If you are preparing for the IELTS Speaking test and need IELTS cue cards, this article is for you. We have gathered real cue cards from recent tests and compiled a list of the top 10 cards.
We reveal each cue card and provide a step-by-step breakdown of how to plan your answer. Additionally, we will present a Band 9 sample answer for each cue card.
Speaking Part 2 checks your ability to:
- talk at length about the topic on the IELTS cue card,
- organize your ideas,
- speak fluently without noticeable effort,
- and express yourself using appropriate vocabulary and grammar.
IELTS Cue Card Tips
- Practice using real IELTS cue cards. You’ll find these below.
- Use the 1-minute preparation time wisely. See the video below for how I used the IELTS cue card to prepare my answer.
- You don’t have to use every single bullet point. Use the bullet points that help you speak about the topic. You can skip those that you’re not comfortable speaking about. You can add more bullet points; as long as you stay on topic.
- Record yourself speaking for up to 2 minutes. You can then listen back and spot any weaknesses.
- Practice with a stop watch. Get used to speaking for up to 2 minutes. Don’t worry, the examiner will stop you when you get to around 2 minutes.
IELTS Cue Card 1
Talk about a time you received good news.
You should say:
- When it happened
- How you got the news
- What the news was about
- and explain why the news was special.
So I received amazing news just before Easter this year. My wife got her new passport. Now, for most people, that wouldn’t be great news. But for my wife, because she’s not from the UK, that was her first passport, so it was an amazing thing to happen.
Just to give you some background on why it was so important and so special, if you’re not from the UK and you get married to a citizen from the UK, it takes between five and six years before you can get an actual passport. You can live in the UK, but you’re not allowed to get a passport.
You have to apply multiple times, send them mountains of information, and spend thousands of pounds trying to get that done. And what that does is it creates a huge problem because if you have what’s called a spouse visa for the UK and you don’t have one of the premium passports that allows you to travel around the world, it means you’re stuck in the UK.
So for about five or six years, we were living in the UK, but my family could only travel to my wife’s home country. She couldn’t travel to Europe, she couldn’t travel to America without going through a very stressful process of applying for visas there.
So getting this passport was amazing news because it means that we can go on holiday, we can travel anywhere pretty much in the world visa-free. And it just literally opens up the whole world to my family.
And to celebrate, I booked a holiday to Portugal. It was the first time my wife had ever been to Portugal, and we were able to just breeze through immigration with her British passport.
Cue Card 2
Describe an outdoor activity you took part in.
You should say:
- What activity it was
- Where you did it
- When you did it
- and explain whether you liked it or not.
An activity that I took part in outdoors recently, well, a few months ago actually, was snorkelling. So I’ve never been snorkelling before, and in August 2020, we went on holiday in Barbados, and we had a house right on the beach.
And I went swimming every day because the water was right there. Our next door neighbor, who was an American guy, every day he would go in snorkelling. And I didn’t really think that snorkelling was available.
And then on our last day of the holiday, he said, “Do you want to try my snorkel?” So I put the snorkel on and I was really surprised and disappointed because there was this amazing coral reef right under the sea, a stone’s throw away from my house.
So for two weeks I was swimming and could have been watching this amazing scene underneath the water. So we rebooked our holiday to Barbados. We went back again, December last year, and I brought my snorkel with me.
I went to the sports shop and purchased the best snorkel I could buy and brought it in my suitcase with me. When we got there, we discovered that the sea was too rough, so I couldn’t snorkel.
The sea was rough and choppy the whole time we were there. So not only could I not snorkel, I couldn’t even swim, so I missed that opportunity again.
In the future, I hope to snorkel, maybe somewhere else that has more reliable snorkeling. But I’d also like to try scuba diving because I think weather doesn’t really matter so much because you’re underneath the water and it’s a far more immersive experience, but it does require a lot of training, so maybe I need to do my PADI license.
Cue Card 3
Talk about a situation when you had to wait.
You should say:
- What you waited for
- Why you had to wait
- What you did while waiting
- and explain how you felt after waiting.
Recently, I had to wait nearly one week for a flight. So we were flying back from the south of Portugal, the Algarve, from an airport called Faro. I’m probably mispronouncing that, apologies to any Portuguese in the audience.
But what happened was our flight was at 8 PM from Portugal back to Belfast. And at 10 to 8, so 10 minutes before the flight was about to take off, I got a text message saying that the flight was canceled with no explanation at all. I think it was the French traffic controllers. So thanks very much for that.
And what happened in the immediate aftermath was we just said, okay, no problem. We went to a hotel. And it was actually a bonus because we went to a little town in Portugal that we would never normally go to.
And it was amazing because we got to see the real Portugal. They had a fish market and a vegetable market there right beside the water. So it was nice just to go and shop with the locals and have coffee with the locals. So it was actually a blessing in disguise.
Later that day, we needed to decide either we had to get a taxi to Spain because there were no flights available that day from Portugal to Belfast, or take a four-hour taxi ride to Lisbon, the capital, or just wait for the next available flight, which was five days away.
So we decided to do that because when we added up all the costs, it was actually cheaper just to stay an extra five days. And that was an amazing experience because we went back to the same resort that we stayed in.
And because Easter had passed, it was basically just us in the resort. So we got not just five-star service, six-star service. And it was really quiet and beautiful. And having our flight cancelled was an amazing experience.
Cue Card 4
Talk about a person you want to work with.
You should say:
- Who the person is
- How you know them
- What they do
- and explain why you want to work with them.
I suppose if I had to choose one person to work with, it would be Elon Musk. Elon Musk is one of the most successful business people in the history of the world. He’s one of the richest people in the world.
So it’s obvious why you would want to work with him because you could learn a huge amount from him. He’s famous because not only has he started one successful company, I think he has started more than 10 successful companies.
He’s famous for Tesla, which was the first company to successfully start an electric car company. SpaceX. He also bought Twitter, but he also set up PayPal, so he not only has been successful, he has been successful in many different domains.
And the thing that I would really like to learn from him is how he makes money and makes a profit by trying to solve problems for the planet and for people. Because Tesla makes a lot of money, but it is also saving the environment.
SpaceX makes a lot of money, but it could also save humanity. If there was a natural disaster and we all had to get off the planet, then it’s probably the only way we could go is to move to the moon or move to Mars.
So his rationale, his modus operandi, seems to be find a huge problem, solve that problem and get paid for it. And I would really, really like to do that. I try and do that in my own business.
So the IELTS test is a huge problem for thousands of people all around the world. We try and make it simple and easier for them to get the scores that they need. But I think there are probably bigger problems that I could tackle now that I’ve solved that IELTS problem.
Cue Card 5
Describe a time you received money from a family member.
You should say:
- When you received it
- Why you received it
- What you did with the money
- and explain how you felt after receiving it.
I don’t come from a very wealthy family, so I’ve never been given a huge amount of money in my life. The only time I can remember being given a significant amount of money was for my first Holy Communion.
I’m Irish, I’m from a Catholic background, and if you grew up Catholic, when you’re around seven, eight years old, you do your first Holy Communion. It’s like a big milestone in a child’s life.
Normally, family members will give you some money. I think at the time I was given between 40 and 50 pounds. So in the late 80s, early 90s, I can’t remember exactly when that was, early 90s, that was a significant amount of money.
But I actually reminded my mother the other day that she took that money from me. I said she stole it from me. And her response was, Well, we didn’t have any money, so I stole it from you to buy you food and to buy you clothes.
So I did feel quite aggrieved at the time because a lot of my richer friends were going and buying toys and things like that. It was the first time I’d ever had a significant amount of money, and then it was taken from me right away.
But looking back now, it fills me with gratitude. I’m very grateful that it happened because it shows how much my mother struggled and how hard she worked for me in order to set me up in life.
Recently, my little boy did his first Holy Communion, and he got a lot more than I got. He wasted it on buying things in a computer game. It was a good opportunity for us to teach him about money and teach him about not wasting money.
Now he wants to buy more things in the computer game, but I told him that he has to work for it and he has to do some jobs around the house if he wants that.
Cue Card 6
Describe any law which you like.
You should say:
- What the law was
- How you follow it
- What you like about it
- and explain what should happen if you break that law.
A law that I like is copyright. Copyright protects content creators, people who create things. It protects their intellectual property from being copied without authorisation.
The reason why I like this law is because my job, principally, 80% of my time is spent making original content. So that could be a blog post, that could be a YouTube video, it could be an image, something like that.
And how this law protects me is on a daily basis, definitely a weekly basis, somebody takes my original work and just copies it completely. And what we can do is we can then tell the platforms, or sometimes YouTube tells us, hey, somebody has copied your work.
And what that allows us to do is basically get that taken down. And then YouTube can either ban them from the platform, or what they do is they have a three-strikes policy, I think, where if they do it three times, they’re completely banned from the platform.
I do like this law, but I think that it isn’t enforced enough and it isn’t respected enough by other people. Recently, we had, or not recently, throughout our whole career, we’ve had a lot of people not only copying our content, the words and the images and the video, but copying things now like our titles and our thumbnail images.
Which are all original and they take a lot of creativity and brain power and time and work. I absolutely hate the fact that somebody lazy and stupid, to be honest, can just come along and take that and steal it.
When we report people stealing our titles, people stealing our thumbnails, YouTube are less likely to take that down because they don’t consider that a copyright violation.
When if you follow the letter of the law, it actually is. It’s a direct infringement of my intellectual property rights and I believe it should be taken more seriously.
Cue Card 7
Describe an unusual meal you had.
You should say:
- Where you had it
- Who was with you
- When you had it
- and explain how you felt when you had it.
An unusual meal I had recently was at a Portuguese restaurant. And for the first time, my wife and I and my two little boys had Portuguese fish stew. I’ll not try and pronounce the Portuguese version of it, but basically it comes in a big cast iron pot and it has rice and prawns and other fish and clams and other shellfish in it.
The reason why it was such an unusual experience was it was a restaurant that was completely outside and it was set in a big garden on the Atlantic Ocean and there were cliffs going down to the ocean.
And it was very special because if you have two young boys, they don’t want to sit in a fancy restaurant. And this allowed our boys to run around the gardens and go and have a look over the cliffs. Don’t worry, it was safe.
And it allowed myself and my wife to take turns playing with the boys or eating our meal. And because this stew was in a big cast iron pot, as I said, it didn’t get cold.
So I would eat some while my wife was looking after my boys, and then my wife would come back and she would eat some, and then I would go and play with my boys.
And they didn’t really eat it because they think that, you know, prawns and things like that are gross, but we really, really enjoyed it. I would definitely go back to that restaurant again, and I would definitely order that meal.
One thing we did miss out on was we, as we were leaving, we discovered they had a fresh fish counter where the daily catch was brought in and you could actually go and choose your fish.
My wife loves seafood and next time we’ll get the fish stew, but we’ll also pick a few other things. It was a delightful experience and we’re excited to go back.
Cue Card 8
Describe something healthy you enjoy doing.
You should say:
- What you do
- Where you do it
- Who you do it with
- and explain why it is healthy.
As you can probably tell from looking at me, I’m not the healthiest person in the world, but one thing I do enjoy, which is quite healthy, is hiking. I live in Northern Ireland and I live in a part of Northern Ireland which is world-renowned for its natural beauty.
Right on our doorstep, we have beaches, we have two beautiful forest parks, we have a beautiful lake, and we’ve got a medieval castle that you can walk around. That means that there’s a huge variety of places, and even within each of those places, like within the forest parks, there are different trails you can go down.
You’re always discovering new places and you never get bored. I like to do this on my own because I don’t only do it for the physical health benefits, I do it for the mental health benefits.
I have quite a busy, stressful job and being able to just get out in nature, we say it allows you to get your head showered here in Northern Ireland, which means just get out and bathe in nature. Not literally bathe, but just surround yourself with nature.
And it not only helps you with your cardiovascular health, it can help with stress and destressing as well. The only problem with hiking here in Northern Ireland is our weather is notoriously bad.
During the winter it can snow, but most of the time it is actually just raining. Walking in the rain, especially when it’s cold and when it’s windy, is not a great experience.
But in the summertime, we often get spells of weather, maybe two or three weeks where it is nice and dry, and that is an amazing time.
I generally work a lot less during those times and try and get out every day onto one of the hiking trails. Despite the challenges with the weather, the benefits I derive from hiking are immeasurable.
Cue Card 9
Describe a place you want to visit for a short period.
You should say:
- Where the place is
- Who you will go with
- Why you want to go
- and explain why you want to go for a short period.
So a place I’d love to go for a short period of time is Istanbul in Turkey. There’s a very specific reason for that – in a couple of weeks, they have the Champions League final there. My little boy, Tom, who is eight years old, is obsessed with Man City.
We watch all the Man City games here in the house and he especially loves the Champions League. So if they make it to the final, I would love to take him to the Champions League final.
I don’t know if we’ll be able to go, however, because tickets are quite hard to come by. But if we get the opportunity, I’d love to go. I wouldn’t take him there for more than a couple of days.
I know that Istanbul is an amazing place to visit, but I don’t think it’s suitable for children or not for my kid anyway. The things that I would like to do in Istanbul, such as experience the wonderful food and the historical sites and the religious sites and the cultural things to do there – an eight year old is just not really interested in those things.
So we would probably just fly in and stay the night before, go to the match and then come back. I think the matches are held quite late there because of the temperature. So we probably would fly back the next day.
I would like to take him back to Turkey, but probably not to Istanbul for the reasons I just said. He doesn’t really like big cities, but he does like seaside resorts.
And there are places like Antalya in the south of Turkey, and I’d like to take him there for a lot longer, a week or two, so he could experience Turkey and all the wonderful things there that they have for kids. Despite the challenges, I hope we could make it to the Champions League final in Istanbul for my son’s sake.
Cue Card 10
Describe an interesting person you met recently.
You should say:
- Who they are
- How you met them
- What they do
- and explain why you think this person is interesting.
So a fascinating man that I met recently back in December, so a few months back. I was swimming in the Caribbean Sea on the west coast of Barbados. There was an old man who was just lying back, relaxing in the sea.
He started talking to me, and I discovered that he lived in a house right on the beach in the village where I was staying. He was more than 80 years old, and I discovered that he had been in the sea nearly every day of his life.
For me, that location is one of the most beautiful places in the entire universe. And it was quite astounding to meet someone who was doing the thing that I wished that I could do. He’d done that for his entire life.
What struck me about this man was he was so calm, so serene. And when I thought about it, he was kind of a product of his environment. So I often wondered, after meeting him, if he grew up in a, let’s say, a poverty-stricken part of the world in a very rough inner city neighborhood, would he be that person?
So it’s thinking about that nature versus nurture debate. It was also fascinating to talk to him about the village in Barbados that he grew up in. Because I think his grandmother, he said, owned most of the land around that village.
She was such a lovely woman. And she just gave plots of land to everybody who needed it. So the village grew up around her, and he knew everybody in the village, and they were all very tight because she had just gifted that land to everybody.
The man was a fascinating figure – a testament to his life spent in such a beautiful place and the influence of his grandmother’s generosity on the tight-knit community he grew up in.
Excelling in the IELTS speaking test, particularly the cue card section, requires consistent practice and a strategic approach. At IELTS Advantage, we are committed to providing you with top-quality resources that boost your preparation and confidence. Keep practicing with our IELTS cue card samples and embrace the journey to achieving your desired IELTS score.
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