The Official CELPIP Podcast: Episode 1 – How Vitor Scored Level 9 on the CELPIP Test
Scoring a 9 on the CELPIP Test is a goal for many of our test takers. On today’s episode, hear from a test taker who shares his CELPIP experience, including how he prepared and achieved his goal score!
- CELPIP Live – Episode 10
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CJ [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, and welcome to the very first episode of the Official CELPIP Podcast. I’m CJ.
Chris [00:00:09] And I’m Chris.
CJ [00:00:10] Well, here we are. Here we go. Episode One. How are you feeling, Chris? Because you’ve been wanting to do a podcast for a long time.
Chris [00:00:18] I am definitely excited. As you say, we’ve been planning this for a really long time, so it feels really good to finally actually be doing it.
CJ [00:00:24] And there’s so much to talk about when it comes to CELPIP. I think it’s going to be really helpful for our test takers. So for those of you who are with us today, thanks for being here on our first episode. Chris, what can we expect?
Chris [00:00:39] Well, we’ve got a lot of great content coming up in the future, but I think this first one is really special. It’s an interview with a test taker that we recorded for our CELPIP Live series, and it’s definitely one of our most popular interviews. His name is Vitor and he’s from Brazil. He needed a level nine on the CELPIP Test and he got it on his second attempt.
CJ [00:01:02] I loved that episode. So can you tell us a little bit about why we chose this interview with Vitor to kick off our official CELPIP podcast?
Chris [00:01:11] Well, it’s just a great interview for anyone who wants some advice about how best to prepare for the test. Vitor breaks down his preparation step by step. He provides some very valuable information about what worked for him. I won’t say any more. Vitor offers a ton of useful tips and it’s best just to hear them from him.
CJ [00:01:31] Well, let’s jump right in then. I will just mention that the interview is conducted by Aswathi Iyer, who is our social media specialist and the host of CELPIP Live, and that if you do want to see the video version of this interview, you can check out our show notes for the link. Here we go.
Aswathi [00:01:53] Let’s get to our main question that I see a lot of people are asking here. Zara has asked us this question. Ramesh has also asked us this question. We’re all curious to find out what was your, what was your strategy and the steps you took to achieve a CLB nine? If you could let our test takers know, that would be great.
Vitor [00:02:13] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I wish I could say, “It was simple, it was just like, just do this and you get amazing score…” Obviously it’s not simple. Right? Like, any time in your life you want to achieve something big, there will be like a lot of effort required, right? So I mean, for me—and again, I just want to reinforce that this is kind of like my experience. I understand that people from multiple backgrounds, from multiple different English levels as well, so I completely understand each person will have a different experience. So just kind of like try to talk a little bit about, like, how it was for me. So, yeah, no, it wasn’t, it wasn’t easy. You know, I was always kind of like interested about languages and English. So I was always, always had this kind of like initiative to like try to, to watch more things in English. So I wouldn’t watch anything that, like, in my own language, I would try to watch everything in English, maybe add some English subtitles, so that—that was even before CELPIP, kind of like just trying to expand this knowledge on the English language. And then when I actually decided to take the test, that’s when I was like, OK, now I need to, to create this better structure just to make sure that I understand, number 1, it’s an exam, right? Regardless of which type of exam, you need to understand the exam first, right? So I spent a lot of time understand how CELPIP works. And I think that that’s important for, like, whether you’re taking an exam for college, whether you’re taking an exam for an English test, very, very important to understand how the exam works, so the structure, to be prepared for what’s going to happen on that day, right? Because the last thing you want on an exam day is a surprise, right? So I think as a first step that I took for myself was like understanding, OK, this is what the exam’s like, and that’s not easy. That’s not just like, oh, I’m just going to quickly go here, watch one video. That’s, that’s it. You know, like I had to, to talk to a lot of people who took the exam, ask them, “OK, so what was like your biggest struggle? Like what, what did you find was easy? What surprised you?” So I think my first step was definitely understanding: What is the exam? It’s not only about English: obviously that’s the main component, but also understand how the exam works, understand the steps, even like I got to a point when even like I knew the order that they were going to, the questions were going to come, I knew kind of like how many—what each section was, how much time I should take of each section. So, yeah, I mean, it sounds like a little paranoid, but I feel like it’s great when you feel prepared, you know, because that takes a little bit of the pressure out. So I definitely, first step: understand what it is, understand what all the components, what is the type of question you’re going to get on each component, so having a better understanding of the test in general. And then, okay, now focusing on the English aspect of it, obviously, again, I can’t say enough: practice, practice, practice. There’s a lot of like different places and resources that you can use to just, you know, like practice take tests, once or twice, just to see, find out by yourself, what are, again, your struggles, your strengths, your weaknesses? So definitely practice a lot. Try to find other people, whether it’s like on YouTube, whether it’s on—like, real friends, just try to find some people, talk to them, understand what was a struggle and what was the steps during the test. And for myself, first time I took, I did it kind of like guided myself in the studies; second time when I wanted to, okay, take it to the next level, I want to improve my score, I wanted to reach a CLB nine, I took also a preparation course. So that was something that’s helped me a lot as well, kind of like get really, really—I was like an expert on how the test works. So I did take a CELPIP preparation test—course. So, yeah, that was super, super helpful as well.
Aswathi [00:06:59] So, you—before we get into, we will get into prep a little bit—but before that, I wanted to ask you, like: you said that the first test, you figured out your weaknesses, your strengths, and how the test works, so in the four components of the CELPIP Test, which one did you—what was the biggest challenge for you?
Vitor [00:07:17] Yeah, so the biggest challenge for me on the first one was also the biggest challenge for me on the second time I took it. For me it was writing, right, because—and again, I think it’s probably going to be very, very specific to each person. A lot of people I know, a lot of my friends, they struggle with speaking; a lot of my friends struggle with reading when it’s like big texts or big essays; for me, was always writing. And I think it was because the way I learned English, it was watching series. My favorite series was Friends; I used to watch it with my sister a lot, Friends. So I think the way I learned English, just like from a young age, it was just listening, right? So I would listen a lot to what they have to say. So when it got to a point when I had to actually start writing, that’s when I was like, “Oh, I know how to say this word, but I don’t necessarily know how to write it.” So that’s when I realized, like, OK, that’s, that’s my biggest, that’s my biggest weakness, and the first exam, the writing pulled my score down. And the second, the second time I took it was a huge improvement from the first time, but it was also my lowest score. So yeah, definitely writing was my biggest challenge.
Aswathi [00:08:36] So that’s good because we do have a question here from Flavia who’s asked us how to improve the writing skills. And I do want to mention, guys, before we ask Vitor questions, is that this is about his experience and what worked for him. So we are really glad that he decided to use his time to share his strategies with us, but it may or may not work for everyone, so do think about what works for you when you’re listening to his opinions and his strategies. So, yes, to answer Flavia’s question, did you—since you did say that writing was a little hard for you and that, you know, you did a lot of practice, what—did you take any special steps specifically for writing that helped you kind of improve your score the next time?
Vitor [00:09:21] Yeah, absolutely. So I think for the writing, one thing that’s very, very particular to writing is that I feel like there’s only so much—well again, for me, from my experience, there’s only so much you can do to improve your writing by yourself. I think something that helps me a lot was feedback. So, again, I was studying at my, at my college at the time, so that was awesome because I had instructors there that were able to give me so much feedback on like, “OK, like you should pay more attention to this point, you should change your structure…” Again, obviously, there’s a lot you can do by yourself as well. There’s lots of videos, lots of like tips on YouTube everywhere on how to become a better writer, especially for ESLs. But I think something that was very, very essential, and I only realized when I was actually receiving it, was the feedback from—and again, it doesn’t even have to be from your instructor. It could be from someone, from a native speaker. It could be from someone who is used to writing. Anyone actually that has English as their first language is able to give you some like tips and feedback. And for me, I was lucky enough to be at college at the time. So I did actually have like English instructors that were able to give me lots and lots of constructive feedback. So I think that was for writing, especially because, like listening—honestly, like just do it by yourself. That’s what I did, kind of like just kept listening to exams over and over and over again, to get to a point where I was comfortable with my listening skills. But writing, from my experience, I would definitely try to get feedback from people who actually know about writing.
Aswathi [00:11:16] That is a great suggestion. I didn’t even think about it. And I understand that for some of—me, especially, like getting, sharing some of your work and sharing your insecurities with someone might be hard. But I also agree that feedback is really important. So that is a good tip. Thank you. I will–let’s circle back to prep. So with respect to CELPIP and the prep that is available to you from CELPIP, which prep do you think that helped you the most? Or just in general, what are the products that you used to prepare for your test?
Vitor [00:11:49] Yeah, I think, again, there’s, there’s free resource, free resources on the Web. There’s definitely people who are talking about their experiences there, which, I think they’re helpful. So I would definitely say, look it up on the Internet as well. But for me, because I think from my experience, like I really wanted to take it to the next level, like it was important for me, for my context, for my, the step that I was taking in my life, for immigration. So for me was important to actually bring it to the next level in terms of score. So for me, I did take online, those online prep tests, those practice tests online that you have, and also the CELPIP preparation course that I took, I think that was very—I think that was just super helpful for me.
Aswathi [00:12:43] OK, sounds good. So since we are talking about taking prep classes, I do want to tell you guys that we have prep classes available. However, it is dependent on the class, whether they are providing prep at the moment. So I will encourage you to check our website for that. Again, a lot of you who are, who reached out to our email ID [email protected], also asked us about prep in a global scale, so like prep in UAE or prep in India. And we do have that. It’s just that at this point, our website and our resources are focused on helping you during COVID, so we haven’t updated our website on that part yet. It might get updated—it will get updated, but the possibility of it getting updated soon is also strong, so I will encourage you to check the website from time to time to see which prep provider—so when I say prep provider, I mean coaching class, if that is what, the word that you are familiar with. So we do have verified prep providers listed on our website for Canada at the moment. And we will be listing out our global prep providers soon as well. So please check our website for that. But now we’re going back to Vitor. OK, so we spoke about prep and we spoke about your strategies. Did you have a favorite resource or a favorite study material from CELPIP that you thought helped you prepare?
Vitor [00:14:13] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I was always on the CELPIP website when I was preparing. I would, I would definitely say that the ones from the CELPIP, the practice tests from CELPIP, that was like, that was what was super helpful for me, because it’s already in the CELPIP environment, right? So it’s, I mean, it couldn’t get any closer to the actual exam than that. So taking, like, yeah, definitely taking those, those exams from the CELPIP website, those practice ones, helped me understanding the what the actual exam would be like. That was super helpful.
CJ [00:14:56] So that was a small piece of a much longer interview with Vitor. He goes on to talk a lot more about not only his testing experience but his life in Canada. It’s a fascinating interview, a wonderful story. So for Chris, what were some of the main takeaways for you?
Chris [00:15:12] Well, there were a few things. He took the time to familiarize himself with the format of the test, the question types and what to expect in all four components, or as he puts it, understanding how the exam works. That’s really important. He does this partly by watching videos about the test and talking to those who have taken the test. I would just add that anyone who does want to get to know the test and how best to approach each of the four components should take a look at our free webinars: Writing Pro, Speaking Pro, Listening Pro, and Reading Pro. We’ve got more information about those in the show notes.
CJ [00:15:53] Right, show notes. OK, so anything else?
Chris [00:15:56] Well, for him, the writing part of the test was the most challenging. He talks about how getting feedback on his writing really helped him improve. He did this by joining a preparation class. Aswathi mentions that we do list several prep centers on our website. I just wanted to add that a lot of these prep schools offer courses online, which makes joining a class that much easier and safer.
CJ [00:16:22] Right, right. That’s a really good point. And we’ll include that link in the list of, to the list of prep programs in the show notes. That feels like a good place to wrap Episode One. So this is exciting: why don’t you tell our listeners what they can expect in Episode Two, because Episode Two is happening.
Chris [00:16:43] Next week, we’re going to take a look at some of the misinformation out there about the CELPIP Test by revisiting another very popular CELPIP live episode called Busting CELPIP Myths, which features among a variety of other CELPIP experts: you.
CJ [00:16:59] Yeah, that’s right. That was a really fun episode to be a part of, and it was a really important show to do. So I was really excited to do that episode and I think it’s going to be great for episode podcast summary next week.
Chris [00:17:13] I guess a chance to clear up some of the confusion out there among test takers.
CJ [00:17:17] Yeah, and I think there are a lot of test takers just feeling relieved after hearing the answers to their questions. So I encourage everyone to check this one out. It’s going to be great. And we’ll, we’ll see you then.
Chris [00:17:30] OK, well, until next time, we wish all of you all the best on your CELPIP test preparation journey.
CJ [00:17:36] Bye everyone.