How Can I Practice For The Speaking Cue Card Section?

This part of the IELTS Speaking exam tests your ability to talk fluently about a certain topic in an organized and cohesive way, for two minutes. You will be given a cue card, with a topic and questions related to the topic.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Format

The examiner will provide you pen and paper and give you one minute to think about the topic and make notes if necessary. Afterwards, you will be expected to talk continuously for about 2 minutes and the examiner will indicate when you can stop talking. The examiner may ask you some questions based on the topic during or after your talk.

Here are some examples of actual IELTS speaking cue card:

Describe a restaurant that you enjoyed going to.

You should say:

  • where the restaurant was
  • why you chose this restaurant
  • what type of food you ate in this restaurant and explain why you enjoyed eating at this restaurant.

Describe a person who has done a lot of work to help people.

You should say:

  • who this person is/was
  • where this person lives/lived
  • what he/she has done to help people and explain how you know about this person.

Describe a day when you thought the weather was perfect.

You should say:

  • where you were on this day
  • what the weather was like
  • what you did during the day
  • and explain why you thought the weather was perfect on this day.

Why Planning Is Important

One of the major reason’s students fail to score well in this section is because they do not have a good plan for their talk before, they speak. Fluency (speaking at length without hesitation) and coherency (being easily understood) make up 25 % of your speaking score. Without sufficient planning and thought your talk might seem unstructured and incoherent. You might also run out of things to say before your 2 minutes are up.

One minute seems likes a too short a time to prepare anything for a talk. However, if you practice idea generation well enough, you can learn to use that one minute of planning time as efficiently as possible in order to create a well-structured and coherent talk.

Try practising by underlining important words in each part of the cue card, including the prompt.

Read the card and underline the most important things you need to consider. The first sentence is your topic. The bullet points are there as a guide as to what you could include in your talk. For each bullet point write a few words/points that can easily be built upon during your talk.

Make notes with your answers about each separate question of the task. These notes will help you organize your short talk. Remember time management is essential, so don’t waste time by writing elaborate and lengthy points.

Familiarise Yourself With Common IELTS Speaking Cue Card Topics.

The IELTS cue card topics will always be about something related to the following:

  • Something about you.
  • Something that has happened to you.
  • Something you have experienced.

Recent IELTS Speaking  Common Topics For Part 2

  • art
  • books
  • communication
  • childhood
  • home
  • daily routine
  • exercise
  • family/ friends
  • gifts
  • hobbies
  • internet
  • journeys
  • kindness/ happiness
  • language
  • music
  • news
  • photographs
  • respect
  • sport
  • travel
  • favourite ___

Familiarise yourself with the vocabulary and phrases related to these topics. Remember to note down synonyms for each of the words you learn as the ability to paraphrase (rephrase) is an important criterion to obtain a score of band 7 and above. If you repeat the same words again and again, you will give the examiner the impression that you do not have a wide enough range of vocabulary on the given subject. This can severely affect your score.

Practising Speaking At Length

Most second-language learners are not accustomed to speaking for 2 minutes uninterrupted. Your stamina needs to build up in this area as well. Once you have brainstormed ideas, start speaking. You can also record your talks and listen out for areas where you struggled. Doing this will help build up your confidence. Go through the bullet points one by one. They will help to guide you through the talk. You can also add other details after that provided that you stay focused on the topic. Remember that reading from the notes will make you sound unnatural.

Practice Using Authentic Practice Test Questions.

Use past exam questions to practise both speaking and idea generation. The speaking part 2 question topics are usually taken from the same common core topics. Although no one can guarantee that you will come across exactly the same questions on test day if you practice as many questions as possible you can be sure that you will not run out of ideas to speak about. Make sure that you only use authentic materials to practice with that have been endorsed by the British council, Cambridge or IDP education. Using fake IELTS resources might give you a false impression about the level of difficulty of the speaking cue cards or the type of topics that are often asked about.

Consider Getting An Outside Opinion.

It is very difficult for a second language learner to properly assess their own speaking test without any bias. This is where having an experienced IELTS professional as a tutor can come in handy. they can easily identify weakness and errors that are holding you back from obtaining a higher band score. They will also be able to help you improve your answers so that they meet the specific set of criteria that the IELTS examiners will be looking out for.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.