I feel privileged to have been awarded the IELTS Prize, and I am very grateful that the British Council has this initiative to fund students who are pursuing higher education for the betterment of their countries. For my long-term career goal, I am looking to improve the quality of life for senior citizens in Thailand by providing them with post-retirement employment. I have seen this executed successfully in some organisations around the world. To be specific, I plan to open a restaurant that hires senior citizens as full-time staff, and I hope that this initiative will both attract the public’s attention and raise awareness of how serious the ageing population issue is in Thailand.

I apply for IELTS Prize solely because of the British Council’s open-mindedness to candidates’ fields of study. Funding programmes from other organisations usually specify what areas of business they will sponsor a candidate for. At the British Council, every area is of equal importance as long as the candidate has a clear goal of what they want to achieve post-graduation. I think this emphasises the fact that all sectors or industries are essential when contributing to the development of a country. This has demonstrated that the IELTS Prize, and the British Council as an organisation, values diversity and places equal importance on all ideas and good intentions. This open-mindedness drove me to apply for the IELTS Prize.

Taking IELTS with the British Council has been a smooth and fuss-free experience for me, from registration, sitting the exam, to score reporting. I liked the fact that each test taker was given an individual pair of headphones for the listening task. From someone who has taken the listening test with speakers broadcasting to the whole room, having an individual set of headphones was a game-changer. It made me feel more secure about the quality of the sound I heard and confirmed to me that I would not run into unfortunate technical problems, which could contribute to a lower than average performance.

I chose to take IELTS instead of other English proficiency tests because it is a standardised measurement of a students’ mastery of English and is widely recognised by all prestigious schools in the UK. That, in itself, signifies how well the test is designed to prepare you for your higher education in English. I think IELTS has played a crucial role in refining my communication skills, especially verbal ones. I am taking an MBA course at the University of Cambridge this September, and unlike other more academic-oriented courses, the MBA requires working in a lot of group projects. The ability to communicate with fellow classmates from different cultures and backgrounds is therefore essential to succeed, and IELTS has prepared me well.

For those who are planning to take IELTS soon, my advice would be to make the English language your everyday environment. Make sure you practice a lot with real questions, preferably with mock IELTS exam questions to get yourself accustomed to the overall feel of test-taking and the nature of the questions prior to the real thing. Doing that will boost your self-confidence and help you to ace the test effortlessly. On the test day, get plenty of sleep and get sufficient fuel from food. Above all, stay hopeful and optimistic. Give it your all, and I think you will be fine.