Exams Know-how

Describe a Piece of Work You did Quickly - IELTS Cue Card

Yocket Editorial Team

The IELTS Speaking Cue Card is an essential feature of the IELTS Speaking exam. The examiner hands the candidate a topic card containing some ideas to cover. The candidate then has a minute to prepare a 1-2 minute speaking challenge. Essentially, candidates' ability to think on the spot and coherence while communicating in English is tested. The candidate can be asked to talk about a person, object, event, or experience. Depending on the topic, they must elaborate on what/who it is, the details, and how they feel or think about it. 

Examiners consider fluency, coherence, lexical resources, grammatical range/accuracy, and pronunciation. Like most aspects of the IELTS, candidates should be prepared for the Cue Card. They may rehearse speaking about various topics for 1-2 minutes, offer clear examples, and arrange their thoughts logically and precisely. Sometimes, they can also build vocabulary around typical Cue Card topics like hobbies, travel, and life experiences. 

An intelligible structure starting with an introduction, detailed descriptions, and closure can guarantee a high score. With its unpredictable topics, the Cue Card tests candidates’ ability to speak spontaneously. However, with focused practice, candidates can be confident and fluent while articulating their thoughts and ideas within 2 minutes of the IELTS Speaking test.

Table of Contents

What is an IELTS Cue Card?

IELTS Cue Card is a question or rather a topic presented to students depending upon which the student should speak from 1 to 2 minutes. The speaker is given 1 minute to think about the subject to prepare themself. 

The time duration for the IELTS Speaking Cue Card task is:



Preparation Time

1 minute

Speaking Time

1-2 minutes

If you need any help in your IELTS preparation, you can contact Yocket experts, who are always there to help.

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Why Are IELTS Cue Cards Important?

The Speaking section, which represents 25% of the overall IELTS score, is complete with IELTS Cue Cards. The section evaluates a candidate’s ability to speak clearly and coherently with the appropriate selection of words and grammar. The IELTS Cue Card task is significant for several reasons: 

  1. Spontaneous Speaking: The candidate must speak spontaneously on an unknown subject, which they learn only upon opening the Cue Card. It testifies to one’s ability to cope and communicate formally during interviews or speeches. 
  2. Vocabulary and Fluency: When responding to a Cue Card, a candidate must demonstrate a broad vocabulary and connect ideas correctly with appropriate grammar. It reflects the ability to choose the right words and the distribution of speech in conversation. 
  3. Coherence and Cohesion: The Cue Card requires a candidate to talk cohesively and logically. In other words, the examiner evaluates how well the candidate can organise and structure their speech to express proper ideas. 
  1. Pronunciation and Intonation: The candidate’s choice of vocabulary and grammar means little if they cannot deliver it correctly. Thus, pronunciation, stress, and intonation are characteristics one must pass when responding to a Cue Card. One must also pay close attention to their pronunciation, stress, and intonation. 
  2. Time Management: Finally, time management is vital, especially when delivering a speech. The examiner must also see if the candidate can cover all highlighted points in 1-2 minutes. Hence, one needs to keep up with the allotted time. It helps develop planning and meeting deadlines in academic and professional environments. 

Since the IELTS Cue Card score also reflects a candidate’s overall English proficiency, proper practice, sample Cue Cards, expanding the vocabulary, and promoting time management help assess one’s skills.

Describe a Piece of Work You did Quickly: Sample Answer 1

What Work It Was

I was to write a report for a university project in a very short time. The work involved conducting research, analysing the obtained data, and developing a coherent and structured written report.

Why You Did It Quickly

I had to complete my project report quickly because I was just two days late. I scheduled more than a week to complete the task but encountered some delays while working on it due to unexpected circumstances.

How Easy or Difficult It Was

Working on the report in such a rushed manner was very challenging. I had to spend many hours on it, compromising sleep and leisure time. The research part was also tricky, requiring me to explore numerous valuable data sources. Moreover, analysing the data and conveying it properly took longer.

What the Result Was

Even after such a high degree of stress, I properly prepared the report on time. I won’t say this is my best work, but I covered all the necessary information and submitted a good report. All my efforts brought their results, and the project received the needed grade.

Describe a Piece of Work You did Quickly: Sample Answer 2

What Work It Was

I remember the time you needed to present in my workplace so that one of the essential clients would become interested. I needed to show him the products and services our company can offer and impress him. 

Why You Did It Quickly. 

I had to make this presentation quickly because the meeting was scheduled, so I had only one day. I was supposed to have a week, but unfortunately, the client had to postpone our meeting.

How Easy or Difficult It Was

The time pressure was, of course, the main challenge. I had to work late into the night to find the necessary materials, create the slides, and make the content error-free and attractive. My biggest challenge was formatting the presentation making it look nice.

What the Result Was

Nevertheless, I handed out a comprehensive and professional presentation. I could quickly and confidently read it to the client during our meeting. He was satisfied with your level of preparation, and I managed to raise only a couple of questions. Thus, my work exceeded my supervisor’s expectations, and I got their favourable opinion.

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Describe a Piece of Work You did Quickly: Sample Answer 3

What Work It Was

The assignment I completed for my computer science course remains a vivid experience in my memory. I was required to write code to address a challenging algorithmic problem.

Why You Did It Quickly

I had to do the job quickly due to the time remaining before the deadline. After putting off the assignment until the last day, I had twenty-four hours to complete it. The primary reason for rapidly completing the job was that time was running out, and I needed to submit the assignment on time.

How Easy or Difficult It Was

It took time to complete the task so hastily. First, I needed to comprehend the issue statement entirely before creating an algorithm to solve it. Writing the code was also tricky because I needed to ensure it was bug-free and followed industrial standards.

What the Result Was

After much work and sleepless nights, I could complete the assignment on time. While the code could be immaculate, it was functional and met the most basic requirements. I submitted the homework before the deadline, which eventually paid off since I received a good score.

Describe a Piece of Work You did Quickly: Sample Answer 4

What Work It Was

I had to write a research paper during the final semester of my college. As a regular part of assessment work, the research was rather extensive; it summed up a significant portion of the grade, and a lot of investigation and analysis was demanded. 

Why You Did It Quickly

I had to work on that research incredibly quickly, primarily because I was naive and lazy. Failing to acknowledge the volume of work that had to be done and wasting time on other, less important matters, I had only a couple of days before the deadline to realise that I had to produce the entire paper in an extremely short time. 

How Easy or Difficult It Was

Working on that research hastily and frantically was very difficult. I needed to look through many research papers, books, and online sources of information. However, considering time limits, gathering suitable information and organising it into a logical and rational scheme took a lot of work. 

What the Result Was

In the end, even though I was stressed and not sleeping enough, I still managed to hand my research in during the stipulated timeframe and get an acceptable mark on it, as it covered all principal parts of the topic well and provided a decent analysis.

Sample/Follow-up Question and Answers

  • In the first sample response, you indicated that unexpected events caused a delay in starting to work on the report. What kind of events were they? 

Ok. Yes, I can. I experienced a family emergency; specifically, my grandparents got seriously sick, and I needed to be with my family. To help them, I had to take some time off from my studies; thus, the delay ensued in the first place. That is why I had to write such a summary in a very short time.

  • You mentioned presenting a report for a significant client meeting, and compiling the information took a lot of time. How did you find the time to make it appealing in appearance? 

I used pre-made templates and slide designs to save time in the design. Since there was little time for designing and formatting the slides individually, I preselected approximately three designs for all slides and adjusted them to contain all the needed information. Additionally, I included high-quality images and pictures related to each point to make it more exciting and professional.

  • You mentioned that the assignment you left incomplete was a coding assignment featuring “a complex algorithmic problem”. Could you provide a brief description of that problem and the way you approached its resolution? 

Of course! The problem was writing a program to find the shortest path between two points on the given network or a graph. To solve it, I used Dijkstra’s algorithm, which is a standard pathfinding algorithm. Essentially, the algorithm calculates the shortest possible distances that separate the initial node from all the other nodes on the graph, and then you can retrace the path with the least combined length. I had difficulty implementing it in the given timeframe, but I got the program to work correctly.

  • Another aspect you discussed is underestimating the work required for the research paper. What would you change about your approach to avoid this issue in the future? 

I could manage my time better if I had to work on a similar research paper again. I could do this by splitting the entire project into smaller, more reasonable tasks and setting achievable deadlines for each one. This way, I would better understand how much work a specific job entails and not postpone or misjudge it altogether. I would also keep asking my professors or supervisors for recommendations so I don’t go down one wrong path.

  • You said in all your sample answers that what you did quickly wasn’t your best. Do you think your work’s quality took a sharp hit due to the time constraints? 

While admittedly, working under tight time schedules was challenging and prevented me from producing my absolute best work, I don’t think the quality took a sharp hit. I could focus on what mattered most in the work and maintain reasonably high quality. However, given more time, some aspects, such as research, looking for errors, or presentation quality and formatting, could have been further refined and enhanced.

  • What would you recommend someone do if it happens to you to get that massive piece of work due in such a short time? 

First, if someone has to do a large piece of work in such a short time, I would recommend the following: 

  • Concentrate on the most important parts and don’t look for perfection; 
  • As well as break the work down into much smaller but manageable parts and create a schedule; 
  • Close everything that can cause any distractions or waste your time; 
  • Ask for help from others. It would be better than wasting time and effort. 
  • Take short breaks to avoid burnout; 
  • Stay positive and remember that it is just a temporary job. These are the key strategies to use.

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Tips to Answer IELTS Cue Card 

Preparing and answering the IELTS Cue Card efficiently must be done with proper planning and strategy. Here are some valuable tips that can assist you in performing well and achieving a high score on this task: 

  • Carefully Read the Cue Card: Understand what is required and what points to cover. It is essential to read the IELTS Cue Card prompt carefully and understand exactly what it requires. One should also note the topic or task and any specific points or questions that need to be covered. A thorough grounding in the task and awareness of the context will permit a person to prepare a relevant response.
  • Plan: Use the 1-minute preparation time wisely and write down some jotted points on which you should talk. Plan your speech using the basic structure of the introduction, body, and conclusion. 
  • Adopt Appropriate Vocabulary: When doing this task, choose a wide range of words related to the matter. Doing so can prove that you have a good vocabulary and can express your thoughts precisely. Avoid reusing the exact words and expressions. Moreover, try to use some decisive vocabulary when it is acceptable. 
  • Act with Time Consciousness: Make sure you address all the pertinent aspects of the topic and speak within 2 minutes. Don’t say your words too fast, nor omit essential points. Time yourself to prepare to have a good feel for when to say what. 
  • Speak Coherently: Speak clearly and at a medium instead of a fast pace, ensuring your ideas are coherent. Use linking words and transitions like firstly, additionally, however, to maintain a connection between ideas. 
  • Details and Examples: Support your ideas with appropriate detail and examples using descriptive language and personal experiences. 
  • Time Control: Manage your time and cover all points in the 1-2 minutes allocated to you. Avoid repeating the same ideas or unnecessary information. 
  • Body Language and Tone: Maintain a good posture and talk clearly, providing a tone that is audible and enthusiastic about the content. 
  • Regular Practice: Regular practice will improve your performance in the speaking task. Practice using sample cue cards, record yourself, seek feedback, and know your strong and weak points. 
  • Remain Calm and Confident: start talking confidently and never let the nerves give you self-doubt. Remember that the examiner assesses your language ability, not the content. 
  • Knowledge Expansion: Read newspapers, magazines, and online articles as much as possible on various topics to improve vocabulary range and knowledge to speak on all issues in the Cue Card Card.

By following the steps mentioned above and practising them regularly, you can improve your performance in the Cue Cards and achieve the IELTS score in Speaking.


Achieving a high score in the Speaking section is essential to do well in the IELTS, and mastering the Cue Card task is a big part. As highlighted in this paper, by knowing the prompt, planning the response, using the necessary vocabulary while speaking clearly and coherently, adding specifics and examples, managing time, and practising daily, you can do a better job at any given cue card. It is essential to realise that the IELTS Cue Card is not just a reflection of your speaking capabilities. Also, it assesses your ability to think on your feet, organise your responses, and create meaningful logic within minutes of additional preparation. Higher chances of achieving the desired IELTS score are met by following the recommendations. Therefore, practice, preparation, planning, and time management are your best friends for a successful Cue Card performance in the IELTS. 

In addition, since the Yocket platform remains an excellent and trustworthy source of information, you can use this information, apply good learning practices, get professional assistance, and even obtain an IELTS loan. Use it to boost your IELTS exam-taking confidence, and you will quickly achieve the school or job situation of your dreams.

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