Dramatically improving my IELTS score in Oxford
Yumi Sato, from Japan, recently achieved excellent results in the IELTS exam after preparing at Kings Oxford. She tells us the reasons why studying at Kings was right for her.
What made you decide to do the IELTS course, and why did you choose Kings?
I took Intensive IELTS course for three weeks to prepare for IELTS exam — I needed to meet IELTS bands that the university which gave me a conditional offer requested. In addition, I took 4 one-to-one sessions.
For my first IELTS exam, I studied only online course Road to IELTS. As soon as I finished the exam, I was not sure if I met the IELTS bands so I straight away booked next IELTS exam as a backup. Also I felt I ought to be corrected by someone who knows the exam system.
Since my speaking test was conducted in Kings Oxford, I realised that courses here are conducted by IELTS examiners. Then I thought this was perfect, and I was right.
Is there a particular reason why you need to be proficient in English?
To apply for a Master's course. Despite I had been working for nearly 15 years using English every day in English speaking countries and married to an English man, my English level is not proficient. Also in order to be able to study modules and write dissertations in English, I need to improve my English level.
Did you have a learning goal for your time with us, and if so, did you achieve it?
My initial goal was to meet IELTS bands that my university required. However, I received my first IELTS bands and luckily I met scores the university required — but I wanted to improve my IELTS band more.
My first IELTS bands (18 March) were Listening 7, Reading 7, Writing 6, and Speaking 6 — Overall 6.5.
My second IELTS bands (22 April) were Listening 8, Reading 8.5, Writing 6.5 and Speaking 8 — Overall was 8.0. I could not believe only three weeks Intensive IELTS course would improve my English overall so dramatically! I believe my Writing would be better if I had taken one-to-one sessions before the second IELTS exam.
How would you describe the teachers at Kings, and what were the highlights of the classes for you?
I can tell all teachers are extremely experienced. They are very flexible, passionate and understand individual needs. Thanks to them, now I know what areas to improve. I was particularly fond of Dominic’s classes as his lessons opened a door to the life in Oxford that I would never find out by myself.
In what areas do you think you made most improvement?
I think I learnt the most about how to improve Writing, even though IELTS band did not reflect the effort just yet. However, I believe some advice that I was given by teachers really helped to improve IELTS band.
For Speaking, I was told to speak clearly and slower as I tend to speak quite fast. Also some of the accents were nicely corrected during the course.
For Listening, we were taught to be able to pronounce shortened forms so that you won’t be distracted from ‘teasers’ in Listening test.
For Reading, advice regarding True/False/Not Given was very helpful, that this test's purpose is detail understanding, not capturing overall idea.
Individual tips might appear small, but I have no doubt that these tips made a huge impact on my IELTS band improvement.
Would you recommend Kings as a place to come and improve your English?
Absolutely. I had taken several English courses both in the US and in the UK in the past, and I am confident that the Kings Oxford was the best English teaching institution that I have ever had even taking my English level at that time into account. I also think it is suited for mature students as well as students who are applying for universities.
What advice would you give to other students from Japan who are preparing for the IELTS exam?
I highly recommend them to take courses with Kings. I tried online course, but it is far better to have face-to-face to be corrected. Some teachers are quite familiar with Japanese cultures, therefore they can point out many typical mistakes that Japanese make. Also Oxford is relatively safe place and plenty of things to do after school.