IELTS Cue Card: Describe a beautiful sky you enjoyed seeing

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a beautiful sky you enjoyed seeing


Describe a beautiful sky you enjoyed seeing.
You should say:
  • Where you saw it
  • Who you saw it with
  • What you saw
And explain how you felt about it.

Part 3:
  • Should kids know more about the stars and planets?
  • Is technology useful for looking at the night sky?
  • What kinds of people are interested in the stars?
  • Why do some people like to watch movies about stars and planets?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

For most of my childhood I lived in an urban area that had a significant level of light pollution. It was definitely possible to see stars at night, but only the brightest and most prominent were visible.

In school, I’d seen pictures in textbooks of the night sky that I’d never seen in real life. I wasn’t entirely sure whether to believe what I was seeing because I’d never witnessed it firsthand. I wondered, if it was real, what it would actually look like.

I had the opportunity to find out for myself when my family and I went to Ohio for a summer when I was 10 years old.

We were staying in a very rural part of Ohio, far away from big cities and major sources of light. I’d long forgotten about that textbook with the picture of the night sky, but I was quickly reminded that first night.

In the grounds of the apartment complex where we were staying was a campfire pit. I’d never roasted marshmallows do something we hadn’t done for years and years: a campfire. We were going to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.

We built the fire and set up everything well before dusk. As the sun set and the sky went dark, we were treated to the most brilliant night sky I’d ever seen. It was a cloudless night and our view of the stars was completely unobstructed.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The array of stars was unbelievable and for the first time in my
life I was seeing a night sky that I’d only seen in pictures. That night I laid on my back and just stared, trying to count the number of stars I was seeing, which proved to be an impossible task.

Every night I spent there I was in awe of the sky. It was such a shame to have to leave and go back to a light polluted city because I was being deprived of such a beautiful sky.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Light pollution (noun)
The glow from street lights and electric lights that stops people from seeing the night sky properly, and completely obscures the view of faint stars.
Example: The only way to see the night sky is to get away from light polluted areas.

Prominent (adjective)
Something that’s prominent stands out and is easy to notice or see.
Example: New books are displayed in a prominent position at the book store.

Firsthand (adverb)
If you experience something firsthand, you experience it yourself.
Example: Most of the older reporters have experienced war firsthand.

Find out for myself (phrase)
If you find something out for yourself, you discover it independently without relying on someone else.
Example: I wanted to find out for myself where the best sushi restaurants are.

Rural (adjective)
Somewhere that’s far away from a city and where the population is low.
Example: Some people like to live in rural areas because they like the peacefulness of the countryside.

Long forgotten (adjective)
Something that belongs to the past and is no longer remembered.
Example: My parents found a long forgotten video of my first birthday party.

Grounds (noun)
The land, gardens, or lawn that surrounds a large house or other building.
Example: It’s really expensive to maintain the grounds around the mansion.

Campfire pit (noun)
A pit dug into the ground or encased in a surrounding structure (such as brick or steel) in which a fire is kept burning for warmth, cooking, etc.
Example: Every time we go camping, we dig a hole in the ground for the fire so we can make food and keep warm at night.

S’mores (noun)
A desert or snack made of marshmallows and chocolate, usually toasted over a campfire, and are then sandwiched between two crackers. It’s usually only consumed in the United States.
Example: We made s’mores as a kid when we went camping. It’s one of my favorite memories.

Set up (phrasal verb)
If you prepare or arrange something for use, you’re said to set it up.
Example: We have set up a small area for serving food.

Dusk (noun)
The time right before night when it’s not completely dark.
Example: My favorite time of day is dusk. I like to enjoy a glass of wine on my balcony before going to bed.

Treat to (phrasal verb)
Usually you treat someone to something by entertaining them with something special.
Example: The crowd were treated to an entertaining tennis match.

Unobstructed (adjective)
Something that’s not blocked, and there are no obstacles. It’s free from obstructions. It’s possible to see, or get through somewhere that’s unobstructed.
Example: The view is unobstructed now the billboard has been removed.

Couldn’t believe my eyes (idiom)
It’s a phrase that’s used for saying that someone is very surprised by something they’ve seen.
Example: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my dog return home after being lost for two weeks.

Array (noun)
A large group of people or things that are related in some way.
Example: There was a splendid array of food on the table.

Awe (noun)
A feeling of great respect and admiration, sometimes mixed with surprise or fear.
Example: I’ve always held musicians in awe.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

Should kids know more about the stars and planets?

Of course! I think children should be taught about a wide variety of topics. It’s not necessary to go into excruciating detail but just having at least a superficial understanding of our universe could spark wonder and inspire a student to pursue a degree in a related field.

There’s a lot to learn about and I do believe the topic should be boiled down to the essentials as there’s rarely enough time to cover everything.

I remember when I was a young child, I had a number of books about the stars and planets. I’d read them with my parents and ask them questions about the origins of the universe.

As I grew up I had quite a fascination with the Apollo missions and watched every documentary I could get my hands on. In one of those documentaries I learned that astronauts, before they are launched into space, autograph thousands of photos of the crew, which are sent out to enthusiasts that write in. I was one of those enthusiasts, and several months after sending my letter, I received one of those autographed photos in the mail.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Excruciating (adjective)
Something that’s done in a very intense or extreme way.
Example: He took excruciating pains to do it well.

Superficial (adjective)
If something is only on the surface of something, it is superficial. If something isn’t complete and only involves the most obvious things, it can also be described as being superficial. People can also be superficial too if they only think of things that aren’t serious or important because they focus on things at the surface.
Example A: She’s so superficial and only cares about how she looks.
Example B: I only have a superficial knowledge about the subject because the article was very superficial.
Example C: There was only superficial damage to the car after the accident.

Spark (noun)
A spark is something that causes a feeling of excitement. It’s a small incident that can make something bigger happen.
Example: Their reputation sparked interest from other moviemakers.

Boiled down (phrasal verb)
If you boil something down you make something shorter by giving only the most important facts.
Example: He boiled down a lengthy report to just a few paragraphs.

Cover (verb)
To cover something means to include and deal with a particular topic, such as a period of history.
Example: This leaflet covers what we’ve just discussed in more detail.

Grew up (phrasal verb)
To change from being a baby or young child to being an older child or adult.
Example: She’s really starting to grow up now.

Get my hands on (idiom)
If you get your hands on something, it means you acquire something you want or need. It’s usually, but not always, a physical object.
Example: I need to go to the library and get my hands on this book for my research paper.

Autograph (verb)
To autograph something is to write your signature on it for someone else to keep.
Example: I got her to autograph my T-shirt.

Sent out (phrasal verb)
To send out something is to send out a lot of copies of the same document to a large number of people.
Example: We sent out 300 invitations to our gallery opening.

Write in (phrasal verb)
To write to an organization, for example because you want information about something, or to express an opinion.
Example: People have written in to complain about the show.

Is technology useful for looking at the night sky?

Definitely. While much is visible with the naked eye, there’s a lot that is invisible without a good telescope.

We have a lot of telescopes here on earth, but because of atmospheric distortion, we’ve launched a number of telescopes into space. The kind of sophisticated technology was likely unimaginable back in the days of early astronomers, and I wonder what they would have thought of the images we’ve managed to capture.

Of course technology is often used to enhance the images these telescopes take. Perhaps there needs to be some corrections that need to be made, but technology is involved every step of the way.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Naked eye (idiom)
If you can see something with the naked eye, it can be seen without something like a telescope or microscope, or some other instrument.
Example: Bacteria are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Atmospheric (adjective)
Relating to the air or to the atmosphere.
Example: If atmospheric conditions are right, it may be possible to see this group of stars tonight.

Distortion (noun)
A change that makes something no longer true or accurate.
Example: The atmosphere can distort the image we see of space from earth.

Unimaginable (adjective)
Something that’s very difficult to imagine because it’s so good, so bad, so big, etc.
Example: Space is unimaginably big.

Every step of the way (idiom)
To do something every step of the way means to do something continuously during the whole process.
Example: During college, my parents supported me every step of the way.

What kinds of people are interested in the stars?

Obviously those that are astronomers, both professional and amateur. There are plenty of people that casually look up at the night sky and wonder about its origins too.

I think that humans are very curious creatures and have always been inquisitive about our universe. Trying to make sense of it has always been a struggle, but as time marches on, we’re able to build on the knowledge we’ve already acquired.

One of the really cool things is astrophysics has worked its way into pop science culture and many documentaries and YouTube videos have been made to explain really difficult concepts in a simple fashion. I think this is really important to advance the scientific literacy of the general public, who’d otherwise be in the dark about our universe.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Inquisitive (adjective)
If you’re inquisitive you want to discover as much as you can about things.
Example: She’s such an inquisitive child.

Make sense of (idiom)
If you make sense of something, you try to understand something that’s complicated or unusual.
Example: We’ve been trying to make sense of our dreams.

Time marches on (idiom)
It’s a phrase used to say that time goes by, whether you’re aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether you like that fact.
Example: As time marches on I seem to forget the people I went to school with.

Worked its way (idiom)
If something works its way into something, it becomes a part of something larger.
Example: The book worked its way onto the reading list without anyone noticing.

Pop science (noun)
Short for popular science and is sometimes written as popsci. It’s an interpretation of science intended for a general audience rather than other scientists or people.
Example: It was published in a popular science magazine.

Fashion (noun)
It’s a particular way of doing things.
Example: The rebel army behaved in a brutal fashion.

Scientific literacy (noun)
The ability a person has of basic scientific facts, concepts, and theories.
Example: Scientific literacy has improved in America since the Cold War.

General public (noun)
The general public are the ordinary people in society, rather than a group of people who are considered to be important or who don’t have any special type of knowledge.
Example: This meeting is not open to the general public.

In the dark (idiom)
If you’re in the dark about something, you’re not informed about things that might be useful to know.
Example: Our boss tends to keep us in the dark most of the time.

Why do some people like to watch movies about stars and planets?

I think it’s a genre that has grown to be quite popular over the years.

Science fiction in particular builds on our fascination with what’s above us, and imagining fictional realities about exploring space and discovering aliens on far away planets. Personally it’s not a genre I’m really interested in, and have only watched a handful of movies and TV shows about such a topic.

There have been a few movies about historical events relating to space. I think the most notable was Apollo 13 that chronicled the ill-fated mission to the moon. It was both educational and a captivating drama, and it was coincidentally one of my favorite movies.

I think there are also a lot of people who watch movies about the stars and planets because they want to learn something new. Perhaps they have a general interest in science and this is one particular topic they want to dive into further to broaden their knowledge.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Genre (noun)
A particular category of movies, art, or literature.
Example: Horror is my favorite genre.

Builds on (phrasal verb)
To build on or build upon something is to do something in addition to what you have already achieved.
Example: We need to build on the ideas we’ve had so far.

Chronicle (verb)
If you chronicle something, you make a record of something, or you give details of a particular event or story.
Example: The book chronicles the writer’s journey through Africa.

Ill-fated (adjective)
Something that’s likely to end in failure or death.
Example: The ill-fated aircraft crashed into the mountains.

Captivating (adjective)
Something that’s very interesting or attractive in a way that takes all your attention.
Example: His smile was very captivating.

Coincidentally (adverb)
It’s used for saying that something happens by chance or by luck.
Example: Coincidentally he lives next door to my dad.

Dive into (phrasal verb)
To start doing something in a very enthusiastic way.
Example: Let’s dive into the improvements you can make right away.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
Flag
English
globe
United Kingdom
time
27
Speaks:
English
Native
I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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