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IELTS Vocabulary: 'topic specific' and 'less common'

 Is there a difference between 'topic specific' vocabulary and 'less common' vocabulary? Let's have a closer look at these terms.

Topic specific vocabulary

Topic specific just means 'about the topic'. For example, if the question is about climate change, the word 'pollution' is topic specific.

Less common vocabulary

Staying with the climate change topic, I think you'll agree that 'pollution' is a relatively common or easy word that most IELTS candidates would know. So, which words or phrases might be considered 'less common'? Here are some suggestions:

  • burning fossil fuels
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • carbon footprint
  • become carbon neutral
  • renewable energy sources

These 'less common' phrases go deeper into the climate change topic (compared to the word 'pollution') and demonstrate that you know a wider range of relevant vocabulary.

Notice that the 'less common' list above contains collocations (groups of words) rather than individual 'big' words. If you're aiming for a band 7 or higher, this is the type of vocabulary that you need: topic-specific collocations and phrases.

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