ielts guide

IELTS Writing Paraphrasing - 3 Tips for a Higher Band Score

Madison Oster October 12th, 2021

IELTS Writing Paraphrasing Part 1

Have a look at the picture above. What is happening?

  • The man serves breakfast in bed.
  • How many other ways can we reword or use different words to describe this picture?
  • The man serves food and drinks in bed.
  • The breakfast is being served in bed.
  • Someone receives breakfast in bed from the man.
  • The food and drinks are being served in bed.

This is a perfect example of paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is an essential tool that is needed in order for students to pass their IELTS exam. Put simply, paraphrasing is just saying the same sentence but using different words, or sentence structures. You don’t want to change the meaning of the word, but by paraphrasing you achieve greater clarity when speaking or writing, as well as reading and listening.

In this blog, we will cover three methods to learn how to paraphrase:

  1. Using synonyms
  2. Being aware of common mistakes
  3. Changing sentence structure

#1. Using Synonyms

  • This cake looks delicious.
  • This cake looks mouthwatering.
  • This cake looks tasty.
  • This cake looks flavorful.

This is an example of using synonyms to paraphrase. The word that is changed in all of the sentences has the same meaning.


All of these words mean the same thing- but changing one word isn’t quite good enough. When paraphrasing, you want to try to change as many words as possible. For example, changing the sentence from:

This cake looks delicious.


The dessert appears tasty.

cake= dessert



In this sentence, we changed nearly every word. It is easier in this situation, as the sentence is quite short. However, when you start to have longer sentences, it becomes more difficult. Remember, you don’t need to change all of the words, and you NEVER want to use a word with similar meaning, it must always be the same meaning.

#2. Being Aware of Common Mistakes

A common mistake most students make is studying the thesaurus to get a wide range of synonyms at their disposal. While this may seem like a good idea at first, I can ensure you, it is not. The examiner wants to see two things from you, when it comes from paraphrasing. First, you understand when to paraphrase, and second, you can paraphrase successfully. Trying to use big, fancy words is not going to be helpful if you don’t know how to use them successfully.

For example:

At the fair, there were many cups of hot chocolate consumed by the children.

Let’s use a synonym for “consumed.”

At the fair, there were many cups of hot chocolate drank by the children.

Perfect- both sentences make sense. Now let’s look at an example using the same word, “consumed.”

At the fair, there were many hot dogs consumed by the baseball team.

And we will change the sentence the same way:

At the fair, there were many hot dogs drank by the children.  X

This is a perfect example of how you need to be aware of how the noun and verb work together. Just because a thesaurus lists synonyms of words, doesn’t mean they will always work out in every situation.

#3. Changing the Sentence Structure/Word Order

When using this approach to paraphrase, you simply move to the order of the words in the sentence around, without changing the meaning of the word. Again, changing the order of the words in the sentence can seem like a fairly simple way to paraphrase, but when doing this, you want to be absolutely sure you aren’t making any grammatical mistakes.

An example:

Learning the local language is a great way to fit into the country you are visiting.

We can switch around the order of the words to paraphrase:

If you are visiting a new country, learning the local language is a great way to fit in.


A great way to fit into the country you are visiting is to learn the local language.

*Notice how in the last example, we had to change the form of the word learn. Be very mindful of when this is necessary!

When changing the word order, a great strategy is to try to switch the beginning and end of the sentence.

There are a lot of desserts on the menu.

Here, we want to start the new sentence with “on the menu.”

On the menu, there are a lot of desserts.

Not only did we paraphrase the sentence, but looking at grammar, we also added a comma where necessary.

IELTS Paraphrasing Part 2

OK! Let's move on to part 2, looking at three more methods for paraphrasing in your writing.

  • A combination of using synonyms and changing the sentence structure
  • Changing from active to passive voice
  • Not changing all the words

In addition to this, we will review ways to practice your paraphrasing, so you can improve not only writing, but all four test sections.

#1. Use Synonyms & Changing Word Structure

This is a combination of two of the methods we talked about in part 1. Remember, paraphrasing is an opportunity for you to show off your knowledge of English, so by using synonyms as well as rearranging the word order, you show off your wide range of vocabulary and grammatical skills.

For example:

“Many people travel because they are curious.”

First, let’s change the word structure:

“Many people are curious, and for that reason, they travel.”

Next, we will take it a step further by using synonyms for some (not all!) of the words:

“Many people are inquisitive and, for that reason, they take a trip.”

Combining the two techniques gives you a completely fresh sentence, with the same meaning as the first one. By taking your paraphrasing in quick steps, you can ensure that you don’t make any mistakes.

#2. Change From Active to Passive

When you change a sentence from active to passive voice, you are focusing more on the subject that experiences an action, more than a person who performs the action. Changing the voice of your sentence from active to passive is a great strategy used when paraphrasing.

“Manchester United Football Club scored two points against Chelsea Football Club.”

In this sentence, Manchester United Football Club is the active subject because they performed the goals. When we change this sentence to passive, we want to focus on what happened to Chelsea Football Club.

“Two points were scored against Chelsea Football Club.”

By eliminating the subject from the active sentence (Manchester United), we focused solely on what happened to Chelsea Football Club, thus making the sentence passive.

Passive voice is very prevalent in academic writing, so it is common to see it during your IELTS exam. Using passive sentences is a good strategy to avoid stating your opinions.

“People say obesity is caused by drinking soda.”

Let’s paraphrase by removing the active subject: “people.”

“Obesity is said to be caused by drinking soda.”

#3. Not All Words Need Changing

When you are paraphrasing, it is important to remember that not all words will need to be changed. First of all, you should only change words that you are sure of their meaning and usage. For example, it doesn’t make sense to change every single word without thinking of the words functions and structure. Just because a thesaurus lists certain words as synonyms, doesn’t mean they can be used interchangeably. A simple example is:

“I tried to answer the teacher, but I got the answer wrong.”

A thesaurus gives inaccurate as a synonym to wrong. If I didn’t think about usage and sentence structure, I may change the sentence to:“I tried to answer the teacher, but I got the answer inaccurate.”

We know that this doesn’t make sense. Don’t use words that you are unsure of- if you are unsure of a synonym, it is better to use a different approach to paraphrasing.

There you have it! Three more strategies for paraphrasing. Did you check out paraphrasing part one here?


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