Perfect IELTS score is not mission impossible, says 9.0 achiever

By Darren Barnard   June 13, 2023 | 05:00 am PT
Perfect IELTS score is not mission impossible, says 9.0 achiever
Luyen Quang Kien, the first Vietnamese to achieve a score of 9 in all four skills in an IELTS test. Photo courtesy of Luyen Quang Kien
"I hope people understand that, with dedication and resilience, they can achieve their goals regardless of what people think and how impossible their goals appear to be."

These are the inspiring words of Luyen Quang Kien, who recently became the first Vietnamese to achieve a score of 9 in all four skills in an IELTS English proficiency test.

Kien, an English teacher, had to work extremely hard to achieve this after first taking the IELTS test nearly a decade ago. In fact, it was the sixth time he had taken the test this year alone, highlighting the extreme difficulty it holds for English learners.

According to the academic mean score is 6.28 for women candidates and an even lower 6.22 for men.

This again indicates the complexity of the test and how even countries with a higher English proficiency level than Vietnam struggle to achieve the maximum score.

"It all comes down to bad advice and popular misconceptions even among IELTS teachers," Kien says to illustrate the problem many Vietnamese make.

"They think that because IELTS is a test, they have to try their hardest to impress the examiner. But this thinking often backfires because it inevitably leads to them trying to learn and then squeeze 'big' words into their speaking and writing."

Kien adds: "They simply use complex words for complexity's sake rather than understanding the nuanced meanings and contexts in which such words should be used. This mistake results in lower band scores."

Many IELTS candidates in Vietnam take the test to get entry into a university within the country, study abroad or migrate to other countries.

It can thus be one of the most high-pressure examinations an individual can take, with many people’s futures changing markedly as a result of not achieving the required score.

Due to this, many retake the test several times to achieve the score they desire.

Kien, who is familiar with this, recommends the following:

"After each failure or success, they should sit back, reflect and learn. Each time, they are getting closer to their goals."

He also has some useful advice for Vietnamese students who want to achieve a high score like he did.

"I hope that more students will start to 'live' the language instead of focusing solely on learning it. This can be done by surrounding themselves with English.

"For example, instead of reading football news in their native language, they should follow an online sports news outlet to read the same news. This change used to be difficult due to geographical barriers, but the Internet and smartphones have made it easier than ever."

He hopes to play a role in helping others achieve his feat: He intends to write a book on how to get a band 9 score in the test.

go to top