My first try to the IELTS test, and my thoughts on it

So I went to a IELTS test location near Taipei Main Station today for listening, reading, writing and speaking tests. I scored L7.5/R8/W6.5/S6, total 7. Here's what I've learned from it.

I've been using English for over 10 years, and I didn't listen to English classes at school – I'm mostly self-taught. I've been writing English blogs for 4 years, just in this website. Unfortunately I don't get much chance to speak English here in Taiwan, so my speaking skills is pretty bad, I would say.

I was initially worried because I heard that IELTS is more difficult than other similar tests like TOEIC. I scored 935 for TOEIC LR test last year at school (yeah it's awful I know right!).

Anyway I went to a bookstore and bought some official IELTS guide book & practice tests. I spent some time in it and it made me fear of the test – I fail most of the reading questions in the practice test. I then tried some listening questions to familiarise myself with the test.

One day before the test, I convinced myself that everything will be fine. I just looked at some advices to the test and run through some easy reading questions on the Road to IELTS website. The next day, I arrived at the test location at 8AM. Surprisingly there were only 4 candidates. After half an hour, all candidates have arrived and we went upstairs for the announcements, security checks and the test.

I did the reading test with ease, surprisingly. I did Task 1 (or Passage 1) in less than 10 minutes, 20 minutes for the second and the rest time for the last one. It was not anywhere close to the difficulty of the practice tests. I think it's pretty easy to read, but with a lot of details in there. The guide book suggested readers to first scan the passage, then read it carefully. I just read the passages on first try, without scanning. There are more than enough time for me to do that! I'd give an advice that works on me, which is that I suggest one should read the first question after reading the first paragraph. Sometimes the answer is simply already there. If you read it all the way to the end you're gonna spend more time to look for the information that is asked on the first question.

For the listening test, it's overall easy. Just be patient and focused (which I was sadly not) and you should do pretty good on that. If I recall right, the information is always given in the order of the questions, so you don't need to memorise what the speakers just said and probably fill that answer to the next 2 questions, like some other tests.

The writing test – I can't give much guidance on this because I suck at it. Anyway, I think if you express your thoughts clearly and use grammar correctly, you'd probably get a pretty good score.

Ultimately, the speaking test. It was a disaster. I was initially not nervous at all, and I thought it would be just as easy as chatting. But when I stepped into the interview room, the lady seemed and talked pretty serious and professional, and I began to nerve. I was shaking when I talked, and can't really think of the question per se. I think one of the most difficult thing is that you actually need to think about the questions, make them informative, related to the question and express them aloud and clear, while being calm. I was asked about –

It was quite a challenge! I plan to take a TOEFL test in the future, hope it goes well!