Sunday, 15 February 2015

Let's IELTS! Episode: IELTS Semi-Intensive Prep Placement Test at IALF Surabaya

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!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tips TPA PPDB 2013

Buat yang tanggal 22 dan 23 Juni 2013 ini mau ikutan Tes Potensi Akademik untuk penerimaan siswa baru SMP-SMA Surabaya, here are some useful tips.

1.      Don’t panic.
UNAS udah lewat, ini cuman selangkah lebih dekat menuju SMP/SMA impian.
2.      Persiapkan diri sebaik mungkin.
Dengan cara apa? Beli buku tes TPA sebanyak mungkin? Latihan soal TPA siang-malam-tiada lelah-tiada henti? Ikut les TPA? Well, itu persiapan yang baik sih. Tapi TPA itu banyak banget macamnya dan kemungkinan besar apa yang disediakan buku-buku persiapan TPA dan disajikan dalam kursus tidak mencakup apa yang akan diujikan pada hari tes nanti. Jadi apa persiapannya?
a.       Sehari sebelum tes, istirahat yang cukup—jangan tidur terlalu malam jadi bisa bangun pagi dan nggak ngantuk waktu pengerjaan tes J
b.      Sarapan sebelum berangkat. Nggak asik kan kalo waktu ngerjain tes perut keroncongan?
c.       Siapkan alat tulis. Yang diperlukan dalam tes cuman pensil 2B seperti yang teman-teman pake waktu UNAS plus penghapusnya. Nggak usah bawa penggaris berlubang untuk menghitamkan karena nggak akan dibutuhkan J
d.      Siapkan juga kartu tes dan kartu UNASnya untuk dibawa pas hari-H ya. Kalau kartu UNAS udah nggak memungkinkan untuk dibawa, bisa bawa kartu identitas yang ada foto diri, seperti Kartu Pelajar atau SKHU.
e.       Boleh bawa clipboard untuk alas menulis? Boleh, bawa aja kalo memang suka nulis pake alas J
f.       Survey tempat tes. Pastikan teman-teman tahu dimana lokasi tes teman-teman biar nggak kesasar di hari-H.
3.      Datang tepat waktu.
Pastikan teman-teman bangun pagi, jadi bisa mempersiapkan diri di sekolah lokasi TPA. Karena kalau telat, nggak akan dapat tambahan waktu pengerjaan tes.
4.      Konsentrasi.
TPA punya beberapa model soal yang instruksi dan cara pengerjaannya berbeda-beda. Tester yang mengetes pasti akan memberikan instruksi pengerjaannya. Nah, cukup dengarkan baik-baik dengan penuh konsentrasi setiap instruksi yang diberikan. Kalau ada instruksi yang kurang jelas, segera tanyakan karena bertanya saat tes sudah berlangsung akan merugikan teman-teman sendiri. Kenapa? Karena nggak ada waktu tambahan pengerjaan dan waktu mengerjakan teman-teman terpotong cuma untuk tanya.
5.      Time management.
Setiap kelompok soal punya waktu pengerjaan yang berbeda-beda. Perhatikan waktu tester bilang “mulai” dan “berhenti”. Jangan mulai sebelum ada aba-aba dan segera letakkan alat tulis kalau disuruh berhenti. Ingat, nggak ada waktu tambahan. Jadi seandainya di kelompok soal 1 teman-teman belum selesai, sementara sudah waktunya mengerjakan kelompok soal berikutnya, mau nggak mau ya kamu harus berhenti ngerjain kelompok soal 1 dan beralih ke kelompok soal 2. Jadi perhatikan baik-baik waktunya ya.
6.      Kerjakan semaksimal mungkin.
Oke, ada batasan waktu. Tapi sekali lagi nggak usah panik. Kerjakan sebisanya dan semaksimal mungkin. Kalau ada soal yang sekiranya susah, lompati aja dulu. Tapi jangan sekali-kali mengerjakan kelompok soal lain sebelum ada aba-aba ya!
7.      Berdoa
You only need to do your best, God will do the rest. Percaya deh kalo kita udah berusaha, pasti dapat hasil yang baik J

So, are you ready for TPA, arek-arek Suroboyo?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Spilled Milk

A short update before continuing my next ASEAN YEP related post.

Actually it has been a busy holiday. I really got things to do that keeps me moving around and had little time to do anything else. Chatting on facebook and video calling with overseas friend is not included in the anything else category. Here I’m just going to tell you that I feel like my time is running out. I’m on my 4th year, the year for thesis & graduation. I really don’t have any other subject I need to take this semester because I have taken all my classes. That way next semester I only need to take 6 credits for thesis.

Thing is, after ASEAN YEP I realize how I have wasted my four year in university without doing anything noteworthy. I met a lot of great people who spent their college life around the globe during the ASEAN YEP. While me? I’m keeping myself rotten in my den. Well yeah, Prague in 2010 & Bangkok last January experiences were something real worthy. But, where have I been when the chances are widely open? Now I only have some months left before fleeing my save haven into the wilderness out there. Somehow I feel I’m not ready for the post-college life. I’m not even sure what to do next. Looking for jobs as an unqualified (soon to be) bachelor? Pursuing a master degree scholarship with my not-so-fair GPA?

Right now I’m crying over spilled milk. I really wish I still get chances to get other exchange grant before letting my status as an undergraduate student go.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

ASEAN YEP Diaries #1

I know it has been a long time since my last post. I didn't even do some new-year related post. How are you guys doing? Is there anyone who still read my blog out there? No matter what, I hope you have an incredible time, because I do. I get this special chance to meet a lot of new friends who are now become my family in this event I recently joined; the first ASEAN Youth Exchange Program (ASEAN YEP) on January 10th to 20th in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

From my perspective, ASEAN YEP is a program to strengthen the bond between Southeast Asian youths by exchanging each nation’s culture, preparing these youths for the 2015 ‘ASEAN Economic Community’ as well as promoting the ASEAN Way—in which I would explain later, and let them build a bond for the future of ASEAN. It is an intensive 10 days program consisted of lecturers, group discussion, excursion study and cultural visit. All of the participants also encouraged to perform their national culture. It was the most memorable 10 days I have experienced all my life. No exaggeration.

There are 8 countries participated in the YEP; Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Delegations from each country were representatives from the ASEAN University Network (AUN) member. The exchange was particularly for the AUN members only. Fortunately, my university is the member of AUN, so I could join this program.

I will share my YEP memories on some parts:
1.      Introductory part,
Which is this part when I give a brief explanation about YEP
2.      Lessons from Lectures
About something noteworthy from the classes, and
3.      Thailand Sight Seeing
In which I would tell you about my adventures around Siam District, Silom, Petchaburi Province, Asiatique and The Grand Palace

The story of how I get to Bangkok will be a start. Enjoy J

Departing to Bangkok
I didn't have much time to prepare myself for the selection. One day I received a text, telling me that I was invited to this exchange socialization event where the next day I was interviewed and shortly after that informed that I was accepted for the program and had to prepare everything I needed to go abroad; passport, photos, etc. Everything was so fast during this preparation weeks.

Some weeks before the departure, I met my fellow delegates from each faculty of my university. Our university delegations are Agni, Caesar, Cintia, Destra, Febby, Iyus, Jojo, Ratu, Rosa, Tanti, Tesa, Vania, Jesica, We had only 3 meetings to prepare everything for the cultural night and done the rest by Blackberry Messenger. Thank God for technology.
at Don Mueang Airport

We went to Bangkok on January 10th by Air Asia, the best low cost airlines—so they said. It takes about 4 hours to get to Bangkok. And since it is a low cost flight, we didn't get the meal for free. I was surprised that the price of half portion of meal I usually consume is two times more expensive. That time I had no idea about pre-book meal which cost cheaper. But I rarely fly, so I give a try for that costly food instead.

We arrived at about 8 pm which means we were late for the 7 pm welcoming dinner. But the staff kindly escorted us to Mak Yah, a halal Muslim Restaurant—because many of us are Islam. After filling our belly, we went to Asia Hotel Bangkok, a four-star hotel that will be our home for the next 9 days. This is when we learnt the fact that we will be sleeping with roommate from another country. We weren't anticipating this and quite anxious that we wouldn't be able to keep up with our roommate. But our anxiety was pointless for we had fun with our roommate. Mine is Faikum Srihakam, a cute Thai student from Khon Khaen University. We had a good time even thought Fai’s English was quite limited.

Solidarity Groups
We were asked by the staff to be punctually ready at the hotel lobby on 8 am for leaving to the campus where they held the lectures. The program was opened by formal forewords and Thailand cultural performance. After the opening ceremony, we were separated into solidarity groups or SGs. There are 6 SGs; group A-F. Each group consisted of every country member. For the rest 9 days, we have to stick with our SG.

Great times with Diversitwo

I was on group B, the second group. We called ourselves Diversitwo. Liw from Thai is our leader. Liane from The Philippines is our assistant leader. Those who are in this SG are Avasbek and Fatin (Brunei Darussalam), Phea (Cambodia), me, Aryo, Dary, Icha and Jojo (Indonesia), Aling (Laos), Marco (The Philippines), Am, Nan, Num, Pleng, Satory and Yong (Thailand) and Thao (Vietnam). Yes, Indonesia was the second country with the most delegates, while Myanmar was the least because they only sent 3 students. The grouping was fun. We were asked to introduce ourselves before making group rule & group cheer. In no time we became really attached with each other.

to be continued…

Friday, 7 December 2012

Saya (TIDAK) Benci Pak Ino!

On December 4th, one of my Industry and Organisation lecturer, the most respected one, passed away. This is a blog post I made to honor him. Post is written in Bahasa.