My first IELTS result expired this year in March since I took it in 2019. Unfortunately, IELTS scores are only valid for two years when applying for work in the UK. Based on the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) website, for those planning to work in the UK, one of the requirements is a valid English test up until the assessment for the registration phase.

Basically, what it means is that the English result must remain valid after taking the OSCE, the last competence exam, for aspiring international nurses. It should be valid for at least another month or two after the exam.  

Expired IELTS result

Before taking the OSCE in May this year which was past my IELTS validity date, I already knew I had to sit for an English test again. It was confirmed by my agency that my application wouldn’t move forward without a new English test result. 

With all honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to taking this test again. For one, the pressure of achieving the required scores again was not very fun to carry with you around. And two, the costs involved to book the exam and/or the fee for the review center were something I have to seriously consider. Because I resigned from my regular job and was only doing part-time jobs at that time, I had to think about my spending closely. 

One thing I learned

It is true what they say about dreams and goals especially when a person is dead serious about achieving them. Because no matter how difficult the path would be to get there, this person would still work very hard and face all obstacles that will come his way. 

I’m just glad that English wasn’t one of my least favorite subjects during my school days. I reminded myself that I did it once, I can do it again. Also, if I want to fulfill my dream of working in the UK, I have to do it.

Considering I have done almost everything at this point- submitted my documents, completed my medical exam, passed the CBT exam, etc, it would be a shame to stop then because of that. I was almost at the finish line, almost to what I want, so I geared myself up for a whole new IELTS experience. 

9.0 Niners Online Review

This is when 9.0 Niners came in. With my very limited time, I needed professional help urgently, and therefore, I researched IELTS review centers in the Philippines.

Because we are in the middle of a pandemic, there was no chance of doing an intensive face-to-face review as I hoped. Then I came across the 9.0 Niners website which at that time had just started doing online classes and lectures. It was perfect for me. I would be able to review at home whenever I want. 

What I liked the most about 9.0 Niners is the ability to book speaking and writing coaching sessions online. And do it online too. Because the lecturers and coaches have been doing this job for a long time, I trust their expertise highly. I was open to learning more tips and ways to help me for the test. 

The total fee I paid to 9.0 Niners was 4,000 PHP. It was valid for 12 months. For me, that was a good deal. 

Second IELTS Exam Preparation

I booked with British Council because I had my first exam with them in Bangkok. Perhaps, I thought, a second time with the same testing company would be a smart move ensuring the same or better scores. The fee I paid for the Academic test was 11,300 PHP. 

Because I was living in Cebu during that time, I decided to book the exam in Cebu city. Luckily, there was an available slot for a computer-based IELTS test immediately. I heard negative stories of candidates who waited for three long months or so to book their test dates due to the unavailability of slots. I was so happy I didn’t have to wait for that long. Mine was three weeks after booking. 

English skills review

Three weeks that I needed to refresh my English skills. Around this time, my English usage was very low. People around me speak our local dialect, Bisaya. We communicate through that. I didn’t read many English books nor write anything valuable in English.

However, because it is an important test,  I reviewed and practiced as best as I could. The listening and Reading parts would not be so difficult for me. I enjoy watching movies and listening to English songs. I just hope that my ears and brain would not fail me during the exam. 

My biggest concern was the speaking and writing tasks. As I have mentioned, my usage of English in those skills has gone from sometimes to rarely. There was no opportunity for me to write long essays except writing for my blog. But they are different things.

In terms of speaking, I feel that my work at that time in Engoo as an online English teacher helped me tremendously. At least, I felt a bit confident when speaking and talking with others in English. 

2nd IELTS Experience

The venue for my exam was the Center for Premier International Language Studies (CPILS) in Benedicto Bldg. M. J. Cuenco Ave, Cebu City. My listening, reading, and writing were booked for 9.00 AM while my speaking was booked for 3 PM. 

I came to the test center early. There were reminders and rules the examinees had to follow such as the wearing of mask and face shield as well as social distancing rules. There wasn’t a big difference between my first exam to this second one. I started with the listening test, then, reading, followed by the writing test. 

IELTS Speaking experience

The problem happened during the speaking exam. I didn’t know this beforehand but sometimes, if the examiner is ready, they could start the speaking test earlier than the scheduled time. Staff would ask candidates if they are ready to do the test. If they agree, then they can do so if they wish. 

In our small group of six people for the speaking test on that day, we started earlier than our scheduled time. We were excited because it meant we could go home early too. But then, it started raining cats and dogs because of a developing typhoon in the region. As a result of this, the internet connection was greatly affected.

Due to the pandemic, some speaking tests are done via a computer. In my experience, there was a laptop placed a meter away in front of me. The good news there is we could take our masks and face shields off. Talking with a mask on during a speaking exam is a bit tricky. In my opinion, this experience is very different from my first exam. 

Bad internet connection

The connection was very bad the test was paused many times because the first candidate couldn’t hear the examiner very well. We had to wait for hours before the exam was resumed. Luckily, at around 5 PM, I had my speaking exam. And I was the last candidate, ha!

It was already dark when I went out of the testing center and still raining. My brain was fried and my tummy ached from hunger. No exaggerations there. 

I did it though! I was just glad it was over. 

After five days, I got an email notification saying that my scores are in. I opened it and luckily, I still achieved the scores I needed to move forward with my UK application. Yay!

Here are my scores. 

Listening- 8.0

Reading- 8.5

Writing- 6.5

Speaking- 8.0

Overall- 8.0

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