A step by step guide to IELTS Speaking Part 2 or cue card

A step by step guide to IELTS Speaking Part 2 or cue card

Many students fret over IELTS Speaking Part 2 or the cue card. However, if you realise this part’s objective is to check if you can tell an exciting story, your life will be easy.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 or cue card

  1. Format of the task: A printed cue card with a situation and 4 related questions given
  2. Preparation time: 1 minute (take notes)
  3. Response time = 1 to 2 minutes (tell an interesting story using the notes you have taken)

How is IELTS Speaking Part 2 or cue card conducted?

Consider that you are appearing for the speaking test. Your first part of the speaking exam is finished, and now the examiner directs you towards the second part.

He or she will begin with a typical instruction, “Now in this part, I am going to give you a topic. And I would like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. Before you talk, you will have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make notes if you wish. Do you understand?” Saying this the interviewer will hand over a card to you on which a situation and four questions are printed.

Will I get a pencil and paper to take notes?

This card will be flipped so that you cannot see printed questions. As said, you will be given 1 minute to prepare. In this 1 minute, you can take notes using pencil and paper provided by the IELTS examiner.

Can I refer to the notes while speaking?

After the preparation time of 1 minute is over, you must respond to the situation using the four questions in 1 to 2 minutes. While doing so, you may refer to your notes.

What if I speak less than a minute?

Simple, you will lose your bands since you did not satisfy the task.

What if I speak for more than two minutes?

Well, this is a tricky one.

If you are speaking relevant and exceed two minutes, then the IELTS examiner will not interrupt immediately. However, they may not give you more than 15 extra seconds.

On the other hand, if you speak irrelevantly or have spoken too much only on one question, then the examiner will stop you for sure.

Can I carry my watch in the IELTS examination room?

No, you are not allowed to wear your wristwatch or carry mobile phones in most countries. You must refer to the rules locally to be sure.

Then how will I know that I have completed my two minutes? Well, I will answer this question, in some time.

An actual IELTS Cue Card

Following is an actual IELTS Cue card.

Describe a website that you often use.

You should say:

  • what type of website it is
  • how you found out about it
  • what it allows you to do
  • why you find it useful.

Step 1: Read one instruction at a time.

Most people will read the whole cue card first and then think about the answers.

Let’s say for an average person to read the given cue card; it takes about 10 to 13 seconds. Yet after reading the card once, hardly anyone will remember the questions well. Hence, you will have to re-read the card. Thus, by reading the card twice, you have wasted at least 20 to 26 seconds reading the cue card, leaving you hardly 36 seconds to think and take notes.

So, keep in mind, never read the cue card twice. It just wastes your time.

Step 2: Note one word for one point

Most of the students think that the one minute they have is more than enough to take notes—some even fancy writing all the sentences they are going to speak.

But, be realistic. Probably you can’t write everything down. For example, try writing an answer to the first question itself, “What type of website it is?” “It has many videos”. Now just to write this one sentence it takes about 10 seconds. By this writing rate, you will have a maximum of three to four sentences on the sheet.

Instead, if you try and note just the word “videos”. By looking at this word, you will recall the same things otherwise. So, let’s implement these two steps for the given cue card.

Describe a website that you often use. What type of website it is.

Instead of reading the whole cue card, I might read this much. And I might note

  • Videos
  • free

How you found out about it

You may note the following

  • Friend
  • developing

What it allows you to do.

Note the following about this statement.

  • Share videos
  • Educational
  • Earn money

Why you find it useful.

About the above point, you could write the following.

Alternative career

Love job

I hope you realise that it is easy to think and note these many words in about 1 minute.

While taking notes, I could cover all questions because I restricted myself to writing exactly one keyword for one idea. However, while writing these keywords, I did not wait for any divine inspiration; instead, I accepted whatever came to my mind and noted it down. So, don’t wait for the best story or idea. Instead, work with whatever comes to your mind first.

Step 3: Speak on an average of two sentences using each word in notes.

Now all I need to do is speak up about two sentences using each word that I have noted above.

Final Answer to the cue card

  • Videos
  • free

The website I use the most is YouTube. You could simply say it is a free video library that anyone can access on the internet.

  • Friend
  • developing

I found out about it via my friends back when YouTube was in its infancy. Back then, it was not seen as a good idea as the internet was still in its developmental phase.

  • Share videos
  • Educational
  • Earn money

YouTube is a video sharing platform where people from all over the world make videos and upload them for people to see, comment on and enjoy. Videos are also made on education topics. One may even find small tutorials on a variety of issues. Additionally, the interface is straightforward. You just make a video and use YouTube to upload it. You can also use analytics to see who views it and the comments. You can also monetise your videos so that you can earn from them.

  • Alternative career
  • Love job

I find it useful to provide a unique alternative career to people who feel that they are not meant for conventional jobs. This means that you can gain fame and money from YouTube videos while informing the people about something. This also turns what you love into a career.

I hope you realise how easy it could be to answer these questions. Now, coming back to an important question which was unanswered before.

How will I know that I have completed my two minutes?

Well, most of the students can speak at a rate of 90 words per minute. That means to speak for two minutes we may need to have about 180 words.

Let’s say that on an average, you can make a sentence of 10 words. So, if you have to speak 180 words, you need 18 sentences.

Now, we have already said that you must make two sentences from one keyword. So, you could make 18 sentences from 9 keywords.

So, while taking notes if you get nine keywords and if you make two sentences from each keyword, there is a chance that you will be able to speak for about 2 minutes without referring to the clock.

Again, you must observe how many words do you speak and adjust the strategy accordingly.

Final tips for tackling IELTS Speaking Part 2 or cue card

  1. Ensure that you read one instruction at a time and don’t waste your time in re-reading the cue card.
  2. Ensure that you get about nine keywords in total.
  3. While speaking, try to form about two sentences from each keyword so that you can talk for 2 minutes without any issue.

Tips to crack IELTS Speaking Part 3

To read the next lesson,

Other lessons on IELTS Speaking

Read other lessons on IELTS Speaking.
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