Cue Card in IELTS Speaking & how to answer IELTS cue card topics
In this lesson, you can learn about the IELTS speaking exam, part two or what is called IELTS cue card.
How to answer it and how to deal with the IELTS examiner to get band +8.0 to study abroad or migrate to Canada.
Each new cue card has a main topic with 3 to 5 questions, and you will have 1 minute to prepare an answer, after which you need to continuously speak on this topic for about 2 minutes.
At the end of your answer, the examiner can ask a few questions about this topic.
So, let’s start with the definition of cue card and a punch of the recent IELTS speaking cue card topics with answers.
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what is cue card in IELTS speaking?
Cue card in IELTS is the second part of speaking exam.
The IELTS speaking test has three parts, and in this class, you can learn in more detail about part two of the speaking exam which is called “Cue Card“, and how to improve your score.
First, let’s review what happens in part two of the IELTS speaking test.
- The examiner will give you a card with a topic. You have one minute to prepare a short speech on the topic.
- After one minute, the examiner will ask you to speak. You need to talk for between one and two minutes.
- After you finish, the examiner will ask you one or two simple questions about what you said.
How to answer IELTS speaking cue card?
How should you use your time while answering the cue card? Let’s look!
Part one: how to use your preparation time.
- The first thing you should do: ask the examiner if there are any words you don’t understand!
Asking the examiner will use some of your time, and that’s not great. But, don’t talk if you haven’t understood the question; that will be worse.
- Secondly, look at the question.
It has four parts: the three bullet points, and the longer question at the end.
One minute is not a long time. You can’t prepare everything, so don’t try, just do the following:
- Try to think of one or two things you can say for each part of the question.
- Make short notes to help you remember your points.
How can you make effective notes?
Let’s look: For example, let’s say your cue card IELTS asked you to talk about choosing what to study at university.
- “Computer science or engineering.”
- “IT—interesting career opportunities.”
- “Difficult—pros and cons on both sides.”
- “Satisfied—IT work is interesting/creative.”
These notes will help you to speak.
Let’s see how: The four parts of the notes follow the four parts of the question.
This will help you to keep your answer organized. You have some key words and phrases like ‘career opportunities’, ‘pros and cons’ or ‘creative’ which you can use in your answer.
The notes give you at least one or two points to make about each part of the question.
Again, you won’t have time to do more than this, so don’t try. Don’t write full sentences—focus on covering all the points you need to talk about.
OK—your minute’s up, and it’s time to talk!
Part two: how to organize your answer.
Organizing your answer well is easy to do, and important, but many students don’t do it so well.
So how can you organize your answer effectively?
- First, start with an opening phrase.
Say something like:
- “I’m going to tell you about…”
- “I’d like to talk about…”
- “I’ve decided to talk about…”
This gives your speech a strong, clear start. What next? Very simple:
- Follow the bullet points.
Say 1-2 sentences, using your notes, about each of the three bullet points.
Hopefully, this will take you 30-60 seconds. Be focused, and don’t go off topic or add any points which don’t answer the question.
Every sentence should be a direct answer to one of the points on the cue card.
- Next, focus on the last part of the question
—“…explain how you feel about this choice now.”
This is the most important part of the question, because it lets you go into more detail.
This isn’t just true for this question; this is generally true for IELTS speaking part two questions.
The three bullet points are quite simple, and you can’t say very much about them, sometimes.
The last part has more depth, and you should spend more time on it. So, try to make 3-4 sentences about the last part of the question. This should take you 30-60 seconds, again.
Great! You’ve finished, right? Well, not quite. You also need a strong finish.
Often, when I practice IELTS with my students, they act surprised when they finish their answers, like this:
- “…and so I feel like I probably made the right choice… … … Finished!”
This doesn’t sound like you’ve finished. It sounds like you’ve just run out of things to say.
You should know when you’ve finished, and you should show the examiner clearly.
How can you finish strongly?
Use a concluding phrase, such as:
- “That’s why I feel that…”
- “Finally, when I look back at my decision now…”
- “I’m glad I made the decision I did.”
Obviously, the finishing phrases aren’t like the opening phrases, which you can use for any topic. The finishing phrases will depend on the question you get.
Part three: adding details to your answer.
A lot of IELTS advice says the same things:
- give detailed answers,
- use varied vocabulary,
- use different sentence structures.
OK, that’s great, it’s all true, but how? And how can you use this in part two of your IELTS speaking test?
Actually, if you follow the advice I’ve given you so far, this will happen automatically.
If you make two sentences for each bullet point, make 3-4 sentences for the last part of the question, write down key vocabulary to use in your notes;
if you do these things, your answer should already be detailed, with good vocabulary.
We’ve already done a lot of the work you need to do here. What else can you do?
- For each point, try to give at least one fact and at least one opinion.For example,
⇒ Don’t say: “I had to choose between studying computer science and studying engineering.”
⇒ Say: “I had to choose between studying computer science and studying engineering. I was interested in both, although I always felt that studying computer science was a better choice.”
⇒ Don’t say: “I decided to study computer science.”
⇒ Instead, say: “I decided to study computer science, because I felt that it would give me more interesting career opportunities.” This is a good, simple rule to make your answers more detailed.
- Always include a fact and an opinion if you can. Add details wherever you can.
⇒ Don’t say, “It was quite a difficult decision to make.”
⇒ Instead, say: “It was quite a difficult decision to make, because my parents and my teachers all gave me different advice, and I didn’t know what to do.”
⇒ Don’t say: “I feel like I made the right decision.”
⇒ Say: “I feel like I made the right decision, because I really enjoy working in IT—it’s very creative and there’s always something new to learn.”
Following these simple rules will make your answers more detailed, and give you a higher chance to get a better score. Next, let’s look at timing.
Part four in how to answer IELTS Cue Card: how long should you speak?
This is simple: at least one minute. Speaking for less than one minute will hurt your score.
You can speak for up to two minutes. After two minutes, the examiner will stop you, even if you’re in the middle of your sentence.
If the examiner stops you, that’s not necessarily a problem. It doesn’t affect your score if you go too long.
However, if you’ve haven’t covered all the parts of the question, that could be a problem.
That’s why a good goal is to speak for 90 seconds. This should give you enough time to say everything you want to say.
So how do you do that?
Practice, and time yourself. Type “IELTS part two speaking questions” into Google or find the latest IELTS cue cards on our website and find some questions to practice with.
- First, speak and look at your timer, on your phone or wherever.
- Answer the same question several times.
- Your goal is to cover all parts of the question in 90 seconds.
- Later, when you’re more comfortable with this, practice your answers, but don’t look at the timer.
- At the end, guess how long you spoke for, and then look at the timer to check.
If you do this a few times, you’ll start to feel how long you need to speak for. You’ll also know how much you can say.
Different people speak at different speeds.
- If you can speak fast and fluently, you’ll be able to say more in 90 seconds.
- If you’re a slower speaker, you won’t be able to say as much.
Practising will help you to understand how much you can say in 90 seconds.
Part five: dealing with common problems.
Finally, let’s look at some problems which students face in part two of the IELTS speaking test.
- First problem: “I don’t have anything to say about this topic!”
Well, I chose the question for this lesson because it’s an easier one. “Describe an important choice you made” I think is something which most people could talk about.
Unfortunately, not all of the questions are so easy or general. For example, if the question is, “Talk about a party which you went to.”
What if you haven’t been to a party for several years? What if you don’t like parties? This could happen.
We hope it won’t, but it could. What can you do? First, when you’re preparing for the exam, be strict with yourself.
Don’t just practice easy questions, or questions which you think are interesting.
Find the most difficult question you can. Find the most boring question you can. Practice answering these.
Find more difficult questions, and more boring questions, and practice them. You need to be prepared for anything.
If the worst happens, and you get a topic where you don’t have anything to say, you have two options:
- First, you can just lie. The examiner really doesn’t care if you tell the truth or not. Make up a story if you can.
- Otherwise, try to think of a story from a friend, or from the news, or anything which you could use.
For example, if the topic is “Talk about a party which you went to,” and your friend told you about a party that he or she went to last week, use your friend’s story.
To be clear, don’t talk about your friend. Use your friend’s story and make it about you.
This is important: in other parts of the IELTS exam, it can be OK to say “I don’t know,” or “I don’t have anything to say about this.”
But in part two, you must answer the question. You can’t change the topic or adapt it.
What other common problems do IELTS students have during part two of the speaking test?
- Another common problem: “I’m so nervous!”
Alright, well giving a speech like this makes a lot of people nervous or uncomfortable. What can you do about this?
First of all, understand that feeling nervous in this situation is natural. Very few people can feel totally comfortable in this kind of situation.
Is there anything you can do to feel less nervous?
Well, yes, there is. Try to practice making presentations or speeches in English, in front of as many people as possible, maybe in class or with your teacher.
Practicing speaking like this is useful anyway, but it’s also good to get used to feeling nervous.
Feeling a little bit nervous doesn’t mean your English will get worse.
Feeling nervous is natural; you can feel nervous and you can still speak well. It’s important to understand this before your exam.
part six, let’s review what we’ve talked about today.
The last tip in how to answer the IELTS speaking cue card and get a higher score in part two of the IELTS speaking test, you need to prepare carefully, making sure you have something to say for each part of the question.
You should structure your speech, with a clear beginning and ending.
Add details to your answer where possible, especially for the last part of the question.
Try to speak for around 90 seconds.
And, practice in advance, including boring questions, difficult questions, and speaking in situations where you feel nervous, and try to use some of the things we’ve talked about today.
I hope you found this IELTS advice useful in preparing for your exam. Good luck if you have an exam coming up soon!
and now, you can find the latest IELTS cue cards 2021, which are expected by Makkar and Liz to appear in 2021 IELTS exams.
Recent IELTS Cue Cards:
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