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How to Paraphrase Successfully in IELTS

Paraphrasing in IELTS is essential for a high score in IELTS. This page contains tips on paraphrasing to maximise your score. You need to learn to to identify paraphrases in IELTS listening and reading. For IELTS writing and speaking, you need to learn to paraphrase using your own words. Students who are good at paraphrasing will do better in all parts of their IELTS test.

This page will review 6 tips for paraphrasing in IELTS:

  1. using synonyms
  2. not changing all words
  3. avoiding mistakes
  4. changing word forms
  5. changing sentence stucture
  6. paraphrasing and band scores
  7. paraphrasing practice lessons

1. Using Synonyms

In IELTS one way to paraphrase is to use synonyms. Using different words with a similar meaning shows the examiner a range of vocabulary which you need to get over band score 6. Here is an example of how a sentence can be re-written by using synonyms:

The reasons for increasing levels of pollution are the development of industry and air travel.

The sentence above can be paraphrased as:

The causes of rising levels of pollution are the growth and expansion of industry as well as the number of people travelling by air.

Here is a list of how the sentence was altered using synonyms.

  • causes = reasons
  • increasing = rising
  • the development of = the growth and expansion of
  • and = as well as
  • air travel = travelling by air
  • Notice: you can see that the words “levels of pollution” and “industry” have not be changed. This is fine. Not all words need to be changed. In fact, the word “pollution” is best not changed. See tip number 2, below:

2. Not All Words Need Changing

Not all words need to be changed for a high score in IELTS. You can see from the example above that some words have remained the same “levels of pollution / industry / air). This means you need to decide which words to paraphrase and which words to keep the same.

Decide which words you can successfully paraphrase and which ones you will keep. Be selective. A high level student knows when to change words and when now to change words.

If you try to paraphrase too much, you might:

  1. make mistakes which will lower your score
  2. change the meaning which might result in you going off topic
  3. See tip number 3, below:

Here is a link to more practice paraphrasing for IELTS.

3. Avoiding Mistakes

The more mistakes you make with vocabulary in IELTS writing and speaking, the lower your score will be. Paraphrasing is a skill. Synonyms do not have exactly the same meaning and cannot always be used at the same time.

Watch this video below to get useful tips on paraphrasing for writing task 1 and writing task 2.

4. Changing the Word Form

Another way to paraphrase sentences is to change the form of the word. This means we use the same words as IELTS but change their form. Here is an example:

Many people are unhealthy because they fail to eat well and exercise.

This can be paraphrased by changing the word form of “unhealthy”, “fail” and “exercise”.

Many people have poor health because they are failing to eat well and are not exercising enough.

You can see from the above example, that many of the words are the same but the form is changed.

  1. unhealthy = poor health
  2. fail = failing
  3. exercise = exercising

This demonstrates excellent vocabulary skills to the examiner and will help you get a good score for vocabulary. It shows that you understand the words very well and can use them in different ways.

If you watch the video below about writing an introduction for IELTS writing task 2, you will see again how words can be paraphrased by changing their form and using synonyms.

Writing an Introduction for an IELTS Essay

Common Word Forms Examples

  • developing = the development of
  • increasing = an increase in
  • pollution = being polluted
  • explain = explanation

5. Changing Sentence Structure

Another way to paraphrase successfully is to change the order to words in a sentence. This means changing the structure of the sentence. Taking the example from above again:

Many people are unhealthy because they fail to eat well and exercise.

You can see there are two clauses “Many people are unhealthy” and the second clause “because they fail to eat well and exercise”.

We can change the order of the clauses:

Many people fail to eat well and exercise and, for that reason, they are unhealthy.

Lets make more changes to the sentence. Now we can also paraphrase by altering the word form as we did previously. The final sentence would be:

Failing to eat well and not exercising are the reasons that many people have poor health.

6. Paraphrasing & IELTS Band Scores

Of course paraphrasing will help your band score for the criterion of vocabulary.

Band Score 5

  •  Minimum Range of Vocabulary
  • Frequent Errors which cause problems with meaning

Band Score 6

  • Adequate Range of Vocabulary
  • Some Errors but the meaning is clear

Band Score 7

  • Sufficient Range of Vocabulary
  • Few Errors

Band Score 8

  • Wide Range of Vocabulary
  • Most sentences are Error Free

You can see that you need to show a range of words which means you need to paraphrase. But you also need to reduce your errors which means don’t try to paraphrase too much and don’t make mistakes.

Following the above tips (using synonyms, not paraphrasing all words, avoiding errors, changing the word form and changing the sentence structure) will help you achieve the highest score.

7. Paraphrasing Practice

It is essential that you practice paraphrasing and using synonyms. You can find some paraphrasing practice lessons on the links below.

  • My IELTS Reading Main Page which contains lessons for paraphrasing and using synonyms as well as lots of lessons for TFNG and other question types that appear in IELTS reading.
  • My IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page which contains lots of tips for essay writing as well as paraphrasing practice.


Main IELTS Pages

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  1. Hi Liz,

    How to paraphrase following statement, which has two sentences.

    Some people think it is more beneficial to play sports that are played in teams. However, some people think it is beneficial to play individual games. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    • While it is thought by some that team sports are more beneficial, others believe individual sports are better.

  2. Hello Liz
    I really need your help in this essay. It was in IELTS Cambridge book 12.
    In many places new homes are needed but only space available for building them is in the countryside. Some people believe it’s important to protect countryside and not build new homes there. What is your opinion about this??
    My question is how to answer such a question. Do I have to state importance of countryside and than state advantages of building homes in city center. …I’m confused and I’m short of ideas as well. ..Pls help me
    Thanks alot

    • Try to write yourself a question:
      Do you think new homes should be built in the countryside rather than in cities?
      That is the issue in the essay question. Nearly all questions relate to current world issues. Cities are becoming more crowded and it is hard to build homes there so should we build in the countryside instead?
      All you need to do is answer the question with your opinion and then explain your opinion.

  3. Fatemeh Mohammadzadeh says:

    Thanks a lot Liz.

  4. Jerry george says:

    Hi mam,
    I am very confused with the thesis for discussion essay. Please help me

  5. Hi liz..i took my ielts academic test.there was a bar chart with two information..once i completed my writing i noticed that i have mixed up the two details given in the graph and my whole analysis was based on this mix up..how badly will it affect my band score..im looking for 7..

  6. Is there any difference between academic or GT essay.

  7. roopesh p raj says:

    Hi Liz,
    Can I use for in place of because?
    Many people have poor health for they are failing to excercise and are not exercising enough.

    • You can use “as”, not “for”. “Many people have poor health AS they are failing to exercise OR are not exercising enough” Review both your linking words and prepositions.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I honestly enjoyed watching this video. Knowledge is power indeed. Thanks Liz.

  9. Thanks a lot for this useful lesson and priceless tips .😻

  10. Hi Liz, thanks.

  11. Sahajpal kaur says:

    Hi Liz
    Thankyou your tips are very helpful and easy to understand.
    I have question about writing introduction in task2. How many word limit are required in introduction of task2.

  12. sharanpreet says:

    thanks mam this post is very useful.

  13. kulwinder kaur says:

    thanks liz mam .this is very useful for me.

  14. it is a priceless lesson..thanks indeed

    please I have a question

    in (discussion essay and give your opinion)
    should I only write my opinion in the introduction and restate it in the conclusion ? or should I write a separate body paragraph explaining my opinion..?
    thanks in advance

  15. Tq Liz.. Ur providing valuable tips, I like ur videos very much and the way u explain is awesome .😃😃

  16. Md.Jubayer hossain says:

    thank you

  17. Dalya Seadi says:

    I have a question about opinion essay, do we have to write ( in my opinion, I partially agree) in case I’m partially agreeing with the statement ?!

    And, can I write
    In my opinion, I agree/disagree with the previous statement. Doing daily exercise …my ideas ??

  18. It is very useful to improve paraphrasing and vocabulary.

  19. It is so clear and useful.thanks a lot

  20. Thanks Liz… I love your lessons, very clear and precise. Keep up the good work. I will be writing the IELTS on the 2nd of December. Wish me luck, as i need to score 8 and above in all the test criteria.☺☺

    • The key to band 8 is two fold: 1) Avoid errors in English (this is particularly strict in writing). This is one of the main differences between 7 and 8. Band 8 means the majority of sentences are error free. 2) Learn as much as you can about the test, the requirements and the techniques. Good luck!!

  21. santosh hirve says:

    Dear Liz, first thank you very much for your plenty valuable tips for WT-1 & WT-2, which i did used in my IELTS exam (28th Oct. 2017), and hope my band score must be improve because your ‘r my guide person. And result will be announce on coming 10th or 11th Nov. 2017. Again thx & God bless you

  22. Manpreet kaur says:

    Hello Liz,
    This is vry useful. Nd thank u so much

  23. Hi Liz

    I need your help to understand what is required for band 7+ essay. Any suggestions in this regard would be helpful. May be do’s or don’t or some tips we can follow to ensure atleast we are covering what is needed for 7+ essay.

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