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Aptis Vocabulary and Topics

Aptis Vocabulary and topics

Aptis Vocabulary and Topics

“What vocabulary and topics do I need to prepare for my Aptis test?” is a good question. It’s one we hear all the time, and it’s not so easy to answer.  This is because unlike some exam boards, the British Council gives no definitive vocabulary list for the Aptis tests. However, we have found this ‘Core Inventory for General English’ for the CEFR levels A1 to C1. It was published by the British Council and EAQUALS back in 2015.

We must say that we find this table a little vague in parts, especially in the B2 vocabulary area.  So we’re going to use it as a basis for recommending the vocabulary and topics we expect our students to be familiar with at each level. In other words, which topics you should be prepared to talk or write about, and what vocabulary you’ll need in order to do that. We’ve added our own suggestions to the table in bold italics.

Remember, the levels are progressive; this means you also need to know the language for the previous level.  So at B1 you already need to know A1 and A2 language points, and so on. We explain more about this in Use of Language: B1, B2 and C1 and Aptis and the CEFR.




Food and drink
 / Nationalities and countries
 / Personal information
 / Things in the town, shops and shopping / Verbs – basic

Numbers / Days of the week and months of the year / Colours / Clothes / Animals / Parts of the face and body / Rooms in the home, furniture and household objects


Family life / 
Hobbies and pastimes / Holidays / 
Leisure activities / Shopping
 / Work and jobs

Home / Pets / Possessions


Adjectives: personality, description, feelings / Food and drink / 
Things in the town, shops and shopping / Travel and services

Times and dates / school and university subjects / Names of sports / Typical dishes and common ingredients

Education / Hobbies and pastimes / Holidays / 
Leisure activities / Shopping / Work and jobs

Weather / Sports / Restaurants and eating out


 / Colloquial language
 / Things in the town, shops and shopping
 / Travel and services

Forms of transport / Genres of films and TV programmes / Language lexis: grammar, vocabulary, etc / Adjectives: style, taste in music and clothes / Money lexis: earn, save up, pocket money, etc

Books and literature / Education / 
Film / 
Leisure activities / Media / News, lifestyles and current affairs

Entertainment / Festivals / Special occasions / Music / Language-learning / Health and fitness / Fashion / Money


Collocation / Colloquial language / Phrasal verbs

Technological: social media, VC platforms, gaming … / Lifestyle and work: salary, income, work experience, job satisfaction … Environmental: pollution, recycling, fossil fuels … / Global: unemployment, inequality …  / Values: honesty, trust, empathy …

Arts / 
Books and literature
 / Education / 
Film / 
 / News, lifestyles and current affairs

Technology / The world of work / Society and living standards / The environment / Global issues / National customs / Village and city life / Personal values



Approximating (vague language) / Collocation / 
Colloquial language / Differentiated use of vocabulary / Eliminating false friends / Formal and informal registers / Idiomatic expressions

Colloquial phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions

Arts / 
Books and literature
 / Film / 
Media / 
News, lifestyles and current affairs / Scientific developments
 / Technical and legal language

Social issues / Human rights / Independence / Ambition

As you can see, many of these lexical items and topics overlap; they come up in more than one level. As the level of the exam increases, so does the complexity of the topics and the language you’d need in order to discuss them. (Of course, that means grammatical structure as well as vocabulary.)  Most of these topics come up quite frequently in the Aptis Speaking Tests, as you’ll see when you watch our practice videos. Many are also included in the other components of the test, for example, in the texts for the Reading Test. Another example is where you have to write emails in different registers, or levels of formality, in the Writing Test.

Although all the Aptis tests start at a relatively low level in terms of tasks, you can still answer them to the best of your ability.  This is true of all the components. If you watch Improve your Answers you’ll understand better what it is we mean.

So, getting back to vocabulary and topics, we recommend you to go through each of the topic areas and add to them.  Try to make a ‘word bank’. We’ve already put some useful vocaulary in each area to get you started. You’ll need to focus on the level you want to reach. Always keep in mind that if you hope to get a B2, you need to be able to talk about all or any of the vocabulary and topics from A1 on.  Remember to read our suggestions and advice on how to record, review and learn new vocabulary.

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