IELTS Cue Card: Describe a special day that you remember well

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a special day that you remember well


Describe a special day that you remember well.
You should say:
  • Where you were
  • Who you were with
  • What you did
And explain why you remember it well.

Part 3:
  • Do people spend too much money on their birthday parties or weddings?
  • How much do you think someone should spend on a birthday party or wedding?
  • Are photos and videos the best way to remember an event?
  • What can a forgetful person do to better remember things?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

One of the key days that sticks out in my memory is the day that I moved to Amsterdam. It was more than five years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I’d visited that city a few times and had fallen in love with it. There was something special about the city’s vibe that resonated with me.

I’d been toying with the idea of moving to this city for more than a year. I kept doing bits and pieces of research every now and again. The thought of moving there would pop into my mind quite frequently and sometimes I’d mindlessly browse apartment listings to see if there was anything interesting, despite the fact I didn’t have an immediate intention to move.

One day I was really tired of my job. I was very dissatisfied with the city I was living in and needed to make a change. I talked it over with a friend and she said I should just go do it because I’d been thinking about it for far too long. I took her advice and set the wheels in motion to move — I quit my job, took money out of my savings account, and sent off a hundred emails to potential employers.

I knew making a new circle of friends wouldn’t be too hard, so even though I was going alone I wasn’t going to be lonely for long.

Being from the UK, I was able to move there without needing to get a visa, so I booked my ticket and jumped in feet first.

I had a lot of stuff to take with me, and so flying with really heavy luggage would have been prohibitively expensive. My only option was to take a bus, which took more than 12 hours.

I felt absolutely exhausted when I arrived but I also felt a sense of elation seeing the city again and knowing that this time I wasn’t going back to the UK.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Key (adjective)
Something that’s key is very important and has a lot of influence on other people or things.
Example: She was a key figure in the art world.

Sticks out (phrasal verb)
Something that’s very noticeable because it’s different is said to stick out.
Example: If you dye your hair purple and blue, you’ll really stick out at work.

Remember it like it was yesterday (phrase)
If you remember something very well, especially something that happened a long time ago, you are said to remember it like it was yesterday.
Example: I remember my life in Boston like it was yesterday.

Vibe (noun)
The general feeling you get from a person, place, or situation.
Example: I didn’t get a good feeling at the interview. The lady interviewing me gave off bad vibes.

Resonated (verb)
If something resonates with you, it produces an emotional effect on you.
Example: This issue has resonated with voters more than any other.

Toying with the idea (idiom)
If you’re toying with an idea, you’re thinking about or considering something.
Example: I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own business.

Bits and pieces (idiom)
Small individual things or jobs of different types.
Example A: I have a few bits and pieces left to do for the wedding.
Example B: We only have a few bits and pieces of furniture left to move.

Every now and again (idiom)
If something happens every now and again, it happens sometimes but not very often.
Example: Every now and again we’ll have dinner together.

Pop into my mind (phrase)
If something pops into your mind, you suddenly think of it.
Example: The name of the song she’d been humming for days suddenly popped into her mind.

Mindless (adjective)
If something is mindless, it means it doesn’t need a lot of mental effort. It can also be something stupid and pointless.
Example A: People waste a lot of time doing mindless things.
Example B: The movie is full of mindless violence
Example C: It’s fairly mindless work. I don’t have to think a lot when I’m doing it.

Talked it over (idiom)
If you discuss something thoroughly or exhaustively, you’re said to talk it over.
Example: Cory is coming over to talk over his problems.

Set the wheels in motion (idiom)
If you set the wheels in motion, you cause something to begin.
Example: We’ve been planning the details for months, but it’s ultimately up to the boss to set the wheels in motion.

Sent off (phrasal verb)
To send something to someone.
Example: I have to get the package sent off tomorrow.

Circle of friends (noun)
A number of friends who usually do things together.
Example: I have a close circle of friends that I’ve known since high school.

Jumped in feet first (idiom)
If you jump in feet first, you begin or start something quickly, enthusiastically, and without trepidation.
Example: I know you’re nervous about starting school, but you need to just jump in feet first and do your best.

Prohibitively (adverb)
Something that is far too expensive or too much, more than most people are able to pay.
Example: Property in that area tends to be prohibitively expensive.

Elation (noun)
A state of extreme happiness or excitement.
Example: I felt a sense of elation when I finished my degree.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

Do people spend too much money on their birthday parties or weddings?

I don’t think people spend too much money on their birthday parties, as they’re annual events and most people want to have fun rather than break the bank on a celebration they’ll have to repeat the following year. They’ll splurge a little bit, but most people will still be reasonably financially responsible.

Weddings, on the other hand, are usually extremely expensive affairs. Many couples will get into significant debt to pay for a lavish wedding, believing that it’s the most special day they’ll ever experience. It’s also really expensive for the guests, most of which will need to pay for travel and accommodation, and also buy the couple a wedding gift too.

Many companies will charge a premium for anything that’s for a wedding. Many catering companies will charge double to provide food for a wedding, compared to what they would charge if they were catering a birthday party. This is part of the reason why I think people overpay for their wedding.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Annual (adjective)
Something that happens once every year.
Example: I can’t wait for my annual holiday.

Break the bank (idiom)
If something is very expensive, it is said to break the bank. It’s often used in the negative.
Example: I don’t have enough money to go on vacation right now. I’m afraid it would break the bank.

Splurge (verb)
If you splurge you spend a lot of money, especially on something special as a way of making yourself feel good.
Example: He splurged a lot of money on a new Italian suit.

Affair (noun)
An affair is an event.
Example: The party turned out to be a quiet affair.

Lavish (adjective)
Something that’s lavish is large in quantity, expensive, or impressive.
Example: The evening was a lavish affair with an endless supply of champagne.

Premium (noun)
An amount of money that’s more than usual.
Example: Because of their location, these offices attract a premium.

Overpay (verb)
If you overpay you pay someone too much money.
Example: I felt I should tell my boss she’d overpaid me by $100.

How much do you think someone should spend on a birthday party or wedding?

I think it’s a very personal choice and it depends on a number of factors.

I think the primary factor is how much the birthday boy or girl, or the engaged couple can afford. No matter how special the event, I don’t believe people should spend significantly beyond their means for an event.

I do think people should enjoy the celebration though, and being excessively frugal is going to hinder this goal.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Factors (noun)
One of several things that affects or influences a situation.
Example: There a number of factors that are contributing to the company’s collapse.

Beyond their means (idiom)
If you live beyond your means, or spend beyond your means, you’re exceeding your financial ability. It’s something that’s more than you can afford.
Example: If you keep living beyond your means, you’ll empty your bank account before you know it.

Frugal (adjective)
The act of spending very little money and only buying things that are really necessary. If you’re frugal, you’re very careful with money.
Example: He’s built up his savings by being very frugal.

Hinder (verb)
If you limit the ability of someone to do something, or limit the development of something, you’re hindering it.
Example: Her progress was hindered by her lack of experience.

Are photos and videos the best way to remember an event?

Yes, I think so. People often have a hard time remembering something that’s happened to them in the past. Memories do fade, and having a picture or two can help jog someone’s memory and take them back to a time that they really enjoyed.

I think videos are especially good, because they also include motion and sound. It can add a bit of richness that a handful of pictures can’t.

I think people are more inclined to look at old pictures again, and it’s less common for people to rewatch the old videos they’ve recorded in the same way.

Pictures can also be a topic for discussion, and a few friends or family members can look at a set of pictures together and tell stories about the event.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Hard time (noun)
A hard time is a difficulty that can be overcome with effort.
Example: We had a hard time getting here.

Jog someone’s memory (idiom)
If you jog somebody’s memory, you help them remember something.
Example: The police showed him a photo to try to jog his memory about what had happened on the night of the robbery.

Richness (noun)
The quality of having a lot of something that is valuable or interesting.
Example: We were impressed by the richness of the town’s nightlife.

Handful (noun)
A handful is a small number of people or things.
Example: She invited all her friends to the party, but only a handful of them turned up.

Inclined (noun)
If you want to do something, you are said to have an inclination to do something.
Example: I’m inclined to look for a new job.

What can a forgetful person do to remember things?

I’d say that I’m a fairly forgetful person and one of the things that has worked best for me is using lists and reminders on my phone.

I’ve discovered the hard way that something that isn’t written down is likely to fall out of my memory. Perhaps I’d go to the grocery store and I couldn’t remember everything I needed to buy, and would return home with several items missing. Or perhaps I’d forget a friend’s birthday.

Nowadays I put everything in my phone. My phone is like a second brain for me, and everything I need to remember is there.

I have noticed that the more I rely on technology to remember things for me, the worse my memory has become though!

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Forgetful (adjective)
Someone that often forgets things is a forgetful person.
Example: He got very forgetful in his old age.

The hard way (phrase)
If you learn something the hard way, you learn how to do it by trying and making a lot of mistakes.
Example: If she won’t listen, she’ll have to find out the hard way.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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