My IELTS Experience ūüŹÜ

I am quite surprised that some people think IELTS is exclusively taken by Registered Nurses (RNs) to work abroad (thus this post is written). Probably because most IELTS takers in the Philippines are nurses who want to work in the UK, Canada, or Australia so this stereotype was created. The truth is.. IELTS is for anyone who wants to live or study abroad. I remember my friends who are licensed nurses enrolling at review centers just to prepare for IELTS exam. They had to pay P3,000-5,000 for the review and around P9,000 for the actual test. To my mind I once asked, how fancy is it to have IELTS eligibility that they have to spend that much?

I am not a Nurse by profession but in October 2015, I took my first IELTS exam. I got the answers to my own question. Hooray! After 13 days of contemplating, IELTS test result came out. Of course I didn’t really expect to get the¬†perfect band but I am happy enough with my score knowing that my friend and I jokingly¬†practiced for just a ¬†couple of days¬† ūüôā¬†Overall: 7.0¬†(L-6.5, R-6.0, W-7.5, S-8.0) —no review center, no professional coaching. (..and yeah, reading (?) haha I guess it is not my cup of tea talaga ever)¬†

Why I took IELTS?
I recognize IELTS as an investment just like any other language tests. The moment I decided to take the exam, it was clear to me that it is a form of investment. It requires at least PHP8, 900¬†fee to take it. As part of my career-building and vision for 2015-2020,¬†I’ve decided to¬†pursue a graduate study abroad or even work if opportunity arises.¬†Unquestionably, IELTS is a general requirement so I find it very essential. If the result is favorable, I¬†can either study or work in an English speaking country or in my own country. ¬†ūüôā

Why I didn’t take IELTS as early as possible?
The amount it requires is not an easy investment for me and for most Filipino ESL Teachers whose salary is just enough for survival.
a. Test fee + coaching costs  = money. I opted not to borrow this amount of money from anyone. I promised myself that if I ever take the test, I would make an effort to pay for it from my own pocket.
b. The validity is only for 2 years. No plans to use it abroad
(Reference period: 2008-2015).
c. It is not a prerequisite in teaching (TEFL) in the Philippines.
(My first job).

IDP or British Council?
For me, it doesn’t really matter whether to take it through IDP or British Council. I believe both have the same set of standards. Whatever the result, it will just¬†reflect¬†how you perform during the test. I took the test with IDP as the choice¬†due to its proximity to my current residence. I only took IELTS once so I cannot honestly compare the two.

How’s My¬†Actual Preparation¬†for¬†the Test?
I have a full-time job which requires me to be at the office all day and sometimes on extended hours. I only began thinking of preparing for IELTS roughly three (3) weeks before the exam. I set my goal score and started to practice for 30 minutes per day (listening) for five straight days. Thanks to YouTube. I do not recommend procrastinating but what I write here is only based on my ACTUAL preparation. It may be applicable to some but may not be ideal for others. So, if you have the luxury of time, do prepare well!

a. Listening Practice: 5 days; 30 minutes- 1hour [2 weeks before the exam]
b. Reading: No practice test
c. Writing: No practice test
d. Speaking: 2 days practice before the exam

Week 1 of 3: Get to know the parts of IELTS test and dig more.
I familiarized myself with different parts of the IELTS test. Read common topics from various IELTS resources online. You can find a lot of resources online. There are a lot! I personally think, you do not really need to pay extra cost on review centers but if you have the money and time, opt to do so. Coaching can be helpful.

Dig more. Read and listen to other IELTS takers experiences. By reading blogs, forums, and listening to videos I gained tips and tricks. It was very very helpful.
Sample References I used:
a. IELTS Network
b. IELTS Podcast/IELTS Ryan
c. IELTS Buddy
d. IELTS Liz

Week 2 of 3: Plan!
After knowing the facts, I assessed myself what I am good at and what I am worse at

2 weeks before the test
Practice Listening
Build on vocabulary; useful expressions for writing and speaking;
Practice!

1 week before the test
40 minutes- 2-hours [2 days before the speaking test]
This is a face-to-face practice with a friend who will also take IELTS. We are both first-time test takers. It was awkward (REALLY!) to talk with one another in English when you both know you speak your local language¬†more comfortably. As a result, we ended up playing and jokingly doing the practice test ūüėÄ So we only practiced seriously the night before the test. ^_^

Quick Tip:¬†Although there is no pass or fail mark in the IELTS, make an effort to at least¬†hit a good score. One thing is sure: THE KEY IS PREPARATION–either self-study or take a review center, test takers need¬†to prepare/practice.

General Tips
Do not memorize all the highfalutin words. For sure, you only need few effective vocabulary and expressions to use in the actual test. You do not need the longest expression or the most difficult vocabulary to impress the invigilator but you have to make sure you select the appropriate expressions. Make a list of all expressions and phrases you want to use either for speaking or writing and then select only the ones you can easily remember.  In my case, I only limit myself to complex 5-8 expressions to surely use on either writing or speaking tasks while other expressions are supplementary. During the test, it became a lot easier for me.

After the speaking test, my confidence was¬†low. I was in doubt whether¬†I gave the best answers to the questions or use the best vocabularies to impress the invigilator or not at all. I think I just talked and talked. ūüė¶ After the test, I could not conceal that I was a bit worried that I talked too much. I am reminded of the adage, less talk, less mistake.¬†But worrying is¬†no help at all. So I shrugged my shoulder and went home. The show must go on. I believed I¬†gave my best effort in fashioning the English skill I’ve had at that moment. So, no worries.

13 days after, voila! The test result is out. Woah, I got the band score that¬†I NEED.. not just what I WANT. Therefore, I can attest that IELTS is not only for nurses; IELTS is for everyone who have goals to pursue. ūüôā

The Official Traveler/HistoryMaker


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IELTS Speaking: Band 9 [Full Test]

Lots and lots of people are getting interested in taking the IELTS exam. If you are one of those who would like to migrate, work or take advanced studies (academic), continue reading for¬†some tips that will really help you. They’re just simple but effective tips. The speaking test will be applied to all the sections. Let’s start.
This¬†is worth-sharing¬†ūüôā


1. Be Formal.¬†During the examination, at least try to be formal. This means you¬†have to act like you are in a job interview. Just like in¬†job interview, you’ll be on your best behavior, and so try¬†to behave that way.

2. Give FULL answers.¬†Now, remember and think about it: you only have about 11 to 15 minutes to display your best English skills¬†that you’ve been working on¬†all your life. So, obviously you want to give your shot¬†on¬†your English exam time. For example, if the examiner asks about your background, your family, your work, or anything about you, make an effort to give a full answer. If the question goes like “Where are you from?” you can not simply¬†say, “in¬†Tokyo” or “in Korea” because that’s just a one-word answer. Try to expand your answer, “I come from Tokyo, the capital city of Japan” or “Seoul in South Korea is where I came from.”

3. Be polite.¬†When you do not understand what the examiner had said or you were nt able to comprehend the question asked, don’t just say, “What?” or “Sorry?” Say, “Excuse me, could you please repeat that?” You’re supposed to give good impression by exhibiting¬†your¬†best English and using it¬†appropriately, and that’s what they want to know: Can you use English while¬†being formal and polite?

4. Maintain a good posture. Why not? Is anyone filming? Right. So, why do you have to maintain good posture? Actually, your posture affects the way you talk. The way you project and carry yourself during the examination leaves an impression of how confident you are in your language proficiency.

5. Speak clearly.¬†Do not worry too much about your accent but make sure you¬†speak clearly. Everyone has an accent, even the natives do.But if you cannot¬†pronounce the words clearly how can you be understood. If the invigilator cannot understand what you are talking about, you might not get the best possible score you wanted. So if you need to improve more on your pronunciation, you¬†should work on that by mimicking some English speakers (movies or real native speakers/English teachers) or singing¬†some¬†English songs. Daily practice exercises can help. Through practice, you’ll be able to improve it. Remember, NO PAIN, NO GAIN.


IELTS speaking is really nerve-wracking! I have finally succeeded the¬†speaking test!! To God be the glory!¬† ūüėÄ Things went¬†well. What¬†have I done¬†so far?¬†4 Ps: PLAN, PREPARE, PRACTICE, and PRAYER.
Do you have anything to add? I’d be glad to hear them.. ūüôā

Practice with me! ^_^

ūüĎ£The Official Traveler

IELTS Speaking: The Formula to a Desirable Band Score

Who-accepts-IELTS3-1IELTS speaking is really nerve-wracking!
Want to ace it? The Secret Formula is very simple– 4 Ps: PLAN, PREPARE, PRACTICE, and PRAYER.
I am scheduled to take the speaking test very soooon!!! (in few days) and things should be set in place. How have I been doing it so far? Let me share a few tips:

1. Be Formal.¬†During the examination, at least try to be formal. This means you¬†have to act like you are in a job interview. Just like in¬†job interview, you’ll be on your best behavior, and so try¬†to behave that way.

2. Give FULL answers.¬†Now, remember and think about it: you only have about 11 to 15 minutes to display your best English skills¬†that you’ve been working on¬†all your life. So, obviously you want to give your shot¬†on¬†your English exam time. For example, if the examiner asks about your background, your family, your work, or anything about you, make an effort to give a full answer. If the question goes like “Where are you from?” you can not simply¬†say, “in¬†Tokyo” or “in Korea” because that’s just a one-word answer. Try to expand your answer, “I come from Tokyo, the capital city of Japan” or “Seoul in South Korea is where I came from.”

3. Be polite.¬†When you do not understand what the examiner had said or you were nt able to comprehend the question asked, don’t just say, “What?” or “Sorry?” Say, “Excuse me, could you please repeat that?” You’re supposed to give good impression by exhibiting¬†your¬†best English and using it¬†appropriately, and that’s what they want to know: Can you use English while¬†being formal and polite?

4. Maintain a good posture. Why not? Is anyone filming? Right. So, why do you have to maintain good posture? Actually, your posture affects the way you talk. The way you project and carry yourself during the examination leaves an impression of how confident you are in your language proficiency.

5. Speak clearly.¬†Do not worry too much about your accent but make sure you¬†speak clearly. Everyone has an accent, even the natives do.But if you cannot¬†pronounce the words clearly how can you be easily understood. If the invigilator cannot understand what you are talking about, you might not get the best possible score you wanted. So if you need to improve more on your pronunciation, you¬†should work on that by mimicking some English speakers (movies or real native speakers/English teachers) or singing¬†some¬†English songs. Daily practice exercises can help. Through this, you’ll be able to improve it. Remember NO PAIN, NO GAIN.


Did I miss something? I’d be glad to hear them.. ūüôā

Practice with me! ^_^

ūüĎ£The Official Traveler

IELTS Speaking: Useful Practice Test (Part 1)


One of the components of IELTS that makes test takers get nervous¬†and¬†uneasy, if unprepared, is the Speaking. The key to surviving the IELTS Speaking test is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE ūüôā I cannot emphasize this more (been there, done that). Let’s have a look on the most common speaking questions that the invigilator can ask you in Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test. This part of the test usually lasts for about 4-5 minutes.¬†


imagesTIPS & TRICKS
1. Familiarize yourself with the common topics and questions.
2. List down and remember enough vocabulary for each topic which you can readily pull off from your brain during the actual test. You don’t need to memorize tons of words but limited vocabulary may leave you regretful after test for not taking the preparation seriously.
3. Find a speaking partner. The topics may seem to be very easy on you but without proper practice, you may not be able to maximize your potentials. Try to practice with a speaking partner
4. Time yourself. The test is a timed-test so be mindful.


The list below is originally taken from Good Luck IELTS for sharing and rehearsal purposes.
Other Useful Speaking Topic Links that I recommend:
IELTS Speaking Topics for Part 1

YOU

Describe yourself.

FAMILY

    • Describe your family?
    • Do you have a large or small family?
    • How much time do you spend with your family?
    • What do you like to do together as a family?
    • Do you get along well with your family?
    • Are people in your country generally close to their families?

WORK

    • What do you do?
    • What are your responsibilities?
    • How many hours do you work each day?
    • Do you enjoy your work?
    • Is there some other kind of work you would rather do?
    • If you could change your job or profession, what would you do?
    • Describe the process of getting a job in your country.
    • Describe the company or organization you work for.
    • What is your position?
    • What do you like about your job?
    • What do you dislike about your job?

EDUCATION

    • Describe your education.
    • What kind of school did you go to as a child?
    • Did you go to a co-educational school?
    • What was your favourite subject as a child?
    • Who was your favourite teacher?
    • What is the education system like in your country?
    • Do you think your country has an effective education system?

STUDIES

  • What are you studying now?
  • What is your area of specialization?

HOMETOWN

    • Describe your hometown.
    • What‚Äôs special about it?
    • Where is your hometown located?
    • Is it easy to travel around your hometown?
    • What is it known for?
    • What do people in your town do?
    • What are the main industries in your hometown?
    • What problems face your hometown?
    • What languages are spoken in your hometown?
    • What are the advantages of living in your hometown?
    • What are some problems faced by your hometown?
    • Compare your hometown with another city.
    • What are some environmental problems faced by your hometown?

WEATHER

    • What‚Äôs the weather like in your country?
    • Does the weather affect your mood?
    • How do rainy days make you feel?
    • What‚Äôs your favourite season of the year?
    • What do you like to do when it‚Äôs hot?
    • What do you usually do in the winter?
    • How many seasons does your country have?

HOME

    • Describe your home.
    • What kind of building do you live in?
    • How long have you lived there?

WEDDING

    • Have you ever been to a wedding?
    • Whose wedding was it?
    • Where was it held?
    • What clothes do people wear?
    • Describe the wedding ceremony.
    • What sort if gifts do people buy for the bridal couple?
    • What kind of clothes did the bride and groom wear?

TRAVEL

    • Do you like to travel?
    • What kind of places have you visited in your life?
    • Which place would you really like to visit? Why?
    • What‚Äôs the best place you‚Äôve ever visited?

COMPUTERS

    • Do you think computers help society?
    • Do you think computers are bad for health?
    • How do you think computers have changed the world?

INTERNET

    • Do you use the Internet much during the day?
    • What do you usually do on the Internet?
    • What are some advantages of the Internet?
    • What are some disadvantages?
    • Do people in your country use the Internet a lot?
    • Do you do any shopping on the Internet?

EMAIL

    • Do you send and receive email regularly?
    • Who do you usually communicate with?
    • How often do you check your email?
    • Do you think writing email has strengthened or weakened people‚Äôs writing skills?
    • What are some disadvantages of email?

FRIEND

    • Describe a friend.
    • How long have you known each other?
    • What do usually do together?
    • What do you like the most about him / her?
    • How often do you see each other?

PLACE

    • Describe a place you like to go.
    • Why is this place special to you?
    • When did you first visit this place?
    • Where is this place located?
    • What language is spoken here? Do you speak this language?

SMOKING

    • What do you feel about smoking in public places?
    • Do you think smoking should be banned in people‚Äôs homes?

MARRIAGE

    • What is the attitude toward marriage in your country?
    • Do most young people plan on getting married in your country?
    • What are some of the advantages of marriage?
    • What are some of the disadvantages?
    • Is the divorce rate high in your country?
    • Do you think people should be allowed to get divorced?

HOBBIES

    • Do you have any hobbies?
    • What are some of your hobbies?
    • When did you first develop this hobby?
    • What are some of the advantages of having a hobby?
    • How much time do you spend on your hobby?

FILMS

    • Do you enjoy watching movies?
    • What‚Äôs your favourite film?
    • Who are your favourite actors?
    • How often do you watch films?

SHOPPING

    • Do you enjoy shopping?
    • How do you feel about shopping?
    • Do you like shopping on the Internet?
    • Do you have any favourite stores?
    • What don‚Äôt you like about shopping?
    • Which is the most popular place to shop in your hometown?

SPORTS

    • Do you like sports?
    • Do you enjoy watching sports?
    • Do you enjoy participating in any sports?
    • Which sports are most popular in your country?
    • What‚Äôs your favourite sport/
    • When did you first become interested in sports?
    • How often do you participate in sports?
    • What equipment do you need for your favourite sport?

FOOD

    • What are some of your favourite foods?
    • What foods are popular in your country?
    • What are some of the famous dishes of your country?
    • Do you enjoy cooking?

FESTIVAL

    • What‚Äôs the most important festival in your country?
    • How do people celebrate this festival?
    • What special food is associated with this festival?
    • What special activities are associated with this festival?
    • What do you enjoy most about this festival?
    • Do you think festivals are important for a society?

TELEVISION

    • Do you watch television a lot?
    • What do you usually watch on television?
    • How many hours of television do you usually watch?
    • What are the most popular shows in your country?
    • What kind of shows do you like to watch?
    • What are some advantages of television?
    • What are someof the disadvantages of television?
    • What did you last watch on television?
    • Why do you think certain TV shows are so popular?

TOURISM

    • Which places would you recommend to a visitor to your country?
    • Do a lot of tourists visit your country?
    • What do they usually do there?
    • How has tourism changed your country?
    • Is your country expensive for most tourists?
    • What are some famous landmarks in your country?

DAILY ROUTINE

    • Describe your daily routine.
    • What do you usually do?
    • What do you do on the weekend?
    • What is you typical weekday like?
    • Does your life change much from week to week?
    • Do you have any free time during the week?

YOUR COUNTRY

    • Which country are you from?
    • Where is this country located?
    • Which part of the country do most people live in?
    • What are the main industries in your country?
    • Is it easy to travel around your country?

CLOTHES

    • What type of clothes do you like to wear?
    • What kind of clothes do people in your country usually wear?
    • How important is fashion to you?
    • What kind of clothes do you dislike?
    • Do you think people behave differently in different kinds of clothes?
    • What kind of clothes do people wear to work in your country?
    • Are clothes expensive in your country?

GOING OUT

    • Do you like going out or staying at home?
    • What do you like to do when you go out?
    • How often do you go out?
    • Do people in your country go out a lot?
    • How and where do people in your country usually socialize?
    • What kind of entertainment is popular in your country?

GAMES

    • Do you enjoy playing any games?
    • What kind of games do you play?
    • Do you think adults should play games?
    • What do children learn from games?
    • What kind of games did you play when you were a child?
    • What games are popular in your country today?
    • What kind of games were popular when you were young?
    • Do you think mental games like chess are good for you?
  • COLOURS
    • Do you have a favourite colour?
    • What are your country‚Äôs colours?
    • Do you think colours affect our moods?
    • Can you learn anything about a person from the colours he / she likes?
    • Do you like the same colours now as you did when you were a child?

MUSIC

    • Do you like music?
    • What kind of music do you like?
    • When do you usually listen to music?
    • What kind of music did you like when you were younger?
    • What kind of music is popular in your country?
    • Do you play any musical instruments?
    • Do you wish you could play any musical instruments?
    • Which is your favourite instrument?

Although the topics and sample questions were presented, bear in mind that the phrasing of the questions may still vary during the actual test.. so BRACE YOURSELF and ACE THE TEST!

Wish you best,

ūüĎ£The Official Traveler

IELTS: Take Another Step to Success!

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world‚Äôs most popular English language test. It has four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Why IELTS?¬†Taking IELTS opens doors ‚Äď it can help you live, study and work around the world. Find out more about IELTS here.


“I hope I will be able to ace this test because I want to accomplish another¬†goal which is written on my “VISION GOALS 2015″. I am hopeful that with this single step, I would be able to pursue a promising postgraduate degree as a full-time scholar in one of the¬†well-off English speaking countries¬†beyond Southeast Asia. [Fingers crossed!] ALL IS WELL ūüôā ”

Be inspired!

Not just a traveler but also a dreamer,

ūüĎ£The Official Traveler