Hi, Dreamers! =)
In this post, I will share about where and how I took my IELTS in Thailand. To those who are not familiar with the test, IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is an important assessment of the language ability of people who want to study or work where English is the language of communication.
Book the test
To those who are planning to sit IELTS, the first thing you must do is to book for the test. In my case, I booked with British Council because it was the first link I found online after I searched “IELTS in Bangkok”. Although, months later, I found out that there is another IELTS provider called IDP, International Education Specialists. Regarding the differences or advantages, I can’t really say. I think it would be better for you to go to their websites first and then decide which provider you want to take the test with.
How to Book & Pay for the Test
I followed the steps on the website. Basically, I needed to register first which means that I had to create my username and password. Followed by tons of information I answered about myself. Once everything is completely filled out, I was then redirected to the payment page. The most convenient option for me was by online banking through Bangkok Bank so that was how I paid for my test. I paid around 9,100 THB for the UKVI Academic (computer-delivered).
Why computer-delivered IELTS?
In the past, the IELTS test is only given in a paper form which means all answers in all aspects must be written on an answer sheet. However, just recently, they have an option of sitting the test via a computer. What it means is simply that when you answer, you have to type them on a computer.
I chose computer-delivered over paper-delivered test because I feel more comfortable using the computer, especially for the writing part. I am a terrible writer when I write essays on paper. More specifically, I have this tendency of changing or removing words or phrases often so my paper would have several erasures and added words or sentences on the top or bottom of my original lines. In short, my work looks really messy. On the contrary, if I use a computer, it’s easy for me to delete or edit something and they will still be pleasant to the eyes. Moreover, if I’m under pressure, my handwriting will be like zigzag lines. Even I sometimes would have trouble reading what I wrote. So, the computer is the solution for me.
Overall, I think the choice will entirely be dependent on the examinee. Maybe some of you will feel like at home when writing on a paper but will feel anxious using the computer. Obviously, paper-delivered will be perfect in your case.
Preparation for IELTS
I truly believe that the best way of getting ready for something is through intensive preparation. It would be great if you enroll in schools or centers specializing in IELTS. The reason is that they have experiences and probably strategies and tips that will ensure satisfactory scores on the test.
I had wanted to enroll myself in centers in Thailand but most group classes I asked, which are the cheapest, by the way, have a lower overall target score, 6 or 6.5. If my target scores are higher, which is true in my case, I had to enroll in a special session (one on one) with a native speaker but that would mean a higher fee.
In the end, I prepared for the test by myself. I printed out past papers and tried answering them. I read articles about effective tips on how to answer the questions. Moreover, I found YouTube to be the most helpful IELTS source in terms of the listening part as well as some tips for speaking and writing.
For almost two months, I went home after work and then, I would open YouTube and try a listening test I could find. Next, I would try the reading and writing aspects too. For speaking, I would practice communicating more in English with others. It was easier at work but then sometimes, I would slip back to my native language.
My preparation wasn’t as structured as others but I did the best I could in my situation.
On Test Day
Before my test day, I received an email from British Council detailing the when and how of the test. My first test was listening, then reading, followed by writing. This was all in the morning at 9.00 AM. In the afternoon, at 2.00 PM, I was assessed for my speaking ability.
I wanted to be relaxed for the test so I woke up early and took the sky train to Phloenchit. Next, I followed all the signage leading to the building until I found the venue. The only concern that day was that I hadn’t eaten any breakfast yet because I was worried I would be late. However, when I came there, there was only one other examinee waiting.
So, with minutes to spare, I went out and looked for food shops or any 7/11 stores. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot considering the time. All the shops in the building were still closed. The only option was to cross and walk a bit more to reach the 7/11 store. I wasn’t sure what to do because I thought it would take me a long time and I would end up being late. But then, I was sure worse would happen to me if I didn’t eat anything. Luckily, when I was pondering my next steps, I found a shop near the train station just opening up. I was relieved and bought a packed meal of rice, egg, and meat. I went back to the building and ate my food.
Before 9.00 AM, all examinees were called for picture taking, confirmation of identity, as well as, dropping of personal belongings that weren’t allowed in the examination room. We had our own computer assigned with a keyboard to use and a divider of a sort to keep us separated from each other. Instructions were given to us. Once we were all settled in, the test began.
To say that I wasn’t nervous would be a lie because I totally was. I even forgot to bring a cardigan or jacket so I was a little cold but I had persevered. Lesson learned for me is to always bring one during examinations just in case.
The listening test wasn’t very hard for me. I was confident about it. I actually realized that the questions were the same as when I was practicing at home on YouTube. There were some tricky questions but because I listened to them before, I think I answered most items correctly.
After the listening test, reading test followed. For this part, there were articles or essays to read on the left part of the screen and on the right were the questions. I found the reading test, the most difficult part in all aspects I took that day. It was because I wasn’t really sure of my answers. A lot of the questions were “True, False, or Not Given” kind of questions. I disliked these questions because they’re confusing especially for the false or not given part. If you have taken the test or has been revising for it, you will know what I mean. If only it’s the elementary kind of “True or False” questions but they’re not. Even after the test, I couldn’t calm myself because I really felt that I would get a low mark in reading.
Right after the reading was the writing part. For the academic test, there will be two parts. The first part will be about a diagram in which you will have to explain and describe the similarities or differences you’ll find. The second part, which has a bigger score, will require you to write an essay based on a statement given.
Here are examples of the writing test questions.
I’ve heard my friends complain about this part of the IELTS test. Most of my friends said that this is the part which gave them problems, resulting in retaking the test. For me, it was the opposite because I felt quite confident during my test. I think I truly did my best, even using difficult words I knew of. Despite this confidence though, I was very surprised when I learned that I got my lowest score in this part. He!
Furthermore, I’d like to add a memory I can remember during my writing test. While I stopped typing to brainstorm for a few minutes, I heard this “click click” sound as others are typing fast on their test. It was intimidating for me at some level because whereas, I was pausing to think of what to write, others seemed to have no trouble at all.
After sitting in all three aspects, I ate a quick lunch with another Filipino woman. She, by the way, flew to Bangkok for three days just to take the test. She explained that taking the test in Thailand might give her a bigger chance of getting higher scores because of its lower standards compared to the Philippines. I don’t know if it’s true. I didn’t get her number or social media account so I don’t know if she gets the scores she hoped for.
Finally, it was the speaking test. It was actually pretty quick, only around 15-20 minutes. I remember some questions. One was if I prefer coffee over tea and the other was about the definition of success. I was nervous during this test too but I just tried to talk and talk. Although, at some point, I felt my English power was running out. Ha! Oh, also, because of my nervousness, I applied my bright red lipstick. I thought I could distract the examiner with it. Ha! Basing on my score, I think it worked…or not.=)
Too much English for a day…
After 2.30 PM, I went out of the building but my mind was fried by too much English usage that day. I was relieved I finished the test but anxious because I felt that I mess up somewhere.
The waiting time was always the hardest part of all exams. For 14 days, I waited anxiously, visiting their website again and again. This is not something I would recommend you to do. Otherwise, you’ll always be worried about your results before the released date.
My scores in the test are below.
If you are planning on taking the test, I wish you all good luck & just always believe in yourself.
You can do it!
Read my other OFW’s posts HERE.