Describe something that surprised you


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Describe Something That Surprised You- IELTS Cue Card

The IELTS speaking section involves a face-to-face interview divided into three parts. Part 1 includes answering simple questions about yourself, hobbies, and interests. In part 2, you will be given a cue card with a topic and are asked to speak about it for two minutes. Following your speech, the examiner will ask you further questions related to your topic in part 3. However, this blog covers the cue card topic “Describe Something That Surprised You” with sample answers and possible follow-up questions. Also, some tips have been provided to excel in the IELTS speaking part 2.

iets cue card topics with answer pdf

Introduction to IELTS Cue Cards

A cue card in the speaking portion represents a determining tool. It’s a physical card that is provided to candidates during the test, that outlines a specific topic on which students must speak. You will get one minute to prepare your answer. After having a minute, you must talk for one to two minutes on your assigned cue card topic. The primary aim of this card is to evaluate a candidate’s ability to talk at a given length of time. However, looking into the IELTS cue cards, it is crucial to have a thorough grasp of the important topics. Thus, the next section will provide you with the details on how to answer the cue card in the speaking section of IELTS.

How to Answer the Cue Card?

Each cue card depicts a central theme followed by three or four sub-questions. These cards are designed to measure your ability on how deeply you explore a topic within two minutes. This task takes around 2-3 minutes to complete, including the one-minute preparation time. Utilize that one-minute time by taking the notes of the topic you have been given. The examiner will focus on four areas such as fluency, coherence, grammar, and pronunciation to examine your answers. And, by the end of the IELTS speaking part 2 examiner will get a rough idea of your band score. In addition, this blog talks about the sample responses on the cue card topic “Describe Something That Surprised You.”

You should structure your answer for the cue card “Describe Something That Surprised You” based on the given points.

  • What was the surprise?
  • When did it happen?
  • How you found about it?
  • And explain how you feel about it.

Take a glimpse at the image below that how your cue card will look like in your IELTS exam.

Know everything about IELTS Cue Cards

As you have looked at the most likeable cue card that you will get in your IELTS speaking exam. Now let’s move ahead in the blog and see the sample answers for the topic “Describe Something That Surprised You.”

Describe Something That Surprised You- Sample 1

Look at the first sample answer and gain a certain gist of how you can present your answer in the IELTS exam.

What was the surprise?

Life is full of many surprises except that we don’t always care to recognize them just as such. One experience that completely surprised me was when I received an unexpected job offer from an illustrious company. It was something I hadn’t anticipated at all. That moment stands out when it came and I felt chancy about my career path. I am sharing this because it changed my professional outlook and boosted my confidence.

When did it happen?

I had applied for several positions, but I was not confident enough as there is a tough, competitive job market. At that time, I didn’t even think of submitting my applications. A few weeks later, I received an email inviting me for an interview. I was taken aback because I didn’t even receive an acknowledgment of my application. However, the interview process went very smoothly, beyond my expectations. And when the offer letter arrived, I was utterly astonished and elated.

How you found about it?

Talking about how I found out about my job is all I can say, that everything happened in a whirlwind. Plus, they not only offered me a great position but also mentioned how they appreciated my unique skills and experiences. Moreover, the offer of emigration assistance and a welcome package, which was far beyond my expectations made me feel valued. But on the other hand, I was also sad that I had to leave my city because of my new job.

And explain how you feel about it.

Indeed, knowing about this unexpected job offer has significantly impacted my life, giving me a sense of fresh start and renewed confidence in my abilities. I also learned that perseverance and applying even when chances seem slim can lead to amazing opportunities. This surprise remains a special moment for my career, that has lead to several good outcomes.


In essence, this surprise has filled my heart with immense joy and gratitude, making it a cherished memory for a lifetime.

Describe Something That Surprised You- Sample 2

The second sample answer that you can use to answer the cue card in the IELTS speaking section. This will make you familiar with how to use the right words in the sentences.

What was the surprise?

Surprises can be thrilling, and they can also be shocking. A few years ago, I experienced such a surprising event that left me bewildered, and I still remember it vividly. I am an avid fan of football and follow the English Premier League religiously. I have always supported Manchester United as far as I can remember. In the year 2015-16, when Leicester City was at the lowest position in the table in the previous season, they had emerged as the new champions. This surprised me beyond belief.

When did it happen?

I still remember very clearly, that it was the final day of the 2015-16 season. I tuned in to watch Manchester United’s match, and my eyes were glued to the television screen. In the match, the commentators had already mentioned that Leicester City had already won the title, and I was surprised as I was expecting Tottenham Hotspur to win it. They were the only challengers to Leicester City then, and it was surprising for me to see them lose their nerve in the final match.

How you found about it?

I found out about Leicester City’s success by watching the live telecast of Manchester United’s match. When I switched on the TV, the commentators were discussing the outcome of other matches, and I had overheard them saying that Leicester City had already won the title. I was very shocked and double-checked the standings to ensure that what I had heard was true.

And explain how you feel about it.

I was surprised so much because it was something that nobody had expected. After this historic moment, Leicester City was written off by many in the state of the reason, and I felt great about it. Also, their success was a testament to their hard work and dedication. They had played with their hearts and defied the odds to become champions. It was a true story, and I was surprised to see them succeed where many others had failed.


In conclusion, it was one of the best surprises I have ever received, and I will cherish it forever.

Describe Something That Surprised You- Sample 3

Look at the third sample answer and learn how to present your response in the cue card round.

What was the surprise?

Surprises can be a source of great joy and excitement, and I have been fortunate enough to experience many wonderful surprises from my loved ones. Anyway, the surprise which I will be talking about happened about 7 years ago when I was a final year university student. Back then, my dearest uncle, who loved me more than anyone else, was serving in the US peacekeeping force whom I hadn’t seen for almost 5 years. But that year, suddenly, I got the news that my uncle would be coming home for a few days to celebrate one of the most sacred religious festivals.

When did it happen?

I came across this news during my final days in college, but unfortunately, all of that excitement and happiness of mine didn’t last that long because a few days later, I got the news that my uncle wouldn’t be able to join us in our celebration due to some inevitable circumstances. Well, it wasn’t the first time that such a thing happened, and all of the members of my family took this disappointing news easily.

How you found about it?

My uncle called us and informed us that he wouldn’t be able to join us for the celebration, but I was hoping that my uncle would somehow exquisitely show up to celebrate with us. I prayed to god every day that my uncle would somehow manage to attend this festival with us. Those days were very difficult for me, but one day, a miracle happened.

And explain how you feel about it.

I guess god listened to my prayer and decided to grant me exactly what I had wished for. My uncle did show up at our home just the night before the start of the religious festival. And when me and family saw him, we just couldn’t believe our own eyes. Well, it was a very beautiful surprise, and it made me really happy because I was able to meet my uncle finally after waiting for all those years.


Overall, this surprise made me very happy because it happened on the eve of a very special occasion when we all look to celebrate with all of our loved ones together, no matter how far apart we are from each other.

Lexical Resources

This section covers the difficult words with their right meanings that will help you enhance your vocabulary for IELTS.

Lexical Resources Meaning
Illustrious Famous and Successful
Chancy Involving risks and uncertainty
Aback To be very shocked and surprised
Astonished Very Surprised
Whirlwind A tall spinning column of air that moves across the surface of the land or sea
Emigration The process of leaving a country permanently and living in other one
Renewed Begun or happening again
Slim Attractively thin
Perseverance Continued effort to do or to achieve something
Bewildered Confused and Uncertain
Avid Extremely eager or interested
Defied To refuse to obey someone/something
Double-Checked To check something again or with great care
Fortunate Lucky
Testament Something that shows exits or it is true
Peacekeeping Intended to help to keep the peace and prevent war or violence in a place
Inevitable Unable to be avoided
Exquisitely Extremely beautiful and pleasing
Eve Day or night just before the event

The above-given list will help you learn more about vocabulary that will help you in your speaking section of the exam. Now let’s discuss the possible follow-up questions in the following section, which comes after your cue card round.

Follow-Up Questions

Follow-up questions are sometimes called reply questions. In part 3, of the speaking portion, the examiner will ask you some follow-up questions based on your previous answers. You can add your personal opinions or views to these answers. It will last for 4-5 minutes. Now let’s look at some questions that can be asked for your cue card “Describe Something That Surprised You” after your IELTS speaking part 2.

  • How do people express happiness in your culture?
  • Do you think happiness has any effect on people?
  • Do you think surprises are always positive, or can they sometimes have negative consequences?
  • Are people happier now than they were 30 years ago?

These are some of the follow-up questions that an examiner can ask you in your IELTS speaking exam. Now let’s discuss some tips that can help you to excel in the cue card round.

Tips to Excel in IELTS Cue Card

To ace the cue card round with a good score you must read and understand these tips that are mentioned below. Let’s have a look at them

  • Practice delivering concise and well-structured responses within the given time frame.
  • Use linking words and transitions in your speech as it will help you connect the ideas.
  • Enhance your language skills by learning new words, phrases, and idioms related to several topics.
  • Maintain clear fluency and pronunciation.
  • Think of relevant examples, personal experiences, or anecdotes that relate to the given topic.
  • If possible, get feedback from a teacher or a language partner to enhance your speaking skills.

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Finally, preparing for the IELTS speaking section is very difficult but with the right techniques and strategies you can do well. Therefore, this blog covers an overview of the cue card topic “Describe Something That Surprised You” with their sample answers. In addition, we also talked about the possible follow-up questions and tips to excel in the cue card round. Still, if you are facing difficulty in your IELTS preparation then take our IELTS mock test of all the sections and see your score. Also, join our offline or online IELTS classes at and study with our qualified trainers.

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