It is a great honour to have been awarded the IELTS Prize. On 5 March, I received an exciting letter of acceptance from the University of Chicago, my dream school to pursue further study in combining data-oriented research method with subjects such as public policy and law. I remember quite vividly how that excitement began to fade away as I learned about the amount of tuition that I had to pay. The University of Chicago kindly offered me a scholarship which has helped lessen the burden, but still, the amount seemed insurmountable.

It was great that the British Council continually sent out emails after we took our tests, inviting and urging us to apply for the IELTS Prize.  After seeing the testimonial of past winners, I realised the winners all had meaningful causes, and the British Council had the vision to help advance those causes. With no agenda in mind, I applied for the prize, and I am beyond happy that I had the honour of receiving it. As I said in my interview, this prize is not about me as an individual, but the dedication I have pledged to make. Aiming to conduct further research in international environmental law, I hope to bring the legal community in Taiwan closer to the international stage and introduce new, interdisciplinary ways of understanding the important questions in law.

The IELTS Prize has shown a clear vision in selecting candidates that wish not only to advance his/her professional knowledge and skills but those who appeal to the broader aspects of the local and even global community. This vision is reflected quite substantially in the selection process. In addition to my research proposal, I was able to talk about some of the issues that I feel passionate about. For example, the gap that exists between a test-driven education system and how English as a tool should be utilised in this globalised world. In addition, I feel like the opportunity as a British Council IELTS ambassador is going to provide a well-institutionalised platform for me to contribute to those issues. This is why I chose to apply for the IELTS Prize.

I chose to take IELTS with British Council mainly because they have an easy-to-access website. Also, as I learned after registration, they provide beneficial information, covering a variety of topics, that help test-takers plan their future abroad. These topics range from test preparation to school application. This is quite rare for English proficiency test agencies. With the British Council, I felt that we were not just test-takers being assessed, but valid candidates taking a critical step towards our future goals.

I have applied to several schools in the United States. Many of them accept IELTS scores as proof of English proficiency; some only accept IELTS scores and no other test scores. IELTS is a test that will push test-takers to learn how English is actually put to use in different scenarios, ranging from day-to-day conversations to more professional settings. Preparing for IELTS is a process that grants test-takers the chance to become really adept at speaking English rather than just passing a test.

The key message I would like to convey is to try to not see IELTS as a technical test, but rather a chance for test-takers to examine their  English progress and achievements. Enjoy the process of, not so much preparing for a test, but building on English skills. An excellent way to do this is to try to think back on what the tasks in the test are preparing you for. In this way, you can see IELTS as a helpful friend that will guide you on your English learning process. IELTS is truly a well-designed test that English learners should take advantage of.