In today’s IELTS speaking lesson we will look at another cue card. This one asks the candidate to “describe something you often do in the evening.” I will guide you through analyzing the question, structuring an answer, choosing the right language, and finally give you my own sample answer.
Reading the Cue Card
Ok, let’s begin by looking at the cue card:
Describe something you often do in the evening.
You should say:
- What it is
- Why you do it
- Who you usually do it with
And if you enjoy doing it or not.
This cue card is pretty straightforward, and you should easily be able to tell what you need to do. Firstly, you need to think of an activity that you often do in the evening. Note that if you say you don’t often do it – ie only sometimes or rarely – then you have not understood the cue card.
Then you need to refer to the following points:
- What it is – this means describe the activity
- Why you do it – give at least one reason
- Who you usually do it with – talk about this person briefly or else say you do it alone
- Do you enjoy doing it? – it’s ok to say no, but maybe give a good reason why not
In giving your answer, you should try to address all points on the cue card and give interesting details that add to these without going off-topic.
It is essential for success in IELTS speaking part 2 to make good notes. Some students try to write full sentences, but this is a very bad idea. You do not have enough time to write full sentences. Instead, note down:
Remember that you only have one minute to write down these notes, and after that you will have to speak from them for 1-2 minutes. If you make good notes, it is very easy to speak for that length of time. Therefore, you should practice writing notes in your spare time.
You should structure your notes logically. This can help you to speak in a coherent way, starting at the beginning and then building up ideas. If you just note down words randomly, you will not find it easy to speak.
Here are my notes for something I often do in the evening:
- Read books
- Helps me go to sleep
- Alone – solitary
As you can see, my notes are very simple, but they follow logically and would help me to remember what I should say next. This is important because in an exam situation it is easy to panic and forget things!
*By the way, I also have a very popular IELTS Youtube video all about describing books. You can see that here:
What tense(s) should you use for answering this question?
Well, look at the cue card. “Describe something you often do in the evening.” It is present simple, right? Therefore, you will most commonly use the present simple to reply.
The adverb “often” and the verb “do” are both important here, so make note of them. You can incorporate them into your answer.
In the evening I often read books before going to bed.
I read books before going to bed because it helps me to relax.
If you are describing something that often happens, it is a recurring action and the present simple is the correct tense. You might want to mention some past or future event(s), and then you may need other tenses, like the past continuous:
Last week I was reading a very interesting book about….
Or future perfect:
By the end of next month I will have read the whole series!
Remember that having a range of tenses is important for getting a high band score, so consider varying tense use where appropriate.
You can learn more applicable IELTS grammar from my handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing:
Here’s sample answer to this IELTS speaking part 2 cue card:
Something that I often do in the evenings is read books. I have always enjoyed reading, and although I don’t have much time for it nowadays, I try to set aside 20 minutes each evening for reading. Almost every evening, before I go to sleep, I sit in bed and pick up a good book. It could be fiction or non-fiction; it doesn’t matter much, to be honest. I like both. As long as it is interesting or entertaining, I don’t mind.
I read for a few reasons. I think that reading makes people more intelligent and also more creative, but it also helps us to relax. For me, it is useful to read in bed before going to sleep because it helps me settle down and makes it easier to go to sleep.
I read alone, of course, although sometimes my girlfriend sits beside me and reads, too. Reading is a solitary pursuit, and I find that other people are an unwelcome distraction at these times.
On the whole, I really enjoy reading in the evenings. It is a special time when I can escape into another world and forget my troubles.
Here is a video of me reading the above sample answer:
I followed the cue card exactly and expanded upon my notes, although I changed the word form of “relaxation” into “relax” because it fit better into my speech.
“try to set aside” -> means to mark something as different; in this case most of the evening is devoted to other things but 20 minutes is reserved for reading
“settle down” could mean to calm down after being angry, but it can also mean to relax more generally. In this case it means the latter
A “solitary pursuit” is something you do alone. “pursuit” means an activity.
More Speaking Help
I have a whole YouTube playlist of IELTS speaking materials, including many examples for IELTS speaking part 2 cue cards. Check them out here and don’t forget to subscribe and click LIKE. Thanks!