The IELTS Prize has genuinely put me one step closer to achieving my dream of studying abroad. Over the past five years, studying abroad has always been the number one priority on my list as I have always wanted to learn new things in a foreign country. In addition, as a content creator on YouTube, I want to study abroad to explore the world and learn about new things as a way to inspire my followers, who are mostly young people. However, coming from normal working-class family background, I know I have to work extra hard to fulfil that dream. That is why when I received the email from the British Council informing me that I had become an IELTS Prize winner, I could not believe my eyes. This prize is going to be of great help to me financially during my first year of study so I can focus on studying and prepare for the upcoming years.

I initially did not intend to apply for any scholarship for my study in Canada. I always thought of myself as an ordinary person with no particular outstanding academic achievement, and so a scholarship would be something out of my reach. I came to know about the IELTS Prize quite accidentally. On the day I registered for the IELTS test at the British Council, Hanoi office, I was told by one of the staff about the IELTS Prize, which intrigued me. After coming home, I immediately went to the official website of the IELTS Prize to read all about it. What I really love about this scholarship is that compared to other foreign government scholarships, the IELTS Prize does not have any complicated eligibility requirements, which is perfect for me. The selection process is straightforward, with clear instructions given in each email.

I took the IELTS test with the British Council the first time back in 2015, and honestly, I was really amazed at how professional the process was. After I had registered for the test, I was given thorough instruction regarding the test dates and location by the British Council staff, who are incredibly friendly and professional. But, what I enjoyed most when taking the IELTS test with the British Council was the free access to ‘Road to IELTS’ website. This site was immensely helpful for me to prepare for the test as there are many videos with useful advice and tutorials, as well as free IELTS practice tests. That is the reason why throughout the past four years, the British Council has always been my trusted organisation to take the IELTS test with.

The first time I took the IELTS test was because my university required all students in my faculty to have at least a band 6 to graduate. In fact, many top academic institutions in Vietnam now require their students to achieve a particular band score in IELTS as a graduation requirement. Recently I retook the IELTS because my university in Canada, the University of Prince Edward Island, requires a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 for admission. However, to me, IELTS is not merely a test to assess one’s proficiency in English. It has also helped me so much in improving my knowledge of the world. Whilst preparing for the test, I did a multitude of writing and reading tests on countless different topics such as society, nature, or economy. I believe this will give me an advantage when I study in Canada.

As someone who has taken IELTS with the British Council, my only advice for other IELTS test takers is to plan your study well. Many people when first preparing for the test often try to learn too many things at the same time, which can easily demotivate, as over time they lose the momentum and the willingness to keep going. When I studied for my latest IELTS test, I divided my study schedule very clearly, so that I would know exactly what to do each day. For example, on Mondays I wanted to learn something light and pleasant, so I would focus on the reading test because, to me, reading is quite fun compared to other skills. Nevertheless, if you don’t have much time to study for the test, I suggest you focus on what you’re best at, your strengths. That will definitely boost your scores. When I first took the IELTS test, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, so I focused on my reading and listening skills since they are my strengths. Higher band scores in reading and listening can be a saviour in case the scores of the other two skills do not meet your expectations.