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Describe a Time When You Complained About Something: IELTS Cue Card Sample Answers

Updated on 04 December, 2023

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Complaints are an integral part of our daily interactions and can range from trivial grievances to significant protests. The IELTS speaking cue card topic "Describe a time when you complained about something" tests your ability to articulate a situation where something didn’t meet your expectations, and you felt compelled to express your dissatisfaction. A well-crafted response requires both a structured narrative and the strategic use of language.


Sample Answer:

I recall a time when I visited a highly-recommended restaurant for a special dinner. Despite the anticipation, the experience was marred by a series of unfortunate events, leading me to voice a complaint.

Upon arriving, the maître d’ informed us that our reservation had been misplaced. After a prolonged wait, we were seated near the kitchen, where clattering utensils and clamoring voices disrupted the ambiance. Although I was initially reluctant to complain, the situation deteriorated when our orders were mixed up and the food, when it finally arrived, was lukewarm.

Gathering my thoughts, I calmly called the manager and articulated my concerns. I emphasized that while I understood the restaurant was busy, the series of oversights had impacted our evening significantly. The manager was apologetic, offering a complimentary meal to rectify the situation, which I graciously accepted. This experience taught me the value of assertive yet polite communication, especially in situations where a resolution is sought.


Follow-up Questions & Answers:

Q1: How did you feel after the complaint was addressed?

A1: After the manager acknowledged the issues and offered a compensatory meal, I felt a sense of relief and validation. It reinforced my belief in the efficacy of constructive feedback and respectful dialogue.

Q2: Would you visit the restaurant again?

A2: While the initial experience was disappointing, the professional manner in which my complaint was handled instilled confidence. I would be open to giving the restaurant another chance, hoping the previous mishaps were an anomaly.

Q3: What do you believe is the most effective way to make a complaint?

A3: In my view, the most effective complaints are those delivered calmly and with clarity. Providing specific details and a potential solution can facilitate a positive outcome.

Q4: Do you think complaining can always resolve the issue?

A4: Not always, but it sets the stage for dialogue. It's an opportunity for service providers to rectify mistakes and for consumers to have their voices heard.

Tips for Cracking the IELTS Speaking Test:

Tip 1: Always begin with a brief setting of the context before delving into the details of the complaint.

Tip 2: Use a range of vocabulary to accurately express your feelings and the nuances of the situation.

Tip 3: Structure your response logically – what the complaint was about, how you complained, the outcome, and your reflections.

Tip 4: Practice speaking in a tone that is firm yet respectful, as this is essential for a high score in the IELTS speaking section.

Tip 5: Reflect on the experience and what you learned from it, as this shows depth and critical thinking.

Tip 6: Be ready to discuss the aftermath of the complaint and whether it changed your behavior or perspective.

Tip 7: In your practice, time your responses to ensure they fit within the typical 2-minute timeframe for the cue card section.

Describing a time when you complained can be a delicate topic to navigate. It requires balancing assertiveness with diplomacy and emotional expression with factual recounting. Through thoughtful preparation and strategic practice, particularly with the tips and follow-up questions provided, IELTS candidates can turn any question about complaints into a compelling narrative that showcases their language skills and personal growth. Remember, the IELTS speaking test is not just about fluency but also about the ability to communicate complex situations effectively.

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Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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