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Spelling in IELTS: British or American?

Not everyone knows that there is a British and an American way of spelling words, and they are different. The question about the acceptable spelling came up a lot lately and I found out that many students are unsure how to spell words in the IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing tests – the British or the American way.

Read my more in-depth explanation about the differences between UK and US spelling and how it affects your IELTS score here.

For those who just need a quick idea of what I’m talking about, let me explain: if you ask someone from the USA and someone from the UK to spell a word such as color, the American will spell “color” and the person from the UK will spell “colour”. There are many other examples:

favorite (USA) – favourite (UK)
honor (USA) – honour (UK)
memorize (USA) – memorise (UK)
check (USA) – cheque (UK)

There is no point in listing all of the differences here, instead I recommend that you download a complete list of words spelled differently in the British and American English.

As to the question, what is the right way to spell words in IELTS, the American or the British, the answer is both. You can use either form and it will be accepted, no penalties.

The important thing is to choose one particular way and stick to it.

3 thoughts on “Spelling in IELTS: British or American?”

  1. Hi Hieu, you aren’t likely to be penalised for mixing American an British spelling versions in an essay, however it will create a better impression on the examiner if you stick to just one version, and use either British or American spelling, not both. Mixing them signals to the examiner that your spelling isn’t rock solid.

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