IELTS Aspirants??

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,248 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 2016 in Vocabulary
We received an email from an Indian student which stated the following:
Hello Team Scott,

Thanks for your email.

I found your reply quite helpful in bringing out clarity and I am happy to say that it is...(in line) with my expectations.... I appreciate your unique content for premium IELTS aspirants...
Aspirants?  What is an aspirant?  We checked the dictionary and applied our linguistic knowledge B).

We know that 'to aspire to something' is a verb which means you want something very much or hope to achieve something or be successful with something. So we guessed that the student had created a noun from a verb!

A dictionary search showed that there IS such a word as 'aspirant'!  It describes a person who is ambitious and wants to achieve something great (as in the meaning of 'to aspire' above). So we see that the word is connected with those who wish to achieve a high and lofty goal

Here's the problem: achieving a high score on an IELTS test is not a suitable context for this word. In English today, we might say that becoming the CEO of a huge company is a high and lofty goal. Representing your country at the Olympics could also be a high and lofty goal. A person might aspire to be a Prime Minister or President. Can you see how 'passing the IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC test' would not be a similar goal (although it is a great one!)?

So, instead of writing IELTS aspirants, we would write: IELTS candidates or TOEFL test takers.  Could we use the word 'aspire' in this context?  Yes.  We would write: IELTS candidates aspiring to (hoping to achieve) a high score.

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