IELTS Speaking Cue Card


You will know that Part 2 has begun when the examiner asks you to talk in some detail about a particular topic – a topic which is usually easy for you to find things to talk about. Note that you are only asked to talk about one topic.

The requirements for effective performance in Part 2 are that you:

• talk in some detail about the topic referred to on the card you are given

• try giving an organised answer by following the instructions written on the card

• keep talking about the topic – with no help from the examiner – for at least one minute and up to 2 minutes

Remember, Part 2 is concerned with your ability to speak with little or no hesitation and in some detail about a simple topic

What To Do and What Not To Do

1. Use your preparation time to think about your answer – think only about what is written on the card.  1. Do not digress; that is, do not talk of things which are not directly related to the topic on the card.  
2. Organise your reply by following the order of the instructions given on the card.  2. Do not hesitate for too long in your answer. It is better to speak about anything than not to speak at all!  
3. Be aware of how long you have been talking by practising with a wristwatch before you do the test.3. Do not be afraid to correct a grammatical mistake, but fluency is just as important as grammar, and too much correction will make it hard for you to be understood.  
4. Make sure you have answered all that is required on the card, and be prepared to answer a couple of questions at the end.  4. Do not expect the examiner to give you feedback on how well you performed in your talk.  

Part 2 – What To Do in the Minute of Silence

When the examiner hands you the card your one minute’s preparation time has begun. Read the card carefully, noting what the topic is. Since there is no title on the card*, the topic might not be immediately clear, but the topic is given in the very first sentence.

You will see that there are a number of instructions to follow, and all the items of information required are expected to be referred to in your answer. You can certainly add extra information if you think it is appropriate, and you are wise to do so – if you have time – provided that you do not digress (speak “off or away from the topic).

The best approach is to read the card quickly from beginning to end, and then go back to the first specific instruction after the topic sentence. Think of things to say about each of the instructions in the remaining time you have. Although you are allowed to make notes (and refer to them in your answer), unless you have practised this approach, it is probably best to spend your time thinking rather than writing. But some candidates may wish to ask the examiner for notepaper to write on.

There are usually 3 or 4 instructions to speak about – so aim to speak for 30 seconds on each one.

A Sample Topic Card:

Describe a city or a town that you know well.

You should include in your answer:

– The location of the city or town

– The part of the city or town you are most familiar with

– Important landmarks and places to visit

… And what makes that city or town special to you and to others.

Notice that the topic is there in the very first sentence. Note also that there are 4 further instructions that follow (there may be more or less). If you speak for about 30 seconds on each of these 4 instructions, you will have spoken for about 2 minutes – which is more than adequate. Do not speak for longer than 2 minutes.

The examiner may or may not stop you talking after two minutes, so aim to finish within that period of time. Of course, it is very important to speak for at least one minute, so if you have difficulty speaking for that length of time you will have to practise, practise, practise.

Try using a wrist watch, and time yourself on each part of the topic. Become accustomed to speaking for approximately 30 seconds on one instruction. Then move on to the next instruction. You can look quickly at your watch in the test itself, but we do not advise it. It is much better to practise recognising how long 30 seconds “feels”.

When you get better at “feeling” how long you take to speak about parts of the main topic, you can approach the entire answer in a similar way – that is, by estimating how long you have spoken for, and making sure you have included all parts of the answer within two minutes.

So, what specifically can you talk about? Look at a breakdown of the above topic:

The location of the city or town: –

Sydney… harbour city… clean – busy

on the east coast of Australia

The part of the city or town you are most familiar with: –

Jive in a large older-style house

my suburb: wide streets, trees

sunny weather, blue skies, modern. buildings.

Important landmarks and places to visit: –

Opera House, Harbour Bridge

One looks like a ship’s sails the other like a coat-hanger

What makes that city or town special to you and to others: –

sense of space and freedom

people close to water and beaches

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