Using idioms in IELTS

What are idioms?

English idioms are expressions that have a meaning of their own, and where understanding all of the individual words doesn’t necessarily mean you will understand an idiom.

For example, the idiom ‘a can of worms’ actually has nothing to do with cans or worms – it means when a decision or action produces considerable subsequent problems, often much more than was expected.

Should I use idioms in the IELTS test?

The simple answer is yes – and no! English idioms are often used in informal speech and writing – they can be used to demonstrate a level of familiarity with English that will really help improve your result. However, they can also be considered too informal in other situations.

Here some situations where we you can use idioms:

– The General Training Module writing test Task 1 (if the letter is informal / to a friend)

– Part 1 of the speaking test


Here some situations where we you SHOULD NOT use idioms:

NEVER use idioms in Task 2 of the writing test, and avoid using them at all if you are not 100% sure it suits the context you are using it in!

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