Today, I want to share a sample band 9 answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question about socialising with colleagues. I’ll talk a little about the question, give some ideas for content and structure, show you some useful vocabulary, and then provide a sample answer at the end.

Note: Sample band 9 answers can be of limited use. You need to know how to use them properly to get real value from them. Read more here.

Analysing the Question

Here’s our question for today:

Some people think that it’s a good idea to socialise with work colleagues during evenings and weekends. Other people think it’s important to keep working life completely separate from social life.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

It’s important to fully understand the question before writing anything or planning your answer. This is fairly straightforward. It’s a “discuss both views” question and the two views are:

  1. It’s a good idea to socialise with colleagues outside of work
  2. It’s a bad idea to socialise with colleagues outside of work

You need to talk about both perspectives and then give your opinion.

Note: Don’t forget to provide your opinion in your outline sentence! This is really important. You need to be consistent with your opinion throughout the whole essay, so you cannot write something like “I’ll give my view at the end.”

Brainstorming: Socialising with Colleagues

Although IELTS is an English test, you also need to be able to think logically. That’s a huge problem for many people, but it’s something we can all work on. Let’s try brainstorming:

Reasons to socialise with colleaguesReasons NOT to socialise with colleagues
It can expand your social network
People should be free to socialise with whomever they want
It can lead to better workplace relations
You might get promoted by hanging with your boss
It’s better than staying in
Colleagues are usually boring
No one should be forced to hang with their colleagues
It can be inappropriate
People might gossip  

Are all of these answers sensible? Not really. Some of them are a bit trivial and show a lack of maturity or reasoning. For example, saying “colleagues are usually boring” indicates a lack of maturity. It is true that “people might gossip” but is this really a serious point to make? Not exactly.

Make sure that whatever you pick to talk about is intelligent and sensible, but most importantly it should be something that you can support with reasoning. It’s ok to keep it personal (especially on topics like this one) but you should still be able to make a good argument.


It’s easy to structure “discuss both views” essays. You pretty much have two choices:

IntroIntroduce the idea and give your opinion
Body paragraph 1Discuss one side
Body paragraph 2Discuss the other side
ConclusionSummarise and reiterate your opinion

The other option is:

IntroIntroduce the idea and give your opinion
Body paragraph 1Discuss one side
Body paragraph 2Discuss the other side
Body paragraph 3Give your opinion
ConclusionSummarise and reiterate your opinion

Whether you write four or five paragraphs is up to you. It can be done effectively either way. I generally prefer four paragraphs but some people like to make their opinion clearer, so they dedicate a specific paragraph to that. I think it’s unnecessary and ineffective but it can be done well if you have the skill.


Here is a video that contains some useful vocabulary for talking about work:

In this article, though, we are specifically talking about work and socialising, so it’s sort of two topics fused together.

Let’s first address a word from the question: colleague. This basically means “co-worker,” so you can use these throughout your essay to avoid repetition. You can also use phrases like “the people you work with” or “the people at your place of work.” The word “workmate” is also a suitable synonym.

You also have the word “socialise” (or “socialize” in American English). It’s hard to avoid repeating this but here are some synonyms:

  • see outside of work
  • spend time with
  • have fun with

Just watch out because there are many very informal synonyms for “socialise” that would be inappropriate in an IELTS essay:

  • hang (out)
  • chill

We should try to keep it formal and use standard English instead of slang.

Some other useful phrases for the topic of work and socialising are:

  • (find a) balance
  • work-life balance
  • (keep things) separate
  • befriend

You can find more ideas and vocabulary by reading articles on this topic. The British employment company Monster has an article about socialising with colleagues, which contains some useful thoughts. You can highlight vocabulary like this:

Sample Band 9 Answer

Now see if you can find these terms in my essay.

People naturally have different ways of balancing their work and social lives. Some enjoy socialising with their colleagues but others prefer to keep work and fun separate. This essay will look at both views and then say that I personally prefer the latter.

Those who enjoy socialising with their co-workers typically work in environments where they either have many co-workers or simply have co-workers that are fun to spend time with. In such situations, of course it is perfectly reasonable to socialise with these people. Take teachers, as examples. In a large school, there will probably be several dozen teachers and they will share much in common due to their daily experiences. It is quite reasonable, then, that they might go out together on the weekend. However, this can happen anywhere if people simply get along with one another.

On the other hand, it is totally understandable that some people might want to keep their work and social lives separate. This may be a conscious decision or an unconscious one. Likewise, it may even be the case that they simply do not have co-workers they like enough to spend time with out of work. In these situations, people finish work and they spend time together with their real friends and there is no reason they should be forced to do differently. It is purely a matter of personal choice or circumstance.

Overall, people should simply do what works best for them and suits their personality. I prefer the latter but if I had colleagues with whom I shared much in common, I would certainly not hesitate to befriend them and spend time together outside of work.

Notes on the Answer

If you read my sample essays, you will see that I typically don’t use a lot of personal pronouns, even in essays that call for a personal opinion. However, it was pretty unavoidable here given the topic. Thus, I have said things like “I personally prefer…” and “I would not hesitate to…”

In terms of ideas, I have tried to give examples from the real world that are generally applicable but then also given my own opinion. I set up the two opinions as:

  • Those who enjoy socialising with their co-workers typically…
  • it is totally understandable that some people might want to

This is a great way of showing the two sides of the issue. I’ve discussed them sensibly and realistically but also stated my own opinion, which is that I side with one view but totally understand why people might prefer the other. It’s a nice sort of balance and shows a nuanced and intelligent position.