Cue Card Sample

IELTS Cue Card Sample 407 - A surprise that made you happy

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a surprise that made you happy.

You should say:

  • what it was
  • where it happened
  • when it happened

and explain why the surprise made you happy.


Model Answer 1:
I can think of a lovely surprise to share with you.  I’m going to tell you what it was, where it happened and when, and then explain exactly why the unexpected happening made me so happy.

The surprise started with a card from the post office put through my letterbox.  The card said that they had tried to deliver a parcel to me, but because I was out when they called they hadn’t been able to leave it, so I’d have to go and pick it up from the parcel depot.  I was intrigued.  I hadn’t ordered anything online, it wasn’t my birthday, and I wasn’t expecting anything exciting in the post at all.  I had no idea what it could possibly be.  The next morning I went to the post office with some ID to prove who I was, and collected the parcel.  It was a box, about the size of a shoebox, wrapped in a dark grey plastic packaging, with the name of the company ‘blurt’ on it.  I was none the wiser, I didn’t recognise the company and couldn’t tell who it was from by the wrapping. 

I waited until I got home, and then I opened it.  The parcel contained a brown cardboard box which said ‘Buddy Box’ on the outside.  Inside, was a collection of rather random, but very charming gift items.  They included a pair of socks made from bamboo; some rather strongly scented soap (I wasn’t too sure about that!); a little blank pad of writing paper with a cover decorated with cactus plants, a ‘sew your own’ cactus kit (that was very bizarre) and an ultra-thin pen for sliding inside a diary or notebook!  There was still no card to say who it was from, but just an anonymous typed note saying ‘I saw this and thought of you!’  It was a completely unexpected gift, sent by someone, somewhere to cheer me up.  I’d had a rather bad time recently following a bereavement and losing my job as well, so I’d been quite down, knowing that someone was thinking about me was really touching, and as well as being a surprise, made me very happy.  The parcel came just a month ago, so it is a very recent surprise, but a lovely one. 

So that is the ‘what’, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’, as to the ‘why’ that is perhaps a little more complicated than you might at first think.  Of course, it was lovely to receive the gift from someone, the contents didn’t matter, it really was ‘the thought that counts’ as the English saying goes, but what made it extra special, was trying to guess who it was from.  I’d been feeling quite lonely, but when I tried to work out who might have sent the parcel to me, I realised I just didn’t know.  Even though I had been feeling a bit sorry for myself, I could actually come up with quite a long list of people who might have been thinking of me and wanting to cheer me up.  I was astonished, and I felt very lucky indeed. 

So this surprise made me happy, not only because it was an unexpected gift of lovely things, but also because it reminded me of how many friends I had around me who cared about me at a difficult time. 

[ Written by - Lucy Marris, Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]


Model Answer 2:
Thank you for this interesting cue card topic. I will be more than happy to share a story here when I was truly surprised and also felt very happy. It was indeed a very precious day for me when that happened.

Anyway, it happened about 7 years ago when I was a final year university student. Back then, my dearest uncle, who loved me with his life, was serving in the United Nations peacekeeping force who I hadn’t seen for almost 5 years. But, that year suddenly, we got the news that my uncle would come home for a few days in order to celebrate one of our most sacred religious festivals. Needless to say, when I got that news, I became so happy and excited that I felt like I was actually flying on the moon.

But, unfortunately, all of that excitement and happiness of mine didn’t last that long as only a few days later, we got the news that he wouldn’t be able to join us in our celebration due to some unavoidable circumstances. Of course, it wasn’t the first time that such thing happened, and so, all of the members of my family took the disappointing news easily, even though, I was really hoping that my uncle would somehow magically show up to celebrate with us.

Anyway, I guess God listened to my prayer and decided to grant me exactly what I had wished for. In fact, my uncle did show up at our home just the night before the start of our religious festival. When we saw him, we just couldn’t believe our own eyes.

Well, it was indeed a very pleasant surprise, and it made me really happy because I could finally meet my dear uncle after all those years. It made me happy also 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 really are from each other.


Sample Answer 3:
The whole point about surprises is that they can catch you completely unawares. You wake up one morning with no particular expectation that anything unusual is going to happen that day, and perhaps anticipating a rather ordinary and dull working day or weekend ahead of you. Then something remarkable happens, and the world feels full of exciting possibilities and adventures all over again!

I’m going to talk to you about a really big surprise that made me very happy indeed.  I think you too will be a bit taken aback with how unexpected it was as I tell you the ‘what’ the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ – I imagine you won’t need me to explain too much why the surprise made me happy, but I will tell you about that two.

I’ll start with the where and when, because that makes more sense of the story.  It was a Saturday morning about two and a half years ago.  I went down to my local park near to where I live in Sheffield, to take part in a 5km run which is a regular weekly event called Parkrun, which lots of people in the UK participate in, there are over 364 different Parkrun events held in open spaces across the UK so it is quite a phenomenon.  This particular event is quite large, with around 500 runners - of all different ages, backgrounds and speeds – taking part.  On this particular day, after the run, I was walking away towards home when I suddenly saw a face I recognised.  ‘Hello’, I said, ‘hello Lucy’ she replied, and that was the beginning of our reunion.  The person I’d recognised was someone I had been at school with thirty years ago in a completely different part of the UK.  When she finished school, she’d moved away to Sheffield to study and made a home here, I hadn’t kept in touch with her, so when I myself moved to Sheffield to take up a new job some 25 years later, I had no idea she lived in the same city.  We met each other completely by chance after three decades, and recognised each other instantly.  It was certainly a surprise!  What made it even more unexpected, was that we were both taking part in a sporting activity.  At school, neither of us had enjoyed physical education, or PE as it was then called, and quite often had skipped school to avoid it!  It was so funny to us both that we should meet up after so long, at such an unlikely occasion and in a city hundreds of miles away from where we used to live as children.  We went off for a ‘quick’ coffee to catch up, and ended up talking solidly for over 3 hours!

It made us both very happy because we picked up on an old friendship almost exactly where we had left off.  We now meet up at the same event every Saturday, and after our run, we still go for breakfast each week.  We also take part in running events together – though I’m really slow and she’s really fast, so we don’t have everything in common.

So that particular day brought a very unusual surprise my way, and one which made me happy not only at the time, but right up to the present day and I hope beyond it too.  It is good to be reminded to look around you and to be open to the unexpected, it makes life a lot more interesting, and a lot more fun!

[ Written by - Lucy Marris, Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]


Sample Answer 4:
Living a decent life without a car is really troublesome. I am lucky that I got a car as a gift from my parents marking my graduation day. In fact, it was a surprise for me. They, earlier, hinted me about this. I am really happy with this surprise gift.

The car was an Aston Martin V12 Vantage S. This is a sports car and comes with some special features. Riding the car was a different experience for me. Its speed was great while I enjoy the top speed more than anything. I believe this is a unique car and could not be compared with the other sports car. The engine and exhaust sounds are up to the mark and prove that this is something special. It has the latest satellite navigation system which makes the trips outstanding. I am in love with the interior design of the car, its lightweight wheel and much more. I am extremely grateful to my parents.

In December last, I have completed my graduation from the University of Colima in Mexico. I was a student of economics and scored the highest GPA in the graduation exam. So, every one of my family including my parents was extremely happy. Before appearing in the exam, dad told me to study hard. He also suggested me to get the top score if possible as he wants me to take care of his business. Besides, he hinted for a surprise too. I did not know what the surprise would be but I studied hard. I studied for about 12 hours in a day. Finally, I was able to grab success. On the day of result publication, I came to know about my success. One of my mates informed about the score while I was on the way top university. I informed the issue to my dad. He asked to return home quickly to receive the surprise.

But I cannot reach home early, I was late. It was my buddies who did not let me leave the university early. I had to pass for about two hours with them and entertained at a restaurant for my success. In fact, they all loved me much and wanted to celebrate my success. So, I failed to defy their requests. Finally, I reached home at around 4.30 pm. My dad was standing on the porch and the brand new car was expecting its young rider. Dad handed me over the keys and said that the car was the surprise. My mum was standing aside and her face was shining with joy for my grand success. Dad was happy too.

The surprise made me happy for numerous reasons. It was really difficult for me to ride on public transports to go to different places. Besides, I was saving money for a car but it was difficult for me to gather a huge amount of money to get a brand new car. So, I asked dad to support me in my initiative to get a car. He denied the issue showing many excuses. In fact, he is a businessman and owns a large amount of wealth. His business is expanded across the country. It is not hard for him to contribute to my account to get a used car. But I think he had something else in his mind and the brand new Aston Martin shows the proof. So, I was happy indeed with this surprise on my graduation day.

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