IELTS Cue Cards – Describe an accident you saw

Describe an accident you saw.
You should say:

Where the accident occurred?
Where you were then?
How the accident affected you?

And give detailed information about the accident.

Follow-up questions

  • What should be done to reduce the road accident?
  • Who should be responsible for the accidents?
  • What losses do you think occur when an accident happen?

Possible answer 1 for the above speaking cue cards

The most devastating accident that I have ever seen is the one that I witnessed near (…say the name of the place…) while a train smashed a passing bus. I saw the accident almost 4 years back and yet I can remember the event clearly.

I was on my way to home from the capital city that I’m currently residing in. There is a train pass/cross on the road and our bus stopped at the signal. I was busy reading a magazine on the bus and all of a sudden I heard a loud crashing sound and I looked through the window. What I saw was unbelievable- the quickly passing train has hit a bus that was trying to pass the train road. The bus had been thrown away like a toy and we could hear the unbearable screaming of victims. Lots of people have gathered the place and the train was passing slowly. People became speechless on the effect of the devastating accident. I could see people were trying to help the wounded people and 2-3 ambulances reached there after 15 minutes. The bus driver was blamed for the incident and I heard that he was dead too. We could not move on from the place as a huge jam occurred. The wounded people were moved to nearby hospitals and medical centres and the dead people were placed in a nearby field. The entire place became a gloomy area and people mourned on the event. I started feeling sick and tried to help the wounded people.

I have witnessed more than 30 people were lying dead and their relatives were crying and mourning heavily. I left the place after 8/9 hours and could not think anything else. The whole event occurred in a few minutes and the effect was devastating. I had spent nearly 2 weeks in a hallucination and thought a lot about the people who died there and about their relatives. It came to my mind that, our life is hanging on the cliffs and we are so helpless sometimes deciding our fates.

Possible answer 2 for the above speaking cue cards

The idea of an accident sounds like it should be bad. But sometimes accidents are quite comical to watch and if nobody is hurt then I think it is OK to laugh.

I’m going to tell you a story about an accident I saw a very, very long time ago, but I can remember it really well, you’ll find out why in a bit… I’ll explain where the accident took place, where I was, a bit of detail about the incident and how it affected me.

The accident took place in a large old house that was in very poor repair. I was unemployed at the time, and was sharing the house with a few friends who were also job-seeking as we had all just finished at university. It was in the 1980s and it was very difficult to get work in the UK at that time. We had chosen the house because it was really cheap. The way it was set out wasn’t very safe, there was a tiny kitchen on a stairwell that we all had to share, and this meant that many of our communal chats took place sitting on the stairs gathered around the landing.

On this particular day, it was the first thing in the morning. We were all half asleep and stumbling around just in our dressing gowns or nightwear. I was sat at the top of the stairs (near to the kitchen) waiting to use the kitchen as one of my friends, Gill, had got in their first and there wasn’t room for both of us. Another of our housemates appeared at the bottom of the stairs and sat there looking tearful and crestfallen. She had had a terrible argument with her boyfriend and was very upset. Gill, who was already in the kitchen, kindly offered to make her a cup of tea – but as she was putting the kettle on she was distracted by the tears of our upset mutual friend. Gill turned to talk to her just as she was lighting the gas – catastrophe! The flame caught her dressing gown and the next moment the whole garment seemed on fire. I gasped, my tea-making friend thought quickly, she ripped off her clothes, and rolled on the floor, tumbling down the stairs ending up in a naked heap at the feet of our crying companion. The shock of this sight caused the sobs to stop. ‘Why are you at the bottom of the stairs and why have you got no clothes on?’ queried our now no-longer crying friend. I and my friend Gill just laughed uproariously, partly with relief (it could have been a lot worse) and partly with disbelief. Our upset friend had been so preoccupied with her own worries she’d missed the entire thing. We couldn’t believe it when it was all so dramatic.

How did the accident affect me? It just made me laugh a lot at the time, and even now when I remember it I do so with a smile. It was such a ridiculous thing to happen, and it certainly broke the rather serious mood the morning had started with. I also think we were very lucky, it might not have ended that way. There is a saying that ‘all’s well that ends well’ – that was certainly the case here.

Perhaps it isn’t true to say that no-one was hurt in this story, I think that maybe pride was hurt quite a bit, but it was a long time ago and the main ‘victim’ of this story, Gill, still laughs about it with me now!

[ Written by – Lucy Marris | Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

Possible answer 3 for the above speaking cue cards

Wow, talking about an accident I saw is quite challenging! I can think an example, but it wasn’t nice to witness. I’ll tell you where the accident occurred and where I was at the time, a bit of extra detail about what happened, and then finally I’ll tell you what happened. That seems a logical way to explain it.

The accident took place in the outdoor arena of a large horse riding school, where I was sharing a jumping lesson with a friend. The backdrop to where it took place is really beautiful, as the equestrian centre is set in a rural location in the picturesque countryside of Glossop, which is within an area known as the High Peaks in the county of Derbyshire, England.

My friend and I both wanted to improve our technique show jumping. I’m quite an experienced rider, but not very confident jumping – I prefer flat work, my friend is a great athlete, but new to horse riding, she was very confident, but not very experienced. We had warmed up already, riding our horses around under the guidance of an instructor at walk, trot and canter. We’d taken the horses over some low cross-poles, which are small jumps you commonly use when you are teaching either a horse or rider to jump so they can gain confidence. About 15 minutes into the lesson, we started to take it in turns to try slightly bigger fences, but nothing too challenging. I’d already taken my horse over, and it was my friend’s turn to try. So I was sat on my horse watching her as she rode towards the fence. The instructor and I were both very calm, as was my friend, it was a small cross pole, and nothing she and the horse hadn’t done before.

She trotted her pony to the jump, but then at the last minute, her mount just stumbled, literally tripping over the poles. Perhaps because my friend was a bit inexperienced, it caused her to lose her balance, the teacher and I both gasped, and then laughed as she seemed to recover herself and ended up back in the saddle… Unfortunately, we relaxed too soon, the horse seemed to still have her feet in a knot and so tripped again, this time the forward momentum catapulted my friend into the air. We watched in slow motion as she went up in a huge arc, and then fell towards the ground. Unfortunately, her instinct was to put her hand out to break her fall, this meant her arm was completely extended and she took the full weight of her body onto just one hand. We heard a sickening split as the bones in her lower arm broke, and it was very obvious that she had a serious injury. She was still conscious, but in an awful lot of pain.

You never quite know how you will behave in an accident. I went into a very calm mode, I quickly dismounted and caught the loose horse, who was a bit confused about what had happened. The instructor called an ambulance, and I took the horses back to the yard, explained what had happened, and arranged for people to stand at various points on the property to help direct the ambulance to where it was needed before going back to the school. Unfortunately, the instructor was rather squeamish, she couldn’t bear the sight of blood and so although she was handling the situation well, she couldn’t really look at my friend. So I sat near her and tried to keep her talking while we all waited for the ambulance. We knew it was very important she didn’t move in case she had broken her back as well, and we were trying to keep her conscious so it would be possible for the paramedics to assess her more easily when they came.

The ambulance took a very, very long time to arrive because of our remote location. However, when they came they were fantastic. They gave my friend a lot of morphine – which is a very powerful painkiller – and were incredibly calm. I had to help roll her onto the stretcher, but we were very relieved when she went off to the hospital safely. Her arm was very badly damaged. She has had lots of operations and I’m not sure if she will be riding again!

The accident affected me quite a lot because I was astounded that she was so unlucky in how she fell. The horse just tripped, it wasn’t being naughty or difficult, and it all happened in slow motion so right up until the last minute I thought she might be alright. I was pleased how well I and the instructor worked together to get help, and that I’d been able to stay calm and focused at the time. Since then I have jumped again, but really I think I’ve decided to stick to flat work (dressage) from now on. Watching an accident makes you realise how fragile life can be and how easily and quickly you can be hurt, not through being stupid, but just through being unlucky.

[ Written by – Lucy Marris | Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

How to answer this cue card?

Watching an accident and its effect is a devastating experience. So describe how dangerous the accident was, how awfully you felt about it. Even if you have not seen any major accident, you should talk about one. Pick some of the points from the below list to describe this cue card:

1. It was a car accident/ bus accident/ train accident.
2. You were just passing by/ were in another transport while the accident occurred.
3. Everything happened all of a sudden and you were devastated to watch it.
4. You can also talk about a plane crash but for that mention that you watched it on TV.
5. If you live in a country where water transportations are available, you can talk about the boat accident due to the storm as well.
6. Describe how severely the accident caused damage.
7. Mention that due to the accident you were stuck there for a long time and raised your helping hand.
8. Tell how bad you felt and what steps should be taken to prevent such unexpected and unbearable accident.
9. If you were the victim of the accident, give details on how the accident occurred and how you were safe.
10. Tell that you had a hard time forgetting this mournful experience.
11. Regarding the part ‘how the accident affected you’ say about your feeling of the unsafety of the road, how uncertain our lives are, what changes you brought to your life after the accident etc.


Q. What should be done to reduce the road accident?
Answer: In my opinion, awareness and responsibility are the two most important things to tackle this crucial matter. In particular, by raising awareness people will become well-informed and it might lead to the decline in car and other types of road accidents. This could occur with the intervention by governing bodies, family, school and even campaigns. Accountability is also an essential characteristic. There are many cases, especially in Europe, when people go out and drink and after that, they drive back home on their own. Terrible accidents are happening under the influence of alcohol and we should underline that most of the time not only drunk drivers are getting killed but also sober drivers and innocent people are becoming victims who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, we all should get informed about conscious driving and be mature because this is all about human life.

Apart from that, roads and traffic system should be improved and the accident-prone roads should be reconstructed. Driving offences should be taken seriously and rigid tests and checking should be in place before awarding someone with the permission to drive.

Q. Who should be responsible for the accidents?
Answer: First and foremost, drivers have a great responsibility for any accident. Many factors such as alcohol, fake driving license, excessive speed, and lack of road safety contribute to the dramatic increase in road accidents. However, drivers are aware of these considerations so there is a matter of irresponsibility and whoever drives a car should be more responsible. In addition, parents play an important role as well, because they allow their children to drive despite the fact that they’re underage and incapable of driving safely and consciously. Furthermore, there are some cases where the accidents are caused by a faulty mechanism of cars. These cases aren’t that common, but when it happens, the fatal is inevitable. So car manufacturers and distributors in some cases should be responsible as well.

Q. What losses do you think occur when an accident happen?
Answer: The most dangerous thing that happens in an accident is the loss of human lives. Due to unpleasant and unexpected accidents, many people pass away and this is the most terrible thing that could happen. Going further, the victims of road accidents often suffer minor or heavy injuries and the latter entails a long time of hospitalisation, with potential permanent damages. Vehicle damage is a further loss, as in most cases cars, motorcycles and all the other vehicles involved, end up completely mangled. Furthermore, the family members of the victims suffer from unbearable losses and the outcome often brings catastrophe to those family members.

[Part three question answers were written by Mary, UK]

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