The topics of studies and work come up often in the IELTS speaking exam. In fact, they are some of the most common IELTS topics possible. Therefore, it is really important that you are prepared to answer questions in any part of the speaking exam. To do that, I have prepared a list of some questions below, and I will post some sample answers alongside. I will highlight any useful vocabulary in the answers.

At the bottom of this page, I will provide a short test using the vocabulary from the sample answers. Pay attention to how it is used, and try to pass the test! 🙂

Part 1

Do you work or are you a student?

I’m a student right now at the University of Minnesota. I’m studying computer engineering.Computer engineering

Why did you choose that course or job?

I grew up around computers and always had an inclination towards them, so when I got into high school it seemed natural to pursue that beyond a hobby and into a possible career path.

What is the most difficult thing about your studies or job?

Er… let me think… I suppose there are lots of difficult things about the course, but to be honest I actually enjoy the challenge. To answer your question, though, probably the most difficult thing is remembering lots of small details.

Notes: The first question has a short, simple answer but that’s ok. You don’t need to say too much in part 1. The third question begins with “Er… let me think…” This is called a filler, and it’s perfectly acceptable. You can’t hesitate too long, especially in part 1, but a little delay is fine. Native speakers do this often.

Part 2

Describe your dream job.

                You should say:

what qualifications or experience you would need

what the job would involve

what you think the most difficult thing about the job would be

and explain why it is your dream job.


My dream job would involve working with animals in a conservation capacity. I would absolutely love to rescue injured animals or help track and tag endangered species as part of the effort to preserve their numbers. Honestly, I’d really be happy doing anything like that – on land, at sea, in the hot or cold, desert or jungle. I believe that job satisfaction is far more important than salary or holidays or a comfy office chair, and nothing would give me a greater degree of satisfaction than knowing I was part of the solution to a terrible global problem.

The experience and qualifications required would depend on what exactly I would do. If I was to work as a veterinarian, of course I would need a lot of qualifications. But I’m not likely to spend years studying for that sort of degree, so I’d probably end up just helping out in any way. I don’t think I’d really need any actual qualifications – just the willpower and enthusiasm for the job. It doesn’t hurt to have some connections in the field, either.

The job would probably involve a lot of physical labor, travel, and time spent outdoors. Actually, I really enjoy all those things! They all help keep you happy and healthy, in my opinion. But there would be some obvious downsides. Let’s say I’m trying to save the tiger or rhino… Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, poachers are still going to kill a great many of them every year. There’s really not that much that can be done to stop it. And that’s a hard thing to deal with.

Notes: I didn’t really stick to the order specified on the cue card but that’s not important. I did talk about each of the points and I elaborated a little elsewhere. I also didn’t specify an actual job, but I did talk about the area and outline a general type of job, which is fine.

Let me know if you want me to make this sample answer into a YouTube video. Meanwhile, here’s a recently Speaking Part 2 answer I recorded: 

Part 3

Do you think that science subjects are more useful than arts subjects?

In a technical capacity, yes. Science subjects solve practical problems and improve lives in many ways. They advance medicine and enhance our quality of life by providing technological innovation. However, arts subjects are also useful in other ways, and provide a significant benefit to the world.

Are students mature enough to choose what to study themselves or should their parents decide for them?

Once a person reaches the age of sixteen or even eighteen, they are certainly mature enough to choose what they should study. A parent can certainly give guidance in this matter, but it is absurd to think that they could dictate what a young man or woman must do. This is old-fashioned thinking and really quite regressive. Young adults must make the decisions that shape their own lives.

In your country, does having a university education help you into a better career?

It certainly helps, as it does in almost any country, but it is not essential. Most people want to go to university and that’s because it can give them the qualifications to get a higher level of employment. Government statistics show that university graduates earn far more than high school graduates on average. However, some trades are actually more lucrative and let you enter the workforce and gain experience earlier.



Choose from the following words and enter them into the blank spaces below. You may need to change the tense. (Answers below.)


  • Grew up around
  • An inclination
  • To pursue
  • Career path
  • Enjoy the challenge
  • Small details
  • In a _____ capacity
  • Job satisfaction
  • Willpower
  • Connections
  • Physical labor
  • Quality of life
  • Technological innovation
  • Give guidance
  • Enter the workforce


  1. It’s important to have good teachers who can ___________.
  2. Money is not the most important thing but it does often lead to a higher ____________.
  3. Don’t focus on the _______; try to see the bigger picture.
  4. Think carefully about your __________ before choosing the subjects you want to study.
  5. It’s useful to have some _________ when you start looking for a job.
  6. No one said it would be easy but I actually really ___________.
  7. I know it’s unlikely to work out, but still I’d like __________ my dream job.



  1. Give guidance
  2. Quality of life
  3. Small details
  4. Career path
  5. Connections
  6. Enjoyed the challenge
  7. To pursue