I was beyond ecstatic to have won the IELTS Prize! I remember walking back from a workshop, having an unscheduled existential crisis and lo and behold, and an email came in that grounded me back to earth. Needless to say, I was skipping my entire way back to the car and admittedly at home, feeling much stronger.

I absolutely love studying! Unfortunately, nowadays, the choice to further your studies often involves innumerable massive decisions here and there due to various financial situations. This is especially true considering that my next plan involves a rather costly transfer to Australia. The financial feasibility of transferring to Australia was the only barrier left for me to solve and to which now I have an answer. The IELTS Prize has undoubtedly removed a significant financial load off my back and placed me one step closer to achieving my dream to be a skilful pharmacist and renowned researcher in the field of pharmacology.

As I intend to pursue my career in the research and education sectors, I plan to use my knowledge and expertise to develop drug types, therapy and delivery, as well as optimise drug use. As a current pharmacy student, the further I traverse through my course, the deeper my fascination with drugs becomes and thus I cannot quite pinpoint my interest to one specific area. However, I do see there is room for development in terms of drugs concerning coronary heart diseases, nervous system disorders and lung diseases, the top killers in Malaysia. In the education sector, I hope to be instrumental in the cultivation of new pharmacists who take pride in our field. We should not be constrained by the boundaries of our profession; we have our roles to play, and I intend to raise that awareness.

IELTS Prize is a prestigious scholarship that does not seek to bind or limit, but rather, it prides itself on being a bridge that offers aid. In comparison to many other scholarships, it attempts to not only unblock the road we have chosen, but it also endeavours to impress a certain sense of comprehension of our potential capacity to reach our end goal. This is evident from the extra mile the organisers went to as they had sent out emails and notifications to eligible candidates inviting them to apply for the scholarship. It is a scholarship that judges based on our ability to integrate ourselves as a person, and how we plan to use our skills to contribute back to society.

The selection process is one of the most transparent ones I have ever encountered. I was very much aware that there was a strict selection process whereby to win, candidates must truly outshine many others in various aspects. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it every step of the way. Following the initial application, the shortlisted candidates were required to participate in an interview alongside a presentation according to the theme given. A week of panicking and brainstorming ensued rapidly, and when the day came, I was astonished by how uncharacteristically comfortable I was talking to the utterly friendly interviewers. It was entirely at odds to the radical cop-like interrogation scenario I had built up in my mind because they genuinely seek to help. I could see the interviewers trying their utmost to allow the candidates to showcase their best.

I had chosen to take IELTS because the structure of the exam covers the complete linguistic sphere and ensures proficiency in reading, speaking, listening and writing. It inculcates the necessary language skills that allow you to fluidly transition into life abroad while building a stable linguistic foundation. The results are accurate and denote the level of proficiency required for you to build yourself a comfortable experience while providing you with an asset to excel in the academics.

I have applied to many top-notch universities in numerous countries for my Pharmacy degree, including those in the UK, Ireland, US, Australia, New Zealand and within my own country, Malaysia. All of the universities I applied to specified IELTS as one of the requirements and as such, I was very much privy to how crucial my IELTS results were. I worked hard to obtain the grades I needed, and it was with these grades that I gained acceptance to the most highly regarded universities in the world for the Pharmacy course including Monash, Australia; UCL, England; Trinity College, Ireland and Otago, New Zealand.

The British Council is an established and trusted examination body. They possess an incredibly long experience in conducting these exams, which has led to very smooth flows of procedures and transitions for the candidates. They organise the exams as such that they can provide exceedingly convenient options for venue and time to suit the candidates’ hectic schedules. On the day itself, the staff did an excellent job of easing me into the atmosphere, kindly answering whatever queries I had. I have never been particularly good with tests, or pressure, or silence, or large crowds of people who were taking tests under pressure in silence. Yet, I walked out of the room feeling ridiculous that I had been terrified of such a delightful test.

I knew the only reason I had felt that way was due to the preparation I had done. The British Council had provided an incredible amount of support in terms of tutorial videos, online materials, books and various tips to ace the exams. I had met some of their staff before and their sincere support and genuine desire to help cemented my opinion that if I wished to take an exam that would determine whether I could enter the university of my dreams, I would like to take it with people who can instil faith in me.

A definite resource to use for IELTS is the abundance of fantastic materials provided by the British Council online! Even for those who are already exceptionally proficient in English, the online materials may serve perhaps as a reminder of grammatical rules not often used or direct you on how to get the best scores in the written exam. If you need something physical to hold, the British Council has provided some magnificent books on how to prepare for IELTS in an impressively compact and comprehensive manner. Up until the last minute possible, speak the language as much as you can! Go out and speak with a friend so that you become more comfortable in expressing yourself in the language. For those who do not have a reading habit, it would be a great time to grab a short book and sit down for a good read. I highly recommend reading some academic literature to those taking the Academic IELTS, to increase familiarity with the language and general reading speed. And lastly, keep going! Keep practising, keep speaking and keep writing because in the end it will be worth it.