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

What is a gap year?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking one?

This question is always popping up on IELTS!

Today we explain what it is and provide a sample brainstorm.

Listen to today’s episode so you’ll be ready for this question!

And if you want to know what you’d get today on IELTS, take our quick, free quiz!

What is a gap year?

This means taking a year off before furthering education.

After secondary school, students will often take a gap year.

Americans don’t usually call it a “gap year.”

They just say, “He’s taking a year off.”

Calling it a gap year is more British English.

Where will you see this on IELTS?

IELTS loves this question!

You could be asked about it in Speaking Part 3.

You may also see a Writing Task 2 question about the disadvantages and advantages of taking a gap year.

It could also be in the Listening audio, with speakers discussing its merits or drawbacks.

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Brainstorming tips

Be as specific as possible!

If you write down a reason, you need to prove it.

Ask yourself, “Who?”

Ask yourself, “Why?”

Come up with specific details for each reason.

Make sure your examples aren’t general.

Instead, describe specific individuals and events.

Advantages of gap years

Advantage #1: Students aren’t ready to be serious about college right after high school.

They are only 18 years old and often haven’t had much responsibility yet.

Advantage #2: Teenagers have a chance to work for a year to earn money.

If they then use this money to pay tuition, they will take classes more seriously.

This may keep them from having to work while enrolled in school.

Advantage #3: Students may have a better idea what they want to study after working a year.

Rarely does a person this age know what they want to study.

Likely they haven’t decided their future career.

A lot of time might be wasted if they choose a major and end up switching.

Disadvantages of gap years

Disadvantage #1: It lengthens the time to finish school

If you plan to attend graduate school, law school or medical school, you will finish one year later.

Disadvantage #2: A person who takes a gap year may never return to school.

It could derail their plans.

derail: go off track

They may end up settling for a job and never finish their education.

Most entry level jobs that don’t require education earn lower salaries.

Therefore, years later, they may regret this decision.

Disadvantage #3: It is more difficult to finish schooler at an older age

You may start a family and have to pay for childcare.

Additionally, the number of years you have to earn a high salary is shorter.

This makes it harder to pay back student loans debt.


Questions about gap years are common on the IELTS exam.

Today’s Task 2 brainstorm gives you many ideas regarding the advantages and disadvantages.

It’s vital that you know what a gap year is or you’d be in trouble!

In addition, you definitely want to be ready with ideas and high level vocabulary.

For all the strategies you need to get a 7 or higher on IELTS, sign up today for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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