Speaking Part 1. Your Studies 2
Why did you choose to study that?
This is a past tense question, so the answer should be in the past tense. The question asks you to say how or why you decided to study your major. Let’s say you are studying Computer Science. The following are not very strong answers because they are all in the present tense:
- “Because I like computers.”
- “Because I’m very interested in computers.”
- “Because I think computer experts will be in demand in the future.”
What you like now, or what you’re interested in now and what you think now might not be the same as what you liked, thought or were interested in when you made the decision to study Computer Science 4 years ago!
A good way to begin is to say, “I chose it because…” You could also start with, “I decided to study that because …”. But showing the examiner that you can say “chose” is probably best. Other good ways to start are:
- “The main reason I chose it was because …”
- “The main reason I chose it is because …” (both ‘is’ and ‘was’ are suitable here.)
- “The main reason I decided to study it was/is because …”
- “There are/were several reasons why I decided on a career in Computer Science. The
- main/first reason is …”
The second half of your sentence usually requires grammar that is a little difficult. Here are two examples: “I chose it because my father said (that) computer scientists would be in great demand in the future.” “I chose it because I thought (that) it would have a promising future.” Notice that these examples use past tense ‘said’ and ‘thought’ because you are talking about thetime 4 years ago when you made your decision.But why use ‘would’? This grammar is the grammar of Reported Speech.
Here are a few expressions you could use:
- “would be in demand”
- “would have a promising future”
- “would allow me to earn a high salary”
- “would be an interesting career”
- “would give me opportunities to travel”
- “would contribute to China’s development”
- “would benefit society”
Of course, there are other past tense sentences that you could use. For example:
- “I chose it because I was good at maths and science in high school and I was interested in computers, especially computer games and the internet.”
- “I chose it because my father has his own company and I wanted to be able to manage the company in a professional way in the future.” (studying Business Management)
- “I decided to study that because my mother is a Russian teacher and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.” (studying Russian literature)
- “I chose to study that because it seemed like an exciting career.”
- “I chose that because I’ve always wanted to help people.” (nursing)
- “I chose it because I wanted to enter the business world – I’d like to be a CEO of a big company one day, or have my own company.”
- “I chose that because I wanted to do something ______ for society.” (good, useful, …)
- “I chose to study that because I read that Russia will need hydrology experts in the future.”
- “Well, my teachers and my parents all encouraged me to study that and it seemed like a good idea to me. So, basically, I was just following the advice of others.”
Most of the examples above are just one-sentence answers, showing you the grammar. However, you should try to answer longer than that – try to give more reasons and some extra detail. This question is not an example of a short Part 1 question – it could be a ‘middle-sized’ answer or a longer answer if you have something to say.
Some people say something like the following as an answer to this question: “Actually, I didn’t choose it, my parents chose it for me.” This is not a bad answer, but you have to be careful saying this, for three reasons:
a) some schools teach IELTS students to say this and if the examiner hears the exact same answer several times, he or she will immediately think that it is not your own answer but learned from a book;
b) to say it correctly and so that it sounds natural, you need to stress 3 words in that sentence, “Actually, I didn’t choose it, my parents chose it for me.” This sentence stress is necessary to show the contrast – you didn’t do it, your parents did it;
c) The answer doesn’t really give any details about the factors that caused you to decide to study your major. If you can include these factors in your answer by making one or two sentences as shown in the first part of this page, it could be a good answer.
“Do you like it?”
This is a ‘Yes/No’ question. See the page on this website concerning ‘Yes/No’ questions.
This is also a question that asks for your feelings. As a rule in the Speaking test, whenever you state your feelings, preference or opinion, immediately follow that with why you feel or think this way. Don’t force the examiner to waste time by asking you, “Why?” If you don’t first answer why, the examiner usually must ask you to say why.
The basic short answer is “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t.” But in most answers for this question, it would be better to choose a slightly different way to begin your answer than to simply begin with either of those rather basic beginnings. The following are better beginnings to your answer:
- “Yes, I certainly do.”
- “Yes, I do, very much so.”
- “Yes, I’d have to say I do like it.”
- “Not really.”
- “No, not really.”
- “Not exactly.”
- “Well, I like some things about it but I’m not so happy about other aspects. For example, …”
- “I love it!”
- “I suppose so.” (Not very enthusiastic)
Avoid saying, “Of course!” for this kind of question. If the answer was so obvious, the examiner would not have asked you.
There are several ways to say the second half of your answer. You could join it to the short beginning by using the word “because” but, although this is the common way to give a reason, it is not the only way to talk and you should try to show some variety in the Speaking test.
- “Yes, I really do because I get to design computer games and playing computer games is my favorite hobby!”
The following expressions show you a few other ways to give reasons:
- “I like it (so much) because it’s something that I can do well!”
- “The main reason (why) I like it is because it allows me to be creative.” (design)
- “The best thing about it is that it gives me a feeling that I am developing my mind.”
The three examples above could also be preceded by the words, “I suppose …” or, “I guess …”.
- “I suppose I like it (so much) because it’s something that I can do well!”
Using the phrases “I suppose …” or, “I guess …” shows that you are not really sure exactly why you like it – you guess that this is the reason.
- “One of the best things about it is knowing that I will be able to contribute to society in an area where it’s really needed.” (alternate fuel research)
- “I find it really interesting to learn about how the business world functions.”
- “I find it quite _______” (interesting because … / stimulating because … / challenging because … /satisfying because …
However, if you are honest, you probably would have to admit that you don’t like frequent exams or the fact that you have to memorize so many apparently useless facts. Introduce the ‘downside’ of what you study by using an expression such as “On the other hand, …”, “However, …” or even “But …”.
This last example (but) is natural speech and acceptable to use sometimes but try to show a wider range of connective expressions – don’t only use “but …” throughout the Speaking test.
Throughout the Speaking test, have the attitude that you are willing to share your feelings and opinions with the examiner. This way, you will find it much easier to express yourself.
All questions in Your Studies part are HERE.