I’m tagging this post with IELTS preparation course, IALF IELTS Prep Semi-Intensive Course etc, so I guess if at some point you manage to get here it means that you (YES, YOU!) are personally looking for that particular information. Plus, I expect that you are at the least already familiar with IELTS so I wouldn’t spend too much effort here to explain what is IELTS, why do you need it and so on, and so on. Let’s continue!
Long story short, I need to obtain the IELTS score for academic purposes. I’m not that confident with my English skill, plus the test itself is a bit pricy (that would be the same amount of my monthly salary—sniff!) and I have this thought if I took the test without proper preparation which resulted on my failure to attain the desired score, it would be such a waste of money. I have to achieve at least 7.0, which is pretty high, so my logic tells me that it’s okay to spend 1.5 month of my wage for the sake of IELTS preparation course to accomplish the designated IELTS band. This leads me to the IELTS preparation course placement test on IALF Surabaya.
Why choosing IALF Surabaya? Simply because I live in the City of Heroes—lame translation is lame, sorry. IALF is also a certified IELTS test centre and I’m quite familiar with the place because I’d done some English competition there when I was in senior high school (which is around 9 years ago—gawd, I’m old…). Some bloggers too noted that IALF is the best place for IELTS preparation course. To me personally, I don’t even have any second option on where should I take the preparation course other than IALF.
I was too busy with my work to get any information on how to join the course. Luckily I have this cool friend who also needs IELTS score and have this same plan to join the course, who willingly help me gather all the info regarding the prep course application. I already browse the IALF’s page on IELTS preparation course and already had this 5 weeks intensive course to join in my mind. As stated on the web, those who want to join the class need to meet the criteria which are… at least scored 5.0 on writing & speaking skill. This, brethrens and sisters, got me nervous, because I write scrappily and speak even messier. Nonetheless, we—my cool friend and me—decided to keep on going with the process and she signed me up for the placement test on Wednesday (11/02/15) at 4pm and Thursday (12/02/15) at 3.30 pm.
Now, about the placement test; it’s like a mock IELTS test. So if you are planning to take the same class that I’d be joining (the IELTS Prep Semi-Intensive course, IPSI for short), you’d be taking this placement test. I read at some blog posts that they only did, like, 50 basic grammar questions for 45 minutes and they were done. No, you’re not going to have that kind of test. I already told you that the course needs you to get 5.0 minimum on speaking and writing, right? That’s why you need to perform the IELTS like test to know your score.
I could’ve done the placement test in a day had I’m free in the morning. But since I’m busy working, they offered the two day schedule because apparently the assessors were also busy. Ha. I actually had about 5 days to prepare myself for the placement test, but maybe nargles were behind my hazy mind that I didn’t do anything at all before the test day.
On Wednesday, I came at around 3.30, fill in the personal information form in the front office—the staff was really nice and helpful, paid Rp 200.000 for the placement fee at the cashier, then waited till it’s time to do the test. Apparently beside my cool friend and me, there was another young man taking the test. Then the officer told us to get ready for the listening test. We were told not to bring anything but the stationeries, and were asked to leave our luggage in the front office for him to keep. I only took my mechanical pencil and one eraser inside the test room at that time.
I must admit that I’m kind of anxious because it has been a long time since I had any kind of classroom setting test. The medium sized classroom—although seriously cozy with posters on its walls, seemed empty and intimidating with only the three of us, facing question booklet & answer sheets. The officer then told us about the test time, did volume check and left us be to do the listening section.
When we’re done with the listening section, he transported us to another empty classroom for reading & writing section. It seemed like they needed the previous classroom for a lesson that evening. I proceeded with reading section that left my head burned, while my cool friend did the writing section first. It started raining really heavily in the middle of my writing section. I was tired with the reading the texts, freezing and a bit hungry too. My concentration kind of dropped during that moment. When my turn to do the writing section came, I hardly have any idea to write the essay at all. I had to stop and think for a while, fishing for ideas. Luckily I manage to finish the task by the time I had to submit it. Some useful tips: make sure your tummy is full before taking the test.
The next day—the speaking test day, during my working hour, I barely function normally. I kept on thinking on my lame essay and my tendency to lisp during English conversation. I was afraid of failing because if I score lower than 5, I had to take the Study Preparation course before I could take the IELTS prep course. This means more money to spend and longer preparation time before I could take the IELTS.
I arrived at around 3.15pm on Thursday. This time I didn’t need to fill anything, I only had to wait for my turn to do the speaking section. My cool friend, because she came earlier, got the first turn to do the speaking test. I tried to calm my nerve by reading some magazines in the comfy waiting room. When my cool friend came 20 minutes later with undistinguishable facial expression, I could only inhaling as much air into my lungs and face the assessor—he was a British man—with a stiff smile.
During the speaking section, we sat face to face in the medium size class. He asked my name, noted that I had an unusually long name, asked me to spell my name so he could wrote it in a small card, then asked me several personal basic information (such as address, birthday, workplace info) as he filled some kind of bio data form. He also asked me why I need to take IELTS, why I chose IALF, whether I was familiar with it or not and my future plan. He asked me about my hobby too and I manage to bring Harry Potter into the conversation. Before he concluded the test, he asked permission to read my essay that I wrote the previous day and he corrected my essay directly, even gave me some inputs.
Fortunately the speaking section went smoothly. It was just like some regular chit-chat between me and my expatriate colleague, maybe even better. By the time he finished giving me suggestion about the essay, he told me that he’d be telling me the result for the placement test. And I couldn’t be more relieved when he said that I, kind of, passed the placement test. The small card where he wrote my name earlier, turns out was the result card. There were columns in there where he put ticks that showed my English level. I was amazed that I got a pretty high level—remember I was so nervous about failing the placement test because of my writing & speaking? I guess I’m not that bad, eh?
But I have my reason as why I was afraid to fail the placement test. Actually I had taken another IELTS placement test in SUN Education office around 2 years ago. It was pretty much the same mock test but with more advanced speaking & writing section. I say more advanced because SUN really asked me to write opinions and made reports based on tables and graphs just like the real IELTS test. They even had 3 sections of speaking where I had to introduce myself, state some opinions about some trivial themes and discussing my opinions with the assessor. Comparing to SUN’s mock IELTS, IALF’s short essay and relaxing talk seemed a bit tamer. Plus, based on SUN’s placement test, I only got 5.0 as the grand total, with 4.0 in speaking and writing. That would put me in intermediate level on IALF’s scale; one level lower than my up-to-date placement result. I’m not sure whether I’m really improving a lot during 2 years time or whether SUN’s mock test predicts my future IELTS score better. Hopefully I really do improve and that my future IELTS score would be as good as my placement result.
Back to business. So, I got my result, my assessor sent me to the front office, the officer re-informed me about my score and telling me that I could take the intended IPSI course. The placement test result can be used up to 3 months from the test date, should you want to postpone joining the prep class. I finished up the payment for the course that day, got my picture taken for student ID, and was informed that the ID could be taken the next day, plus now I’m allowed to use the library and study center.
I’d be joining my course (well not so) soon! Hopefully I provide helpful enough information for you who want to take the course. Good luck!