Testing times for students as IELTS tests indefinitely postponed

By Hoang Nguyen   November 10, 2022 | 03:30 pm PT
An unpleasant surprise awaited Nguyen Minh Nhat when returned home from school Wednesday. The 12th grader learnt that his November 26 IELTS test was canceled with no new date fixed.

"I feel very nervous because I don’t know when my test will be rescheduled," Nhat said.

He planned to apply to the National Economics University, which accepts IELTS scores as one of the admission criteria next year.

Like Nhat, many young people have been left in the lurch with the British Council’s decision to indefinitely postpone all IELTS tests starting November 10. On Thursday afternoon, IDP, the other unit that organizes IELTS tests in Vietnam, also announced to postpone the tests until further notice.

The announcements came after the Ministry of Education and Training asked education departments in all cities and provinces Tuesday to review the organization of foreign language tests in their areas and report to the ministry.

The postponement has put Bui Anh Trung in a difficult spot. Trung needs an IELTS certificate as soon as possible for studying abroad.

"I plan to study in the U.S. in spring, but I don’t know when the tests will resume," Trung told VnExpress. "I just hope that I can take the test as soon as possible."

People taking IELTS test at British Council. Photo courtesy of IELTS British Council Vietnam

People taking IELTS test at British Council. Photo courtesy of IELTS British Council Vietnam

Experts said the postponement of these exams has impacted most strongly those looking to study abroad, 12th graders looking to use the foreign language certificates for university admissions, those who need such certificates to graduate and professionals like foreign language teachers.

Nguyen Minh Oanh, manager of an English center in Hanoi, said the timeframe for sending applications to U.S. and European universities was quite close to each other, the nearest one being from January to March 2023.

The postponement would affect study plans and the mentality of examinees, she said.

Many 12th grade students want to take the IELTS exams before the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, which falls in January, to focus on preparing for their high school graduation and university entrance exams in July.

The demand for IELTS has skyrocketed in recent years, as more and more universities have made the certificate one of their admission priorities.

In 2017 only a few colleges had IELTS as an admission criterion. But this increased last year when more than 30 schools incorporated it into the admission process. Though specific figures are not available, it is expected that more schools will prioritize candidates with strong foreign language skills the coming academic year and in coming years.

The IELTS Workshop, one of the big IELTS centers in Vietnam, told its students not to panic.

"Hopefully the tests will return soon. We should consider this as an opportunity to have more time to revise and improve our knowledge," it wrote on its Facebook page.

Some suggested that people who need an IELTS certification immediately can consider flying to other countries in the region to take the test.

"The students who have been studying IELTS for a long time and still want to take the test can go to neighboring countries, but it will be expensive and time-consuming," said Tran Phuong Hoa, founder and director of Summit Education, one of the locations for holding IELTS tests recognized by British Council.

Those who don’t need to take the test in November and December should stay calm, Hoa advised, adding that they can spend more time on revision while waiting for new announcements.

Nguyen Son Hung, a 12th-grade student at Hanoi’s Dong Da High School, was set to take the test on Thursday, and although things didn’t go as planned, it didn’t affect him too much.

" I was studying hard and felt slightly disappointed when they postponed the test. But I will continue studying, turn disadvantages into advantages and wait for the next announcement," Hung said.

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