Sunday, September 28, 2008

My experience with IELTS


I started preparing for IELTS - Academic (International English Language Testing System) three months prior to the examination date, which was on 27th September 2008. It was my first attempt to take the IELTS exam. I spent around 3 hours every day for preparation.

I registered online and paid 180,000 KRW (approx 180 USD) as the test fee. It cost me another 140,000 KRW (approx 140 USD) to buy books. I bought Cambridge IELTS Papers (2-6) along with audio cassettes.

The examination was at Songang University, Seoul, Korea. The test timings were from 9 am till 12 pm and the speaking test was at 3:20 pm.

On the day of the test, I woke up at 4:30 am. It was 6 am when I left for the K1 bus station, Samsung Campus. I took the bus to Yangjae at 6:20 am and from the Yangjae subway, I took the train to DaeHyung station (Line 6). I reached there at 7:45 am.

I reached the examination center at 8 am, one hour prior to the examination time. There were approximately 500 candidates for the test. I had my passport for identification.

I entered the examination room at 8:45 am, gave my bag to a staff boy, and carried only a passport, pencils, and erasers. There were brief instructions before the test. The exam started at sharp 9 am.

For the listening test, it was a common speaker in the classroom which took me by surprise. I thought each person would be given an individual headphone. Nevertheless, it was loud and clear and there were no noises from outside. I answered 40 questions and was pleased with it. After that, it was a reading test. The first 2 sections, I managed to complete within 40 minutes. In the last section, I made a blunder. It was a bigger passage. At first, I glanced through the text and tried to understand what it was talking about. Later I started answering the questions. 10 minutes passed by and I had answered only 5 questions. In another 10 minutes, I had to answer 10 questions. There were 3 to 4 questions, that put me in a big dilemma. I spent much time on those questions. I was tensed. I had practiced many comprehensions but never came across such a situation. I had 5 minutes remaining and 8 questions to answer. When very few precious minutes were left, I skipped those questions, answered the easier ones, and came back to the difficult ones. I was not sure whether I answered them correctly. But I was disappointed with it. I wanted to score at least 35/40 for the reading test but now I am not sure how much I will score.

After that, it was a writing test. I started with the second part which was essay writing. I managed to finish it in 40 minutes. The essay was about whether universities should help students from rural backgrounds to gain admission. I wrote about 250 words. Later, I came back to the graphs, it was about a comparison chart between boys and girls for the different subjects like media, biology, chemistry, etc. from 1995 to 2005. I was pleased with my answers. The test ended at 12 noon.

The last section was the speaking test which was scheduled at 3:20 PM. I had 3 hours left. I had a sandwich from the cafeteria and there I met a Korean English teacher. She was sitting next to my table during the test. Later we practiced a little bit for the speaking test. The test was in the Arrupe Hall on the 9th floor. I sat in a classroom waiting for my turn. There was a PC for browsing. I browsed my emails and went through few online topics related to speaking. Finally, my turn came.

I carried my passport along with me. The examiner's name was Anna Maria. She was from the UK. She asked few introductory questions like my name, nationality, and whether I was a student or an employee. Later she asked, whether I read newspapers and if I had any special interest. Then she asked whether I have a habit of writing letters/emails.

Then she gave me the topic about '"The success I had in my life". I was given one minute time to think and two minutes to talk.

Then she asked me about success at my workplace, whether I was happy with my work, how do you define success, what skills are required for a person to be successful, whether qualifications and degree help you to be successful, etc. which lasted for 15-20 minutes. I was pleased with my answers.

It was 4 pm. I took the train from the Daehyung subway and reached Yangjae at 5:30 pm. From Yangjae, I took the Samsung bus back home. I ate Bibimbap from the cafeteria. I was very tired and slept off.


Praise God! The IELTS results were declared today and I scored 8 out of 9. It's a perfect gift for my birthday tomorrow.

I scored:

Listening 8
Reading 8.5
Writing 7.5
Speaking 8

If you have any questions, email me at

Check out for sample essays.