In your IELTS Speaking test, you’ll often be asked, “Do you work or study?”
In fact, this might be the very first question you hear in part one of the test. So let’s look at how to give a really good answer. Below, you’ll also read 20 good example answers (go straight to the answers here).
Don’t Give a Long Answer
First, let’s talk about a common mistake you should avoid.
All students know how to talk a lot about their work or studies.
So when someone asks about our work or studies, we usually want to talk and talk and talk and talk…
Stop. Don’t do this!
Just answer simply, with one or two short sentences. Just like you would in a normal conversation with a friend.
In Part One, Imagine You’re Talking to a Friend
If you met someone at a party and they asked if you work or study, you wouldn’t start talking for five minutes, would you?
Probably, you’d just tell them something like, “I work at the moment. I’m an electrical engineer.”
Maybe you’d give a little more information like, “I help design motorbike motors for Kawasaki in Japan.”
And that’s all.
Then you’d stop talking, and maybe you’d ask them a question about themselves.
If you started telling your entire life story from this one simple question, it would be pretty awkward and they’d probably run away!
So in part one of your IELTS Speaking test, try to speak naturally, just like you would with a friend. Remember that Part 1 is only to warm you up.
Short answers and simple English are perfect for part one.
You can save the long answers and clever vocabulary for parts two and three.
What You Can Say
You can briefly say one or two of these things:
- What you study
- What your job is
- If you both work and study
- A little more information about your work or studies
- The name of your university or company
- Where you work or study (which city or country)
- How long you’ve been doing it for
- If you neither work nor study (and why)
- Anything else that comes to mind
The following are 20 good answers to this question about work or studies.
‘I Work’ Answers
1. At the moment, I work for Starbucks in my hometown. But I’m looking for a better job related to my major, which is in marketing.
2. I work. I’ve been working as a freelance web designer for two years now.
3. I’m currently an assistant English teacher living in Manila, in the Philippines. When I pass my IELTS, I plan to become a proper teacher.
4. I’m working in a specialist medical field that deals with diseases related to aging. My employer is a large multinational company.
5. I work. I run my own company. It’s an import and export company based in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
6. I’m a wet nurse and housekeeper for a very nice family in London. I’ve been working in this job for six months now. I’m like part of the family.
7. I work for a chocolate factory in Switzerland. I’m a professional chocolate taster.
‘I Study’ Answers
8. I study. I’m still in high school, in my final year. So I’m studying for my final exams now.
9. I’m a university student. My major is supply chain logistics. I’m studying to start a career as a supply chain manager.
10. I’m currently in my freshman year at college. My major is applied mathematics.
11. I’m studying a major in computer animation. I’d like to work in the animated movie industry.
12. I study. I’m currently in my second year at university, and my major is office administration, which I think is a really useful degree to have.
13. I’m at law school, studying to become a lawyer. It’s early days so I don’t yet know which field of law I’ll specialize in.
‘Both Work and Study’ Answers
14. Actually, I both study and work at the moment. I’m going to college to learn medicine, and I work as a waiter in the evenings to pay for my degree.
15. I’m studying to become a plumber, but that involves practical work too because I’m studying an apprenticeship, which means I’m learning while I work.
16. I have work as a language tutor, but I’m also studying evening classes to become an examiner. So I’m both working and studying at the moment.
17. Both. I’m a freelance copywriter by profession, but I’m always studying courses on the side to improve my skills.
18. I’m still at high school, but I’ve taken on a paper round job so I can save some money. So I’m doing both at the moment.
19. Neither, to be honest. I graduated last year, so I’m not studying anymore. And currently, I’m taking a gap year to travel, so I’m not working either.
20. I’m seeking work at the moment. I’m currently between jobs. Hopefully, I’ll be employed again soon.
Now It’s Your Turn
Give this question a go yourself.
It’s best to record yourself, so you can listen to your answer later.
Set up the voice recorder on your phone, then ask yourself nice and clearly, “Do you work or study?”
Try to answer with a short, logical answer, just like the examples above.
When you’ve finished, listen to your answer and think about one way you could improve it.
Repeat this process until there are no more (or very few) mistakes.
This is a good way to prepare for part one of your IELTS Speaking test.