Yo gak lah! (Of course not!) I took IELTS preparation course, not yoga class.
Although I took TOEFL ITP three times already and I got distinctive scores on those three test, I never take TOEFL iBT nor IELTS so far. I should have took it earlier because it would be helpful for registering to universities overseas. But I just did not have any confidence in taking such expensive test. In other words, I was afraid of poor result. Yet all my friends said that I would not have any trouble in achieving high score in iBT or IELTS, I still could not get any spirit.
But I cannot wait anymore. I set my milestone to become a graduate student next year, and the clock is ticking. The deadline for registration to most universities are on December 15. So by this October, I have to get my IELTS and GRE scores. In order to maximize my performance during the test, I have to get myself prepared. So I took IELTS prep class in The British Institute (TBI) Sudirman.
The course took 2 months. I began at August, and it ended just last Monday (October 6, 2014). All I want was just to adapt to IELTS test structures. I assumed that it must be different with the standard paper-based TOEFL I took previously. IELTS consist of 4 English examinations: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. I am quite anxious with writing and speaking test as I never experience such exams.
The listening test is different with paper-based TOEFL. IELTS emphasize more in the ability to understand the context of dialogues and conversation as a whole, while in TOEFL more on short talks. You will be presented with fill-the-blanks questions and you have to focus on the conversation as well as the question on your test paper in order to fill it with correct answer. Sometimes the dialogues are challenging enough, might because of the accent or the speed of the conversation, and you might miss some parts of the questions.
The reading part is more or less similar with TOEFL, but IELTS has one question format that I find it quite challenging: the True, False, Not-Given format. Sometimes it is very tricky to answer because there’s Not-Given option which you have to pay attention to the passage very thoroughly to confirm whether the idea is given or not. But overall, IELTS reading is quite easy, given you are used to reading long articles in English.
The writing exam is divided into two parts: describing diagram and issue writing. You are expected to write about 150 words in describing diagram task. You may encounter graphs, charts, pie-charts, or cross-section diagrams which you have to describe. You have to be clear with your interpretation of the diagram in order to maximize your score. While the other part, the issue writing, you will be given an issue statement which you have to respond. You have to write about 250 words for this task, and answer every point addressed in the issues.
And the last part, the speaking part, is more or less similar with interview session. In contrast with TOEFL iBT speaking exam, in IELTS you will directly have conversation face to face with the examiner. The speaking test is divided into three parts: introduction, long turn, and discussion. The introduction is basically similar with any introduction we do when doing job interview. For the long turn, you will be presented a topic which you have to talk about. It is similar with beauty pageant speech contest, which you have to respond to a topic in a limited amount of time, about 2 minutes. You will be given 1 minute to prepare for your speech. And the discussion part is to continue the topic you have responded previously. The examiner will ask some question related with the topic, and you will have to respond it as in a normal discussion.
The IELTS is scored in simpler format than TOEFL. The score is distributed between 1 to 9 with 0.5 increment. Band 1 is the score for non-user, and Band 9 is the ideal native speaker. Universities usually require Band 6.5 above for their admission. Some universities require higher score for specific skills. For instance, if you are going to apply for teaching assistantship, you are expected to get Band 8 in speaking.
Well, I am going to take the exam next Saturday (October 11, 2014). Wish me a BIG luck on my exam. Hopefully I will be able to get Band 7 in overall score. Aamiin to that 🙂