IELTS Speaking: Part 1 – Studies

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(1) In Part One, you should aim to speak for about THREE sentences. If your answer is too short, you won’t say enough to show your speaking ability. On the other hand, remember that the questions are designed to be answered in a few sentences, so don’t think you have to speak for a long time for each one!

(2) When you hear the question, always think about how you can paraphrase it or what topic-specific words you can use to show your vocabulary.

(3) Part One, is the introductory part and it quite casual. Therefore, use a relaxed speaking style and try not to sound too formal. Pretend you’re catching up with an old friend or maybe you’re on a first date.

NOTE – The following IELTS Speaking Part One questions each contain two sample answers: a simple one and an advanced one. Both answers feature useful linking vocabulary in italics and topic-specific/advanced vocabulary in bold. The advanced versions are written at a Band 9.0 level.

Studies 1

QUESTION ONE – What subject are you studying?

SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “At the moment, I’m studying – well I have a few different courses, but my major is economics. I study at a university called the University of Trade, and I’m currently in my second-year.”

COMMENT – Remember that Part One is casual. You can speak in a natural way, which often means stopping and clarifying what you mean (e.g. “I’m studying – well…”)

SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Right now, I’m in my freshman year of an accounting degree. So, my major is accounting, but there are lots of modules – smaller courses – that I have to take that give me credits towards graduating.”

COMMENT – Accurately using topic-specific vocabulary (e.g. “freshman”, “modules”, “credits”) is a great way to boost your mark.
QUESTION TWO – Is it a difficult subject?

SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “I don’t think it’s very difficult – about normal – but many people do find it quite hard. I think that’s because there is a lot of numbers, so if you’re not good at mathematics, it can be very challenging.”

COMMENT – Try to use synonyms for the keywords in the question (e.g. “hard” and “challenging” instead of “difficult”)

SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “I wouldn’t describe it as difficult. It’s more that it is kind of tedious and dry. By that I mean, there’s a lot of rules and steps you have to remember and a lot of data entry and analysis. I guess that’s why accountants are often called ‘bean counters’.

Studies 3

QUESTION THREE – Why did you choose this subject?

SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “My parents advised me to study something that would help me to find a good job. Something like finance or computers. It’s not really that interesting to me, but I don’t know what I would study if I had the choice.”

SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Well, my parents are both accountants, so I guess you could say I’m following in their footsteps. To be honest, I wanted to study graphic design, but my parents wouldn’t let me because they thought it would be too hard to find a well-paying job.”

QUESTION FOUR – What do you like most about this subject?

SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “Actually, I don’t like much about my subject. I know it should help me to find a good job, but it’s a lot of work and it find it quite boring. When I’m working I think it will be more interesting though.”

SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Well, like I mentioned earlier, it can be quite dry. However, our professors seems to realize this and they make an effort to make it more engaging. They give us lots of real-world examples and funny anecdotes to keep it interesting.”

COMMENT – Improve the coherence of your speaking by linking back to previous answers with phrases like, “As I said before…”, “Like I mentioned previously…” etc.


Speaking Part One: Real Test Questions: Time

IELTS Speaking Part One (Real Test 2018) – Children, Money, and Chores

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Answering Yes/No Questions