I feel honoured and grateful to receive the IELTS Prize from the British Council. Winning this prize is extremely meaningful to me as it is recognition of both my past efforts and future potential. I am now more confident of my English proficiency and therefore my prospective study in the United Kingdom. The IELTS Prize will be a great financial support for my study in Medical Anthropology at University College London. I am looking forward to studying the sociocultural factors and the power differentials that influence people’s health, and I hope to apply what I learn in my clinical practices to provide better healthcare to patients in Taiwan.

I applied for IELTS Prize because of its friendly application timeline and eligibility criteria. I decided to study abroad at the end of 2018; unfortunately, most of the scholarship applications had already closed at that time. Other scholarships had eligibility criteria regarding work experience or nationalities and thus made me unqualified to apply. However, the application for IELTS Prize was open until late April with fewer qualification criteria. The IELTS Prize thus became the best opportunity to aid my studies abroad. The selection process was simple. Candidates were required to submit an essay about their reasons for wanting to study overseas and subsequent possible contribution to their communities. Through the application process, I reflected on my past experience and re-thought what I want to do in the future. I would say it was a valuable experience and encourage other students to apply for the IELTS Prize!

I chose to take IELTS with the British Council because it offered many test locations and test dates to choose from. I was able to select a location and time that fits well into my schedule. Moreover, the British Council offered free resources that helped me prepare for IELTS. I received for free The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS because there was an event promoting it. I also gained free access to their online preparation resources ‘Road to IELTS’. The videos on the website gave me useful tips and advice about how to achieve a high score in IELTS. These two resources really helped me to get familiar with the test.

IELTS was my first choice among all the other English proficiency tests because I aimed to apply for a masters degree in the United Kingdom and IELTS was recognised by all the universities that I wished to apply to. The speaking and writing tests of IELTS prepared me for studying abroad. The speaking component is conducted face to face by the examiner. This makes all the practice and also the test itself, similar to daily conversation. The writing test requires the test takers to analyse different charts and express their opinion on specific topics, which are both essential skills in academic life. 

For those who are preparing for the IELTS test, I have some advice based on my personal experience. In the beginning, try to get familiar with the common question types and requirements in each section. This will help you avoid making simple mistakes and understand the structure of the test. Then, make sure you go through the scoring system and official examples of oral and writing tests. By doing this, you will have a clear idea about what to achieve in the test. Most importantly, take mock tests and practice as much as possible! Routine practices and exposures to English also help. It is even better if you can find some friends and practice oral and writing skills together. Good luck with your IELTS!