There are many places suggest not to mix British and American spelling in IELTS test, such as the articles on IELTS-Blog and nativespeakeronline (No link here. I don't have enough reputation to post more than 2 links).
When I search on forums, the most common idea is people in North America prefer -ize and people in other places prefer -ise. However, an article on learnenglish.de says:

the Oxford University Press insists that words such as computerize, capitalize, capsize, organize, organization, privatize, publicize, realize should take the -ize ending

And for some words in this list like "organization", people on forums say most British still prefer "organisation".
In this case, if I stick to using British spelling on IELTS test, should I use -ise or -ize for the words in this list?


2 Answers 2


I'm an American and use American spellings for everything. This answer is based on comments, including a British English speaker, and internet research.

Most British speakers and publications use -ise endings. However, as you have pointed out, Oxford Spelling uses -ize.

This has led to some British English publications and speakers using -ize, while most ignore the guideline and continue to use -ise. Tellingly, the London paper The Times switched from using -ize to -ise in 1992.

Therefore, if you're using British spellings for everything else, you should probably use -ise, but shouldn't be penalized for using -ize.


IELTS accepts both spellings: American and British.

So, if you put capitalize (American English) instead of capitalise (British English), it will not be considered a mistake as long as you are consistent. What I mean is that you shouldn't mix them and write: CAPITALIZE (American English) but FAVOUR (British English) in your writing section. Just stick to the spelling you are most comfortable with!

I find https://www.facebook.com/tuto.ielts on Facebook a very helpful resource for IELTS takers. So, check it out as it is created by former Cambridge ESOL Examiners.

Disclosure: I, myself, make regular contributions to that page, which link I provided, so I would be happy to see you there.

Best of luck to you at the exam!

  • 1
    I notice that you are promoting that Facebook URL in your answers. You should read over Limits for self-promotion in answers You must disclose your affiliation with the product in your answers.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 1:34
  • The point in the question is that Oxford dictionaries recommend Capitalize, but many other British English dictionaries use Captialise. So it is not the case that -ize is only American.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 19:54

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