It sounds tragic, even to me as the writer, to name this chapter the way I did. But as Alexander Graham Bell once put it, “When one door closes, another opens.”
The moment I affixed my signature on the crisp paper that read Job Offer, I knew there were a lot of things that I needed to put into perspective. Yes, my life is about to change. But before it could, I have to go through two exams – mandatory, before my application with NMC could be formally lodged.
Part of the requirements for UK employment is the dreaded IELTS test. Both my employer and agency recommended that I enroll myself in a review center in preparation for the said exam. I heeded their advice and decided to go for the review. This decision, however, came with another – leaving my job.
I never realized how staying in an institution for nearly 3 years could hold me back. Working for MakatiMed has been a whirlwind experience, with a lot of ups and downs, days when I cursed non-stop, days when I barely had time to pee or eat, and days when I could’ve spent holidays at home with my family instead of reporting for work. Then again, I wanted to be a nurse. Yes, there were bad days but there were also good ones. Days when patients let you know they appreciate you and what you do for them, days when you just have 2 patients and days when you get by a shift without admissions, trans-ins, and complaints. I knew I was going to miss it all but I gambled and took my chances anyway. It was in October of 2016 when I left. Like what I always said to myself back then, whatever it is I’m doing, it’s all for this dream worth chasing – the UK.
It was mid-November when I started my review in JRooz. I was enrolled in the Unlimited program, which afforded me the countless sit-ins, mock exams and one-on-one coaching sessions I had, before taking the exam January of the following year.
I didn’t get it right the first time, and that alone crushed me. I had been sick days before my actual test; I showed up for my speaking exam, feverish, constantly coughing and sneezing. To top it all, I barely had voice, which was a big no-no. 😓 This carried on until the day of my written exams. I was, in no way, fit to take any test – as I was physically exhausted and mentally unprepared. As soon as I walked out of the ballroom, I knew better not to expect.
13 days later, the results were released. I was right not to expect good scores. I felt awfully sad and frustrated, seeing as I made it on all sub-tests except for Writing, where I only got 6.5. Failure never hit me hard like it did that time; that 0.5 away from my target score meant I would’ve to resit the exam again. Nooooooo. 😭😭😭
There was no telling how heartbroken I was then. I debated whether retaking the exam or having my current one remarked would be the best option to take. I slowly lost my resolve to continue the UK dream, but it was my mom who dragged me back to JRooz, who told me that it was foolish to abandon everything all because of one setback. And she was right. I probably stressed myself way too much because of the exam that I ended up getting sick.
I gathered all the strength I had to set my priorities straight this time. I was more focused – the exam was beatable, given the right attitude and preparation. Yes, preparation and at the same time, taking care of myself. When I started going back to JRooz, I was fortunate enough to be part of the “pilot” class of the Intensive Writing Workshop. Here, I learned how to think faster and write better. I couldn’t be more thankful for the timing. It was exactly what I needed . 😇😇
It was March 25 when I decided to take the IELTS again. Doing it for the second time, I’d say the overall experience was better. It gave me quite an edge because I already knew what to expect from the test, the examiners, and the whole nine yards. I felt more confident and relaxed. But more than that, I guess it’s because I wasn’t sick that day. Yessss!
As soon as I finished my exams and walked out, I felt positive. I was happy because this time, I knew that I was able to give my 101%. Though I was not discounting the fact that the exam was rather challenging, I knew in my heart that I gave my best shot. Whatever happens, happens. Results came out after almost two weeks. I was blown away with my scores and couldn’t help but cry, laugh, jump and shout. I was able to hurdle my Writing; and got an 8.5 for Listening, 8.0 for Reading and Speaking and 7.5 for Writing. I didn’t expect such good scores. All I wanted was to pass, and God simply gave me so much more. It couldn’t have been all me – I know God, the stars and fate were all on my side. They wanted me to be in UK and that’s why I passed. Great way to look at it, eh? 😊😊😊
One down, more to go. My IELTS journey was not perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I went through failure, but rose up to the challenge and proved something to myself. Remember: The only time you fail is when you stop trying.
Here are my tips for aspiring IELTS test takers:
- Embrace the English language. Language is a skill and for you to be proficient at it, you have to practice. Practice! Practice! Practice!
- Bombard yourself with everything English. Watch English shows, read English books and speak in English. Listening to podcasts might also be helpful.
- Really review for the exam. If you can, you might want to consider taking a course on IELTS or hiring a freelance IELTS mentor. In this way, you are able to seek feedback, especially when it comes to your writing and speaking.
- Check out trust-worthy IELTS sites like IELTS Liz IELTS Buddy or IELTS Simon. You can also find them on YouTube for tutorials. Personally, I found Learn English with Emma very useful during my review. She has a playlist of IELTS lessons that gets you covered from Listening to Reading to Writing and finally, Speaking.
- Have the right attitude and disposition towards the test. The IELTS is not impossible to pass. All you need is to work hard and I guarantee you, you will reap the fruits of your labor. Likewise, learn to take care of yourself. If you feel too stressed, take a break from studying and find something relaxing to do. Take it from me, you can’t ace the exam if you’re not at all okay to begin with.
To those of you who will take the IELTS, pray a lot. Do your best. GOOD LUCK AND MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.
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Bye for now,