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 IELTS exam. I spent around 3 hours every day from Mon-Friday for preparation.

I registered for the test 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.

Here are some good sites for preparation:

My 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 test, I woke up at 4:30 am. It was 6 am when I left for K1 bus station, Samsung Campus. I took the bus to Yangjae at 6:20 am and from the Yangjae subway, I took 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. I gave my bag to a staff boy and carried only passport, pencils and erasers. There were brief instructions prior to the test. The exam started at sharp 9 am.

For the listening test, there was a common speaker in the class room which took me by surprise. I thought each person would be given an individual head phone. Nevertheless, the speaker was loud and clear and there were no noises from outside. I answered 40 questions and was pleased with it. After that, it was 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 which was my big mistake. I was very 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 in the reading test but now I am not sure how much I will score.

After that it was writing test. I started with the second part which was the essay writing. I managed to finish it in 40 minutes. The essay was about whether universities should help the students from the rural background to gain admission. I wrote about 250 words. Later, I came back to the graphs which 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. It was 12 noon when the test ended.

The last section was 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 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 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 time to talk.

Then she asked me about success at my work place, 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 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