Idioms for IELTS Writing and Speaking: A Comprehensive Guide

To achieve a high band score in IELTS Writing and Speaking sections, incorporating idiomatic expressions can be a game-changer. Idioms, when used appropriately, can enrich your language and make it sound more natural and fluent, impressing the examiner. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of idioms for IELTS Writing and Speaking, how to use them effectively, and provide a list of commonly used idioms to boost your score.

Understanding Idioms: What are They?

Idioms are expressions or phrases that have a specific meaning, which is not deducible from the individual words within the expression. They are commonly used in everyday conversations, making the language more colorful and expressive. Although idioms are often used informally, there are some that can be employed in formal settings, such as IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks.

It is crucial to only use idioms that you have heard in context and are confident in using correctly. Misuse of idioms can result in a lower score, so it is better to avoid them if you are unsure of their meaning or usage.

Importance of Idioms in IELTS Writing and Speaking

Incorporating idiomatic language in your IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks can help you achieve a higher band score. However, it is essential to remember that using idioms just for the sake of using them can make your language sound forced and unnatural. Similarly, using too few idioms can disrupt the flow of your speech or writing.

To secure a band 7 or higher for Vocabulary in IELTS Writing, you must demonstrate an awareness of style and collocation by using "less common phrases." Formal idioms can satisfy these requirements while also adding depth and richness to your language.

Tips for Using Idioms in IELTS Writing and Speaking

Here are some practical tips for effectively incorporating idioms into your IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks:

  1. Choose appropriate idioms: Use idioms that are relevant to the topic or situation at hand. Avoid using informal idioms in the Academic Writing task, as they are not suitable for formal writing.

  2. Learn flexible idioms: Focus on learning idioms that can be used in various situations, rather than ones that are applicable only in specific contexts. This will increase the likelihood of being able to use the idioms in your IELTS tasks.

  3. Use idioms in moderation: As mentioned earlier, idioms should be used sparingly to avoid sounding unnatural or forced. Balance is key – find the right balance between using idiomatic expressions and more straightforward language.

  4. Practice using idioms: The more you practice using idioms in your speech and writing, the more comfortable and natural you will become in using them. Try to incorporate idioms into your everyday conversations and writing practice to become more proficient in their usage.

List of Commonly Used Idioms for IELTS Writing and Speaking

Below are some idiomatic expressions that can be employed in IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks. Ensure that you understand their meanings and usage before incorporating them into your tasks.

Idioms for Describing People, Interests, and Activities

  1. Fresh as a daisy: Someone who is lively and attractive, in a clean, fresh way.
  2. Couch potato: Spending too much time on the internet or watching TV.
  3. Full of beans: A person who is lively, active, and healthy.
  4. A bad egg: Someone who is untrustworthy.
  5. Down to earth: Someone who is practical and realistic.

Idioms for Agreeing, Disagreeing, and Giving Opinions

  1. On the same page: In agreement about a situation or understanding each other's viewpoints.
  2. A hot potato: A controversial topic or issue.
  3. The ball's in your court: It is now your decision or responsibility to do something.
  4. Give it my best shot: Try your hardest or put in maximum effort.
  5. Actions speak louder than words: It is better to do something than just talk about it.

Idioms for Time, Decisions, and Change

  1. Once in a blue moon: Something that happens very rarely.
  2. In the long run / In the short run: Over or after a long period / Over or after a short period.
  3. There's no time like the present: Do what you want to do now; do not put off until tomorrow.
  4. Better late than never: It is better to finish something, even if it takes longer than expected.
  5. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today: Finish what needs to be done today rather than postponing it.

Idioms for Problem-solving and Overcoming Challenges

  1. A drop in the ocean: A very small part of something much bigger.
  2. Back to the drawing board: Starting over or trying again after a failure or setback.
  3. Put all your eggs in one basket: Put all your effort or resources into one thing or project, which can be risky.
  4. Take the bull by the horns: Tackle a problem or challenge head-on.
  5. Get a head start: Begin something earlier than others to gain an advantage.

Additional Idioms for IELTS Writing and Speaking

  1. It goes without saying: Used to imply that something is obvious or self-evident.
  2. In somebody's shoes: In somebody's situation, often a difficult or challenging one.
  3. Jump the gun: To start something prematurely or too early.
  4. On the ball: Ready, able, and alert.
  5. Throw in the towel: To give up, quit, or abandon a task or goal.


Mastering idiomatic expressions can significantly enhance your IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks, earning you a higher band score. However, it is essential to use idioms appropriately and naturally to avoid sounding forced or unnatural. Practice using idioms in your everyday conversations and writing to become more comfortable and proficient in their usage. By incorporating idioms effectively into your IELTS tasks, you can impress the examiner and boost your chances of achieving a high band score.