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IELTS Writing Task 1: synonyms or collocations?

 In the latest lesson on my member site, I talked about the problem of using synonyms. For example, if you're describing a chart that shows percentages of poverty, you might think that you need to use synonyms of the word poverty in your answer.

If you look for synonyms of 'poverty' in a dictionary, you'll find words like:

destitution, pennilessness, deprivation, impoverishment, pauperism

Unfortunately, these words will seem forced and unnatural. Also, you don't have access to a dictionary in your test, and it's unlikely that you would have these words in your head.

My advice in the video lesson was this: Add variety by using collocations instead of synonyms. For example:

Collocations with the word poverty:

  • poverty rates
  • levels of poverty
  • below the poverty line

Collocations with the adjective (poor) instead of the noun (poverty):

  • poor people
  • people who were classed as poor
  • poorer individuals

In the academic test, this is the best way to reduce repetition and to add variety to your task 1 answers.

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