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When luck is almost nowhere: My IELTS Journey

By: Rema Mae Rodriguez

I was lying in a hospital bed going through a miscarriage whilst reading a victorious IELTS result.  A moment of grief and loss amidst a victorious cheer, coincidentally? I felt ambivalent. It was a mixed emotion brought by the toughest trial I had to deal with and the presence of a soon-to-grasp-success. Consumed with a weak mind, I still cannot hide my motherly affection for my unborn child’s loss despite receiving the great news. 

    Two years ago, I was pregnant with my firstborn when I finally had the courage to start reviewing for the IELTS.   I chose to attend review classes to gain more insight and learn test taking strategies about the exam. As an OFW based in a far-flung region, I can only attend IELTS crash courses during my annual leave. I badly needed the review classes for the hope of a one-time hit for the best scores. 

    It was hard to find the right schedule from work to chase the time en route for the review classes. Not to mention the difficulty of climbing the stairs towards the lecture room and the idea of how I will manage the pregnancy moods during each lesson. It was an instant decision for me to take the exam and being pregnant didn’t stop me from setting my goal—pass the exam in the first try.

     Things went by too soon, from once to thrice, I received the same failing mark for the writing subtest. The passing mark that time is 7.0 and I consistently received the same half band score less to pass. You know that feeling of being right at the edge of success? Because all I needed was just a half band score! 

I gave birth to my daughter but still on the bottom.

      Following two years of failing, I received the sad news regarding my end of service from my employer and at the same time found out I was expecting again for our second child. The emotional turmoil I have to go through gave me sleepless nights. What will happen to my family after all these twists of fate?

    As I began to question everything, I just woke up one day telling my husband to prepare for the weekend and I will have another go with the IELTS exam. No reviews, just a pencil, eraser to bring and a determined mind. I gripped for luck this time.

      I received the results only after three days which normally takes a week. Sadly, I only got 6.5 for the speaking subtest and again just within reach to pass. Without a second thought, I appealed and filed for an EOR (enquiry on results) just after the receptionist handed me my TRF (test report form). I requested for both Writing and Speaking subtests to be reviewed although I had doubts about filing for writing as I already got 7.0 score. 

     A month of waiting for the decision was excruciating. The closer the day comes, the more anxious I become about sitting for another exam if I fail again. The anxiety I felt that time was intensified as I grieve with the loss of my unborn child. Lying on the hospital bed as I guard my abdomen in pain and my broken heart that I need to mend again to move forward. 

   While I was engrossed with this misfortune, I received a message from my husband that my Speaking category score was changed to 7.0. It was indeed an ironic circumstance that showered me with unexplainable mixed emotions.  It was my unborn child’s loss this time that I passed the exams. Thinking back on my first try with the IELTS test, was the time when I had my firstborn but failed the exam multiple times. I realized that life indeed pushed me to my limits—knees on the ground but surprised me in an uncalled for moment.

     Life may be so unfair for me but there are always the good things I am so grateful for. As an OFW with no other source of strength but the three of us. I didn't think I could have such courage to lift myself up, but I did. Things may not be on my favor during those trying moments, but my journey is enough to tell how God answered my prayers even in the darkest days of my life. For now, I am still in awe of all the blessings I received. 

     As of this writing, I am already starting to create a path to another place, and this time, already moved on and seeing the bigger picture waiting for me. I am ready to flip another page of my OFW journey!

About the Author:

Rema is an OFW based in Oman currently employed in Haima Hospital. She was appointed as a Charge Nurse in the Accident and Emergency (A and E) Department for 7 years and currently reappointed for the same position by the Ministry of Health attributable to Omanization.  

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