In the realm of language, idioms are like hidden treasures, possessing the power to add depth, color, and a touch of cultural richness to communication. In the context of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) speaking test, idioms are gems that can elevate a candidate’s language proficiency and presentation. This essay delves into the fascinating world of idioms, exploring their impact on IELTS speaking scores, presenting common idioms, offering sentence samples, and addressing frequently asked questions. Let’s get into the best idioms for IELTS speaking


idioms for ielts speaking
TOP 20 idioms for IELTS Speaking


1. What is an idiom?

Idioms are linguistic treasures that enrich communication with layers of meaning and cultural nuances. In IELTS speaking, idioms act as intricate brushstrokes, adding depth and color to language proficiency. These figurative expressions, often rooted in cultural heritage, elevate responses beyond mere words, captivating examiners and conveying a deeper understanding of the language. While incorporating idioms can enhance fluency, showcase a range of vocabulary, and add authenticity to responses, it’s essential to wield them thoughtfully. 

The apt use of idiomatic expressions can help candidates stand out, making their speech more memorable and engaging. However, candidates should exercise caution, ensuring idioms are relevant to the context and accurately understood. A judicious sprinkling of idioms throughout the IELTS speaking test can underscore one’s language competence and creativity, contributing to an impressive performance that resonates with both examiners and the essence of effective communication.

For example, the idiom “break a leg” means “good luck” and has nothing to do with actual leg-breaking.

2. Do idioms improve your IELTS speaking score?

Using idioms effectively in your IELTS speaking test can potentially improve your score, but it’s important to use them appropriately and naturally. Idioms can enhance your language proficiency and demonstrate your ability to communicate beyond basic language skills. Here’s how idioms can positively impact your IELTS speaking score:

Language Range and Flexibility: Incorporating idiomatic expressions showcases a broader vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the language. This demonstrates to the examiner that you can use language creatively and fluently.

Cultural Awareness: Using idioms appropriately also indicates cultural awareness and a nuanced understanding of the language’s nuances. This can make your communication more engaging and authentic.

Vivid Communication: Idioms often carry vivid and colorful imagery, allowing you to express ideas more vividly and engagingly. This can make your responses more memorable and impactful.

Naturalness and Fluency: Proper use of idioms demonstrates that you are comfortable with the language and can use it naturally, which contributes to a higher fluency score.

Impression on Examiners: When used accurately and appropriately, idioms can leave a positive impression on examiners, showcasing your confidence and proficiency in English.

However, it’s essential to be cautious when using idioms:

  • Accuracy: Ensure you understand the meaning and context of an idiom before using it. Using an idiom incorrectly can have a negative impact on your score.
  • Relevance: Use idioms that are relevant to the topic you’re discussing. Avoid overloading your speech with too many idioms.
  • Naturalness: Incorporate idioms naturally and seamlessly into your sentences. Forced usage can sound awkward and negatively affect your score.
  • Clarity: Remember that examiners should be able to understand you clearly. Avoid using overly complex idioms that might obscure your intended message.

Incorporating a few idiomatic expressions thoughtfully and skillfully can indeed enhance your IELTS speaking score by adding depth and authenticity to your responses.


idioms in ielts speaking
Idioms in IELTS Speaking can improve your score


3. Top 20 most common Idioms for IELTS speaking and meaning

Here are 20 of the most common idioms that you can use in your IELTS speaking test:

  • A piece of cake: Something very easy to do.
  • Bite the bullet: To face a difficult situation with courage.
  • Cost an arm and a leg: Extremely expensive.
  • Hit the nail on the head: Accurately describe or identify a situation.
  • Speak of the devil: Used when the person you have just been talking about arrives.
  • Break the ice: To initiate a conversation in a social setting.
  • Under the weather: Feeling unwell or sick.
  • Cutting corners: Doing something in the easiest or cheapest way possible.
  • Once in a blue moon: Rarely or infrequently.
  • On the same page: To have the same understanding about something.
  • The ball is in your court: It’s your turn to make a decision or take action.
  • Burning the midnight oil: Working or studying late into the night.
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk: Don’t worry about things that have already happened and cannot be changed.
  • A dime a dozen: Very common and easy to find.
  • Hit the sack: Go to bed or sleep.
  • Break a leg: Good luck.
  • Hold your horses: Wait or be patient.
  • Jump on the bandwagon: To adopt a popular trend or activity.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining: There’s something positive in every negative situation.
  • Piece of mind: A feeling of calm and contentment.

Remember, using idioms naturally and appropriately is key to effectively incorporating them into your IELTS speaking responses. Practice using these idioms in various contexts to ensure you’re comfortable with their meanings and usage.

>>See also on: IELTS speaking vocabulary


4. Sample of idioms for IELTS speaking in sentences

In order to understand the usage of idioms for IELTS speaking, let’s see some examples of them in sentences: 

During my IELTS preparation, I found that practicing speaking regularly was a piece of cake when I used a language learning app.

Despite feeling nervous, I had to bite the bullet and give my presentation in front of the class.

The cost of tuition for that prestigious university was an arm and a leg, but I believe it will be worth it.

Your explanation hit the nail on the head – I couldn’t have described the situation better myself.

Speak of the devil, there’s Sarah! We were just discussing the weekend plans.

To break the ice at the networking event, I started a conversation about the latest industry trends.

I couldn’t attend the meeting today because I’m feeling a bit under the weather.

Instead of cutting corners on the project, we decided to invest more time and effort for better results.

I used to visit my grandparents’ village once in a blue moon, but I cherish those memories.

When working on group projects, it’s crucial for everyone to be on the same page to avoid misunderstandings.


idioms for ielts
How to use idioms in IELTS Speaking


4. Frequently asked questions about the idiom for IELTS Speaking

Q1: Should I use idioms in every IELTS speaking response?

A1: While using idioms can enhance your responses, avoid overusing them. Employ them naturally and when they fit the context.

Q2: Are idioms always appropriate in formal contexts?

A2: Not all idioms are suitable for formal situations. Choose idioms that are relevant and appropriate to the topic.

Q3: Is it okay to explain the meaning of an idiom during the speaking test?

A3: In some cases, briefly explaining the idiom’s meaning can showcase your language skills, but don’t spend too much time on it.

Q4: Can using idioms incorrectly negatively impact my score?

A4: Yes, using idioms incorrectly or inappropriately can undermine the coherence of your response. It’s better to use idioms you’re confident about.

Idioms are like linguistic gems that add a layer of depth and cultural richness to language. When integrated strategically and naturally, idiomatic expressions can elevate a candidate’s performance in the IELTS speaking test, making their responses more engaging, authentic, and memorable. As candidates embark on their IELTS journey, mastering the art of incorporating idioms will empower them to wield language with finesse and leave a lasting impression on examiners. To be a master on the IELTS test, let’s do our IELTS practice test now!