Today, we are going to look at an IELTS speaking part 2 cue card that asks you to describe a positive change in your life. I would like to explore this cue card with you so that you can understand how to answer it well enough to score band 7 or higher in your next IELTS test.

In this lesson, I am going to show you how to:

  • analyse the cue card
  • make notes
  • pick the right language to use
  • give a great answer.

At the end, I will show you my own sample band 9 answer. You can skip to the bottom if that’s all you want to see. 😅

The Card Card – Describe a Positive Change in your Life

First of all, let’s look at the cue card for today, which is:

Describe a positive change in your life.

You should say:

– why you made the change

– when it happened

– what exactly the change was

and describe how it affected you later in life.

So what are you required to do here? Well, you will have 1 minute to think about this task and then you will need to speak for between 1 and 2 minutes. You don’t need to talk about everything that’s on the cue card but I do think it’s a good idea, and it usually helps you to structure your answer and talk quite fluently for the full 2 minutes.

Analyse the Cue Card

It is important to think carefully about these cue cards, so you might want to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Can you describe ANY change? No, it should be a positive one. By positive, we mean a good or happy change.
  2. What else must we say? Well, we must look at the circumstances of the change, which means the background – this explains why it happened.
  3. We must also say when it happened and we must talk about the details of the change.
  4. Finally, we can talk about how it affected our life.

Once you have established all of this, you must then think about what you want to say. For me, I would talk about the decision to quit my job and start my own company. 😊

Don’t waste any time doing this as you only have 1 minute to think about everything. It is better to choose quickly and then spend the rest of your minute planning a good answer.

ielts cue card - describe a change

Make Notes on the Cue Card

Based upon my choice to talk about starting a company, I would then make the following notes:

  • 2018
  • Need challenge
  • Teaching/editing experience
  • More freedom / less security

I would first of all write down the year I quit my job. This is just a personal choice but honestly I have a bad memory and I think it would help me a lot in recalling that important information. Also, having dates can help you to structure your answer better.

I would also say “need challenge.” This not grammatical but that’s not important for notes. This would reminded me WHY I made the change, which was in order to give myself a new challenge after several years at the same job.

Next, I would make a note about my experience as a teacher and editor because the would help me to talk about the change itself. Finally, I would mention some issues relating to the last part of the cue card and how this affected me in my later life.


In terms of language, the vocabulary you need to know will completely depend upon your choice of change. Whether you decided to study a new course or lose weight or adopt a dog, it would require totally different words.

Instead, think about grammar. You are talking about events in the past and in the present, so you will sometimes need to talk about things that happened far in the past from the perspective of a more recent point. You will definitely need to refer to the past and how it influences the present, which will require the present perfect tense.

In other words, it is really worth spending some time reviewing the tenses in English.

Let’s take the first part of the cue card as an example. It asks why you made that change, which means you will need to look at the past and then look further back into the past.

I would say something like this:

I had been working at a university in China for four years when I realised that I was no longer challenged by the job.

Notice the tenses there: “I had been working…” This is the past perfect continuous tense. It is not a common one, but it has some specific uses and this is one of them. I then interrupted this to use the past simple: “I realised that…” Now I am talking about something that started and finished entirely in the past. A single event.

If you want to know more about the 12 English tenses then you can take my completely free IELTS grammar course on my website or else grab a copy of my book, Grammar for IELTS Writing.

ielts books

Sample Answer

Ok, now it’s time for me to give you my sample band 9 answer for this IELTS cue card. Remember that this is a personal answer to a personal question, and that it’s ok for your answer to be totally different.

In 2018, I made a big change in my life that I would certainly view as positive. It was in October or November of that year that I realised I was very bored of my job. Although it paid well and gave me a good amount of autonomy, I was unhappy about the repetitiveness of it all. I was teaching the same course year after year and there were no new challenges.

I decided one day to start my own company, but to focus on it meant that I would have to quit my job. Obviously, it was quite frightening to give up a steady job with a good salary, but I knew that it was the right thing to do. I gave my letter of resignation to my bosses and then set about devoting myself to mastering my new position as the owner of a small educational company called TED-IELTS. 

For about two years, I have been running this company by myself and it has provided countless challenges. As well as teaching, I also edit a lot of essays. This was great for me because I have many years of experience in both teaching and editing, so I was mostly prepared for it. However, I had to learn other things like marketing and web design in order to make the company successful.

This change has had a huge impact upon my life. For the past two years, I have had a great amount of freedom and I have been able to help thousands and thousands of people. However, it is stressful and exhausting and provides constant headaches… Still, I would say that overall it has been a positive change and I am glad that I made it.

Final Notes

I hope that this answer was useful for you. Don’t try to copy my ideas or structures here because this answer must be your own personal one and you should describe it in the most logical way for you. However, it is worth noting the logical development of information. I started in the past and finished now, talking about things in a sensible order.

Also, a few more language notes. I often said “make a change” because this is the verb we use with “change.” You can’t say “have a change” or “do a change.”