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So the news is : I received a letter with the test results from IELTS!!!!!!!!!

My scores:
listening - 7.5
reading - 8.5
writing - 8.0
speaking - 9.0
average for the college - 8.5
the highest mark they give - 9.0
the passing mark for the college - 7.0
So after all, I did it alright!!!! Good for me!!!!
Surprise was the comparatively low mark in listening!!! :-) I never have a problem with that and there, at the exam I understood everything, but the problem is to answer their questions, to keep all this in mind!!!!! And I have 8 hours of listening practice every day !!!!!! So can you imagine?????

And have a look at the speaking - 9.0!!!!! Boltoushka!!!!! :-) Am I not????? :-) :-) I guess, it is also a matter of my emotions :-) - I gave another show there!!!!! :-) And it was appreciated!!!! :-)
But after all I can say: I do not know how people without inyaz pass such tests, I really do not know!!!!
This exam was necessary for passing certification process for Ontario Teachers College. They demanded the exam in English - it is called English Proficiency Test - as the education that we received was not done in English and thus it is necessary to prove that we are capable of working in English. There was an option between TOEFL and IELTS as both test results are acceptable by OTC (Ontario Teachers College). I had an experience of passing TOEFL several years ago and even prepared a lot of people to this exam (successfully I must admit :) ) and that is why I voted for IELTS exam just because it was a challenge and I wanted to try smth new.
The info about the exam, its dates and locations can be found on the official site of the college which is an official representative of the test here in Canada: http://www.conestogac.on.ca/ielts/index.html
On this site there is info about dates and locations, application forms and a payment authorization form, description of the exam, contact info etc.
First of all, I called the ctr and asked if there were still places available for the nearest date - May 25. The answer was positive and I got enrolled in the list over the phone. After that I downloaded the application form, filled it out and did the same with the payment authorization form (the charge for the exam is $224.00 CAD) , then all this was sent to the college via ordinary mail and three days later I received a confirmation from the testing ctr via email that my name is included in the list for that day. They provided details on the location and the time of the exam, reminded about the ID. So two weeks before the exam I learned the date and still had some time to get ready to it.

Preparation:

First of all I found some info about the exam itself - all this is kindly provided on the following site:
http://ielts.napishi.ru/books/index.html - here there is a lot of info about the exam + testimonials of people who already passed it + preparation materials which are available in abundance online and which we downloaded. To tell the truth, these materials were MOST helpful as gave an idea about the level of the knowledge we were expected to demonstrate + the structure of the exam. At least we knew what we were supposed to do, marks we would be given, criteria of marking, types of tasks. So I strongly advise to have a look at all this info and try to do practice tests which are in abundance there!!!!
So for two weeks I was reading texts and trying to do the questions and then checked in the answer sheets, I listened to the texts and unfortunately all this happened to be a little bit fragmentarily due to work and family load. :)
As for writing - never could force myself to start writing essays though read the examples of topics which are provided on the same site + examples of topics for discussion at the speaking exam. All this gave some idea about themes and their expectations.

Exam:

So two weeks later, prepared or not :) , I risked to go to the exam, feeling completely indifferent as by then was already tired of all exam jitters and excitements. :) When we arrived to the college, there were a lot of people who came to the same exam - in total about 40 (my friend has just cited the number 36 :) ) people or so, and 4 Russian speaking among them !!!! :) We at once made friends with a young girl, Tanya, who came to the exam even without knowing anything what would be expecting her!!!! At that moment I felt PREPARED!!!!! :) Everybody was tense and nervous but we as usually were laughing, joking, taking pictures and definitely attracting everyone's attention - hey, we went through the period of "laying off" in the company like this - laughing :) - what is just an ordinary English Exam after that?????!!!!! :)
Registration for the exam started 30 minutes before the exam and it consisted of providing some form of ID to verify the person and to hear that we were supposed to find our places , to sit and wait. This was a large room , looks like a lecture hall in the University with long benches designed to place at least 6-7 people. So we were placed three people at such desks with decent spaces between us. Every place was marked with a name , ID number and your exam number - all places were marked beforehand. The first row was provided for people who passed General level of IELTS, all the rest of the group were taking the academic level of the exam.
At 8:30 sharp the door to the classroom was closed and we were given detailed instructions about the first part of the exam - listening. The main rules at the exam: not to open the books before they tell you to do so; not to be late from the break - as they just do not let you continue the exam and you just lose the money; not to talk to anybody; not to have anything on the desk - only pens, pencils and erasers; to finish the task as soon as they tell you about it . If you break ANY of the rules - they just do not let you continue with the exam. And the examiners were really strict !!!!! We were given a book with questions where we could make notes while listening and an answering sheet - at the end of the listening test we were given 10 minutes to transfer all the answers to the sheet.

Listening:

It was the most difficult part of the test. They demonstrated different accents in English, the texts were presented in an order with increasing difficulties and the most difficult part was not only to UNDERSTAND the info but also to retain it in the memory + to provide correct answers to their tricky questions.
There were 5 texts for listening, all listening test was one hour long.
1) The first text - the easiest one - was a conversation between two friends about a jazz festival. We were supposed to provide some details - such as - location, dates, available places etc. The catch there was a question about the length of the festival - it was mentioned that it was for a month and there were options - 4 days, 4 weeks, a weekend and smth else - the additional info provide - the festival was in the open air, people sit on grass and enjoy nice weather and all this happens in JANUARY!!!! :) So in the stressed situation few people could get that all this was happening in Australia!!!! And made mistakes!!!! I did not!!!! :) But I did have a problem with concentration - was always thinking about smth else!!!! :)
2) Conversation of a sick person and a family doctor about the condition of a sick person , medicine, side effects, one of the tasks was to fill out a table with side effects using less than three words in each case.
3) Chinese students were interviewed by Dean's office re: their attitude to education and situation on the faculty, complaints of the students, their areas of education. Pretty complicated first of all due to the length of the conversation and tricky questions.
4) part of the lecture on history of the English language!!!!!! What layers of the language can be studied by formal methods, how far back the history can date the origins of languages, peculiarities of tone languages, how the category of gender and number appeared in the language. - A very specific text - it was difficult even for us, who graduated from Linguistic University as it was part of our education there, it was our terminology there!!! Do they expect everyone to know what tone languages are????? I knew it only because I wrote my scientific work at the university on phonetics and touched the topic there!!!! You really never know what kind of knowledge you need , when and where, right???
5) Monologue on different languages, continents where they started and migration issues, influences of languages on development of each other on different territories. We were supposed to mark migration processes on the map and then ,with letters which corresponded different continents, reflect the movements and influences on languages in the text format, pretty tough. :)
After listening, we had 10 minutes to transfer all answers (letters from multiple choice, words , numbers) to the answer sheet.

Reading:

Immediately after the listening test, there was another hour of reading. We were given leaflets with texts and questions and answer sheets, but this time it was our responsibility to allocate time for transferring answers to the sheet. Again we were explained the rules and then started to work at these three texts - 20 minutes for each. Texts were two pages each, again from the easiest in the beginning, to the most complicated one in the end.
The first text was about Pagodas - if it was the easiest........?????? It was concentrating on history and architecture and differences between Chinese and Japanese pagodas. There were at least 10% unknown words for me, mainly architectural terminology, then - the killing exercise - to choose the title for paragraphs - 10 paragraphs and 14 titles - try to play with those!!!!! I even do not mention those other 20 questions or so!!!!
Bullying At Schools in Great Britain - thank Goodness I read an article about the problem recently (December or so) in Readers Digest and I had some idea what they were speaking about. Again two pages of "morazm" and "akhineya" and then exercises: fill in the info in the blanks according to the text, questions and multiple choice answers.
Literacy and Health - the text was about education for adult women in Nicaragua :) and the connection between the death rate and health care in families due to the raised level of education. Exercise - fill in words from a box so that to have a short resume of the text. By now we were exhausted with all these WORLD problems and lack of time to deal with them and questions in particular!!!!! :)
So after reading we had 20 minutes break!!!!! Finally!!!!! :)
Definitely , we spent this break speaking about the tasks that we did and discussing possible errors. 20 minutes later - writing!!!!

Writing:

That was what I was afraid of - my weak point!!!! :)
There were two tasks to fulfil within an hour:
There were 3 graphs comparing levels of a)salaries b) benefits and c) social security in major countries such as Germany, USA, France, Japan and UK in the years 1995 - 1998. We were supposed to compare and to write a report (150 words) about the level of income in different countries during these years. How about doing it if you never had this kind of practice, even in Russian and really hardly know where to start???? :) I wrote more than 250 words!!!! :)
The major topic for the essay sounded smth like this (250 words were min) - Should governments allocate more investments in sciences than in say languages and business as science is more profitable for the society and pushes this society to develop further. Give your pros and cons and explain why.
I managed to write 4 pages :) and the main ideas that I tried to express were :
- government invests in science directly (providing money for scientific researches) and indirectly (for education of professionals for science, providing educational materials, premises, professors etc)
- if scientists are so clever, why they are not rich??? :) and why science cannot implement the ideas in practical life thus making money for the science.
- Why not combine science and business for business to see opportunities of scientific research and then promote them on the market.
- If governments are prioritizing the development of science only (and allocation of larger investments presupposes this ) , then what is the final goal of the government in this society : to make people as robots with a number of skills and knowledge???? How about soul? Languages develop not only communication between people and peoples but literature as part of the language also develops our souls thus keeping us as human beings.
- Priorities, including investments, demand wisdom and the so called golden middle is better that any kind of extremes.

So these were the main points touched in the essay and I chose different techniques - speculation, description, questions and answers.
An hour later we were announced the time of our speaking test . Our time was 2:20 pm and we still had some time for lunch. What did we do??? Right!! Went to my place to eat!!! :)
So at 2:15 approx we were back at college. The speaking test was taking place at three different classrooms, so our group was split to three micro groups and we had three different examiners. By the time I finally found the classroom in that maze of Humber College, the examiner was already looking for me and waiting impatiently. I was a couple of minutes late!!!! Tell me why I am not surprised!!! - A woman!!!! :) But what an excuse to start the exam with a joke!!! And I did!!!! What can be better than a good laugh???? !!! :) Immediately breaks the ice in communication!!!!! :) :)

Speaking:

We were given approx 15 min for the speaking exam. At the beginning the examiner introduced herself and explained that all the exam would be taped (recorded) and marked by a board of examiners later :) . Her function was to read the questions and I was supposed to express my opinion about different topics - they expected me to give short and long monologues, ask questions, prove answers with examples. "How about singing and dancing ??? " - definitely that was my reaction to all this!!!! :) So she pressed the button RECORD and the exam started.
Tell me about yourself (name, grade and position, right??? :) Voenka vylazit :) ) - I gave 2 min short presentation which was wisely prepared long ago at the courses where they taught us to write resumes!!!! Wow!!! It worked this time too!!!! :)
Where do you work? Describe what you do at your work. ( Was it a job interview???? :) I just cannot do without my jokes and teasing, sure thing!!!! :) ) - So I talked about the company, the title of my position, what services we provided and what I did on a daily basis.
Why do you pass the exam???? Is it necessary for your present job?? - There I started the part about my 10 years of school experience, about my dream to become a simple C-ian school teacher :) and all the process of certification and validation of my documents including the exam.
Why did you decide to become a teacher???? - When??? Back then???? Almost 20 years ago???? I do not remember!!!! And now I even do not know!!!! Now I know that I am a born teacher :) :) :) . Definitely there was an influence of a good school teacher bla-bla-bla... So I just presented them the stuff that they wanted to hear but in a very "natural and close to a friendly conversation style" - who does not like it, hey???? :)
Tell me about your country - oh, my!!! Do not even go there!!!! - Then Ostapa poneslo!!!! Told some words about geography - center of Europe!!! Some cities, Minsk as the capital, nice places that we visited just before our departure.
Tell me about a prominent monument in your city. - Definitely Victory Circus and Monument there - a little bit of history + living fire + tradition to come there on a wedding day (here I also asked what places the newlywed visit here, she was puzzled!!! :) ) , I could not but mention our Alma Mater being beside, she was impressed with Latin, but I am not sure if she understood :)
Tell me about cuisine in Belarus - mentioned that we are potato eaters just like PEI (Prince Edward Island :) ) + that we have 500 dishes made from potatoes including desserts. There at that point I found her weak point as she started talking about a chocolate cake made with potatoes!!! :) I caught her!!:)
Tell me what you prefer - to eat at home or to eat out - shared my knowledge about the ritual to EATING - that in ancient times it was a sacred ritual and not everybody was allowed to be present at it - only family members and closest friends + added that I prefer my cooking as then I am 100% sure that it is healthy , fresh and just served in time - hot!!! Plus I cannot but add the magic of my personality :) and create a special atmosphere at home so the very process of eating turns out to be communication, fellowship, sharing of our home with friends and people in our lives etc. At the same time mentioned that there are definite advantages of eating out - this is fun and the woman does not have to be chained to the "eternal fire" - the stove!!! Oh, how she liked that part and laughed so much!!!! She even made a note of this expression - chained to the "eternal fire". :)
Describe your most recent experience of going out - we went to a Chinese restaurant two days before the exam to celebrate a Bday!!!! And I began talking about my experience of Chinese food - first in Minsk - I vividly pictured the kimono and a round turning dish on the table and the level of service and the Chinese music and straw partitions between tables to create the atmosphere of solitude and attention of the owner - all this in "Zolotoy Lotos" in Minsk . And then compared with the buffet restaurant "Mandarin" here - two completely different places but every one has something of its own - atmosphere and the ritual - on that day I happened to wear the same jacket that I did when we went to the restaurant and all of a sudden I take out of the pocket two wish notes - they bring those at the end, when you are about to leave - and I read the examples of wishes that we got on that day!!! :) Then I added my positive emotions on the trifle of bringing the hot towels to wipe your hands - then you feel refreshed not only by food, but also by these napkins and have a complete feeling of happiness!!!! Hey, wasn't I prepared to this show???? :)
Tell some words about your travelling experience and why you like to travel - how did she know all my strong points???? Travelling!!!! Just mention it!!!! :) - I only gave her the list of countries that we visited - Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czech, Hungary, Turkey, the USA and places in C-da - Ottawa, Sault St. Marie, Montreal and sights in T-to!!!!! Her eyebrows were somewhere on her upper part of the forehead!!!! :) Why like travelling??? This was the place for my hit - you never remember the life moments when you do f.e. dishes, you LIVE when you travel!!!!! These are the flashes of your history!!!! + I speak so many languages!!! :) Why not use the knowledge that I have??? Speak Italian in Italy, German in Germany, Polish in Poland, French in Quebec, English in Canada and USA!!!! :)
She just could not talk to me any longer!!!!! :) I saw that it was such a torture to her!!!!! :) She said that she enjoyed the conversation and that the exam was over!!!! :) I wish I could continue the conversation!!!! :) I was enjoying it so much!!!!! She was so kind and did not ask a single DIFFICULT question!!!! :)
That's it!!!! Wish success to everyone in passing this glorious exam and in life in general!!!!

Ella

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