My IELTS Story

Actually, I finally decided to apply overseas.

I never thought that I would find myself stressing over preparations in order to work outside the country. I remember telling myself that I will stay in the Philippines, I’ll pursue further studies, and I’ll earn a managerial position or become the Nursing Director (talk about dreams!). However, I am reminded with the Tagalog cliché: Huwag magsalita ng tapos. The truth is, you can never set a definite future. Sometimes, your plans at present will not align with the plans for tomorrow. But I still believe that the amount of dedication and prayers will help set the future that you dream of. By the end of 2015, I took the courage of setting aside my enrollment papers for my Master’s degree. Instead, I listed myself in the nearest IELTS review center.

I joined Niners 9.0 Cebu.

Niners Cebu is one of the known review centers in the city. In fact, some recruitment agencies like Omanfil and IPAMS are teaming up with Niners for the nurse applicants to study IELTS. Although there are several others in Cebu, I chose them because:

~My friends recommended it.

I took the time to ask my colleagues and friends their suggestions on good review centers. I got several answers but more positive feedback about Niners Cebu.

~The location is very close to my workplace.

Because I work full-time, I needed to find a review center which will allow me to conveniently join review classes before or after my duty. I just need to run a very short distance to reach the center.

~Affordable review package.

For Php5,000 they offer an unlimited review package valid for 2 years. (Although I didn’t have any plans to study IELTS for that long!) They also offer payment on installment basis for those with a tight budget.

~Tons of practice materials!

Upon registration, I received a tracking card, a compilation of Listening and Reading  practice tests, a CD containing the Listening test audio, and the Niners orange guide-book. Aside from that, you can borrow other materials from their secretary, Miss Maureen, if you need more. As for me, I never had the chance to use these materials because I never even finished all the practice tests in the violet book. (Not diligent enough, eh?)

I enrolled last November 2015, however, I only started attending classes by the end of January 2016. Their one-on-one coaching sessions are a must! Miss Diane, their major lecturer, will definitely help you in developing the necessary techniques and skills in order to pass the exam.

Registered for the exam on impulse!

About 45 days before the test date, I registered and paid for the exam without second thought only to experience the enormous amount of panic right after. I was not 100% ready but I needed a reason for me to stay focused.

I registered with British Council (BC). In the Philippines, there are two test centers and you have the option to choose between BC and IDP. There’s no major difference between the two because the exam will be the same. Although the examiners are different, there is a standard grading scale for the different subtests. (I will write a separate blog on how to register for the IELTS.)

The most awaited day is here!

I took the exam last March 19, 2016 at the Parklane Hotel, Cebu City. I went to the test venue 1 hour ahead of time because there will be several things to do before one can enter the examination room. I had to deposit all my belongings in the designated area. Items prohibited inside the exam room include mobile phones, car keys and wrist watches. The only items allowed in the exam room will be pencils (I brought 7 pencils with me!), eraser(s), sharpener(s), a bottle of water with the label removed, and ID/passport (the one I used during my registration). Then, a photo will be taken for recording purposes but I pre-registered 2 days earlier so I skipped this part. I went to line up in another area where a verification was done by the invigilators. After, I had my finger print scanned before I was allowed entry to the exam venue. I was probably the 10th person to go inside the room. I needed to be seated early so that I can take time to adapt to my surroundings and calm my nerves. Deep breathing works. Aside from that, here’s a useful tip: bring a jacket to keep yourself warm. The air conditioning unit is on full blast so the room is extremely cold!

The exam started at 9am sharp and ended shortly after noon. The order of the sub tests are conducted as follows: Listening, Reading, Writing. The speaking test is done on a separate schedule either before, on the day of the written test, or after. My speaking exam was held on the following day. Just enough for me to regain the focus I lost when shock and nerves overwhelmed me during the written test. My speaking examiner was a local TV personality, known as Inday Tikay. She was quite intimidating and I felt like a high school student being asked to face the principal. But I had to demonstrate the best of my English so I just did what I could, despite the nerve-wracking experience.

I endured 13 days of agony.

The test results were released 13 days after. It was about 2 weeks of torture and anxiety. April 1 is judgment day and there is no way the results will be an April fool’s joke. I dreaded for this day to come, at the same time I wanted to get things over with. I think I prayed so much, I hoped God didn’t get tired of listening to me. But, all praises and glory belong to God for He granted my prayers. My test results were beyond what I hoped for. (Listening- 9.0, Reading- 8.5, Writing- 7.0, Speaking- 7.5, OBS- 8.0). The happiness is overwhelming, I actually cried. Finally, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Review days are finally over. Gone are the days where I slept less to practice my writing and speaking. Gone are the days where I found myself sick because of the stress brought about by panic and anxiety. Those days are now history but they will be forever remembered as part of my IELTS story.

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