Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Surviving IELTS Test

[10:54:43] My Teacher > Adek, I'm sorry for the failed writing
[10:54:54] me > oh that's fine
[10:55:11] My Teacher > was it because you didn't finish the task?
[10:55:19] me > no, I finished the tasks
[10:55:40] me > but, I didn’t have time to check task 2 again
[10:55:46] me > only task 1
[10:55:53] me > I was so afraid I couldn’t finish task 1
[10:56:21] me > so I finished task 1 first
[10:56:23] me > I think that was my first mistake
[10:56:46] My Teacher > so task 2?
[10:56:55] me > I was too nervous when I was doing task 2 and afraid I wouldn’t finish that
[10:57:15] me > I wrote like crazy
[10:57:30] My Teacher > so not focus?
[10:57:30] me > in fact I didn’t have enough idea in my head for task 2
[10:57:52] My Teacher > #-o
[10:58:19] me > I think I was being too intimidated that I couldn’t finish the both tasks
[10:58:42] me > that makes me couldn’t thinking about some idea
[11:00:02] me > I think task 1 is ok
[11:00:32] My Teacher > so how's the scholarship then?
[11:00:54] me > I’m still waiting for 1 more admission result
[11:01:08] My Teacher > is it OK with 6?
[11:01:19] me > yes, it just need overall 6, don’t care about partial score
[11:02:02] me > but, I think I want to try IELTS test again
[11:02:03] My Teacher > hmmm hopefully you will pass
[11:02:18] me > I want to try again
[11:02:30] My Teacher > can you tell me the individual band you got?
[11:02:37] me > yes
[11:02:43] me > listening is 6
[11:02:45] me > reading 6.5
[11:02:51] me > writing 4.5
[11:02:56] me > speaking 7
[11:02:58] me > overall 6
[11:03:41] me > I will take IELTS test again, this year
[11:04:14] My Teacher > yes, and don't repeat the same mistake please
[11:05:00] me > yes, I will do complete writing test as my practice
[11:05:25] My Teacher > /:-) are u sure?
[11:05:30] My Teacher > no more panic?
[11:06:23] me > yes, I just did separated practice before
[11:06:34] me > only task 1
[11:06:37] me > or only task 2
[11:06:58] me > that make me very nervous when I face them both at the same time
[11:07:04] My Teacher > Time you’re writing
[11:07:11] My Teacher > use stopwatch
[11:08:41] me > ok
[11:09:41] me > do u have some suggestion for practice formula in special purpose like this?
[11:10:07] My Teacher > you need someone to watch your writing
[11:10:20] me > watch?
[11:10:23] me > what for?
[11:10:33] My Teacher > what shall you do in first 15 minutes and so on
[11:10:57] My Teacher > so he can check your writing steps
[11:11:06] me > is that important?
[11:11:31] me > Melanie said, do task 2 at the first 40 minutes and after that task 1
[11:12:04] My Teacher > I told you that before right?
[11:12:07] me > yes
[11:12:27] My Teacher > spend only 20 minutes max in task 1
[11:12:45] me > yes
[11:12:46] me > and I didn’t do that because I was too panic
[11:13:03] me > I did task 1 exactly in 20 minute,
[11:13:39] me > but did it first not at second
[11:13:59] me > I was speculating in that, hope that will reduce my nervous
[11:14:29] me > so what is your advice in my practice?
[11:15:18] My Teacher > that’s it...plan your writing, time it well
[11:15:55] me > ok. I will take test at May or June
[11:16:57] My Teacher > keep sending me your writing
[11:18:19] me > the last question
[11:18:38] My Teacher > so I can check your grammar as well
[11:18:43] My Teacher > What?
[11:18:57] me > what do u think about my individual band?
[11:19:21] me > what else should I worry about?
[11:19:59] My Teacher > Listening I think
[11:20:12] me > Why?
[11:21:30] me > I think that was some coincidence when I got reading higher than listening
[11:23:16] My Teacher > No, you are a good thinker
[11:23:28] My Teacher > that’s why you got good in listening
[11:24:05] me > thank u, but there’ so many traps in there
[11:24:13] me > both listening and reading
[11:25:58] me > but I think real reading test more enjoyable because it’s more easy to read and the paper more is better too
[11:26:02] My Teacher > Just stay focus...That’s all
[11:26:05] me > okay, thanks
[11:26:57] My Teacher > yes, it's all about understanding English
[11:27:11] me > I get that
[11:29:05] me > okay rick, see ya soon
[11:29:21] My Teacher > Right

So...That’s some part of my story to get win for IELTS test.
As you can read, I failed in writing test. Like most IELTS test candidates, I must reach specific score in individual (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) test and overall test so i can to use this IELTS test result. That numbers are minimum 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking test; minimum 5 for writing test; and minimum 6 for overall. You can see in conversation above and document bellow, my weaknesses are spelling, grammar and too complicated concepts to be though (it’s just like what my teacher ever said, and I agree with him. I think that’s because I’m koleric-melancolic type :P)

I took IELTS test for the first time in IALF Jakarta at January 2009, cost 180 US dollar. I joined IELTS preparation course in that institution too at December 2008, Monday to Friday begin from 07.00 pm until 09.00 pm. At that time, I always run from my office exactly at 05.00 o’clock in the afternoon to take Transjakarta busway as soon as possible to Kuningan (as you know, that’s crowded time), so I could arrived at IALF before 06.00 pm, took 2 sessions of listening or reading test each day before class begin. My Teacher was Melanie, native speaker from New Zeland. I've ever heard that native speaker from that country is the fastest native English speakers in the world (according my ex-Boss, who is Australian). After that course, I contacted a new teacher, -I call him Rick-, to help me rising my speaking and writing skill. We got private meeting each Sunday, 3 hours for 4 or 5 weeks. They are good teacher that ever teach me.

I was hoping, those all (include independent practice at home and friend) would give me more point to raise my capability in English language. But, that’s only hope, because then I realize the main secret to pass this IELTS test is: 
1. Pray, 
2. Practice, practice, practice 
3. Confidence. 

That’s enough to give all tricks to win. That’s all, no luckiness in here. I was losing that last item at the last minute. But it’s ok, because I already faced that fact, learning my weakness, and I will take more practice to take IELTS test again. For me, pass this test is only 1 small gate in my long journey to catch my dreams. So, I will never give up with this. This is my next target: minimum 6 for individual band score and 7 for overall band score. You will become my witness for this target. Will you? Hmm… IELTS test? I will see you very sooner, this year. Amien. 

Update January, 2010 : and yes, I made it (alhamdulillah..)

Here is some information that I take form “IELTS information for Candidates” document and other documents too.

What is IELTS ? 
IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication. IELTS is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. IELTS conforms to the highest international standards of language assessment. It covers the four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

IELTS is recognized by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zeland, the UK and the USA. It is also recognised by professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies. Please refer to a full list of recognizing organizations on the IELTS website IELTS is not recommended for candidates under the age of 16.

Test Administration
IELTS tests are administered at centers throughout the world – there are more than 300 centers, in over 100 countries. A full list of centers is available on the IELTS website 

IELTS is available up to 4 times in a month. To take the test, you can contact the relevant centre for exact test dates. You will only receive one copy of your test result and replacement copies will not be provided. Additional copies can be sent direct to receiving organizations and institutions by test centers. Registered organizations can receive test results electronically through the E Downloads service. There are no restrictions on every candidate to re-taking the test.

Academic and General Training
IELTS is available in two formats – Academic and General Training.
The Academic Module assesses whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses should be based on the results of this module.

The General Training Module emphasizes basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context. General Training is suitable for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programs not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada and New Zeland. The General Training Module is not offered at all test administrations. If in doubt about which module to take, contact the organization to which you are applying for their requirements.

Test Format 
You are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests. There is a choice of Reading and Writing tests – Academic or General Training. It is your responsibility to tell the Administrator which version, Academic or General Training that you need to take.

The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user. The first three tests – Listening, Reading and Writing – must be completed in one day. No break is given between the three tests. The Speaking test may be taken, at the discretion of the test centre, in the period seven days before or after the other three tests.

Preparing For The Test 
It is not necessary to attend a preparation course but it is, of course, a good idea to prepare thoroughly for the test. Official Practice Materials are available from test centers, or directly from Cambridge ESOL or IDP:IELTS Australia. This includes a full practice test with an answer key, a CD of the Listening test and three sample Speaking tests so that candidates can get some idea of their level and familiarize themselves with the format of the test. There is also a wide range of published preparation materials.

IELTS Test Results
Results will be produced 13 days after the test. At some centers you may collect your results on the 13th day; at others results are mailed on the 13th day. Test centers are not permitted to give results over the phone or by fax or email. Replacement Test Report Forms are not provided in case of loss.

A score is reported for each of the tests. The individual test scores are then calculated to produce an Overall Band Score. Overall Band Scores are reported in whole and half bands for each test. Table below is interpretation with some information on score processing:

The IELTS tests have been designed to reflect accurately the candidate’s abilities to deal with the English language. The design of the test makes it statistically unlikely that there will be a great variation in the test scores. In order to ensure that a candidate’s IELTS results genuinely reflect that candidate’s English language abilities, where there are exceptionally unusual patterns of test scores the tests will be marked again, and the IELTS Test Partners may ask the candidate to re-take some or all of the tests. You will not be charged for any such retakes and will not be issued with your result until after the re-take.

The Test Report Form 
The Test Report Form includes a large number of security features, and the authenticity of any Test Report Form can be verified through the online verification service. Cambridge ESOL, British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia reserves the right to cancel any IELTS Test Report Form in the event of any attempt to tamper with or misuse the information it contains.

The IELTS Test Partners recommend that Receiving Organizations do not accept a Test Report Form that is more than two years old. For this reason, Test Report Forms will not be issued for tests taken more than two years ago. A Receiving Organization may choose to accept an older Test Report Form if a candidate can provide evidence that they have actively maintained or tried to improve their English language proficiency since doing the test. However, this is the decision of the Receiving Organization, not the IELTS Test Partners. The IELTS Test Partners cannot provide any letters or references endorsing a candidate’s level of English.

Each candidate takes four tests, one in each of the four skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. Candidates who request a postponement or cancellation of their test within 5 weeks of the test date will be charged the full fee unless they are able to provide appropriate medical evidence to support their request. Medical evidence must be provided no later than 5 days after the test date. An administrative fee may be deducted from any refund. 

The Listening test takes around 30 minutes. There are 40 questions and four sections. The Listening test is recorded on a CD and is played ONCE only. During the test, time is given for candidates to read the questions and write down and then check their answers. Answers are written on the question paper as candidates listen. When the recording ends, 10 minutes are allowed for candidates to transfer their answers to an answer sheet.

The first two sections are concerned with social needs. There is a conversation between two speakers and then a monologue. The final two sections are concerned with situations related more closely to educational or training contexts. There is a conversation between up to four people and then a further monologue. A range of native-speaker English accents are used in the recordings which reflect the international usage of IELTS.

You will be reminded during the test to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. In the Listening test 10 minutes is allocated specifically for this purpose. In the Reading test, you may transfer your answers at any time during the one hour test period. If you do not transfer your answers during the test, you will not be given any extra time to do so. Responses provided on the question papers cannot be considered for marking purposes.

The Reading test takes 60 minutes. There are 40 questions, based on three reading passages with a total of 2,000 to 2,750 words. Both the Academic Reading and General Training Reading tests have the same format. All answers must be entered on an answer sheet during the 60-minute test. No extra time is allowed for transferring answers.

-Academic Reading
Texts are taken from magazines, journals, books, and newspapers. Texts have been written for a non-specialist audience. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms then a simple glossary is provided.

-General Training Reading
The first section, ‘social survival’, contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English with tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general factual information. ‘Training survival’, the second section, focuses on the training context, for example on the training program itself or on welfare needs. This section involves a text or texts of more complex language with some precise or elaborated expression. The third section, ‘general reading’, involves reading more extended prose with a more complex structure but with the emphasis on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts, in a general context relevant to the wide range of candidates involved.

You should take care when writing answers on the Listening and Reading answer sheets as incorrect spelling and grammar are penalized. Both UK and US varieties of spelling are acceptable. If you are asked to write an answer using a certain number of words and/or (a) number(s), they will be penalized if they exceed this requirement. For example, if a question specifies an answer using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS and the correct answer is ‘black leather coat’, the answer ‘coat of black leather’ is incorrect.

In questions where you are expected to complete a gap, you should only transfer the necessary missing word(s) onto the answer sheet. For example, if you have to complete ‘in the ……………’ and the correct answer is ‘morning’ the answer ‘in the morning’ would be incorrect. You should read and follow the instructions and questions very carefully. In the Listening test especially, care also should be taken when transferring answers onto the answer sheet.

The Writing test takes 60 minutes. There are two tasks to complete. It is suggested that about 20 minutes is spent on Task 1 which requires candidates to write at least 150 words. Task 2 requires at least 250 words and should take about 40 minutes. Answers must be given on the answer sheet and must be written in full. Notes or bullet points in whole or in part are not acceptable as answers. You should note that scripts under the required minimum word limit will be penalized.

-Academic Writing
In Task 1, you are asked to describe some information (graph/table/chart/diagram), and to present the description in their own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
In Task 2, you are presented with a point of view or argument or problem. You need to demonstrate your ability to respond appropriately in terms of content, vocabulary and the organization of ideas. Appropriate responses are descriptions/summaries (Task 1) and short essays (Task 2) and these should be formal in style.

-General Training Writing
In Task 1, you will be asked to respond to a given problem with a letter requesting information or explaining a situation.

In Task 2, you will be presented with a point of view or argument or problem. You need to demonstrate your ability to respond appropriately in terms of content, vocabulary and the organization of ideas. Appropriate responses are personal, semi-formal or formal correspondence (Task 1) and short essays (Task 2). In General Training Writing Task 2 a slightly more personal response is more acceptable than in Academic Writing Task 2.

The Speaking test takes between 11 and 14 minutes and consists of an oral interview between the candidate and an examiner. All Speaking tests are recorded.

In Part 1, you will be asked about general questions about yourself, you home/family, you job/study, your interest, and a range of familiar topic areas. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

In Part 2, you will be given a verbal prompt on a card and asked to talk on a particular topic. You have 1 minute to prepare before speaking at length for up to 2 minutes. The examiner then asks 1 or 2 rounding-off questions.

In Part 3, you and the examiner engage in a discussion of more abstract issues and concepts which are thematically linked to the topic prompt in Part 2. The discussion lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

This picture above is concluion for all the IELTS test subject :

Many people asking about comparation between IELTS and TOEFL, which one is difficult that the other. I heard, some people said TOEFL is more difficult, but some others said IELTS is more difficult. But, as I know –even I never take real TOEFL test except prediction tests in my campus-, we cannot compare that, because it has different type of test.

Also, both of these tests have already been accepted internationally: Europe, Canada, Australia or America. So, it depends on your requirement, what kind of test that you need? What is your limit time to get the result? What test that you are already familiar and confidence with? Because of that’s several constraints (I don’t compare the cost of each of that), -I think- just take your decision, prepare yourself, and move on.

Here you can see the several equivalency tables for TOEFL and IELTS scores : 

This is another conversion table, where the levels proficiency in English are shown :

Okay, I hope this all can give some global picture to you that never face IELTS, before take the real Test . You can also do some research and make your independent practice this test, example at this website http://www.ielts-exam.net  or

Wish we're all luck and success. Dont' be afraid, and never give up !!


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. thanks for share this conversion table :)