I am thankful to the British Council for selecting me as an IELTS Prize winner. Not only does this prize support me financially, but it has also given me a huge confidence boost in my English abilities and encouraged me to reach my goal of becoming a successful graphic designer and illustrator based in London. The IELTS Prize is also a reminder of the passion, dedication and perseverance I had at the beginning of my journey. As an IELTS ambassador in collaboration with the British Council, I hope my experience and advice can inspire future candidates to follow their passion and achieve their goals in an English environment.

I first heard about the IELTS Prize through the leaflet that came in the envelope with my test results. Since the cost of living and tuition are relatively expensive in London, I was excited to take this opportunity as a way of relieving the financial burden on my parents. To me, the most impressive part of the selection process was being interviewed, in-person, by the IELTS panel. At first, I was nervous and unsure what to present about my university and course choice, but I quickly realised it was an excellent way for the panellists to understand my passion as well as me as an individual. In the end, I specifically drew a series of illustrations to depict each step of my journey as an illustrator for the live interview as it conclusively demonstrated both my dedication to the arts and my determination to earn the prize.

I chose to take the IELTS test because IELTS is internationally recognised and accepted by many universities. Every part of it, from pre-test to post-test, was smooth and straightforward. The preparatory materials on the IELTS website, such as mock questions and mock tests were especially helpful in getting me ready for the actual test. The design of the test venue and facilities were highly professional and considerate as these gave me sufficient personal space to fully concentrate on the test questions. Overall, I had a great experience with the British Council and was delighted by their service.

I studied first in China and then in Hong Kong for secondary school, so IELTS gave me the perfect opportunity to confirm my English ability to study abroad for an undergraduate degree. Most of the test questions also mimic real-life situations such as navigating through maps and answering phone calls, so the test prepares you for life in an English environment.

The Illustration and Visual Media course I applied to specifically asked for an IELTS result and the high score I achieved made my application stand out amongst the other applicants. Therefore, I would highly recommend anyone thinking of studying abroad to take the IELTS test to improve their English while meeting their university requirement.

Even though the idea of a timed English test may seem overwhelming at first, with sufficient practice and training beforehand, you will be absolutely fine. The mock tests, practice resources, and free online training provided by the British Council helped me immensely in preparing for the test. I also started reading news and journal articles about a range of subjects a month or two before the test to train my reading comprehension skills. Practising is a must, but most importantly, it is vital to make sure you feel relaxed and confident on your test day. Good luck!