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Paraphrasing in the IELTS Test

Paraphrasing in the IELTS test can be tricky but well worth getting the hang of. 

It's an important skill that you'll need to use in the test.

It’s done by putting something into your own words; it can be done by re-arranging the sentence structure, using synonyms or changing the form of a word. 

Why is this relevant in the IELTS exam?

It’s an essential skill to master for both the speaking and writing sections.

It basically happens in IELTS when you are given words, phrases or sentences in the form of prompts or questions, and you place these into your own words.

Paraphrasing in IELTS Speaking

(see below for writing)

For a high score, paraphrasing is required to demonstrate understanding and an advanced vocabulary. Essentially, it’s what stands between you and Band 8.

When looking at the official speaking assessment criteria, you’ll notice the following requirements for different scores within lexical resources:

  • Band 5: Attempts paraphrase but not always with success.
  • Band 6: Generally able to paraphrase successfully.
  • Band 7: Effective use of paraphrase as required. 
  • Band 8: Effective use of paraphrase as required.

Not paraphrasing in the IELTS test successfully can negatively impact your score, and you don’t want that! 

Not only will paraphrasing allow you to show off your vocabulary to the examiner, but it can also help buy you some extra time to think of what you want to say and even help you understand the question a bit better by rephrasing it out loud.

Let’s take a further look at exactly how to paraphrase in the speaking section. We’ll use common part 1 questions for the examples to give a clear understanding of how to implement this technique in an exam but you can do it in all parts.

Different Ways to Paraphrase

With synonyms

  • Q: “Is there anything you dislike about your hometown?”

  • A: “There are a number of things I’m not fond of in the city I grew up in. For instance, I don't like...” 

By Rearranging Word Order

  • Q: “Has your hometown changed much since you were a child?”

  • A: “Since I was a child, my hometown has definitely changed in many ways. It's become...” 

Changing Word Formations

  • Q: ”Are there any changes you would like to make to your hometown?”
  • A: “There are definitely some things I’d like to change about my hometown.”

Paraphrasing in IELTS Writing

In the writing section, you’ll take a similar approach.

Paraphrasing in Writing Task 1

If you’re taking the academic IELTS exam, you’ll especially need to paraphrase in task 1 of the writing section, where you’re given a diagram/graph to analyse. 


The pie chart below shows the main reasons why agricultural land becomes less productive. The table shows how these causes affected three regions of the world during the 1990s.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Step 1 is to paraphrase this and here’s what that might look like:

First Sentence of Introduction

The pie chart portrays the primary causes of agricultural land deterioration, while the table illustrates how three different parts of the world have been impacted by these issues during the 1990’s.

After you’ve completed that, you’ll already be 30 words into your 150-word description of your chart and table. 

You’ve demonstrated your ability to paraphrase using excellent synonyms and rearranging the sentence into a complex structure by using the linking word “while” to join them together. 

Paraphrasing in Writing Task 2

Part 2 requires you to write an academic-style essay on your opinion, argue a point, or solve a problem.

This means you’ll be given a statement within the question itself that you can paraphrase in the introduction of your essay. 

You can implement any of the paraphrasing methods mentioned above or even a combination. Here’s an example:

Essay Question

We have an enormous variety of options to choose from in our everyday lives. However, some people argue that in reality we don’t have the liberty to make different choices.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

First Sentence of Introduction

In today's world, it’s often argued that despite having many options, people are not always free to make many decisions.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so let’s jump straight into it!



Try answering these questions by using paraphrasing at the start. The questions are from parts 1-3

Part 1

  • What is your favourite part of the week?

  • How often do you spend each day sending text messages?

Part 2

  • Describe someone who has had an important influence on your life.

  • Describe a happy childhood event.

Part 3

  • Do you think social media is a bad influence on children?

  • Are countries doing enough to combat global warming?

Writing Task 1

Paraphrase these writing task 1 prompts.

  1. The chart below shows the percentage of people from the UK who ate five portions of fruit per day from 2014 to 2024.

  2. The line graph below shows the global sales of digital games between 2010 and 2020.

  3. The diagram illustrates the process that is used to manufacture bricks for the building industry.

Writing Task 2

Paraphrase the following statements:

  1. Many people believe that social networking sites have had a huge negative impact on both people and the society

  2. Some people think that getting a degree from a university is the best way to guarantee a good job; others believe it would be better to go straight to work and get experience instead.

  3. Most people believe that money cannot buy happiness. Why does happiness have to be defined? How can people achieve happiness?

More Task 2 IELTS Lessons:

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