A blog of everyday life and traveling experience.

Sabtu, 13 Agustus 2016

IELTS Tips (untuk yang nekat tes tanpa les)

Finally something to write! (Thanks Fahim for the request ^^)

So I'd like to share some experience regarding my first ever IELTS and the preparation. I need to take the IELTS test as a requirement for enrolling in the master degree. And to be honest, I didn't have much time because of the undergraduate theses and so on, so no time to take course either. It's a bold move, but I had to take it otherwise I wouldn't be able to enroll.

I signed up for IELTS at the end of June at IALF Surabaya. Unfortunately there was no place left for the nearest test took place in Surabaya, so I signed up to take the exam in Malang instead. I had also try to contact IALF Jakarta, but all the places were also taken, and worse, for the whole month. So from the end of June till the day of test, I had approx. 16 days to learn, and believe me, it wasn't actually enough. I got lucky some friends of mine had the test and shared their experience.

So the tips below are not originally from me, but from my friends as well, and from some video that I watched.

  • Know the institution that offer the test. Note that some place have their listening exam on the different day (which is not recommended for people who'll take the exam not on their hometown).
  • Sign up as soon as possible! Especially if you need the result to be one of requirement for visa. And well, if your score is not enough, you can retake it as soon as you can.
  • Set a target. The university I got accepted only ask for 6, so I aimed to get a minimum 6.5.
  • Know your weakness and strength. I am really bad at writing (grammatically and vocab), so I set my target lower for writing, and higher for others.
  • PRACTICE as many as you can. There are tons of books you can find at the bookstore or download from internet. I remember there was one day when we answered (well someone asked me to practice together) more than 200 questions on listening. A senior of mine got a perfect score on listening because he answered all of the questions from some books. Practicing makes you to get used to the type of question that will be asked.
  • GET A PRACTICE PARTNER. It's better to know someone who'll take the test soon. You'll get more motivation to beat each other score at practice.
Score: 8.5

You'll have to answer 40 questions which are divided into 4 sections (10 questions each), two conversation and two monologues. The answer could vary from multiple choice or fill the blank. 
  • Once again, PRACTICE as many questions as you can to get used to. The first and second section will be easier than the rest. Note that you'll only hear everything once.
  • Do not answer directly on the answer sheet. You'll have extra 10 minutes at the end of listening section to do that. Answering directly will lower your concentration.
  • They'll give you time to read the question first. DO READ THEM FIRST! and note some important parts so you'll know the answer directly when you hear them.
  • Be careful of paraphrasing. On the third and fourth section, it gets trickier. That's why (once again) you need to READ THE QUESTION FIRST.
  • Be careful of spelling, take note when it's plural or singular. 
  • For the monologue section that using a map, find the YOU ARE HERE text first before you read the question. I made mistake once during practice, I didn't notice the  "you are here" text until the 5th question...
Score: 8.5

I only did reading practice less than five times. There are a few type of questions that will be asked, whether fill in the blanks, multiple choice, true false not given, or yes no not given. You'll also have to answer 40 questions which are divided to 3 sections. To be honest, 60 minutes is not enough for me, but somehow I managed to answer all. 
  • Do it BACKWARDS. I mean, from the latest section. A friend of mine gave me this tips and I found it really helpful. The last text will be the most difficult and complex text, so it'll be much better when you read and answer the questions when you still have full concentration. 
  • BE CAREFUL of "YES, NO, NOT GIVEN" and "TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN". Some people had them switched. If you answer "true" on a "yes, no, not given" part, you'll get 0 points. 
  • All of fill in the blanks word will be found at the text, so read it carefully!
  • For the type of questions where you have to choose whether it's a yes/true, no/false and not given statement, there are well.. it's not really pattern.. but if it's a no/false, the question will write something obivously opposite of the text, so it'll be easily found. But it gets trickier to differentiate between true/yes and not given, because something you'll feel it's true but it's actually not on the text
  • Set the time to answer each section, e.g. 15 minutes for first section, 20 min for the second, and 25 for the last.
Score: 6.0

Oh well, hello there, darkness my friend. I didn't have the chance (or let's say I was lazy) to practice writing. But I couldn't deny the fact that this section kept haunting me and make me unease everytime I thought about the test (before the D-day). I felt like everything I should write was there already on my head (there's a saying once a debater always a debater). So please do not forget to practice at least once so you can measure yourself.

I think it was normal for people who didn't have any preparation course to have some fear about this section. Actually I had the fear because I heard my friends who had taken the prep course explained a lot about grammar, rules etc etc, so I kinda feel like ("whaaaat are they talking about? Oh man, that all sounds so difficult..).

In the writing section you'll get two tasks, the first one is to give a report about given chart/map/tables, and the second one is to analyze a given question.

First task:
  • You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
  • You have to write min. 150 words.
  • You should have around 4 paragraphs: introduction, overview, section a, section b.
  • You'll get a description of the table/chart/maps. Write this description in your own words on as you first paragraph (introduction).
  • You have to have an OVERVIEW. I repeat, an OVERVIEW is a MUST. You'll get maximum 5 on one of the marking if you miss an overview. In the overview, highlight some parts, for example, the highest, the lowest, the biggest, the smallest etc...
  • Paragraph 3 and 4 consist of the description of the drawing, and group them nicely. Do not only write one paragraph to explain the whole drawing!
  • Give details to everything that you write. If you write "a country A has the highest amount of population..", don't forget to add the numbers!
  • Surf around the internet and find some example of the answer! I regret didn't do this. I only read the answer using charts, so when I got table to report, well, I was really down at that time. 
Second task:
  • Note that the second tasks values double, so you should spent about 40 minutes on this task.
  • You'll have to write minumum of 250 words.
  • The topic is to analyze something. You're asked to write whether you agree/disagree, what's the advantage/disadvantage and so on. The topic varies but usually around education, health, and technology. I got lucky because the topic was about internet xD
To be honest, I spent more time on the first task rather than the second task. And my writing score is the lowest.

Score: 7.0

My favourite part! I love to speak! You won't need pen to speak, just think on your head, and say it out loud! Hahaha. After the writing section, you'll be asked to leave the room. Usually before the begin of the test, you can see the schedule of your speaking test. I got lucky I was the second person, so my test was around 1 p.m (It was in Malang, and I had to drive back to Surabaya, so going home as soon as possible is neccessary). 
  • Be confindent. How can you get high score for speaking, if you don't have confidence at first place?
  • Take it easy. Try not to tremble. The examiner usually really nice person. Mine was smiling since the beginning, so I knew it wouldn't be so scary.
  • It'll begin with a simple question: "can I look at your ID?" "Tell me about yourself"... I think all can answer these questions easily.
  • Then, he'll open the book that contains a lot of question and ask you more. For example, I was asked if I like to sing. Then he asked why, and narrowing the question.
  • And, the cue card. The examiner will give you a pen, and a topic and a set of questions you should talk about for 1-2 minutes. You'll be given a minute to think (or to write). After a minute, he'll ask you to start talking, and stop you if the time is up.
  • Then, you'll be questioned about your little presentation. It starts with an easy one, then more detailed one to see your reaction as well as your answers. I was a bit nervous on this part, especially when he asked me more difficult question.

In total I got 7.5 which was quite surprising hahaha. So before taking the test, you should sometimes measure yourself whether you might get your target score or not. But if you have already signed up for a test, and didn't have any prep course, I suggest you to practice every day. IELTS test is expensive, and the least that you want is to retake it after you just done one.

 Soo.. that's some tips from me! I hope it helps! Good luck for your test!! If you have any question, please don't hesitate to ask me!

Some useful links:
http://www.ielts-blog.com/ (the previous writing and speaking question can be found here)
https://www.youtube.com/user/ieltsliz (she explains in such a good way and easy to understand)