Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

You will likely be asked about your preferences on IELTS.

These questions can come up anywhere on the IELTS Speaking exam.

Today we’ll share a common student mistake you need to avoid!

We’ll also share impressive vocabulary for these questions.

Speaking questions about preferences

Many IELTS questions ask you about your preferences.

They often begin with ‘Do you prefer…’

Do you prefer to spend your evenings with family or friends?
Do you prefer eating out or cooking at home?
Do you prefer spending time with one friend or a large group of friends?

Mistake to avoid!

Students sometimes make the error of saying “I prefer both.”

This use of the verb ‘prefer’ is incorrect.

If you say what you prefer, you must choose one or the other.

If you want to say you like both, you can’t use ‘prefer.’

I love both! I absolutely cannot choose between them!

Can you say you have no preference?

If you are asked what you prefer, you may feel like you have to choose one or the other.

Actually, you can say you like them both equally.

However, your answer needs to be more detailed than that.

You must share why you like them both.

Today’s vocabulary will give you great filler phrases when you have no preference.

They are also full of high-level vocabulary.

#1: Dilemma

This is often used to describe difficult, serious decisions or problems.

However, we also use it to talk about less serious issues.

If you are asked whether you prefer working at home or in an office, you can say this.

That is a real dilemma for me!

It would then be necessary to share the benefits of each.

You must always explain why you can’t choose.

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#2: Dither

Dither is very high level because students rarely use it.

The Examiner will be impressed by this verb!

It means to not be able to make a decision.

I don’t mean to dither, but I don’t think I can choose one over the other!

Share this to start your answer and then explain why you can’t choose!

#3: Quandary

A quandary is a difficult decision.

This is often used for serious topics like pollution or homelessness.

However, we also use it for more informal discussions.

If you are asked whether you like to spend time with one friend or a large group of friends, you can say this.

That’s a real quandary for me!

After, you must share why it is a difficult decision.

Provide details about why you like both.

#4: That’s tough

This phrase is the least formal of today’s vocabulary.

If a decision is difficult to make, you can say this.

Oh, that’s so tough! I really can’t choose!

Again, you would need to follow up with details about why you can’t choose.

Share why you like each option or choice.


You don’t have to choose one or the other when asked about preferences on IELTS.

Feel free to say you like both choices!

However, be sure to avoid the common mistake of saying, “I prefer both.”

Use today’s phrases to share that you have no preference.

Then follow up with details about why you like both!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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