Vietnamese 9th grader gets 8.5 IELTS score on first try

By Duc Hung   June 11, 2023 | 06:41 pm PT
Vietnamese 9th grader gets 8.5 IELTS score on first try
Nguyen Quoc Tuan Kiet studies at his home in Nghe An Province in central Vietnam, June 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hung Le
A 9th grader in the central Nghe An Province has received an IELTS score of 8.5 on his first attempt.

Nguyen Quoc Tuan Kiet, a student at the Dang Chanh Ky Secondary School, was admitted to Phan Boi Chau Specialized High School thanks to his strong score in the English-proficiency test.

"At first, I thought I was going to get a score at around 7.5, so 8.5 was out of my expectations," he said.

A maximum IELTS score is 9.

Kiet is the older of two siblings in a family of Nam Dan Town. His father works in Singapore, and he has a stay-at-home mom.

Kiet began interacting with English when he was four, watching YouTube videos and learning the alphabet.

When he entered first grade, his parents signed him up for extra English classes. His language proficiency allowed him to sit in the same class with 8 and 9-year-old students after a few months of studying.

Kiet said he spent around 1-2 hours a day to read English newspapers, to help study for the test. He also watches online videos and tries to improve his speaking skills and hone his vocabulary.

He said he also play games with international friends to get used to how people outside of Vietnam use English.

He managed to score a perfect 9 for speaking, while getting 8.5 for both listening and reading. However, writing was a different beast for Kiet.

He said writing is one of his weaknesses, so his English center teacher helped him practice with many different exercises. For each lesson, he spends around an hour writing English essays.

During the first 10 minutes of the writing exam, Kiet said he felt stuck on the prompt. It asked him about the importance of exercise equipment like treadmills, but he has never used them. As such, his writing did not go as smoothly as he wanted, and he scored 7.5.

Nguyen Tu Nga, an English teacher at Dang Chanh Ky secondary school, said Kiet had an edge over his peers in English.

"His listening, speaking and reading skills are almost perfect. Few people at the age of 15 achieve that," Nga said.

Kiet said he wants to pursue studying English to explore the world more.

"It's too soon to talk about the future. For now, I will continue to gather more knowledge. In my free time, I will also study chemistry more, which is also one of my passions," he said.

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