IELTS Describing Change Vocabulary: University Challenges

The stress, the anxiety, the relief, the disappointment, the ecstasy. All these fluctuating emotions were being felt last week as thousands of A-level students in England and Wales got their exam results. Even though there was only a slight rise, for the 29th successive year the A-level pass rate has gone up. However, there was no change in the proportion of students receiving the top grades of A’s and A*’s.


Statistics show that among the type of subjects taken, entries for maths had a growth of 7.4%, while there were also increases for biology (7.2%), chemistry (9.2%) and physics (6.1%). However, traditional modern languages at A-level had dropped, with a steady decrease over the last few years. Entries for French and German fell again – this year by 4.7% and 6.9% respectively.

University Applications

A few years ago, the numbers appeared to have peaked for people applying to university, with numbers remaining steady over the last few years. Prior to that, there was a steady increase until it stabilized – up until this year. With applications now at a peak and a drop in the number of teenagers taking a gap year, universities have been raising their entry requirements. Therefore, the problem now is a lot of universities are in a position where the demand for places has increased so much, that more potential students are going to be unable to get into their first, or even second, choice of university. Additionally, with the tuition fees rising to £9,000, going to university will be much more expensive than ever before.


UCAS, the university admissions body, says nearly 190,000 applicants are eligible for clearing (courses with spaces available after exam results are received) – often because they have not got the grades they needed – including students from overseas. That is an upturn of nearly 5,000 more than this time la few years ago. UCAS says there are 29,400 courses with places available at the moment – a fall from 33,105 last year. So more applicants and less courses available = a rise in problems for some people, and probably a downturn in students wanting to gain higher education over the coming years. This means that unfortunately for some students, a fluctuation in stress, anxiety, relief, disappointment, and ecstasy will continue to happen over the next few months!

Describing change


Verbs Nouns
Rise A rise
Increase An increase
Go up An upturn / a growth


Verbs Nouns
Fall A fall
Decrease A decrease
Go down A downturn
Drop A drop


Verbs Nouns
Fluctuate A fluctuation


Verbs Nouns
Stabilize Stable
Remain steady Steady
No change


Verbs Nouns
Peak (reach) a peak

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