Cue Card Sample

When you were sleepy but had to stay awake - Cue Card # 730

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

Describe a time when you were sleepy but had to stay awake.

You should say:

  • when it was and where you were
  • why you were sleepy
  • why you had to stay awake

and how you stayed awake at that moment.

[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.]


Model Answer 1:
Waiting for someone is bad enough as it is, but, it is even worse when you have to wait a long time for somebody to arrive while trying to keep yourself up and awake. But, that’s just exactly what I had to do – that is to stay awake and wait while feeling sleepy – about a year ago at one of my cousin’s home in my hometown.

However, up until that day, I never really thought that I would have a problem keeping myself awake, no matter what the situation was. But, I was proved wrong when my cousin and his wife asked me to look after their 4-year-old kid as they were going out of town for an important job. Needless to say, I gladly agreed to their request, but little did I know then that their 4-year-old was so handful and difficult to reason with.

Of course, the first couple of hours were ok, but as more time started to pass, the little 4-year-old boy got restless. In fact, he started to run all over the place in his house while playing with virtually everything there. Soon, I realized that I was not strong and energetic enough to keep up with that little boy. Anyway, things went like this for about a few hours and then suddenly I started to feel sleepy. I guess that I was getting tired, trying to run after that boy every now and then during that busy evening. But, at around 11 pm, I felt like I couldn’t keep myself awake any longer, but I couldn’t leave the little unruly 4-year-old alone either. Another hour had gone by like this until my cousin and his wife arrived to rescue me from my misery.

I tried to keep myself awake that night by watching some TV programmes. But when watching TV was not working, I tried to wash my eyes with some cold water to keep myself awake. Sometimes, I was doing some light exercises to keep my eyes open while also playing with the little boy at the same time.

Model Answer 2:
I vividly recall a challenging night during my final year of university when I found myself in a situation where staying awake was imperative despite an overwhelming sense of drowsiness. For this topic, I will share this experience with you.

This incident occurred during the preparation period for my "thesis defense". I was in my small apartment, surrounded by piles of research papers and notes. The clock had ticked well past midnight, and the weariness from weeks of intense research and writing had caught up with me.

The reason behind my struggle against sleep was the imminent deadline for my thesis submission. I had to finalize my presentation and ensure that every aspect of my research was meticulously reviewed. Given the importance of this defense, a good night's sleep seemed like a luxury I couldn't afford at that moment.

To combat sleepiness, I relied on a combination of caffeine and short breaks. I made frequent trips to the kitchen for a strong cup of coffee and occasionally stepped out onto the balcony for some fresh air. I also played soft instrumental music to maintain a level of alertness. These strategies were my makeshift solutions to navigate through the night.

Staying awake during that challenging period was undoubtedly tough, but the sense of accomplishment and relief after completing the presentation made it worthwhile.

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Md Al Amin
I want more cue card topics and their answers.
Aakash Duggal
Cue Card # 730: Describe a time when you were sleepy but had to stay awake.

Few years back, my mother had a lower abdominal surgery because she was experiencing throbbing pain, and the doctor suggested that she had to be operated. That night, after the surgery in a hospital, when the doctors shifted her to a room, the nurse asked me to keep an eye on the drips. She told me that those drips are necessary so the body can handle the post-operation changes. I was told to inform her before that packet goes empty so that she could fill it again. Moreover, she specifically told it should not get empty because it will fill the body with unwanted air which could result in blood clotting.

I was very scared that night and was totally exhausted. My eyes wanded a nap but my mind and heart did not allow that, and also because of the eternal love for my mother, it gave me a lot of energy, to be awake. You know I have faced so many ups and downs in my life, no matter what, she was always there for me. And in her agony, I have to be there for her.