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IELTS Cue Card Sample Question – Describe a Difficult Decision that You Made

A lot of candidates who have taken the IELTS often regard the Cue Card Section, or the IELTS Speaking Part 2, as one of the most challenging sections of the IELTS exam.

Why? It is because you are given a topic on which you may not have sufficient knowledge, and you do not have a choice but to address it. 

To make it more difficult, you have less time to prepare and must speak for a longer period without interruption or questions from the examiner. But there is no need to worry! 

This article offers examples of responses to the cue card topic ‘Describe a difficult decision that you made.’ Continue reading to learn more.

What is the IELTS Cue Card Question?

The examiner will present you with a task card, more popularly known as the cue card, with three to four questions and points on responding to the themes in the IELTS Speaking Task 2. The information will be based on personal experiences. 

You get one minute to prepare after being given the topic before speaking for around 1-2 minutes before the examiner instructs you to stop.

If you choose, a piece of paper and a pencil will be provided for you to record your thoughts on paper.

The examiner will not disrupt you while you are speaking. Rather, they will merely nod in approval.

Soon after the two minutes are over, the examiner will stop you and ask you a few questions about what you said, to which you must respond briefly.

How to Answer this Specific Question: “Describe a Difficult Decision that You Made”  

Topic/ Question

Describe a Difficult Decision that You Made 

Guidelines to answer this question

You should say:

  • What decision it was 
  • Who you consult about it
  • When you made this decision 

and explain how it affected your life. 

  • Recall a significant decision that you have made recently, or if not, a major decision you made a long time ago. Ensure that you have enough recollection of this decision to ensure that you will be able to cover your speaking time. 
  • Once you have a specific subject in mind, take notes right away. Bear in mind that you have only 60 seconds to prepare. 
  • Start writing down notes. Specify what decision it was and when you had to make it. Include the people whom you consulted when you made such a decision. Do not forget to explain how you felt when you had to decide and after you finally made that decision. 
  • Do not write sentences. Your goal is to maximize your time so simply write keywords and phrases. 
  • Employ a wide range of vocabulary and complex structures of grammar. Remember that these two account for 50 percent of your mark, and doing so will help you achieve high marks in this part of the test. 
  • Take quick notes, but ensure that your handwriting is legible to yourself. The examiner is unconcerned about what or how you have written on your notes. Your grade is based on the substance and delivery of your speech.
  • Now and then, take a look at the notes you have prepared. It is all right. You will not be prevented from doing so by the examiner. It is the mere reason why you are provided with a pen and a piece of paper. 

Sample Responses: “Describe a Difficult Decision that You Made”  

Sample Response 1: 

“The most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make was whether or not to study abroad next year.  Lately, there has been a growing trend among high school graduates to participate in a study abroad program. I’ve always thought of doing the same since it’s a great way to travel the world, learn about different educational approaches, and enhance my language skills. 

As a girl who has never traveled far from home, studying in a distant nation may bring out my independence. I informed my parents, who are both supportive of my plans, although they did point out certain drawbacks. My mother warned me that being in a new place by myself can be intimidating at times and that it puts my capacity to adjust to new conditions to the test. And because all of my close friends and family members are on the other side of the planet, it’s extremely likely that I’d feel lonely and helpless from time to time. 

I’d be fully on my own, and everything I’d taken for granted in the past would be a challenge, such as paying bills, creating bank accounts, talking with fellow students, and so on. I felt trapped all of a sudden. All of those challenges seemed daunting, but I didn’t want to pass up this fantastic opportunity to expand my horizons and learn more about different cultures throughout the world. I carefully examined the advantages and cons, and after much deliberation, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.”

Follow-up Question 1:

Do you find making decisions easy? 


“Absolutely not! It’s one of the things that I avoid as much as possible. I find it really hard to decide, even with the simplest of things. That is why whenever I’m faced with a situation where I need to decide, I consult my family and friends so it wouldn’t be that hard.”

Follow-up Question 2:

How important do you think is it to consult other people when making a major decision?


“For me, it is a must that we consult other people, especially our family and friends when we are making a life-changing decision. Though it may sound cliché, I believe that two heads are better than one, always. Besides, they know what’s best for us, and whether or not we make the right call, they are there to support us.” 

Sample Response 2: 

“I’m not always a good decision-maker. I am concerned about making the wrong decision and frequently seek advice from friends to help me think through the implications of choosing one option over another. Some decisions are easy, whereas others appear to have no good options, only the ‘least awful’ ones, and these are the most difficult to make. 

The dilemma was whether or not I should relocate to another part of the country to start a new career. This was a decision I had to make around 4 years ago. I applied for a job in Jaipur, a place I knew nothing about, and when I was offered the job, I had to make a significant decision. Should I leave my hometown and my family and friends to begin a new life in Jaipur for a potential position at a prominent institution, or should I stay in my wonderful house and familiar surroundings, hoping that work may take up again in the future?

I pondered the pros and drawbacks for a long time. To be honest, I cried a lot since the prospect of starting over was terrifying. However, it all came down to money in the end, as this was a good-paying job. In less than four weeks, I was living in a new apartment in a new city and reporting to work in a new office with new coworkers. It was difficult at first. I miss my old house in Thane from time to time, but I don’t miss anything else. I believe the relocation revitalized me and sent me on an exciting new adventure.”

Follow-up Question 1:

What are the factors that you consider when making a decision?


“Well, there are lots of things that I consider when I make decisions. First of which is the people I have to consult with. I think that at times, we should only consult with our family to decide. Another important factor I consider when deciding is the impact it would cause not just for myself, but the people I care for as well. If it would affect me and my family and friends, I really weigh my options to ensure that I make the right choice.”

Follow-up Question 2: 

Do you think kids should be permitted to decide for themselves?


“I think that there are times when they should have the freedom to decide for themselves. For simple decisions like the kinds of clothes they wear, or the theme of their birthday parties, it is fine that they make the decisions themselves. However, when it comes to big decisions such as the school, they should go to, and the amount of time they should spend on a hobby, I believe those should be their parents’ call. Adults and parents know what’s best for them.”

Vocabulary List for Answering this Question: “Describe a Difficult Decision that You Made”  

Below are some terms from the sample responses for the cue card topic Describe a difficult decision that you made.’ with their definitions and example sentences for your reference. 

WordPart of SpeechDefinitionExample Usage of the Word in a Sentence
awfuladjectiveExtremely horrible or unpleasant“The accommodations were awful, and the cuisine was even worse.”
capacitynounThe most quantity that something can hold“The goal was to increase the machine’s capacity for production.”
dauntingadjectiveAppearing tough to deal with; intimidating“Starting up a new career might be a daunting notion.”
deliberationnounLong and considerate thought or discussion“The first candidate was granted first prize after much deliberation.”
dilemnanounA circumstance in which a tough choice must be made involving two or more possible alternatives, especially if they are both equally unacceptable“She was faced with the dilemna of whether or not to go back to her homeland.”
distantadjectiveA long distance away in space or time“The international travelers were from a distant place.”
drawbacknounA characteristic that makes something less desirable; a disadvantage or an issue“The main drawback of these goods is that they are often overly salty.”
implicationnounA likely result of something“Your choice has an unexpected implication.”
intimidatingadjectiveHaving a terrifying, overpowering, or scary influence“Despite her intimidating appearance, she was kind and compassionate beneath the surface.”
ponderverbConsider things thoroughly, especially when coming to a decision or coming to a conclusion“She pondered for a moment to consider her next move in the game.”
potentialadjectiveHaving the potential to become or develop into something in the futurePotential investors have been put off by the company’s financial woes.”
prominentadjectiveImportant; well-known“Housing was a prominent topic of discussion.”
prospectverbThe potential or likelihood that some future event will occur“He isn’t overjoyed with the prospect of working for his old adversary.”
revitalizeverbTo give anything new life and vitality“According to experts, a short nap can relieve stress and revitalize you.”
terrifyingadjectiveEvoking intense fear“A terrifying shriek in the middle of the night chilled my blood.”

Additional Reading — IELTS Speaking Cue Card Questions


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