Ok, so what do you actually have to do in IELTS speaking part 2?

  • Speak for 1-2 minutes
  • Describe something (like a person, place, event, animal, etc)

That’s essentially all you need to do. You should not speak for less than one minute, and you should not go off-topic. Just describe something according to the information on the cue card.

There will also be a few related questions at the end, once you have finished talking. These will be related to the topic on which you spoke.


In the IELTS speaking test part 2, you will be given a cue card by the examiner. This is a piece of paper that contains some instructions for you to follow. It will look like this:

Describe a historical place that you know about.

You should say:

  • what the place is
  • where it is located
  • what is the historical significance of the place

and describe your experience of the place.

In short, the first line will say “Describe…” something. Then there will be three things you should talk about, followed by a final point. This last line will usually say “why” but not always. Sometimes it is just an additional thing to describe.

Here’s a visual description of a cue card. It comes from the PPT below, which I made recently for my students.

ielts cue card explained
The three common elements of an IELTS speaking cue card.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 – Lesson and Examples from David Wills


Once you receive the cue card, you will be given one minute to make notes and prepare your answer. This can be challenging because it is not a lot of time to prepare. The key is to follow this pattern:

  1. Choose an answer quickly.
  2. Make short notes.

That’s all. Just decide what you want to say, and then write down some notes that will help guide you as you speak. To do this, you should note down words that will help you remember a loose structure, as well as important words such as difficult vocabulary.

You have no time to waste here, so don’t try to write full sentences. I cannot stress this point enough. My students often try to write full sentences and then immediately run out of time. What you can write down in one minute is only enough to speak for about ten seconds! This is not surprising because even a native speaker can only write about 13 words per minute. (source)

Here is an example of good notes:

IELTS speaking part 2 notes
Notes for describing a restaurant.

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