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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of students working for free as part of their education.

It is a very common topic on the general training exam!

Be sure to check out my online courses here and my writing corrections here and my Patreon here.

Dave

Before reading, listen to the audio and take notes for some extra practice:

IELTS Writing Task 2 General Training Sample Answer Essay: Unpaid Student Work

Many schools today require students to work without pay for companies as part of their education.

Is this more advantageous to students or companies?

Real Past IELTS Exam

An increasing number of schools are forcing students to do unpaid internships with companies as a graduation requirement. In my opinion, this measure generally benefits students more than companies.

On the one hand, companies receive free labour. Every company, whether it is an international conglomerate or a small local business, must balance expenses against revenue in hopes of turning a profit. One of the largest operating expenses is labour and having unpaid volunteers from a nearby school helps companies carve out a larger profit margin. For example, a local supermarket could use high school students to help with bagging groceries, collecting carts, stocking shelves and potentially even manning the cash registers. The savings from this labour can make a sizeable difference for companies as long as they have simple, manual positions that require little training and schools are willing to offer up students for these monotonous jobs.

On the other hand, students will generally not want to do simple, manual labour but work in a more interesting field, where they might be more of a hindrance than a help. A hypothetical example of this would be a student who has a keen interest in a given field, such as film-making, landing an internship with a local television station. In this high-pressured, skilled environment, an experienced employee will have to be charged with training and supervising a student who is unlikely to remain long with the company. This unpaid trainee will probably struggle to make much of a positive difference since the learning curve on skilled work is steep and the consequences for making mistakes can be serious. The student will learn a lot of useful skills but the company should see this as a form of charity, rather than a boon for their bottom line.

In conclusion, compulsory unpaid work for companies usually benefits students as they have a lot to learn and companies must invest in training. These positions are chances for students to become acclimated to the working world and not simply free manual labour.

Analysis

1. An increasing number of schools are forcing students to do unpaid internships with companies as a graduation requirement. 2. In my opinion, this measure generally benefits students more than companies.

  1. Paraphrase what the overall topic is.
  2. Write a clear opinion.

1. On the one hand, companies receive free labour. 2. Every company, whether it is an international conglomerate or a small local business, must balance expenses against revenue in hopes of turning a profit. 3. One of the largest operating expenses is labour and having unpaid volunteers from a nearby school helps companies carve out a larger profit margin. 4. For example, a local supermarket could use high school students to help with bagging groceries, collecting carts, stocking shelves and potentially even manning the cash registers. 5. The savings from this labour can make a sizeable difference for companies as long as they have simple, manual positions that require little training and schools are willing to offer up students for these monotonous jobs.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop your ideas by being very specific.
  4. Give a clear example.
  5. Conclude the paragraph by relating back to the overall essay topic.

1. On the other hand, students will generally not want to do simple, manual labour but work in a more interesting field, where they might be more of a hindrance than a help. 2. A hypothetical example of this would be a student who has a keen interest in a given field, such as film-making, landing an internship with a local television station. 3. In this high-pressured, skilled environment, an experienced employee will have to be charged with training and supervising a student who is unlikely to remain long with the company. 4. This unpaid trainee will probably struggle to make much of a positive difference since the learning curve on skilled work is steep and the consequences for making mistakes can be serious. 5. The student will learn a lot of useful skills but the company should see this as a form of charity, rather than a boon for their bottom line.

  1. Write another topic sentence with another clear main idea at the end.
  2. Give an example. I use a hypothetical one because it is difficult to think of a real world one but if you know one, use a specific person.
  3. Develop the example.
  4. Keep developing the same example – don’t switch to a new main idea or a new example.
  5. Conclude the paragraph with a strong statement.

1. In conclusion, compulsory unpaid work for companies usually benefits students as they have a lot to learn and companies must invest in training. 2. These positions are chances for students to become acclimated to the working world and not simply free manual labour.

  1. Summarise your ideas and repeat your opinion.
  2. Finish summarising and add a final thought.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

An increasing number of schools are forcing students to do unpaid internships with companies as a graduation requirement. In my opinion, this measure generally benefits students more than companies.

On the one hand, companies receive free labour. Every company, whether it is an international conglomerate or a small local business, must balance expenses against revenue in hopes of turning a profit. One of the largest operating expenses is labour and having unpaid volunteers from a nearby school helps companies carve out a larger profit margin. For example, a local supermarket could use high school students to help with bagging groceries, collecting carts, stocking shelves and potentially even manning the cash registers. The savings from this labour can make a sizeable difference for companies as long as they have simple, manual positions that require little training and schools are willing to offer up students for these monotonous jobs.

On the other hand, students will generally not want to do simple, manual labour but work in a more interesting field, where they might be more of a hindrance than a help. A hypothetical example of this would be a student who has a keen interest in a given field, such as film-making, landing an internship with a local television station. In this high-pressured, skilled environment, an experienced employee will have to be charged with training and supervising a student who is unlikely to remain long with the company. This unpaid trainee will probably struggle to make much of a positive difference since the learning curve on skilled work is steep and the consequences for making mistakes can be serious. The student will learn a lot of useful skills but the company should see this as a form of charity, rather than a boon for their bottom line.

In conclusion, compulsory unpaid work for companies usually benefits students as they have a lot to learn and companies must invest in training. These positions are chances for students to become acclimated to the working world and not simply free manual labour.

Answers

increasing number more and more

forcing have to do

unpaid internships working for free

graduation requirement have to do to leave high school/graduate

measure generally development usually

receive free labour get unpaid workers

international conglomerate multinational company

small local business neighborhood store/shop/business

balance expenses against revenue balance the books, earn a profit

in hopes of turning a profit in order to make money

operating expenses labour, rent, etc. (set costs)

unpaid volunteers interns

carve out find a way to make

profit margin the amount of money made after expenses

bagging groceries putting food in bags at the supermarket

collecting carts rounding up supermarket carts

stocking shelves putting food on the shelf at a supermarket

manning in charge of

cash registers where you pay in a shop

savings money saved

sizeable difference really important

as long as assuming that

manual positions jobs where you don’t have to think much

little training not much teaching

willing open to

offer up give

monotonous boring

hindrance holds one back

hypothetical imaginary

keen interest very interested in

given field some area

landing an internship getting to be an intern/trainee

local television station small TV studio

high-pressured intense

experienced employee veteran worker

charged with tasked with

supervising watch over

remain long stay there a while

unpaid trainee intern

struggle have difficulty

make much of a positive difference have a good impact on

learning curve on skilled work is steep hard to pick up the job/get good at it

consequences results

making mistakes messing up

serious not a joke

charity helping others

boon benefit

bottom line net profit

compulsory unpaid work required internships

invest in give money to

acclimated get used to

working world employment environment

Pronunciation

Listen and repeat:

ɪnˈkriːsɪŋ ˈnʌmbə 
ˈfɔːsɪŋ 
ʌnˈpeɪd ˈɪntɜːnʃɪp
ˌgrædjʊˈeɪʃən rɪˈkwaɪəmənt
ˈmɛʒə ˈʤɛnərəli 
rɪˈsiːv friː ˈleɪbə
ˌɪntə(ː)ˈnæʃənl kənˈglɒmərɪt 
smɔːl ˈləʊkəl ˈbɪznɪs
ˈbæləns ɪksˈpɛnsɪz əˈgɛnst ˈrɛvɪnjuː 
ɪn həʊps ɒv ˈtɜːnɪŋ ə ˈprɒfɪt
ˈɒpəreɪtɪŋ ɪksˈpɛnsɪz 
ʌnˈpeɪd ˌvɒlənˈtɪəz 
kɑːv aʊt 
ˈprɒfɪt ˈmɑːʤɪn
ˈbægɪŋ ˈgrəʊsəriz
kəˈlɛktɪŋ kɑːts
ˈstɒkɪŋ ʃɛlvz 
ˈmænɪŋ 
kæʃ ˈrɛʤɪstəz
ˈseɪvɪŋz 
ˈsaɪzəbl ˈdɪfrəns 
æz lɒŋ æz 
ˈmænjʊəl pəˈzɪʃənz 
ˈlɪtl ˈtreɪnɪŋ 
ˈwɪlɪŋ 
ˈɒfər ʌp 
məˈnɒtnəs 
ˈhɪndrəns 
ˌhaɪpəʊˈθɛtɪkəl 
kiːn ˈɪntrɪst 
ˈgɪvn fiːld
ˈlændɪŋ ən ˈɪntɜːnʃɪp 
ˈləʊkəl ˈtɛlɪˌvɪʒən ˈsteɪʃən
haɪ-ˈprɛʃəd
ɪksˈpɪərɪənst ˌɛmplɔɪˈiː 
ʧɑːʤd wɪð 
ˈsjuːpəvaɪzɪŋ 
rɪˈmeɪn lɒŋ 
ʌnˈpeɪd treɪˈniː 
ˈstrʌgl 
meɪk mʌʧ ɒv ə ˈpɒzətɪv ˈdɪfrəns 
ˈlɜːnɪŋ kɜːv ɒn skɪld wɜːk ɪz stiːp 
ˈkɒnsɪkwənsɪz 
ˈmeɪkɪŋ mɪsˈteɪks 
ˈsɪərɪəs
ˈʧærɪti
buːn 
ˈbɒtəm laɪn
kəmˈpʌlsəri ʌnˈpeɪd wɜːk 
ɪnˈvɛst ɪn 
əˈklaɪmeɪtɪd 
ˈwɜːkɪŋ wɜːld 

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

An i________________________r of schools are f______________g students to do u_______________________s with companies as a g__________________________t. In my opinion, this m_______________________y benefits students more than companies.

On the one hand, companies r____________________r. Every company, whether it is an i_____________________________e or a s_______________________s, must b______________________________________e i_____________________________t. One of the largest o______________________s is labour and having u_______________________s from a nearby school helps companies c_____________t a larger p__________________n. For example, a local supermarket could use high school students to help with b___________________s, c__________________s, s___________________s and potentially even m___________g the c_________________s. The s_____________s from this labour can make a s____________________e for companies a________________s they have simple, m___________________s that require l________________________g and schools are w_____________g to o____________p students for these m__________________s jobs.

On the other hand, students will generally not want to do simple, manual labour but work in a more interesting field, where they might be more of a h________________e than a help. A h_________________l example of this would be a student who has a k______________t in a g______________d, such as film-making, l_____________________p with a l________________________n. In this h_________________d, skilled environment, an e________________________e will have to be c________________h training and s_________________g a student who is unlikely to r______________g with the company. This u_______________e will probably s_______________e to m_________________________________e since the l______________________________________p and the c__________________s for m____________________s can be s____________s. The student will learn a lot of useful skills but the company should see this as a form of c___________y, rather than a b_______n for their b_________________e.

In conclusion, c____________________________k for companies usually benefits students as they have a lot to learn and companies must i______________n training. These positions are chances for students to become a______________d to the w____________________d and not simply free manual labour.

Listen and check:

Listening Practice

Listen to Shivali Sharma talk about getting an internship at Johnson and Johnson:

Reading Practice

Read an argument against unpaid internships from The Atlantic here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/unpaid-internships-bad-for-students-bad-for-workers-bad-for-society/256958/

Speaking Practice

Answer the following question from the real speaking exam:

Studying

  1. Do you work or study?
  2. Why are you studying English?
  3. What will you do after graduating university?

Writing Practice

Answer the related question below about part-time jobs then check with my sample answer:

In many countries, teenagers are encouraged to find part-time jobs. Some think this is a good development while others disagree.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.

Real Past IELTS Exam

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