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IELTS Cue Card Sample Question  – Describe a Time When You Helped a Stranger 

If you ask those who have done the IELTS exam what the most challenging part of the test was, odds are they will say the cue card component, also known as the IELTS Speaking Part 2

If you are wondering why, it is because in this section of the test, you will be assigned a topic with which you may not be acquainted, and you will have no option but to address it.

To make matters more challenging, you have less time to prepare and must talk for a longer period without interruptions or questions from the examiner. But do not panic. 

This article contains sample replies to the cue card topic ‘Describe a time when you helped a stranger.’ Continue reading to find out more.

What is the IELTS Cue Card Question?

The examiner will present you with a cue card with a topic printed on it in Task 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test. This card is referred to as a cue card. It will also give 3-5 bullet points that outline what you should discuss in your talk.

You have one minute to plan, during which you may jot down with the pen and paper provided to you.

You will be given 1-2 minutes to speak on the topic.

Then, the examiner will ask you one or two questions about your subject. This portion lasts about 3-4 minutes in total.

How to Answer this Specific Question: “Describe a Time When You Helped a Stranger” 


Describe a Time When You Helped a Stranger

Guidelines to answer this question

You should say:

  • When it was
  • Where it was 
  • Why that person needed help

And explain what and how you felt after helping them.  

  • Recall a time when you helped a stranger. If you have no experience of helping a stranger, you can make up a story. The examiner will not know. 
  • Once you have a subject to discuss, stick to it. There is no time to change your mind as you only have 60 seconds to plan. 
  • Begin writing notes. State when and where it was and discuss why that person needed help. Do not forget to explain why you felt after helping them. 
  • Manage your time well. You can do this by writing only keywords and sentences instead of sentences. 
  • Employ sophisticated vocabulary. Make use of complex grammar structures as well. These two account for 50 percent of your marks in this part of the test. 
  • Take quick notes, but make sure you understand what you have written later on. It is acceptable if the examiner does not recognize what you have written. Your grade is determined by the substance and delivery of your speech, not by your handwriting.
  • You may wish to glance at your notes from time to time. It is permitted. The examiner will not prevent you from doing so. After all, it is why you are given a pen and a piece of paper.

Sample Responses: “Describe a Time When You Helped a Stranger”

Sample Response 1:

“The specific occurrence I’d want to discuss happened during my undergraduate years when I assisted a poor family in our hometown. I can’t exactly recall the name of the person, but I know that he was a technician with a family of five. He had a tiny shop that repairs electronic devices. His modest shop was destroyed by a catastrophic typhoon, and he had no alternative source of income or the ability to repair it. 

I noticed him trying to calm his tiny children who were begging for food one day. This occurred near our college campus when I had gone to meet a classmate. I was so moved by the lovely but sad-looking children that I approached this person. He narrated what had transpired in a shaky voice. I bought them some fruits and snacks then asked them to hang around for a while. I went to my lecture and shared what happened to my three closest friends. Finally, we went to our class instructor and prepared an application about the person’s and his family’s plight. 

We were able to raise a large amount of money, which was beyond my expectations. We purchased food and clothing for this family with this money, and they were so appreciative that the husband and wife began crying and praying for us.  In terms of my emotions, I felt both satisfied and humbled. This is one of those times I realized how fascinating and fulfilling it is to assist someone. I felt blessed, and the man and his wife treated me as if I were a beloved friend.” 

Follow-up Question 1:

Do you like to help others?


“Yes, I enjoy helping others. I am overjoyed when I am able to assist someone. Whenever someone comes to me for assistance, I do my utmost to help him/her in any way I can.”

Follow-up Question 2: 

How do members of your community assist one another?


“I’m really fortunate to have very helpful people in our community. We try to help each other in any way we can. May it be donating money, helping out during events, or giving food, the people in our community never cease to help each other in times of need.”

Sample Response 2: 

“Man is a social being. We all have to provide and accept support from others on a regular basis. I’m going to tell you about a time when I assisted an accident victim. It happened when I was in Vinh last month for a wedding. We noticed a lady lying on her side with a lot of blood pouring from her head. The accident had occurred only 2 minutes before we saw them. 

She was with her husband, and they were on a scooter when they were hit by a fast automobile as they exited the gas station. We quickly pulled over to the side of the road and approached to see if we could assist.

Her spouse had minor injuries, but she was in critical condition. We quickly dialed the number of the government’s free ambulance service. The ambulance arrived in fifteen minutes. 

We did not move the lady since doing so could have aggravated her injury. She was breathing normally, but she was in a lot of agonies. In the ambulance, there was a first-aid crew led by a doctor. The ambulance crew carefully placed her on a stretcher and brought her to the nearest hospital. We obtained the phone numbers of the patient’s other relatives from her husband and called them. Actually, he was taken aback by his wife’s condition. We didn’t leave until they were settled. We were an hour late for the wedding, but we were glad we could aid those folks in need.”

Follow-up Question 1: 

Do you believe people nowadays are less willing to help others than in the past?


“Yes, I believe so. Today’s world moves at a fast pace. People have turned into workaholics. They have become self-absorbed. They seem not to have time to help others.”

Follow-up Question 2:

Do people trust each other as much as they used to?


“No, I don’t believe so. My grandparents and parents used to tell me that life used to be simpler and slower. People had faith in one another. Nowadays, it is quite difficult to find someone with whom you can put your trust. I think that people are changing just as the world is.”  

Vocabulary List for Answering this Question: “Describe a Time When You Helped a Stranger”

Below are some terms from the sample responses for the cue card topic Describe a time when you helped a stranger.’ with their definitions and example sentences for your reference. 

WordPart of SpeechDefinitionExample Usage of
the Word in a Sentence
aggravateverbTo worsen or aggravate an issue, pain, or transgression“Scratching might aggravate the rash.”
agonynounTremendous physical or mental anguish“In agony, the patient writhed on the bed.”
appreciateverbTo grasp the full value of“Foreign literature cannot be fully appreciated when it isn’t translated.”
approachverbTo approach closer to something or someone in terms of distance or time“She didn’t approach the front door until the police arrived.”
catastrophicadjectiveInvolving or producing severe damage or suffering in a short period of time“It has resulted in catastrophic corporate bankruptcies and increased unemployment.”
ceaseverbTo bring to a close or come to an end“It remains to be seen whether the rallies will cease.”
occurrencenounAn instance or event“We must work to keep the occurrence of physical violence from happening.”
plightnounA perilous, difficult, or otherwise unlucky circumstance“Our sympathies were drawn to the woman’s plight.”
pourverbA constant stream of water that flows quickly“Before you pour the mixture into the pan, grease it.”
scooternounA small two-wheeled open vehicle in which the operator sits over an enclosing engine with his legs together and his feet rested on a floorboard.“He rode his scooter through the schoolyard and into the parking lot.”
self-absorbedadjectiveConcerned with one’s own emotions, interests, or circumstances“Selfish people become self-absorbed or chronic show-offs.”
shakyadjectiveTrembling or shaking“My legs were still shaky.”
stretchernounA framework made of two poles with a long length of cloth hung between them that is used to transport sick, injured, or deceased persons“A stretcher was used to transport her off the railway.”
transpireverbTo happen or occur“I should claim that all noteworthy occurrences transpire in the morning and in a morning ambiance.”
workaholicadjectiveA person who works obsessively long and hard hours“His ascetic, workaholic father has never been close to him.”

Additional Reading — IELTS Speaking Cue Card Questions


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