animal behaviour.
Scholarship/grant – a payment made to support a student’s education, awarded on the foundation of educational or other achievement – Reeha has got a $10000 scholarship/grant for excellent academic record.
Secondary education – the stage of education following primary education – Success in secondary education is highly dependent on elementary education.
Seminar – a gathering in which people receive information on and training in a specific subject matter – They arranged a seminar on how to develop the lifestyle of rural people.
Single-sex school – a school where either boys or girls can study – My sister studied in a single-sex school.
Stipend – a particular amount of money that is paid regularly to someone – All the pupils from poor family background get a £250 monthly stipend from the school.
Survey – to ask many people a set of questions in order to gather information about most people’s insight on something – The outcome of the survey in the rural areas is quite bizarre.
Syllabus – subjects studied in a particular course – The syllabus for English Literature in developing countries is rather confusing.
Term – one of the periods into which a year is divided at school, college, or university – She finished her term in the university successfully.
Theory – a supposition or a system of proposals intended to make something clear, especially one based on general principles free of the thing to be explained – According to conspiracy theory, there is no obvious end game for countries with natural resources.
Thesis – a long original essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a university degree – They submitted their thesis to the professor.
Tuition fee – money that is paid to a school/college/university for the right to study there – Her tuition fee for the course is $4500 a year.
Tutor – a teacher; particularly works with one student – Mr Stephen is Graham’s tutor.
Tutorial – a period of teaching given by a university or college tutor to an individual or very small group – I joined the new tutorial on macro-photography.
Undergraduate – a student in a college or university who is yet to earn a degree, especially a bachelors’ degree – Roger is an undergraduate at Yale School of Law.
Verbal – spoken; not written – We had a verbal exam before commencing our third year in college.
Visual – of or relating to vision – This automation visual navigation is designed by a complicated software.
Vocational – (of education or training) aimed at a particular profession and its skills – Many countries are now leaning on vocational education to solve unemployment problem.
Viva voce – an oral examination, typically for an academic qualification – The candidates were called for viva voce.
State school: a school paid for by public funds and available to general public
Example: Because my budget is limited, then get a scholar ship and go to state school is a great idea.
Private school: a school that is not supported by government money, where education must be paid for by the children’s parents
Example: A private school usually offers good educational facilities compared to a public school.
To work your way through university: to have a paid job while studying to support yourself financial
Example: Peter has had to work his way through university, thus he barely has free time.
To keep up with your studies: to not fall behind
Example: If you want to keep up with my studies at university, you have to spend more time on self-study.
To fall behind with your studies: to progress less quickly than other
Example: Sara spent almost her time on going out rather than studying, which caused her to fall behind with her studies, thus she failed the exam.
To sit an exam: to take an exam
Example: The time when I have to sit an exam is really stressful, because I need to stay up all night and have less time to relax.
To resit an exam: to sit an exam again.
Example: I’ve failed my exam twice already, but I’ll keep resitting until I pass.
To attend classes: to go to classes
Example: In order to pass the final exam, it is suggested that you should attend to all of the classes.
Face to face classes: join in courses in classroom with colleagues and teachers.
Example: When you take part in a face to face class, you will have an opportunity to interact with teachers in person, then you can respond to the teacher immediately.
Distance learning: a way of studying, in which you will learn, and communicate with teachers and classmates through the internet.
Example: One benefit of taking distance learning course is the timetable will be flexible, which means you can study whenever and wherever you want.
To learn something by heart: to memorize it
Example: The course requires me to learn a lot of things by heart, which is quite hard for me.
To take a year out: to take a gap year
Example: Before going to the university, I decided to take a year out to travel to some countries.
A graduation ceremony: an event that successful student receive his or her academic degree
Example: a graduation ceremony is one of the most important day in a student life.
Gain/obtain knowledge: to acquire information and learn about a specific subject or matter
Example: Taking academic course will help students to gain a great deal of knowledge.
humanities: studies about human culture, such as literature, languages, philosophy, and history.
Example: Chloe excels in humanities subjects. She’s adept at arts and languages.
sciences: studies about the world, such as physics, biology, chemistry, and maths.
Example: Mark doesn’t like scientific subjects, he’s just too lazy to learn formulas.
A for effort: a good mark, which is given someone for trying hard rather than for a success.
Example: Although I’m not the smartest in my group, I often get an A for effort, because I try hard.
bachelor’s degree: an undergraduate course which usually lasts 3 or 4 years.
Example: I will receive my bachelor’s degree in two years.
bookworm: a term to describe someone who really likes to read and spends a lot of time on it.
Example: I’m a real bookworm. I won’t stop until the book is read.
distance learning (e-learning): education that takes place remotely, usually via the Internet.
Example: Distance learning is more flexible than traditional education, because students don’t have to attend classes and can schedule their timetables as they want.
eager beaver: an enthusiastic and hard-working person.
Example: My friend is an eager beaver. He studies everything with pleasure and gets great marks.
face-to-face classes: a traditional way of studying – in a classroom with a teacher.
Example: When I was a kid, face-to-face classes had no alternatives, but nowadays a myriad of educational establishments offer online courses and individual tuition.
hit the books: begin studying hard.
Example: I’m on my third year in the university, it is time to finally hit the books.
individual tuition (private tuition): instruction received individually or in a small group.
Example: Individual tuition is sometimes more effective than group work.
intensive course: a course that offers longer and more frequent classes.
Example: A few years ago I took an intensive French course in the university.
internship: a temporary position which students usually take to get work experience and practical knowledge.
Example: Before I went into design industry, I took an internship in a company.
master’s degree: a graduate course, which follows after bachelor’s degree.
Example: Master’s degree is often important to find a job with a higher salary.
mature student: someone who’s older than others.
Example: Nowadays it’s not uncommon to face a mature student in the class. People often change professions and get a second or third degree in their midthirties.
not the sharpest tool in the shed: a polite way of saying that someone isn’t very smart.
Example: Maybe John isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s a good friend nonetheless.
public schools: exclusive independent schools in the UK.
Example: My friend finished a public school a few years ago.
schoolboy error: a very basic and stupid mistake.
Example: Sam made a schoolboy error on his English test.
single-sex schools: schools for either boys or girls.
Example: My brother studied in a single-sex school
small fraction: small part.
Example: A small fraction of students managed to pass this exam.
subject specialist: a person who is very talented in one specific field.
Example: My math teacher was a real subject specialist. Thanks to him math is my favourite subject now.
teacher’s pet: student whom teachers like the most.
Example: Hugo is a teacher’s pet, he attends all classes and manages to get good marks with poor knowledge.
three R’s: basic educational skills (reading, writing, arithmetic).
Example: Pupils in a primary school study the three R’s.
to give feedback: to give some information or criticism on a subject.
Example: I launched a project a couple of days ago and I want my friends to give me some feedback.
to goof around: spend time doing nothing important.
Example: Sometimes I like to goof around, although my parents scold me for that.
to learn something by heart: to memorize something.
Example: Last year i had to learn a very big poem by heart for my literature class.
to meet a deadline: to finish something within a time limit.
Example: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet the deadline for our project.
to pass with flying colours: to pass easily and with excellent result.
Example: I’m studying hard and I will pass IELTS with flying colours.
to play truant: to skip classes without permission.
Example: During my school years I often played truant with my friends.
to pursue studying: to continue studying.
Example: Lora would like to pursue studying in the future to become a professor.
to set aside some time: to take some time.
Example: I need to set aside some time to collect my thoughts.
copycat: someone who has few ideas of their own and does or says exactly the same as someone else
to draw a blank: to fail to get an answer or a result
get the hang of something = to learn how to do something, esp. when it is not simple or obvious
to burn the midnight oil = to study/work late into the night
to go back to basis: to return to teaching or paying attention to the most important aspects of a subject or activity
to cover a lot of ground: to review a large amount of information or discuss many topics
IELTS Speaking Sample: Education
Do you work or are you a student?
At the moment I’m studying. I’m doing a graduate degree in molecular biology in the Vanderbilt University.
Why did you choose that subject?
I’ve always loved life sciences, particularly biology… And when I received my bachelor’s degree I took a research internship in a laboratory where I studied interactions between proteins… And then I understood that I want to pursue my career in biochemistry or molecular biology.
Can you describe yourself as a good student?
Well, overall I think I am a good student. … I am not an eager beaver, nor the teacher’s pet… but I’m good at scientific subjects and, most importantly, I like studying.
Do you study English now?
Yes, of course. I’ve taken an intensive course this year, where I’ve attend classes three times a week… And I plan on pursuing my studies in the future, too…
Did you enjoy/Do you enjoy studying at school?
I’ve never really liked school… I’m not a bookworm and a lot of humanities subjects seemed too boring to me. However, the workload was not too big… The other good thing about school is being able to see your friends. And fortunately, I had wonderful classmates.
What kind of school did you go to as a child?
I studied in public school all of my childhood, because at that time, the schools provided better education in comparison with private school.
What do/did you study in your university?
I studied business administration, which really suits my skills and personality.
Would you say you are a good student?
Yes, I would. I have skipped any classes, I find it easy to keep up with my studies, not to mention that my teachers usually compliment on my ability to learn quicker than other students.
Describe a period of time from your studies that was the most difficult for you so far.
You should say:
- When it was
- Why was it hard
- What you were doing at that time
I would like to talk about my last school year. It was really diffucult due to enormous amounts of homework I had to do and all the exams I had to prepare for… Em, so I studied hard, having no time to goof around … Moreover, I forgot a lot of things from the school curriculum, that’s why I had to do a lot of revision… But despite the tough preparation, I managed to set aside some time to rest and interact with my friends and family… After all, my efforts were not in vain… I passed all the exams well and was admitted to the university of my dream.
Describe a time during your education that you really enjoyed.
You should say:
- When this period was?
- Where you were?
- What you were studying at that time?
- And say why you were so happy?
Today I would like to share with you my memorable memories at my university. This is the time when I first moved to a big city and did my Bachelor degree in ABC University. At first, everything was new to me. I had to learn hard to keep up with my studies and spend a part of my time on doing part-time job, then worked my way through university. Although I led a hectic lifestyle at that time, I believe that it was the best time in my student’s lives, in which I joined in many clubs and activities, which gave me a golden chance to experience social lives, and make new friends.
Another thing that I remembered is when I was struggling to choose my major at university and received help from my classmates. As a junior student, my university required my to decide which major such as human resources management, accounting, finance I would follow. Having known that friends who had been studying with me for a long time might know better than me, I came to some of my friends and asked them for help. It was very kind of them that they spent time on analyzing my strengths and weaknesses, also discussing with me the pros and cons of each majors. After a few hours talking with them, I made a decision that I would go for human resources management. Now, I has been studying that major for almost 3 years and I have not ever regretted about my choice.
Through all those times, I realize that whenever I am in need, my friends are always be there for me.
What are some essential qualities every teacher should have?
As for me, every teacher should be able to catch student’s attention. It is very important to make your subject interesting to the others… Also, teacher should be a subject specialist and a kind, helpful person..
What are some pros of studying on a distance learning course?
To be honest, I think it’s very advantageous to study in such way… It gives you more time flexibility, especially if you have a job… Not to mention that it is fairly cheap, compared to face-to-face classes…
Does everybody get equal opportunities to study?
Definitely not. I think it really depends on a country you live in… Moreover, it depends on your financial capabilities… Some schools and universities are just too expensive… Only a small fraction of people can afford to study there.
What are the advantage of studying on a distance learning course?
The most foreseen benefits is that the timetable is flexible, which means students can learn anytime they want. In addition, tuition fees are likely to affordable because distance learning classes do not need to be invested in classrooms and other educational facilities. But people who take distance learning courses have to be motivated, otherwise they could fall behind with their studies.
Do all children get equal opportunities in education?
No, not really. In my country, students from well off families are likely to have better chance to study in private school with excellent facilities while this is still out of reach of few learners, because their families cannot support them.
In our next post on expanding your vocabulary for your IELTS, we’ll be looking at vocabulary related to transportation, so don’t forget to keep checking our blog!
IELTS Speaking Practice: Education
Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: Are you studying English at a school?
Michel: Yes … I’m taking an intensive course at a local private language school … I attend classes three times a week …
Examiner: Would you say you are a good student?
Susan: I’m OK I think … I’m pretty good at meeting deadlines and I’m keeping up with my studies… plus I find it quite easy to learn things by heart which is useful when learning a language …
Examiner: When you were younger did you enjoy your time at school?
Theo: Yes … I liked school … it was an ordinary state school … nothing special a single-sex school … which I’m not sure I liked … but the teachers were great …I had lots of friends and I never played truant like some pupils there …
Part 2-style task
Describe a time during your education that you really enjoyed. You should say:
- when this period was
- where you were
- what you were studying at the time
and say why you were so happy.
Caroline: I’d like to tell you about my time at university … I was a mature student … I didn’t go to university until I was 25 … and it was my first time away from my parents so it was very exciting … I was doing a Bachelors Degree and it was a bit of a challenge … some people take a year out but I’d been away from education for 8 years … plus I had to work my way through uni so I was very busy … and sitting exams at the end of each year was a new experience for me as well but I really enjoyed higher education learning about a subject I loved … history … and the social life was great as well … I don’t think I’ve ever had so many friends … I had my graduation ceremony last year in the local cathedral and I know my parents were really proud … so yes … that was a really happy time … I’m thinking of doing a Masters Degree soon … though that might be through distance learning as I have a full-time job now …
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: What qualities do you think a good teacher has?
Anna: They should be patient … they should be subject specialists and be able to explain the subject clearly … they should give feedback quickly … for example not hang on to essay for ages like some of my teachers …
Examiner: What are the advantages of studying on a distance learning course?
Florrie: It’s a more flexible way of studying especially if you have a job … tuition fees are usually cheaper … but you have to be very motivated … and I would imagine more people fall behind with their studies compared to face-to-face classes …
Examiner: Do all children get equal opportunities in education?
Julie: In my country, I think it is quite equal but in the UK I’ve heard that most people who go to the top universities have studied at public schools … you have to be very rich to study in a school like that … they’re usually boarding schools as well so the fees are enormous …
to attend classes: to go to classes
bachelors degree: an undergraduate course which usually lasts 3-4 years
boarding school: a school where pupils live during term time
distance learning: a way of studying where tuition is carried out over the Internet or by post
face-to-face classes: as opposed to distance learning the traditional way of studying in a classroom with colleagues and a teacher
to fall behind with your studies: to progress less quickly than others
to give feedback: to offer guidance on a student’s work
a graduation ceremony: an event where a successful student receives his or her academic degree
higher education: education, usually in a college or university, that is followed after high school or secondary school
an intensive course: a course that offers lots of training in order to reach a goal in as short a time as possible
to keep up with your studies: to not fall behind
to learn something by heart: to memorize it
a mature student: a student who is older than average and who has usually returned to education after a period at work
masters degree: a period of study which often follows the completion of a bachelors degree or is undertaken by someone regarded as capable of a higher-level academic course
to meet a deadline: to finish a job or task in the time allowed or agreed
to play truant: to stay away from classes without permission
private language school: an independent school run as a business concern
public schools: exclusive independent schools in the UK
a single-sex school: a school where only boys or girls attend (as opposed to a mixed-sex school)
to sit an exam: to take an exam
state school: a school paid for by public funds and available to the general public
subject specialist: a teacher who has a great deal of knowledge about the subject they teach.
to take a year out: to spend a year working or travelling before starting university
tuition fees: the money paid for a course of study
to work your way through university: to have a paid job whilst studying to support yourself financially
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