By Grace Brennan

27 May 2024 - 11:13

IELTS success story

IELTS is one of the most prestigious and popular English language proficiency tests in the world. Every year, more than four million people take the test, hoping to study, work, and live abroad. One of them was Ofelia Carolina Vargas Caceres, who took IELTS as a bridge to new opportunities.

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Ofelia was born in Lima, Peru. She was working full time as an office manager when she decided to pursue her dream of studying in Canada. She had previously lived in the United States for a year and was drawn towards the different lifestyle, culture, and systems of North America. She also knew that Canada was similar to the US, and wasn’t too far from Peru and her family. Here is her IELTS success story:  

“Something that was still pending in my life”

“I had always heard that Canada was one of the best countries to live in,” she says. “And even when I had a good job in Peru, if I heard that someone was going to Canada, I felt like it was something that was still pending in my life too.”

Ofelia’s sister, who was already living in Canada, recommended an agency to help her move to the country. Ofelia initially applied for Express Entry, which required her to take IELTS General Training. She took the exam twice, once in 2015 and the other in 2017, but it wasn’t the right time to make the move.

By 2023, when Ofelia was ready to move to Canada, she had changed her mind and decided to take the education route. Originally, she was planning to take an MBA but the agency she was working with suggested applying for an undergraduate course. She found a business management programme at Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology – and saw that she would need an IELTS certification with an overall score of 6.

With less than a month to enrol in the programme, Ofelia signed up to take IELTS with the British Council.

Because Ofelia had already taken the IELTS General Training test, she felt some confidence studying for the IELTS Academic test. However, she knew that IELTS General Training was different and that this time, she decided to take IELTS on computer, not on paper. The tight timeframe meant that Ofelia didn’t want to wait long for her results, and IELTS on computer delivered results in three days. 

To prepare, Ofelia spent a lot of time practising her English and reading blogs about how to achieve high scores in IELTS. She downloaded the free preparation materials from the British Council, followed IELTS on social media for updates, and bought books to support her independent learning. While she found it more straightforward to mark her Listening and Reading sections of practice tests, she found it difficult to assess the Writing tasks. “I could paste my Writing sections into Google Translate, but it wasn’t the same as an examiner’s feedback.” 

Ofelia also noted that the writing sections in tests were focused on very specific topics like the environment for example. “Even in Spanish I didn’t have the vocabulary to answer the question. I needed to learn about topics and prepare an opinion.”

When it came to the day of Ofelia’s test, everything went smoothly. She took the test at an institute in Lima, where the test day staff communicated instructions and timing well, and checked that all the computer equipment was working. She recalls that the computer test was similar to the paper ones she’d done before.

“It makes me happy remembering that moment”

Before opening her results three days later, Ofelia asked her family to pray for an IELTS success story. As she opened the email, she used her hands to cover parts of the screen and receive the results for each section one by one. She needed a 6 overall and received three 6.5s and a 7. “It was a good feeling,” she says.

“I immediately sent the results to my agency to submit my application to the college. It makes me happy remembering that moment.”

Ofelia was accepted into the programme and moved to Canada in December 2023. IELTS has been so instrumental among her and her school peers that in group tasks, students ask each other who has the highest IELTS score to determine who will lead projects.

Looking to the future, Ofelia hopes to become a Canadian resident. “I want to apply for the post-graduate permit and find paths to stay in Canada. Even better, I want to live like a citizen.”

“Believe that you are taking IELTS for your future”

For others hoping to follow in Ofelia’s footsteps and experience their own IELTS success story, she recommends really getting to know the IELTS test before taking it. “Read blogs, ask friends who have taken it, watch videos – there are lots of resources to help. Use these before even paying for the exam”, she suggests. She also advises making a list of keywords for topics that are likely to appear on the exam (the environment, family dynamics, politics) to use in the Writing and Speaking sections. 

Above all, Ofelia stresses the importance of having a positive mindset. “You need to believe that you are taking IELTS for your future”, she says. “You are investing your time and money in a really good exam, and you should trust that you are going to receive a good score and new opportunities as a result.”

For an IELTS success story, preparation is key. Find out how the British Council can help you get ready for IELTS success! 

Learn more about IELTS