A lot of organizations and foundations give master and doctoral scholarship every year to Indonesians who want to countinue their study abroad. Australian Award Scholarship provides 500 seats, British Council through Chevening Scholarship allocates 70 grants, Holland Scholarship grants 300 Indonesian to study at all universities in Netherlands, and the prestigious one, LPDP – managed by the Ministry of Finance, gives scholarship without quota. However, not everyone has chance to win those scholarships. Do you know what makes them failed to be an awardee? It is caused by not having enough English score.

All of educational grants that I mentioned above entail all applicants to have band 6-7 of IELTS score. IELTS or The international English language testing system is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration, with over 2 million tests taken every year. Nowadays, many universities around the world prefer to use IELTS than TOEFL as the language requirement for prospectus students who want to take master or doctorate degree in their universities. Specially for UK, IELTS is a part of requirements for visa application.

For taking IELTS test, you must spend USD$220 or around Rp. 2.750.000. Honestly, I want to say that it is an expensive English test. I think that you will not waste that much money without expecting a good result. Therefore, you need to prepare to reach the highest score that you can hold. If you have enough money, yo can take IELTS preparation course to make you familiar with IELTS’ style. As far as I know, there are 2 recommended language institutions for preparing IELTS in Yogyakarta: CILACS UII and Real English. In CILACS UII, you must pay around Rp. 1.300.000 for 22 meetings. Meanwhile, Real English charges Rp. 3.700.000 for 2 month program in which the student will be taught by native speakers.

For those who can not join with such expensive course, I suggest you to make an IELTS club to study IELTS with your friends. That is my way to learn IELTS now and negotiate with the lack of money. Maybe some of you are still wondering that is it possible to have the high score by learning together without a teacher? I am inspired by 4 scholarship hunters in my hometown (West Sumatera) who made “IELTS Warriors” to study IELTS. They arranged 3 days a week for learning IELTS. It was a kind of study group. With the available sources that they could access from internet, they started learning IELTS. After two months, two of them braved to take the real academic IELTS test in Jakarta because there is no institution conducting IELTS test in West Sumatera. Do you know the score that they obtained for the test? One got 7,5 and the other gained 7. The scores were just achieved by making an IELTS club.

I believe that getting high score in English test such IELTS needs preparation and takes time. Since language is about habbit, you must be familiar with English and use English in your daily activity. You can start your preparation by reading, listening, writing and speaking English in daily situations. You can familiarize yourself with listening to English news, reading news papers, magazines and speaking with your friends whenever possible. Reading English materials improve your comprehension skills and writing skills as well. If you have some friends who are also interested in studying IELTS, you can ask them to make an IELTS club as IELTS Warriors did.

While doing those practices, you must also accustom to test format, flow and IELTS modules. One who knows about IELTS Modules and test format, he/she can be able to solve all the tasks on time. I suggest you to learn with Cambridge IELTS Examination Books for practicing and read Barron’s IELTS Preparation Book for getting tips how to conquer IELTS. Moreover you also can download IELTS materials from many websites that are providing video classes, practice tests, downloadable material and tutor assistance.

Even a native English speaker may not get good score in IELTS without practice. By having lot of practice tests and proper preparation, you can get good score in all sections. Practice tests will help you to improve your skills and bring you awareness of the test format. Therefore as a non native English speaker, we need to do a bit more practice.

Before taking the real IELTS test, I recommend you to take the simulation IELTS test to evaluate your preparation and to make sure that you are ready to fight with the real test. In Yogyakarta, there are some language institutions that hold IELTS simulation test; CILACS and Real English. You only pay Rp. 150.000 for a simulation test. In CILACS, it is counducted once a month and the result will be informed two weeks after taking the test. While in Real English, you can take the simulation every day. If you are lucky, you will meet a native speaker in Speaking section. You can get your score 3 days after doing the simulation.

When you have a dream to study abroad, it means you are ready to do anything to make that dream becoming true. One of requirements that you can not avoid is qualified in IELTS. The dreams is still a dream, if you do not start from now to prepare the IELTS. It is not about how much money you have, but it is about how strong your spirit to learn. Let’s conquer the IELTS and your dream to study abroad becomes true.

# I would like to deliver my great gratitude to IELTS Warriors for inspiring me to learn IELTS without spending money…:)