Education vocabulary and trends for IELTS Version 2

Objective IELTS Advanced Unit 1

Brainstorming education vocabulary

In pairs or small groups, brainstorm at least three things into each of the categories below. You will get one point for each correct word or phrase that isn’t in the answer key.

Educational institutions








Things connected to education and money




People connected to education




Collocations with “test” and “exam”




Things which are different in British and American English (including because the educational systems are different)




Abbreviations (= short forms) of education vocabulary









Education words which have similar but different meanings

Answer key

Educational institutions

cram school, secondary school (= junior high school), primary school (= elementary school), kindergarten/ nursery/ pre-school/ playschool, uni, grad school, (technical/ vocational/ junior/ two year/ 6th form) college, language school, prep school, boarding school


school leaving certificate, BA/ BSc/ bachelor’s degree/ first degree/ four year degree/ university degree/ undergraduate degree, junior college degree/ two year degree, master’s degree/ master’s/ MA/ MSc/ MPhil/ MBA, postgraduate degree, PhD/ doctorate, post-doc

Things connected to money

grant, scholarship, living expenses, tuition (fees), fine


(fellow) alumni, pupil, professor, lecturer, lab assistant, (mature/ postgrad/ undergraduate) student, fresher (= freshman), second year student (= sophomore), third year student (= junior), senior, final year student, post-doc, TA (= teaching assistant)

Collocations with “test” and “exam”

take, retake, fail/ flunk, pass with flying colours, scrape through, entrance, end of term, final, open book, multiple choice, national, school leaving, essay-based, oral, mid-term

Different in British/ American English

primary school/ elementary school, secondary school/ junior high school, high school/ 6th form (college), grad school, term/ semester, revise/ review, sophomore/ second year student, junior/ third year student, final year student, senior, three year degree/ four year degree, fresher/ freshman, Oxbridge/ Ivy league, redbrick universities, the meaning of public school, GCSEs, straight A student, school transcripts, A levels/ high school leaving certificate, IB, tutor/ homeroom teacher, (student) halls/ dorms


BA, BSc, BEd, MA, MSc, MBA, MPhil, PhD, post-doc, SAT, uni, finals, co-ed, PTA, Oxbridge, lab, postgrad, dorm, grad school, TA, post-doc


pass – fail, undergraduate – postgraduate, attend – skip, major – minor, co-ed – single sex, fresher/ first year student/ freshman – final year student/ senior

Words which have similar but different meanings

pupil/ student, quiz/ test/ exam, essay/ dissertation, university/ college, freshman/ new recruit, lecture/ lesson, lecturer/ professor, grant/ scholarship, certificate/ qualification, academic year/ calendar year, hearing test/ listening test, BA/ BSc, diploma/ degree, cram school/ private tutor, lecture/ lesson/ seminar/ workshop


What does “skip” mean (in this context)?

What does the “bachelor” in Bachelor of Science mean?

Does “freshman” mean a first year student?

Does “seminar” mean the same thing in Japanese and English?

Is “a nursery” the same as “a kindergarten”?

What’s the difference between “a lecturer” and “a professor”?

Can you give me an example of a postgraduate qualification?

What’s the opposite of “a fresher”?

How do you pronounce this word? – uni

What does MBA stand for?




Without looking above, try to remember the questions you were just using (or think of similar ones).

mean x 3

same x 2






Ask each other similar questions about the vocabulary.

What do these things mean? (You should be able to guess)

Sandwich course

Gap year

Scrape through


What is wrong with these phrases and sentences?

1. My PhD major is…

2. I study English since I was in junior high school./ I started studying English in my childhood, so it’s been more than 15 years.

3. When I was junior high school student,…/ When I was high school,…

4. I will study in the UK the year after next./ I want to go to an Ivy College.

5. I want to career up./ I have to speak to foreigners at work.

6. I’ve been having man to man Chinese lessons for the last few weeks.

7. No, I just want to improve my English as possible as I can./ I wish I could study Chinese./ I want to challenge French.

8. When I graduate from my Master’s,…

9. When I was in the first grade at university,…

What could the questions be for the answers above? Write the questions down.











Compare with these questions:

 What are you studying?

 How long have you been studying English?

 Did you like English at school?

 Do you have any plans to study abroad?

 What are your reasons for studying English?

 Have you ever studied any other languages?

 Do you want to study any other languages?

 Do you want to study anything else in the future?

 When did you last…?

Ask similar questions in different pairs.

Education trends

What are the past, present and future trends for these things in your country? Choose one topic and see if your partner agrees with your description.

 Academic standards

 Cheating

 Dropping out of uni

 English-medium courses/ Use of English in universities

 Entrance requirements/ The difficulty of entering university

 Fees

 Fees/ The cost of education

 Foreign students

 Funding/ Scholarships

 Grades

 Mature students

 MBAs

 Number of hours studied at school/ university/ Length of the school week

 People taking undergraduate degrees (percentage and overall numbers)

 Postgraduate study

 Pre-school education

 Respect for teachers

 Skipping school

 Students working part time

 Study of English

 Study of other languages

 Studying abroad

 Use of cram schools

 Use of student halls

 Use of technology in education

What phrases can you use to talk about trends?

With a partner, brainstorm at least two phrases into each of the categories below.

Upward trends



Downward trends



Going up and down



Not changing



Big changes



Small changes



PDF version for easy saving and printing: IELTS education vocabulary and trends Version 2

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