The Academic Word List and IELTS writing

Academic word is exactly the sort of words you need to be able to use in your writing. They are all common words and you do need to learn to use them. This means learning:

  • their grammar
  • collocations/word combinations
  • different word forms

Their meaning is not normally a problem.

The headwords in list 7 of the Academic Word List

adapt

adult

advocate

aid

channel

chemical

classic

comprehensive

comprise

confirm

contrary

convert

couple

decade

definite

deny

differentiate

dispose

dynamic

eliminate

empirical

equip

extract

file

finite

foundation

globe

grade

guarantee

hierarchy

identical

ideology

infer

innovate

insert

intervene

isolate

media

mode

paradigm

phenomenon

priority

prohibit

publication

quote

release

reverse

simulate

sole

somewhat

submit

successor

survive

thesis

topic

transmit

ultimate

unique

visible

voluntary

What is the Academic Word List?

My daily word exercises are based on the Academic Word List (AWL) because the AWL is a list of the words most used in academic writing across all specialties (science, law, medicine, economics etc).

The AWL contains 570-word families subdivided into 10 lists with list 1 as the result the most frequently used words and list 10 the least. The idea is that list 1 contains the most common words and list 10 the least common.

Learning how to use these word List

This Word is a great tool but you need to know how to use it. Here are some quick tips.

Do not just focus on what the words mean because these are words you want to use for yourself.

Learn what all the common forms of the word are hence this means learning the word families

You need to know what other words you can use in combination with these words – this means collocations and prepositions. If you don’t know that then you can’t use them!

570-word families are not 570 words – it takes time – don’t rush it

There are 1000s of words in the Academic Word List and it will take time to master. Why? Each word is, in fact, a family of words e.g. analyse is not one word but at least 4:

Analyze – analysis – analytical – analytically

Review is important 

Learning words need repetition. This is why I now have weekly review exercises.