My IELTS Experience ūüŹÜ

I am quite surprised that some people think IELTS is exclusively taken by Registered Nurses (RNs) to work abroad (thus this post is written). Probably because most IELTS takers in the Philippines are nurses who want to work in the UK, Canada, or Australia so this stereotype was created. The truth is.. IELTS is for anyone who wants to live or study abroad. I remember my friends who are licensed nurses enrolling at review centers just to prepare for IELTS exam. They had to pay P3,000-5,000 for the review and around P9,000 for the actual test. To my mind I once asked, how fancy is it to have IELTS eligibility that they have to spend that much?

I am not a Nurse by profession but in October 2015, I took my first IELTS exam. I got the answers to my own question. Hooray! After 13 days of contemplating, IELTS test result came out. Of course I didn’t really expect to get the¬†perfect band but I am happy enough with my score knowing that my friend and I jokingly¬†practiced for just a ¬†couple of days¬† ūüôā¬†Overall: 7.0¬†(L-6.5, R-6.0, W-7.5, S-8.0) —no review center, no professional coaching. (..and yeah, reading (?) haha I guess it is not my cup of tea talaga ever)¬†

Why I took IELTS?
I recognize IELTS as an investment just like any other language tests. The moment I decided to take the exam, it was clear to me that it is a form of investment. It requires at least PHP8, 900¬†fee to take it. As part of my career-building and vision for 2015-2020,¬†I’ve decided to¬†pursue a graduate study abroad or even work if opportunity arises.¬†Unquestionably, IELTS is a general requirement so I find it very essential. If the result is favorable, I¬†can either study or work in an English speaking country or in my own country. ¬†ūüôā

Why I didn’t take IELTS as early as possible?
The amount it requires is not an easy investment for me and for most Filipino ESL Teachers whose salary is just enough for survival.
a. Test fee + coaching costs  = money. I opted not to borrow this amount of money from anyone. I promised myself that if I ever take the test, I would make an effort to pay for it from my own pocket.
b. The validity is only for 2 years. No plans to use it abroad
(Reference period: 2008-2015).
c. It is not a prerequisite in teaching (TEFL) in the Philippines.
(My first job).

IDP or British Council?
For me, it doesn’t really matter whether to take it through IDP or British Council. I believe both have the same set of standards. Whatever the result, it will just¬†reflect¬†how you perform during the test. I took the test with IDP as the choice¬†due to its proximity to my current residence. I only took IELTS once so I cannot honestly compare the two.

How’s My¬†Actual Preparation¬†for¬†the Test?
I have a full-time job which requires me to be at the office all day and sometimes on extended hours. I only began thinking of preparing for IELTS roughly three (3) weeks before the exam. I set my goal score and started to practice for 30 minutes per day (listening) for five straight days. Thanks to YouTube. I do not recommend procrastinating but what I write here is only based on my ACTUAL preparation. It may be applicable to some but may not be ideal for others. So, if you have the luxury of time, do prepare well!

a. Listening Practice: 5 days; 30 minutes- 1hour [2 weeks before the exam]
b. Reading: No practice test
c. Writing: No practice test
d. Speaking: 2 days practice before the exam

Week 1 of 3: Get to know the parts of IELTS test and dig more.
I familiarized myself with different parts of the IELTS test. Read common topics from various IELTS resources online. You can find a lot of resources online. There are a lot! I personally think, you do not really need to pay extra cost on review centers but if you have the money and time, opt to do so. Coaching can be helpful.

Dig more. Read and listen to other IELTS takers experiences. By reading blogs, forums, and listening to videos I gained tips and tricks. It was very very helpful.
Sample References I used:
a. IELTS Network
b. IELTS Podcast/IELTS Ryan
c. IELTS Buddy
d. IELTS Liz

Week 2 of 3: Plan!
After knowing the facts, I assessed myself what I am good at and what I am worse at

2 weeks before the test
Practice Listening
Build on vocabulary; useful expressions for writing and speaking;

1 week before the test
40 minutes- 2-hours [2 days before the speaking test]
This is a face-to-face practice with a friend who will also take IELTS. We are both first-time test takers. It was awkward (REALLY!) to talk with one another in English when you both know you speak your local language¬†more comfortably. As a result, we ended up playing and jokingly doing the practice test ūüėÄ So we only practiced seriously the night before the test. ^_^

Quick Tip:¬†Although there is no pass or fail mark in the IELTS, make an effort to at least¬†hit a good score. One thing is sure: THE KEY IS PREPARATION–either self-study or take a review center, test takers need¬†to prepare/practice.

General Tips
Do not memorize all the highfalutin words. For sure, you only need few effective vocabulary and expressions to use in the actual test. You do not need the longest expression or the most difficult vocabulary to impress the invigilator but you have to make sure you select the appropriate expressions. Make a list of all expressions and phrases you want to use either for speaking or writing and then select only the ones you can easily remember.  In my case, I only limit myself to complex 5-8 expressions to surely use on either writing or speaking tasks while other expressions are supplementary. During the test, it became a lot easier for me.

After the speaking test, my confidence was¬†low. I was in doubt whether¬†I gave the best answers to the questions or use the best vocabularies to impress the invigilator or not at all. I think I just talked and talked. ūüė¶ After the test, I could not conceal that I was a bit worried that I talked too much. I am reminded of the adage, less talk, less mistake.¬†But worrying is¬†no help at all. So I shrugged my shoulder and went home. The show must go on. I believed I¬†gave my best effort in fashioning the English skill I’ve had at that moment. So, no worries.

13 days after, voila! The test result is out. Woah, I got the band score that¬†I NEED.. not just what I WANT. Therefore, I can attest that IELTS is not only for nurses; IELTS is for everyone who have goals to pursue. ūüôā

The Official Traveler/HistoryMaker

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