IELTS: Work Schedule, Writing, Saving Money, Online Marketing, Money & Happiness, Credit Cards, Government Spending

Recent IELTS questions & answers

These IELTS questions were asked this week.

TIP: Make sure you provide a full response for each question, including examples, reasons, etc.

This will help avoid the examiner asking "Why?" which shows that your answers are too short or there is more relevant information which should be supplied.


What do you do? Do study or work?

I just started working recently. I’m working on a social project in some of the poor neighborhoods in the city. It’s a government funded initiative.

Do you have friends at work?

Not a lot, there’s one other person who is about my age and we are quite good friends.

The other people I work with are much older than me, and although we get along okay at work, we don’t socialize or anything outside of work hours.

What is your work schedule?

It varies a little because some days we are office based and then other days we do outreach projects in the communities involved in the project.

When I’m working in the office, I usually arrive at 8 am and the day finishes at 5 pm.

Sometimes when we go out into the community to speak to people or have meetings with community leaders, it means working in the evenings or on weekends.

But it’s okay, because usually when that happens I get extra time off during the week, to compensate.

So, in the end, it’s about a 40-hour work week whether I’m in or out of the office.

Do you like to write?

I wouldn’t say I like to write in the sense that I write stories, novels or keep a journal or anything like that.

But I don’t mind writing. I have to do q2uite a lot of writing for my work, planning, proposals, notes, that sort of thing, and when I was studying I needed to write a lot as well.

So, I don’t mind it – but I can’t say I like it, it’s not something I would choose to do if it wasn’t necessary.

What do you generally write?

Nowadays, it’s mostly work stuff. I generally make notes in meetings and jot down ideas.

And I also need to do more formal writing in the form of proposals which explain what the purpose of the project is for local community leaders.

That can be quite challenging because it needs to be very easy for them to understand, but at the same time, it has to be able to answer all the frequently asked questions which such communities have when they participate in this kind of outreach project.

And, of course, I write lots of emails every day too.

In your childhood, did you love to write?

Not really. Obviously, I learned to write at school and had to write lots of different things, but I wouldn’t say I loved writing.

I actually preferred painting to writing. I used to love painting pictures and also sketching things in a big book I had.

Even now, I think I still prefer taking a photo, or recording a voice message, and sending it than writing long texts.

Do you think writing habits change with age?

Yes, they can do. And with time. I remember my mother telling me that she used to write letters before email existed, then she used to write emails, and now she sends SMS or texts just like me.

Also, maybe you write different sorts of things as you get older. You probably write more formal things for work like reports, based on facts, than essays or writing your opinion about something, like when you were a student.

I guess my own writing habits will probably change as technology and communication channels change in the future. And depending on the type of work I choose to do in the future.


Tell me about something you saved money to buy.

You should say:

  • how you saved the money
  • how long it took you to save the money
  • what you bought
and say how you felt after saving the money.

I’ve been saving for many years, and just this year my sister and I bought an apartment in the city.

We bought it together, but we both saved up individually for the down payment required, and then got a mortgage for the remaining amount of the value.

It wasn’t easy, and I sometimes thought it would take forever to save enough money to be able to get a loan to buy an apartment.

When I was a student I used to do extra work part time or in the vacations and earn money while I was staying at home with my parents.

I used to give some of the money I earned to them to help out with the family home and the rest I used to save each month.

Sometimes I wanted to buy things, you know, but I knew that saving money for an apartment would be much more satisfying in the long term.

The fact that my sister was also saving at the same time was also encouraging and motivating, because there’s no way I could have bought an apartment on my own, and she wouldn’t have been able to either, so it was only doing it together which made it possible.

This made me take it seriously, and although sometimes it was hard, it was worth it when we finally went to the bank to inquire about getting a mortgage and we could show how much we had managed to save over the years.

I guess it would be about 5 years in total it took me to save up my half of the down payment or deposit for the apartment, so it’s not something I did overnight.

But when we were approved for the loan, we both felt really happy and satisfied because all the sacrifices we had made meant that we now own an apartment where we can live together.


How does online marketing help to increase the amount people spend on products and services?

Marketing, whether online or not is designed to make people want things. That’s the purpose of it, so most marketing appeals to your emotions.

Companies identify how their products will make you feel, for example, clothing companies try to convince you that you will look better, or be more fashionable, and so more attractive, and stuff like that.

Luxury brands try to appeal to the concept of your self-esteem or social status and try to convince you that you will be seen to be better than others if you buy certain products.

Online marketing in particular just makes it even easier for marketing companies to get their message out to their target audiences.

And they are very clever about how they target you through your social media accounts and so on.

They know exactly what you’ve been looking at online on other websites, etc. and can program certain ads to appear at just the right moment.

It’s made it easier to encourage people to buy more stuff and constantly consume the products pushed by big brands.

What is your opinion on the notion that money can buy happiness?

Not directly, nor can it buy you health. But it can make things easier.

There are lots of examples of people who have won the lottery or inherited a lot of money and then they seem miserable because they don’t know what to do with their life.

Happiness is a very special combination of many things. You can be poor and still happy, but you might be dissatisfied with not having enough money.

You can also be rich and still feel dissatisfied because you have no family or no love in your life.

True happiness comes from within you. Those people who are truly happy don’t rely on other people or things for their happiness; other people or things might add to their happiness, but they’re not dependent on them.

You have to love yourself, do something you are passionate about and be able to satisfy all the basic needs of life – if you can do that then you’ll probably be happy.

Studies have shown that once we have enough money to buy all the essentials in life, like food, clothes, housing, etc. simply having more money does not make us happier.

Money is essential, but it’s only one part of being happy.

How should children learn about the best way to spend money?

Probably the best way is by following a good example set by their parents. Children need to learn the value of money. There are various ways to do that, depending on how the parents want to approach it.

But I also think it’s important that schools teach basic money management to children. Not all parents have the best spending habits.

Money management is a life skill, just like reading, writing, or math, and should be taught in schools.

Children should learn the basics of how money works in the real world, it’s value, what you can do with it, what the long-term results of spending and saving are, and so on.

Even just learning not to spend all your money every time you get a paycheck or how to manage your credit cards without getting into debt are now essential life skills to avoid problems as adults.

Do you think credit cards have helped people to do more shopping/increase their spending power?

In theory, yes. But in reality, the people are spending borrowed money. It’s credit, so it’s the bank’s money.

The ‘spending power’ is based on the person’s next salary. So, it’s not real money the person has saved in the bank. They are spending other people’s money with a promise to pay it back.

If they stop working, then their spending power becomes zero if they have not real money of their own in the bank.

So, yes, credit cards help people shop more and spend more because cards make it easier to spend. You don’t even really think about it, you carry it everywhere and you can just buy whatever you fancy.

It’s a lot harder psychologically to hand over a handful of cash than simply pass a plastic card to the cashier.

Do you think governments spend money on unimportant things? Can you give an example?

Not always, but sometimes. I mean the government spends a lot on basic social services such as health, education and so on, which are essential.

But sometimes you wonder how essential some of the big projects they do really are.

One example is the high-speed train system which is undergoing construction at the moment. It’s impressive and the government has explained it’s reasons for developing it.

But many experts and commentators say it’s just a ‘vanity project’ because other countries are also developing similar systems.

There are a lot of questions about who really benefits from it as it only serves certain parts of the country, so obviously many people won’t get any benefit from it at all.

There’s also the argument that, while it might be an important and even essential project for the long-term economic benefit of the country…

there are other more pressing social needs such as poverty, education, mental health, and other areas of society which would also benefit from the extra investment.

There are also less grand examples, like when the government funds the construction of monuments and parks, etc. but at the same time there are people sleeping in the streets, children who are homeless, and many other people in society who need immediate help.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to understand the priorities for spending.