It is really important for IELTS speaking that you are able to describe people. There are so many questions about friends and family and even celebrities. In part two of the speaking exam, you may be given a cue card that asks you to describe a person. You should be comfortable talking about their personality, their appearance, and their habits. All this can come in really useful.

Today, we’re going to look at how to describe someone in your family. In other words, describe a relative. This could be stated in other ways, or it could focus on a single attribute. For example, describe someone in your family whom you admire.

The Cue Card – Describe Someone in your Family

Ok, let’s begin by looking at the cue card. A cue card is a piece of paper that you will be given by the examiner. It will contain important information that you should talk about, so read it carefully. Cue cards are often pretty similar, so make sure you are familiar with their style.

Here is a video I made that can help you analyze IELTS speaking cue cards:

As you can see, cue cards are pretty predictable in terms of content.

Now here is the cue card we will look at today:

Describe someone in your family who you really admire.

You should say:

      what relation this person is to you
      what are your first memories of this person
      how often you see this person

and explain why you really admire this person.

Let’s consider some key points. This stuff might seem obvious… but it’s important not to make mistakes!

  • Can you talk about someone who is not a family member? No.
  • Can you talk about a family member who you don’t admire? No.

Pay attention to what you “should say”:

  • relationship
  • first memories
  • how often you see each other
  • why you admire them

Don’t miss out any of those points. family

Making Notes

You only have 1 minute to make notes, so do it quickly and efficiently. Don’t write too much – just write down words that will help you remember what to say later, and also any important vocabulary that you could use.

Avoid wasting time by thinking too much about who you should describe! You have no time to waste. Instead, focus on picking a person quickly and then how to describe them well.

Here are some ideas:

  • cousin
  • playing football
  • infrequently
  • integrity

As you can see, my notes are very brief. These correspond to the points on the cue card, and I have included two good words – “infrequently” and “integrity”.


A family walking together in the park.

*Remember that it is ok to add extra details as long as you don’t go off-topic. You can say other things about the family member in addition to the points on the card. However, you only have 2 minutes so don’t talk about other things first, and forget to leave enough time for the required details.

Sample Answer

Here is my sample answer to the cue card: Describe someone in your family who you admire. I will highlight some key phrases that may be useful for you.

I really admire my cousin. He’s two years older than me so I’ve known him all my life. When I was very young, my mum and my aunt spent a lot of time together and so my cousin and I would often play together in the garden. Mostly we played football, but we did other things too. We were very close at that time, although in later years we saw each other less and less. Still, we sometimes see each other; just a little infrequently. I live abroad now, but whenever I go home I try to meet him and we hang out for a while. We maybe see each other about once every year or two.

I think that I’ve always looked up to him to some extent. Maybe it’s because he has a lot of integrity. Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve been impressed by his honesty. He’s a really great guy – very generous and compassionate. Most people are attracted to his sense of humour, actually. He’s very funny and also quite optimistic. It’s for all of those reasons and more that I admire him.

If you want me to record this answer as an audio file or YouTube video, let me know in the comments.

How to Get a Band 7 for Speaking

If you are aiming to get a high band score (like a 7 or above), you need to give a clear answer. Don’t worry about using big words and talking for exactly 2 minutes. That’s not important. Instead, answer the question clearly and avoid too many mistakes. (It’s ok to make some mistakes in grammar and vocabulary.)

You should aim to do the following:

  • speaking slowly and clearly, making sure that your pronunciation is easy to follow
  • avoid making many serious mistakes
  • try to use descriptive words (adverbs and adjectives)
  • don’t repeat yourself
  • if you need to pause for a moment, say something like “let me think…” instead of hesitating awkwardly
  • vary your sentence types

All of this should help you describe someone in your family in a thorough and effective way. The examiner will be impressed, and your band score will be high.