Cue Card Sample

IELTS Cue Card # 134 - Describe a situation when you were late

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

Describe a situation/ time when you were late.

You should say:

  • when it was
  • why you were late
  • how you felt about being late

and explain how you managed the situation.


Model Answer 1:

I may not be one of the most punctual persons in this world, but I always try to be on time when I have an appointment to meet with somebody. But, unfortunately, we don’t always control the situations or things around us, and as such, we become late despite our best effort and intention, just as it happened last year when I was late to attend the marriage ceremony of my dear niece.

As I have already mentioned earlier that I always try to be on time, so, it was quite natural for me to take all the precautions to arrive at the marriage ceremony of my niece well in advance of the schedule. But luck was not in my favour on that day!

By the way, my niece lived in a small city which was about a couple of hundred kilometres from where I used to live. And, unfortunately, there was no flight from my home town to her small city, so I couldn’t take an aerial route to travel to her. Instead, I chose an express train. But, after travelling for about an hour, I noticed that the train was travelling at almost half of its regular speed, apparently, because some kind of emergency repairing works with the train lines was going on ahead of us. Initially, I thought that it wouldn’t take much longer to fix it, but as another half an hour passed, I started to worry about arriving on schedule. Needless to say, I felt very frustrated as I could very well sense that I wouldn’t be able to arrive at the wedding ceremony of my beloved niece on time.

Even though I felt very frustrated and helpless in that situation, I knew that it was not going to help me. So, I immediately decided to call my niece and explained the situation to her. I told her to go ahead with the ceremony without me while also telling her that my love and prayer would always be with her. And that I would meet her at the happiest moment of her life as soon as I arrive in her city.


Model Answer 2:

Thank you for this interesting and nice topic. For that, I'd like to talk about a time when I was late for an important meeting. 

When it was:
It happened a couple of months ago when I was supposed to attend a job interview for a position that I was really interested in. The interview was scheduled for 10:00 am, and I had left my house an hour earlier, expecting to reach the venue on time. However, things didn't go as planned, and I ended up being late by 20 minutes.

Why you were late:
I was late because of the unexpected traffic jam on the way. I was driving my car, and there was a sudden accident that caused a major holdup. I was stuck in the traffic for almost half an hour, and by the time it cleared up, I was already late.

How you felt about being late:
Initially, I felt extremely frustrated and disappointed with myself. I knew that being late for the interview could have a negative impact on my chances of getting the job. However, I tried to stay positive and hopeful, reminding myself that things happen and that I could still make it work somehow.

And explain how you managed the situation:
When I finally arrived at the venue, I was relieved to see that the interview did not start yet and another candidate was still waiting for her turn to be interviewed before me. This gave me enough time to compose myself and get mentally ready for the interview. I quickly apologized for being late to the HR manager and he asked to me wait on a sofa. I realised that the HR manager was kind enough to understand my situation. After a while, I managed to collect myself and gave my best during the interview, hoping to make up for the lost time.


Model Answer 3: 

The city I live in sometimes has severe traffic congestion which is very frustrating. Due to this, we often are late to reach our destinations. One such event that I can recall now is when I was late for an important exam. It happened 2 years ago when I was a student at the university.

I had an exam at 8:30 am which I mistakenly thought would begin at 9:30 am. I did this blunder because I wrote the exam schedule incorrectly in my notebook. I prepared for the exam well and was expecting A+. On the exam day, I left home at 8:15 am as my usual journey to my university takes around 40 minutes. According to the schedule, I should have reached at least 30 minutes before when the exam begins. But it was not what happened!

As soon as I left home, rain began to pour mercilessly and there were only a few transportations available on the road. I had to wait at the bus stoppage for more than 30 minutes before I actually got on a bus. To my surprise, the traffic on the road was very bad. The buses were moving very slowly because of the unavoidable traffic jam. I was hoping desperately to reach the university on time. But it was not my day! I reached the exam hall at around 10:15 am, and I was shocked to learn that the exam would end in 15 minutes. I was so worried and anxious that I could not think clearly about what I should do.

I felt helpless at that time, and I asked the teacher what could I do then. He advised me to meet him after the exam. I followed him as soon as he left the exam room. I noticed that some of my classmates were also looking at me with astonishment. They were probably thinking about how careless I was to miss such an important exam.

After I reached the teacher's room, he took me to our adviser tutor and asked me to give a good reason why I was late for the exam. I told them everything that has happened and the coordinator arranged an exam for me in his room. As a penalty, he deducted 10 minutes from the exam time and asked me to finish the exam and leave the answer sheet to him. I was kind of worried about the whole thing. But I felt a bit relieved also because I was allowed to take the test. As my preparation was good, I had been able to answer all the questions in due time.

Part 3 Questions - Detail Discussion:

Q. What are some reasons people could be late for a schedule or a meeting in your country?
Answer: In my country, traffic congestion is a common reason why people can be late for a schedule or a meeting. Additionally, people may be late due to unforeseen circumstances such as public transport delays, emergencies, or unexpected work demands. Sometimes people may also underestimate the time it takes to get somewhere, leading to them being late. Lastly, cultural factors such as a relaxed attitude towards punctuality may contribute to the lateness in some situations.

Q. In your opinion, what types of excuses do people use when they are late?
Answer: There are many excuses that people in my country commonly use when they are late, and some of the common ones include bad traffic on the road, unexpected incidents, accidents on the way, oversleeping, getting lost or confused with directions, and public transport delays. Other excuses may include having car trouble, a family emergency, or a work-related emergency. Sometimes people may also use excuses related to their health, such as feeling unwell or having a doctor's appointment. However, it's worth noting that some excuses may be genuine, while others may not.

Q. Why do some people find it hard to follow their plans?
Answer: I believe there could be several reasons why some people find it hard to follow their plans. One of the most common reasons is a lack of self-discipline or motivation. People may set goals or make plans but find it hard to stick to them because they lack the drive or determination to follow through. Additionally, people may become overwhelmed or distracted by other tasks or responsibilities, making it difficult for them to focus on their plans. Other factors that can make it hard to follow plans include unforeseen circumstances or unexpected events that disrupt one's schedule, lack of time management skills, or unrealistic expectations.

Q. Do you think planning is important for time management? [Why? Why not?]
Answer: Yes, I believe that planning is essential for effective time management. When we plan our time, we set goals and prioritize tasks, which helps us allocate our time more efficiently. Planning also allows us to anticipate potential obstacles or challenges and prepare for them in advance. This helps to reduce stress and increase productivity, as we can approach our tasks with a clear and focused mindset. Additionally, planning helps us to make the most of our time, avoiding wasting time on non-essential tasks or activities.

Q. Is it important for children to learn to manage time? [Why? Why not?]
Answer: I wholeheartedly believe that it is essential for children to learn to manage time. Learning time management skills can help youngsters develop good habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. Effective time management can help juveniles stay on top of their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities, and help them develop a sense of control over their lives. Additionally, time management skills can help children develop important life skills such as self-discipline, responsibility, and accountability.

Q. Do old people and young people similarly manage time? [Why? Why not?]
Answer: I think that senior people and younger people may not manage time similarly due to differences in their lifestyles, experiences, and priorities. Older people may have more established routines and schedules and may have more experience in managing their time. On the other hand, younger people may be more prone to distractions and may have less experience in managing their time effectively.

However, it's worth noting that individual differences can play a more significant role than age when it comes to time management. Some older people may struggle with time management due to health issues or changes in their circumstances, while some young people may be very effective at managing their time due to their strong motivation and focus.


Similar Cue Card Topics

Your ability to talk about this Cue Card Topic would enable you to talk about the following Cue Card Topics as well:

  1. Describe a situation when you were late for an important appointment.
  2. Describe an awkward experience you have.
  3. Describe a time when you were embarrassed.
  4. Describe a traffic jam that made you late for the office/class.
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