About this topic
This topic: IELTS Speaking part 1 Work/Study is a core topic in part 1. There is a high chance you will first be asked about what you do or where you live. 50/50
This is possibly the easiest topic to talk about for most people, please read on to make sure you speak about it to the best of your ability.
You will likely need to talk about; facts, details, feelings, reasons, examples and the future.
(See below for suggest language & samples – including advice per question)
– Also note, we suggest you practice rewording the underlined words to something synonymous or relative to your answer.
- What do you do, work or study?
– the examiner might say something like: “are you studying?” or “are you a student?” / “are you working?” or “what do you do for work?”
- Do you enjoy your work/studies?
-Is that what you always wanted to do? (possible follow up question)
- Do you get on well with your co-workers/classmates?
- Do you travel far to go to work/school?
- In the future will you change your work/studies?
– predict future events
- How interesting is your work/studies?
– define interest
- How expensive are tuition fees in your country? (students)(the cost of studying)
– define costs
- How important is it to enjoy your work/studies?
– define importance
- Are you satisfied with your salary? (workers)(how much money you are paid)
- What is your typical day like at work/school (university)?
– give a few details about your day at work
- What kind of jobs do people in your hometown do? (possible question used for ‘hometown’ topic)
- Do you think the average pay/salary/wages in your country is enough?
– give an expression of opinion!
- Do you think other countries offer a higher pay/salary/wage than in your country?
– give an expression of opinion!
- Should jobs that require a certain qualification pay more than jobs that don’t?
– opinions + reasons
- When you were younger, did you ever imagine you would be doing what you are today?
– “reminisce about” or “recall” the past – remember the use of ‘always wanted to be‘
If you are asked to talk about your typical day in work, be careful to not give too much detail about it. Some great suggestions are:
Mention how busy you are, start time & finish time, say normal/usual instead of typical.
Do not list everything you do in work each day, it is likely you’ll be interrupted after your 3rd thing.
Work/study – possible questions + suggested language with sample answers
Q: What do you do? Work or Study?
Q: Are you a student? / What’s your job? / What do you do for work?
– the examiner might use the continuous tense
– Are you studying? Are you working?
Think carefully about your forms/verbs tenses – are you still doing it? verb+ing (or use simple forms) – this is a great opportunity to use the perfect continuous
Possible structures + simple & complex:
“At the moment” / “Currently” / “Right now” / “Presently” + “I’m verb+ing” “I have been verb+ing” / “I’m a noun“
“At the moment I’m a noun, I have been verbing noun since 2017 at X-Location here in the Country.+ something relevant like an opinion or some detail” – complete answer:
“At the moment I’m an online & offline IELTS Speaking tutor, I have been teaching the IELTS Speaking test since 2015 at World-Link IDP here in Hanoi, Vietnam. +It’s quite challenging but the reward is worth the effort when a candidate goes from band 6 to band 7 after a month or so preparing with us“
You can apply this structure to fit yourself
“Right now I’m a student, I have been studying Economics since 2016 at Hanoi National Economics University here in Vietnam, it’s my final year. +It feels like a lifetime since I started my studies but I guess there is light at the end of the tunnel.“
Q: Do you enjoy your work/study? / What do you think about it? / Is it enjoyable?
It is normal to follow up with an opinion style question after being asked a fact about yourself in Part 1.
– the examiner might use the continuous tense again
– are you enjoying it? for example.
if your first answer was quite simple and lacking detail, the examiner might follow up with “how long have you been studying/working?“
Remember to avoid repeating the language used in the questions. For example; you were asked, “do you enjoy your work?”- DON’T SAY:
– use language to define how much you enjoy it, always paraphrase when possible to achieve greater clarity in your answer.
“I love what I do” / “Yeah, it’s so great” / “I would say so, yeah” / “I’m really into it” / “It’s my passion / It’s one of my passions in life” / “Definitely, it’s interesting” etc
Samples band 9 -> 6:
- Band 9
“I would say so yeah, I love what I do. +It’s not exactly the easiest job in the world y’know, sometimes I feel like a broken record when repeating myself over and over again in my classes, that’s because most people are faced with the same difficulties when trying to jump from band 6 to band 7. That being said, however, when the students do eventually score band 7 in the IELTS Speaking test, their thanks and praise make all that effort worthwhile. All in all, I live for it, literally.” – 22 seconds – native.
– Band 9 sample: I linked a great transition (“that being said“) with an appropriate discourse marker (“however“) to contrast the previous statement & 2 phrasal verbs + 3 phrases & expressions + 1 idiom. In a short answer. Naturally referring back to the Q in conclusion & natural use of a joke.
- Band 8
“To be perfectly honest with you, I’m really into it. +Though it’s quite challenging most days, it never feels boring or too easy. Actually, I rather like stepping up to the challenge and I’d have to say that I’m lucky to be doing what I do. When the students get back to me after receiving their results, I can’t express in words the joy I feel.” – 18 seconds – native
– Band 8 sample: I used a great expression of opinion (“to be perfectly honest with you“) and defined how much I enjoy my work supported by 2 short examples. Controlled use of “I’d have to” to try and flexibly use a complex structure, 2 phrasal verbs and an expression.
- Band 7
“Yeah, it’s so great. +I’m really proud to be an IELTS tutor and even prouder when my students achieve band 7+, it must be one of the most interesting jobs in the world y’know. I’m not saying that it’s easy (a breeze / a piece of cake) because it definitely has its ups and downs but the highs are greater than the lows. – 17 seconds – native
– Band 7+ sample: lots of transitions & connectives, not as structured as the above samples. Still great language content, again- giving a natural response to the question, followed up with a couple of sentences to support it.
- Band 6
“I really enjoy my work. +It’s always challenging when tutoring a new group of students, also, it can be sad sometimes once the students finish their IELTS Speaking exam and no longer need to come to our classes” – 17 seconds – native
– Band 6 sample: basic response, repeated language from a question in the answer, no attempt to paraphrase BUT used an adverb (really) to try and define. 2 Simple transitions, good support, accuracy and I attempted to contrast.
Please note the differences in these 4 samples, I sent them to an IELTS Examiner (truly a useful friend to have) who confirmed the content is appropriate for the stated band.
Q: Do you get on well with your coworkers/classmates?
First, think about ways to define our relationship with other people like coworkers or classmates.
Colleagues / Partners (depending on relation) / teammates
Teamwork makes the dream work
A solid team
Well oiled machine
Team building exercises
Team leader / Manager / Boss / CEO
Natural born leader
Cut from the same cloth
Fellow pupil/student / Schoolmate / Associate / Mate
In it for the long run
Term / Semester
On the same boat
Cut from the same cloth
Things in common
“Yeah, for sure! We’re a tightly-knit dream team. Everyone works like a well-oiled machine with a certain level of respect for each other.