Following is a Recent Exam Question asked in the IELTS Speaking Test for Task 2. The answer has been evaluated by one of our expert trainers.

The question as it appeared in the Test is as follows:

Now, I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for 1-2 minutes. Before you talk you’ll have one minute to think about what you are going to say and you can make notes if you wish. Do you understand? Here’s some paper and a pencil to make notes, and here is your topic.

Talk about your biggest achievement. You should say:

  • What did you do?
  • What obstacles did you face?
  • How do you feel whenever you talk about it? Explain why.

A few things about the IELTS Speaking Test:

  1. In the IELTS Speaking Test, your knowledge of a certain topic is not tested. Instead, the examiners are more interested in how you say things.
  2. You would be evaluated on the following criteria, with each of them having equal weightage:
    1. Fluency & Coherence
    2. Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
    3. Grammatical Range & Accuracy and
    4. Pronunciation
  3. The Cue Card or Task Card is to guide you. And although you are not directly graded for speaking on the topic, your speech has to be related in some way to the topic on the Cue Card. For example, if you were given the Task to “Talk about a piece of art you like”, it does not necessarily have to be a famous painting or sculpture. It could just be a clay model done by your niece or nephew or may even be something you drew as a child that you really liked.

How to spend the 1 Minute Preparation time given for the Task:

In the 1 minute that you have to think about the topic, you need to do the following:

  1. Carefully read the topic and the cues first and quickly underline the important words in each cue that would guide your speech. For example, for the above cue card, you could do the following:
    • What did you do?
    • What obstacles did you face?
    • How do you feel whenever you talk about it? Explain Why?
  2. Next, write 2-3 key words against the topic and each cue to build up that point. For example for the above cues:
    • What did you do? – started something / changed something / achieved something after many failures or after much hard work / completed something pending for a long time.  
    • What obstacles did you face? – obstacles – external and / or internal;
    • How do you feel whenever you talk about it? – pride / joy / enthused / excited / confident
  3. Explain Why?– difficult task / persevered / something new / gave confidence  
  • After making sure you have put key words against each cue, write a pointer on an appropriate conclusion to your speech. For example, for the above topic, it could be:
    • Your learning? OR
    • What you want to do in the future related to it OR
    • Something you want to do differently the next time / improve OR
    • Something that was noteworthy.

Let’s now look at a model answer to the question above.

An achievement that I considered to be the really really biggest in my life till date has been launching & running the Waste Segregation Program in the community that I live in. The achievement was big not only because of the numbers we handled but also because of changing something. 
We started small with an all-women’s team going door-to-door asking the people…the residents to give just their dry waste i.e., paper, plastic, cans, etc. Our biggest obstacle was here – persuading and telling….convincing people to segregate. It was a life style change for many many people and it took nearly 3 months of constant pursuing, before it became a practice. Next, we expanded our Program and launched it officially through the Residents Welfare Association as the “Solid Waste Management” Program or SWM Program. The Program included educating & telling…training the residents as well as housekeeping staff and Management of Waste – we composted the Green Waste, we sold off the Dry Waste and we sensibly disposed off the Bio-hazard and the Reject Waste. 
In a year’s time, the community was able to achieve 100% waste segregation and started its own composting unit. The compost was used in the gardens in the community and the Dry Waste got the community some cash…some money to run its SWM Program.

I feel extremely proud when I think of what we achieved through the SWM Program because it made us a “Green Community”. It brought about a change in the attitude of people. It seemed tough and almost impossible in the beginning, but I’m proud to say that it was the will power of women that made it possible.


Now, let’s analyse the above answer and understand how it would score in the Test.
The speech would be analysed on the basis of the 4 criteria mentioned earlier, i.e.:

  1. Fluency & Coherence
  2. Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
  3. Grammatical Range & Accuracy
  4. Pronunciation

Fluency & Coherence

  1. The candidate has spoken for a little more than 2 minutes at a medium speed on ideas relevant to the given topic. However, there are a few noticeable hesitations and self-corrections, which would result in a loss of score.
  2. The speech is coherent and the thoughts are organized as – an introduction, body and a conclusion, covering all the 3 points given in the cue card.

The speaker would lose bands because of the noticeable hesitations & self-corrections.

Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)

In the above speech varieties of words has been used to present ideas. However, in the below mentioned sentences:

  • really really biggest in my life
  • we composted the Green Waste, we sold off the Dry Waste and we sensibly disposed off the Bio-hazard and Reject Waste.
  • life style change for many many people

we can notice repetition of words that are incorrect and inappropriate and would affect the score negatively.

Grammatical Range & Accuracy

Throughout the speech, a wide range of correct simple & complex sentences have been used. However, some sentences are grammatically incorrect:

  • also because of changing something.
  • Our biggest obstacle was here

The usage of words / sentence construction is inappropriate here and would result in a loss of band.


It is spoken in clear English that can be understood throughout and the student has used accurate words & appropriate intonation, wherever needed.

Based on the above analysis, the speech would score an overall 6+ band in Task -2 (Cue Card question) of the Speaking Test.

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