Limited centers make IELTS exams tougher for Vietnamese students

By Dang Khoa   November 21, 2022 | 04:58 am PT
Limited centers make IELTS exams tougher for Vietnamese students
People taking IELTS test at British Council. Photo courtesy of IELTS British Council Vietnam
Many Vietnamese students are having to travel long distances to take their IELTS exams because authorized venues have been limited by the education ministry.

On learning that the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams have resumed after a postponement that took all candidates by surprise, Nguyen Van Hung quickly went online to check if any of the test venues in Hai Duong Province had reopened.

To his disappointment, none had.

A week after announcing an indefinite postponement of the tests, the IDP and British Council were given permission to resume conducting the exams on November 17 and 18, respectively.

The only two institutions authorized to conduct the IELTS exams in the country have not announced any venue in Hai Duong for the tests, however.

Hung's nearest option for taking the exam, therefore, is Hanoi, nearly 80 kilometers from his home.

"It's a bit annoying having to travel two hours to Hanoi to take the test. I just want to get it over with so I can concentrate on preparing for my university entrance exams next year," the high school senior said, adding that he will travel to the capital city by car.

Since the exam will be held in the morning, he needs to travel to Hanoi the day before and stay in a hotel. His father has to accompany him, increasing the cost of travel and lodging.

"Though it's burdensome, I don't have a choice," the 18-year-old said.

Since the mid-1990s, the IELTS exam is being taken every year by thousands of people in Vietnam, primarily students and professionals seeking to study and work abroad, as well as English teachers looking to establish their career.

Furthermore, Vietnamese universities have started to use IELTS scores as admission criteria in recent years.

Hung is one of many IELTS test takers facing challenges because the IDP and British Council have had to cut back on the number of authorized exam sites.

The IDP used to organize the exams in nearly 40 different localities throughout Vietnam. Now, it can only offer them at four centers in three localities - Hanoi, Da Nang and HCMC, starting November 17.

Similarly, on November 18, the Ministry of Education and Training authorized the British Council to organize the IELTS exam at just ten testing centers in five localities: Hanoi, HCMC, Hai Phong, Vinh and Hue.

Earlier, the British Council's website had stated that candidates can register for the exam at 20 locations throughout Vietnam.

Tran Minh Thu finds herself sharing Hung’s plight. Since the Can Tho City high school senior wants to study abroad next fall, she wants to take the test now to complete her admission process in time

"I am really worried that I won't get the test results in time and won't be able to complete my application before the admission deadlines," said the 18-year-old who has to travel to HCMC from the Mekong Delta.

I am also worried that I will be tired after the 4-hour journey and that it might affect my performance," she added.

Many of those who had to delay taking their exams because of the unexpected postponement are now having trouble rescheduling the because of the reduction in test venues.

Hung said he has rented a hotel room in Hanoi for himself and his father for VND500,000 ($20.13) a night.

"Even though I get car sick, I have to take the test," he said. "I just hope it won't affect my test performance."

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