IELTS Cue Card Sample 500 - Describe an exam that was very hard for you.

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

Describe an exam that was very hard for you.

You should say:

  • what exam it was
  • when you took this exam
  • why you took this exam

and explain why this was so hard for you.

[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]

Sample Answer 1:
Well, this is an interesting topic to talk about. This topic reminds me of the admission test in Saint Paul college that I took in 2010. It was one of the toughest exams I have ever taken in my life. I did so bad that I was afraid to look at the result. In fact, I did not see my admission test result as I knew how poorly I had performed!

It is quite common for the colleges in our country to arrange admission tests each year to select the students they would allow admission. I took part in the entrance exam in the top five colleges in our country and Saint Paul College was one of them. This college was far away from my house and due to a bad traffic, I was 15 minutes late on the exam day. Being late was a disaster for me and the college authority was reluctant to let me take the exam. But later on, they decided to let me in! Half an hour was already wasted and I was feeling an immense pressure at that time. As soon as I opened the question paper, I was far more daunted and got stiffed as most of the questions seemed unfamiliar to me.

The college exam authority has changed their question pattern and has focused more on history and writing skill than mathematics and other science subjects! This was even a bigger blow to me. I could not answer most of the questions and wanted to get out of the exam hall as soon as possible. It was a suffocating and perplexing experience for me. After I left the college perimeter, I felt relieved and that proves that I was quite appalled and dismayed in the exam hall.

As I recall, I did not even go to see my result as I knew I would perform very poorly. Later on, I got admitted to the Prime Science College. The exam I had taken in Saint Paul College was unforgettable and one of the hardest in my life. The bad traffic, arguments with the exam authority, different question pattern and my anxiety made it even harder! 


Sample Answer 2:
Before my admission to the MA at the Columbia University in New York, I had to appear for a GRE test. I was unable to prepare properly for the test. So, it turned out to be a very difficult test for me. I would like to thank you for this topic, and the time that you have allowed me to talk about it.

Generally, the GRE score is used by most of the USA universities to allow candidates to take admission. The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination and this test is administered by Educational Testing Service, ETS in short. The test is easy when someone has the proper preparation but without any preparation, this is really a difficult nut to crack. Particularly, the analytical writing and critical thinking sections are troublesome for the newbies.

I had to take the test last year. In fact, the classes of Columbia University began in the second week of August. So, I was in a hurry to take the test for the admission. The candidates normally prepare for the analytical, verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the test and practice a lot. But this was not the case for me.

I had to take the test as the Columbia University authority made it mandatory for each postgraduate student to take the GRE test and score at least 340 to get admitted to the university. Without having the score, the university authority would not even allow the students to submit their admission form for the postgraduate degrees.

The test turned out to be very hard for me and I realised that once I sat for the exam. I was not prepared for the test. In fact, I had no idea that I would have to attend the test. As far as I knew, the test was for the foreign students but later I came to know that it was applicable to the native students as well. The test-takers who get a good score in this test are considered ready to take the postgraduation courses in the USA. I ended up scoring less than 250 and could not apply to the Columbia Universtiy that time. 


Topic: Describe an exam that was very hard for you.

1. Recently I attended a recruitment test in Berlin. The exam was a difficult one for me. I took the exam last January. It was a special test for me because it was the very first recruitment test in my life. The exam was difficult as I did not have any clue that the questions would be so unthinkable! Besides, I also had no preparation for such a competitive exam.

2. The multiple choice exam in history that I took a few months ago was very tough for me. I attended the exam at my college and it was an academic subject for me. The questions were extremely hard. I could not answer them properly. As a result, the exam was unsatisfactory and carried a poor grade for me.

3. My participation in the essay writing exam in my literature class was quite hard. The exam took place a few weeks ago at my college. It was a compulsory exam for all the students in the class. So, I had to take it. The exam was hard because I did not have the necessary preparation for the essay topic. And the teacher randomly gave the essay topic to students. Therefore, I could not answer well in the exam.

4. Attending an academic viva is easier if you have the proper preparation, but not always if the questions are very difficult. The viva took place at 10.00 am at the college campus in Toronto, Canada. I had to take the test because without participating in the viva, I would not b allowed to get a promotion to the next session. The viva was hard. The teachers asked questions which were unfamiliar to me.

5. I attended an improvement test in my office as I applied for a promotion. The exam was held three months ago. I participated there to prove my quality and capacity for a senior position in line with some other participants. But the exam was really hard for me. In fact, the authority wanted to bring out the essence from the candidates applying for a higher position. Besides, the majority of the questions were strategic and required real-life skills or experiences to answer. So, it was tough for me to manage every answer.


When you are ready to talk about the cue card topic 'Describe an exam that was very hard for you', you should be able to answer the following topics as well:

1. Describe an exam you have taken.
2. Describe something difficult you have faced lately.
3. Describe a time when you performed poorly in something.
4. Talk about a test or examination in which you could not perform well.

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