3 Tips for Developing and Expanding Your Academic Writing Vocabulary

Having good academic writing vocabulary is essential to getting top marks on assignments. It can feel tricky, and sometimes impossible, to know which words you should use and how to expand your vocabulary, especially when you’re not used to using academic vocabulary. However, it’s easier than you think, and with these three tips, you’ll be well on your way to sounding like a professional.

Take a Course

Taking a course to help you improve your academic writing can be exactly the kind of boost you need to start getting top marks. There are plenty out there for both native and non-native English speakers, meaning there’s something out there for everyone. The IELTS Podcast offers vocabulary collocation for the IELTS exam; this means you can learn phrases or words which sound good, and can improve your fluency and flow, meaning you can not only improve your vocabulary range, but also the tone of your writing.

Exam Study Material

These are particularly good for those who use English as a second language, as it is tailored to improving English, but anyone with a drive to improve their skills can access it. With many other helpful lessons for you to learn, it’s a great way to get direct commentary and guidance on what you’re doing well, and where you need to improve.

Read Frequently

This is something that’s much more important than many people tend to think – reading is essential for improving vocabulary, as well as learning things like phrasing, tone and formatting skills. Of course, enjoying fiction books is not a problem, and can still help you get into reading, but if you’re really looking to widen your vocabulary by reading, opting for articles, non-fiction books and newspapers is an even better choice. This is because most of them use formal register, and opt for more academic language, meaning you can quickly pick up much more words which you can then implement.

They also give you an idea of how to implement these words – you can see this new vocabulary used in a context you can understand. This is much better than a thesaurus, as it’s easy to pick a word and not know the true context, getting the definition slightly wrong and therefore damaging the quality of your writing. Reading means you’re more likely to take it in and therefore more likely to use it. Reading frequently, even if this is just one news article a day, will hugely expand your vocabulary and help you develop a more formal style of writing.

Have Some Fun

Improving your academic vocabulary can be hard work, but it doesn’t always have to be. There are some fun activities you can do too to give you some additional help with your vocabulary. Word games, like crosswords, are a great place to start – they require lots of critical thinking to work out, and often include words you’re not aware of beforehand, meaning you can understand the concept, and then apply that to the word, picking up new words as you play.

Crosswords aren’t something you need to spend a lot of time doing, either – they make a great way to pass a lunch or break, and are easy to dive in and out of, meaning you can practice and develop your vocabulary in your free time, without it feeling like a lot of work. Some games also allow you to challenge others, meaning you can do it as a social thing. This means you’re more likely to stay committed – after all, who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition?

It does take some hard work, but you’ll find it pays off in the end – with these three tips, you’ll find your vocabulary increasing by the day.

Related: What is Coursework? | Definition, Meaning & keypoints!