The cue card question in IELTS is a part of the speaking test module. This is the second of the three tasks that you have to complete while appearing for the test. These tests require a host of skills developed over time to be able to tackle them effectively, the least of which include being able to think on your feet.
When you are put under the spotlight in the speaking test a host of things can come to your rescue – preparation, confidence, breathing right, checking your body language and smiling can be used as shields or weapons when needed.
cue cardDuring the examination you will be given a cue card, it will consist of one main question and 3-4 questions that will guide you on how to answer the said question. There is no option to change the question that you are given and you will have a minute to prepare the answer. You will be given a pen and paper to write down your thoughts. The examiner will ask you to stop, but until he does, you have to continue speaking.
Here is an sample question which can be used as an exercise to understand the type of questions that might appear during the task. The sample question involves the activity and also the ways you can express the answer for the given question.
Q. Talk about a new activity that you recently discovered. You should say:
- What activity it is
- Why you took part in it
- How did you find out about it
- And share your feelings about this experience
So how does one prepare for something that needs to be done impromptu? We can give some advice that can help you shine when the spotlight turns on you.
Things you should prepare for before your exam:
1. Practice making notes within a minute.
The one minute you get before you start speaking is critical. You need to learn how to use this time. You can use the following technique to practice:
- Underline important words in each cue and
- Write 2-3 key words against the topic and each cue to build up that point.
2. Practice speaking for at least 3-4 minutes at length
If you can think this will be easy, then your mind is fooling you into believing that you are better than you really are. Practice speaking out loud on a topic for 4 minutes with a stopwatch and you will know how difficult it really is. Record what you say to listen to your intonation and cohesiveness later. If your thoughts are scattered, your flow will be broken.
3. Practice speaking in front of the mirror to see what your body language conveys
There’s a strong reason why the IELTS is not virtual yet and the reason, the examiner will not only listen to the words you say but also gauge your comfort with the language. Everyone has a nervous twitch or sweaty palms or makes loud gulping sounds when nervous. If you are confident in your skills none of this will happen. You do not need to know everything but you have to be confident in whatever you do know. So, smile, breathe and speak like you mean it.
4. Find out all the recent cue card questions
Search the internet to list out the year’s topics that students faced in the Speaking Test – Part 2. This will not only help you anticipate but will also help you build a vocabulary around the topics. For example, when you are asked to talk about your family, words like – parents, siblings, maternal grandfather, uncle, aunt, niece, and nephew should be a part of the list that you make as a preparation for the test.
Things you should avoid doing during the exam:
Although pausing is looked at as a desirable virtue amongst the intellects, it isn’t favored much here. When you are given time to make notes, make them in a sequential fashion. Once you are done writing, you only have to refer to the piece of paper to help you with the flow of your speech. Pausing for long has led to reductions in band in the past.
6. Answering in one word or short sentences
When you are given a topic, you are expected to speak for a minimum of 2 minutes even if the question can be answered in 30 seconds. Expand the talk to include things that you were not asked if you feel the need for it.
Say, a question is about something that has been in your family through generations, you may not have one in your family but you can venture to talk about the importance of heirlooms in families in general.
7. Signs of no confidence
Slouching, slumping, tapping a surface repeatedly or shallow breaths: These are all signs that you are not confident in what you are about to do. Everyone experiences the same emotions and the same anxieties; the difference is in how you train yourself to cope with it.
An examiner is more likely to pardon a slip of tongue if the candidate looks confident in his or her skills. So, before you begin to answer a question, take a deep breath and exhale, center yourself, clear your brain of panicky thoughts and begin.
8. Some Cue Cards Topics From IELTS 2018
We have already discussed the pattern of IELTS speaking cue cards, where you will be given one topic or question on a cue card. And under that cue card there will be three or four questions that will guide and inform you on the way you should answer it.
So in order to help you understand different cue card questions that may appear in the examination, we have created a list of speaking cue cards on different topics. Make sure you go through the PDF before your examination to understand the type of questions. You can click on the link below to download and save the file on your device directly.