Whatever IELTS guide you refer to, you will notice there are certain common thematic areas, such as travel, education, environment, and personality. This article will focus on appearance and personality, pointing out expressions that it is considered useful to know so that you can make descriptions in this area in finer detail and thus increase your chances of getting a higher grade for lexical range.
Appearance

 

Below are some words for describing appearance. Use your dictionary to check the meaning.
Hair

 

bald
  curly
receding (hairline)       
straight
wavy
 
black-haired
blonde
fair -haired
grey-haired
red-haired

 

Face

 

chubby
freckled
round-faced
thin-faced
smooth

 

Build & General appearance

 

overweight
 
plump or stout
 
fat (impolite)
 
obese (very fat)
well-built
 
muscular
 
stocky
thin
 
slim (positive -usually for women)
 
lanky
 
anorexic
smart/tidy
 
elegant
 
untidy-looking
 
scruffy
 
scrawny
 
 
beautiful
 
handsome (for men)
 
pretty (for women
 

 

Structures

 

He looks tired.
He looks as if/though he needs a rest.
He seems to be very friendly.

Personality

Below are twenty ‘more advanced’ adjectives used to describe personality, ten positive and ten negative.
Positive

 

assertive
confident and not afraid to say what you think
conscientious
putting a lot of effort into your work
down-to-earth
practical and able to talk to people in a direct but friendly way
even-tempered
can stay calm and doesn’t get too excited or angry about anything
gregarious
likes the company of other people
impulsive
act spontaneously
self-assured
having confidence in your self
sensible
have common and act in a reasonable way
shrewd
having good judgment
tactful
careful not to say or do anything that would upset other people

Negative

 

abrupt
acting or reacting in a sudden, unexpected and unpleasant way
aloof
unfriendly and having a rather superior attitude to others
diffident
lacks confidence
discourteous
impolite (formal)
garrulous
talks too much
gullible
easily fooled
impetuous
act without thinking (same meaning as ‘impulsive but suggesting it would have been better to think before acting)
obstinate
not prepared to change even though that would be the best thing to do
taciturn
says very little
unscrupulous
willing to act badly and hurt other people to get what you want

If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!

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Exercises

 

Exercise 1

 

Complete the sentences with appropriate expressions from the box below
  1. a) You see a man lying on the ground.
  2. b) You see a driver shouting to himself in a traffic jam.
  3. c) You see someone with their head in their hands.  


He looks as if he needs to calm down.
 
He looks as if he’s had a heart attack.
 
it smells as if something’s burning.
 
It tastes as if something has been added to it.
 
It sounds as if they are having a party.
 
He looks as if he’s had some bad news.
 

 

Exercise 2

 

Identify the odd-man-out (the one different in some way from the other two)
determined
obstinate
stubborn
diligent
conscientious
shrewd
aloof
haughty
shy
tight-fisted
malicious
mean

 

 

Exercise 3

 

Match the words in column A with their opposites in column B.

                                 A                                                                      B

gregarious
 
slim
courteous
 
sceptical
corpulent
 
garrulous
gullible
 
anti-social
assertive
 
blunt
taciturn
 
quarrelsome
easy-going
rude
 
tactful
timid
 

Answers to Exercises

 

Exercise 1

 

  1. a) You see a man lying on the ground.
He looks as if he’s had a heart attack.
  1. b) You see a driver shouting to himself in a traffic jam.
He looks as if he needs to calm down.
  1. c) You see someone with their head in their hands.
He looks as if he’s had some bad news

Exercise 2
  1. a) determined – all three have the same meaning but the other two have a negative connotation.
  2. b) shy – the other two convey a feeling of superiority over others.
  3. c) shrewd – the other two both have the sense of ‘hard-working’.
  4. d) malicious – the other two refer specifically to not wanting to spend money.

 

Exercise 3

 

                                 A                                                                 B

gregarious
 
anti-social
courteous
 
rude
 
corpulent
 
slim
gullible
 
sceptical
assertive
 
timid
taciturn
 
garrulous
easy-going
 
quarrelsome
tactful
blunt
 

 

Before using new words make sure you know how the words are used, and not just their dictionary meaning. This involves, for example, knowing their collocations, level of formality, connotation, and limits (contexts in which you can and cannot use the word).
If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!
Sign up your FREE IELTS writing video course by clicking here.

 

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