TOEFL Q17: Getting a Job


In this lesson, your tutor will help you go over question five from the TOEFL speaking test. Listen to a short conversation.
Note to tutor: read the text to the student. The text is not presented to the student in the actual test.  

W: Excuse me, professor Howard. May I speak to you for a moment?

M: Absolutely, Sherin. Come on in. Is everything alright?

W: Um, not exactly. You see, I’m a philosophy major. I really enjoy my studies, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to get a good job with a philosophy degree.

M: I understand. Have you thought about changing majors? You could study business management or accounting. Then you’d be sure to get a decent job right out of school. But if you do that, then it will probably take you another year to graduate.

W: Yes, I’ve thought about that. The problem is I’ll have to take out a student loan if I study an extra year.

M: And I’m sure you don’t want that. Maybe you could get a minor in business? That way you will get some business knowledge and still complete your studies on time. Of course a business minor alone might not help you very much in getting a good job.

W: Gosh, this is such a tough decision. I don’t know what to do.


The man gives two possible solutions to the woman’s problem. Describe the problem. Then state which of the two solutions you prefer and explain why.

Preparation time: 20 seconds l Response time: 60 seconds


Use the chart below to explain the problem and the solutions offered.

The Problem The woman is worried that she will not be able to get a __ with a __.
Solution 1 Change her __.
Reason The woman can study business or __ and be sure to get a good job.
Solution 2 Get a __ in business.
Reason She can get some __ and still __ her studies on time.


Use the following pointers as a guideline to refine your answer.

  1. State the problem
    • The woman is worried that she will not be able to get a good job with a philosophy degree
  2. What are the pros and cons of solution 1?
    • Pro: She will be more likely to get a job.
    • ConShe will have to take out a student loan.
  3. What are the pros and cons of solution 2?
    • ProShe can complete her studies on time.
    • Con: A minor in business is not good enough.
  4.  Your opinion
    • solution 1 is better 
  5. Come up with two reasons to back your opinion
    • Most good jobs require a degree in business.
    • She will be able to get a good job, which will allow her to pay off her student loans more easily.

Sample Answer

Reading great sample answers is one way to improve. Go over the sample answer with your tutor. Ask questions if you have any.

Sample Answer

Solution 1: The woman is worried that she will not be able to get a good job with a philosophy degree. The man suggests changing majors or getting a minor in business. Between these two solutions, I prefer the first one. For one, most good jobs today require a degree in business. A minor in business is not good enough. On top of this, the woman will be more likely to get a high-paying job. This will allow her to pay off her student loan easily.

Solution 2: The woman’s problem is that her philosophy degree might not help her get a good job. The man first tells the woman to change her major. However, I think his second suggestion of getting a minor in business is better. First, the woman can graduate on time. She will not have to take out a student loan. I also feel that the woman should study what she enjoys. If she majors in business, then she might not be very happy.

Further Study

Got more time? Here is a list of common vocabulary words related to the text you studied today. Go over each one with your tutor.

Additional Expressions
major (n) the main subject studied by a college student
e.g. He chose history as his major and French as his minor.
degree (n) a document given to a student who finishes college
e.g. He received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
accounting (n) the job of making financial records
e.g. He worked at an accounting firm after college.
decent (adj) good enough but not the best
e.g. They can’t afford decent housing.
graduate (v) to complete high school or college
e.g. He graduated from university last June.
take out (phr v) to get something through a process
e.g. They had to take out a second mortgage on their home.
loan (n) money borrowed and paid back later
e.g. He’ll need several more years to pay back the rest of his student loans.
minor (n) a second subject studied by a college student
e.g. She majored in chemistry with a minor in biology.
tough (adj) very difficult
e.g. She had a tough time in college.
pay off (phr v) to give all of the money that you owe for (something that you pay for over a period of time)
e.g. If I won the lottery, I’d use the money to pay off all my credit cards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s