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How to Utilize 1 Min Given Before Speaking Using the Cue Card? 3.8 (28 votes)


As you know, you get 1 minute of time for preparing your cue card in speaking test part 2 (i.e. cue card section). How do you utilize this time? Are you making the best use of it for speaking effectively? Read this article that will clarify your doubt regarding this.

Actually, IELTS Speaking cue card is considered by the students as the scariest part since they need to speak for long on a topic. The doubt that students usually have in their mind is what to do in the 1 minute time of preparation.
In this scenario, preparing a strategy beforehand will be of great help.


  • Use the 1 minute time wisely to quickly think of ideas on the topic about which you are going to speak. Write down relevant keywords that come in your mind. This is the opportunity where you can think of the content you would like to speak and hence, it’s a way you can improve you talk. You would speak better and for long if you utilize 1 minute strategy.

Let’s take an example on how to implement 1 minute strategy.
Examiner gives you the following cue card along with a pen and paper:
Describe a party you had attended and enjoyed

  • What party it was
  • Where it was held and who went to the party
  • What you did in the party

Describe why you enjoyed that party a lot
Examiner gives you 1 minute to prepare on this cue card.
Now you can start writing keywords as follows without wasting the time:

  1. Birthday party, youngest brother
  2. Grand Hotel, New Delhi, last year
  3. Family members, close relatives, friends, colleagues
  4. Dancing, playing, singing, gossiping, eating delicious dishes
  5. Fun, relief from stress, amazing, memorable

After 1 minute is over (by this time, all keywords get imprinted in your mind), then speak on the topic using these keywords as follows:
I have attended many parties in my life but the one I would like to talk about is the party that was held last year. It was birthday party of my youngest brother and was held at Grand Hotel, New Delhi. It was a grand party where we had invited our family members and some other close relatives. Apart from that, some friends of my brother as well as colleagues of my father were also invited.

The party started when everyone gathered in the main hall. People were greeting each other and they were served with some cold drinks. Then around 11 am, everyone grouped together around the cake stand and my youngest brother cut the cake being at the centre of the group. All clapped and congratulated him by giving him best wishes for his future life ahead. They presented some wonderful gifts to my brother. Everyone enjoyed eating snacks with tea while gossiping with each other.

In the afternoon, lunch was organized and I could see a great variety of dishes including fast foods such as pizza, burger and traditional food such as rice and curry. Other than this, some mouth-watering sweets and ice-creams were also available which I loved the most. After having lunch, some exciting games were organized especially for kids but their parents also enjoyed those activities a lot.

In the end, Bollywood songs were being played and people were dancing on the beats though some were just singing together and watching others dancing on the floor. It was a great fun and I enjoyed a lot because after a very long time, I had attended that party which provided me great relief from my hectic schedule and stressful life. On the whole, it was an amazing party which made me feel extremely happy and hence, it was one of the memorable parties I had attended in my life.

  • Mind-mapping is also a very effective way of remembering what to say and how to say it. In the mind-map, you should think about the following apart from the points you will speak on.
  1. Vocabulary: Often students forget to use connectors while speaking. You can write down only two connectors you will use, especially for the conclusion, to show coherence in what you are talking.
  2. Idioms: While improcing your vocabulary, you must have learnt idioms on different topics. This is the time to use it. Write down at least three idioms that comes to your mind. As you speak, you can include these idioms to show the wide range of vocabulary you have.

Some Important Tips for 1 Minute Preparation and Speaking

  1. Quickly think of the topic about which you have to speak that you can elaborate further at the time you speak.
  2. Understand the topic very well. Sometimes students misunderstand the topic of cue card and speak irrelevantly though they speak a lot.
  3. Keep all the written keywords in your mind when you are speaking.
  4. Note down factual information as your keywords, being more specific as per the focus question such as for what, when and where questions, you can write “party”, “last month” and “hotel” respectively.
  5. Examiner may be looking at your sheet at the time you are writing the keywords. Do not feel nervous or conscious, just focus on the cue card.
  6. Do not write full sentences to waste time. Write short words or phrases instead.
  7. Make sure you keep on thinking for ideas and do not go blank when writing keywords.
  8. Cue card topics are familiar topics about which you might had personal experience, heard from others, watched in movies or read in some books. Always look for ideas on the topic from your familiarity itself which would make you feel easy and comfortable to find content for speaking.
  9. Write the keywords clearly that can get imprinted in your mind well. But do not write them very slowly and try covering basic points of all questions in the cue card.
  10. Write keywords in bullet points rather than random words.
  11. Start imaging the situation or creating a picture in your mind to get better ideas.
  12. You may write down some vocabulary that you can use while speaking.
  13. When you are done writing keywords, give a glance at once and then speak when the examiner asks.


Now you can try if this strategy works for you in the following cue card:

Describe one of your favourite photos

  • What photo it is
  • Where and when it was taken
  • Who were there in that photo
  • Why it is your favourite photo

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