Academic Word List

The Academic Word List (AWL) are the most frequently appearing word in academic texts written in English, initially compiled by Averil Coxhead from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand . The words are divided into sub-lists based on how often they occur. As an example, here is Sub-list #1:

sector          available          financial          process          individual          specific          principle          estimate          variables          method

data              research           contract          environment      export          source            assessment     policy               identified        create

derived       factors              procedure      definition      assume                theory            benefit             evidence         established      authority

major           issues                 labor                occur              economic           involved       percent             interpretation                           consistent

income        structure          legal                 concept         formula               section           required          constitutional                            analysis

distribution   function       area                  approach       role                      legislation     indicate            response           period             context

significant   similar


It is interesting for students to consider these words, whether native English speaker or not, because it can help focus the exact denotation of vocabulary words, as well as the impact of connotation on meaning. Word choice is clearly something student writers should consider based on their audience and purpose.

On-line exercises for students to practice using the words on the AWL can be found at:


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