Note: this post is about English test, so I appropriately wrote in English.

One important requirement in most scholarship applications is a valid and recent English test score. TOEFL and IELTS are two competing English test brands. Most scholarship provider will gladly accept any one result of the two. I will tell you how these two English tests compared to each other, boxing match style. Without further ado, on the red corner, we have TOEFL, a name that comes to mind when people in Indonesia speaks about English tests. Now on the blue corner, we have IELTS, an alternative English test that is also quite known especially for Indonesians who want to continue their study in Australia.

Round 0: Get the Official International Version

Before we begin, I must stress that for your scholarship applications always get the official international version of the English test. Do *not* get the institutional, mock-up, trial, prediction or anything else other than the internationally accepted English tests. If you don’t use the international versions, your chance of being awarded the scholarship will be next to zero. Get the international version of the tests from official test centres listed below.

Round 1: Test Format

Keyboard vs pen and paper

In Indonesia, there is no Paper-based TOEFL or Computer-based TOEFL anymore. ETS only offers Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) on its official test centres. What does this mean? If you want to take TOEFL you’ll have to be accustomed to doing the test using a computer over the internet. The speaking section is done with you answering questions into a microphone. The recorded answers will be marked by up to 6 individual raters. You will also have to complete the writing section by typing your answers with a keyboard. IELTS still adopts the old-fashioned paper-and-pencil format. The test takers will have to use a pencil (or two, or a pen for that matter) to write the answers on an answering sheet. The speaking section is conducted by answering an actual interviewer face-to-face, while still being recorded.

Round 2: Fees

Straight to the point, in 2010, iBT TOEFL costs USD150 and IELTS costs USD180 USD195 (as of September 2010).

Round 3: Test Centres

You should choose the English test with test centres most convenient to you.
TOEFL is offered in various centres in Bandung, Batam, Denpasar, Jakarta, Malang, Medan, Pekanbaru, Salatiga, Samarinda, Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta.
IELTS is offered in Bali, Balikpapan, Bandung, Batam, Surabaya, Jakarta, Makassar, Malang, Manado, Semarang, Solo, Medan, Yogyakarta.

Round 4: Scoring System

iBT TOEFL has a band score from 0 to 120, with total scores around 89 considered minimum for a scholarship application. IELTS has a slightly simpler scoring system ranging from 0 to 9, with average score of 6.5 as a minimum for a scholarship application.

The Winner

Champions CupIf I were the judge of this match, I would declare IELTS as the winner of this match. Even though it is more expensive, the old fashioned paper-and-pencil format is more suitable for me. I also prefer doing the speaking section face-to-face with an actual living person. I also think that IELTS’ simpler scoring system may benefit test takers since the average score is rounded to the nearest 0.5 increment. TOEFL proponents will say that its speaking section is more objective (being graded by 3-6 independent raters) and it is more commonly accepted worldwide (which is technically not true since IELTS is also widely accepted). But I can’t decide for you. You should choose the most suitable test for yourself. I would say one thing though, be committed and put your efforts to be successful in any English test you take.

You can also read more information on TOEFL and IELTS (in Bahasa Indonesia). Any questions? Write your comments below.

Benefits of Using Podcast to Improve Your English

Note: since I’m going to write on improving your English, this post is appropriately written in English.

Preparing for any scholarship application can’t be started too early. If you’re planning to apply for Erasmus Mundus scholarship, you should know that the application period is usually open from around November until January. Now (July) would be a great time to start improving your English. As you know, a high-score English test result will greatly help your application.

In this Internet Age, there are more ways to improve English than just studying with books and taking courses. Learning with podcast is an example of these new methods. Put simply, podcasts are just audio files (usually in the popular format of MP3) that can be downloaded to be played later. While the idea of listening a recording is not new (think of audio cassettes and CDs), podcasts make publishing, searching and obtaining learning resources much easier. Here are some benefits of using podcast to learn English:

1. Listen to Native Speakers

Picture of Captain America

Language can be learnt by copying. Getting yourself used to listening to native speakers will make it easier to understand the language. Exposing yourself to the way they talk and to their pronunciation will also help your pronunciation, making your English sounds more natural and understandable by native speakers.

2. You Already Have the Tools

MP3 player

You don’t really need anything else to start using podcasts to improve your English. Most students now own an MP3 player or cellphone with multimedia capabilities. If you haven’t got one, save some money and get the cheap ones (you don’t need the fancy iPod). You still need internet access though. Just go online, download the files you want, transfer them to your device and you’re all set.

3. Everywhere, Anytime

Open 24 hours sign

With podcasts, you can decide when and where you learn English. While you’re enjoying that cup of coffee in a cafe, eating lunch, jogging, doing exercise at the gym or while being stuck in traffic jam, day or night, improving your English is just a button click away. What you need is just to make some time (10 minutes up to one hour, whatever works for you) and hit play.

4. Lots of Free Resources

Podcast icon

There are lots of free English podcasts published by native speakers. Don’t limit yourself with only listening to American speakers, vary it with British or perhaps Australian accents. The Internet makes it easy to find podcasts with various English accents. Here is just a small collections of such resources. You can get more by searching for “learning english podcast”. You can also listen to news podcast by searching “english news podcast”.


  • Better At English offers its own learning English podcast, but it also has a list of websites with audio and video resources for learning English.
  • VOA has a section on its website specifically designed for people learning English. Every news published on that section has an audio file of an American speaker telling the news in a slightly slower pace than normal. This is a very good site for a beginner.
  • BBC has got various useful podcasts for learning English (it offers a specific category just for that). You can of course listen to their global news podcast to keep abreast on world’s events while improving your English. Other downloadable files and resources (not just podcast) can also be found on the learning English section of the BBC website.
  • British Council has a great website for learning English and it also has a podcast section. Moreover, every episode on the podcast has a support pack (PDF file) containing exercises for you to finish while and after listening to the audio file. The exercise will help you further improve your English.
  • Podcast can also be in video format rather than just audio. Australia Network has various video podcasts for learning English available at your disposal. The downside of video podcasts is the size of each file may be significantly higher than regular audio podcasts.

Do you have any experience with using podcasts to improve your English? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credits: [1], [2], [3], [4]

IELTS: English Tests (part 2)

Ini adalah bagian kedua dari tulisan English Test, melanjutkan bagian pertama tentang TOEFL.

IELTS by the British Institute, IDP IELTS Australia, University of Cambridge ESOL

IELTS logo

Versi tes ini yang diminta untuk beasiswa luar negeri adalah IELTS versi Academic bukan versi General. Untuk mengetes kemampuan peserta untuk reading, listening, dan writing, tes ini masih menggunakan kertas (paper-based). Sedangkan untuk mengetes kemampuan speaking, peserta tes melakukan tanya jawab dengan native speaker (direkam). Tes ini sering diasosiasikan dengan British English, meski accent yang digunakan dalam tes ini bervariasi. Peserta tes bebas menggunakan British atau American English (asal konsisten) dalam menjawab soal tes.

Struktur tes:

Section Description Testing Time Questions Score Scale
Listening Candidates listen to a number of recorded texts, which increase in difficulty as the test progresses. These include a mixture of monologues and conversations and feature a variety of English accents.
The recording is heard only once, but candidates are given time to read the questions and write down their answers.
30 minutes 4 sections; 40 questions 0-9
Reading There are three reading passages with tasks. Texts are taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers, all
written for a non-specialist audience. At least one of the texts contains a detailed argument.
60 minutes 3 sections; 40 questions 0-9
Writing The first task requires candidates to write a description of at least 150 words. This is based on material found in a chart, table, graph or diagram and should demonstrate their ability to present information and to summarise the main features of the input.
For the second task, candidates write a short essay of at least 250 words in response to a statement or question. They are expected to demonstrate an ability to present a position, construct an argument and discuss abstract issues.
60 minutes 2 tasks; 150 and 250 words 0-9
Speaking The test takes the form of a face-to-face interview. Candidates are assessed on their use of spoken English to answer short questions, to speak at length on a familiar topic, and also to interact with the examiner. 11-14 minutes interview 0-9
Total score 0-9

IELTS test centres di Indonesia: Bali, Balikpapan, Bandung, Batam, Surabaya, Jakarta, Makassar, Malang, Manado, Semarang, Solo, Medan, Yogyakarta.

Pengiriman hasil tes hingga ke 5 institusi bisa dilakukan pada saat pendaftaran. Berdasarkan pengalaman pribadi, fotokopi skor IELTS yang dilegalisir (dengan biaya kecil) pihak penyelenggara tes juga diterima.

Batas minimal nilai IELTS yang harus dimiliki bervariasi bergantung program Erasmus Mundus. Baca dengan detil persyaratan pendaftaran di website program. Nilai yang bisa jadi patokan: 6.5 (dengan nilai writing tidak kurang dari 6).

Biaya: USD 180 (per Mei 2010) Update: USD 195 (per September 2010).

Cara pendaftaran: hubungi IELTS test centre terdekat.

Baca juga:, FAQ (frequently asked questions), test sample, information for candidates (PDF).

TOEFL: English Tests (part 1)

Untuk melamar beasiswa luar negeri, pendaftar akan selalu diminta melampirkan hasil tes kemampuan berbahasa asing yang akan digunakan di negara tujuan. Karena bahasa pengajaran di (hampir semua) program Erasmus Mundus adalah bahasa Inggris, konsorsium akan selalu meminta hasil tes standar kemampuan berbahasa Inggris. Ada dua tes standar bahasa Inggris yang sudah sangat dikenal: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) dan IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Bagian pertama dari rangkaian tulisan English Test ini membahas TOEFL dengan singkat. IELTS akan dibahas di bagian kedua.

TOEFL by ETS (Educational Testing Service)

ETS & TOEFL logo

Sekarang, hanya TOEFL versi iBT (Internet Based Test), yang diselenggarakan di Indonesia. Tes dilakukan menggunakan komputer dan internet dan ditujukan untuk mengukur kemampuan reading, listening, speaking dan writing. Tes ini diasosiasikan dengan American English, sesuai dengan asal tes ini.

Struktur tes Internet-based TOEFL:

Section Description Testing Time Questions Score Scale
Reading 3-5 passages from academic texts;
approximately 700 words long;
12-14 questions per passage.
60-100 minutes 36-70 questions 0-30
Listening 4-6 lectures, some with classroom discussion;
each 3-5 minutes long;
6 questions each.
2-3 conversations;
each 3 minutes long;
5 questions each.
60-90 minutes 34-51 questions 0-30
Break 10 minutes
Speaking 2 tasks to express an opinion on a familiar topic;
4 tasks to speak based on what is read and listened to.
20 minutes 6 tasks 0-4 points converted to 0-30 score scale
Writing 1 task to write based on what is read and listened to;
1 task to support an opinion on a topic.
50 minutes 2 tasks 0-5 points converted to 0-30 score scale
Total score 0-120

Test centres di Indonesia: Bandung, Batam, Denpasar, Jakarta, Malang, Medan, Pekanbaru, Salatiga, Samarinda, Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta.

Pengiriman hasil tes ke pihak universitas dilakukan langsung oleh ETS, dengan peserta tes memilih universitas yang akan dikirimi hasil tes pada waktu melakukan pendaftaran tes.

Untuk beasiswa luar negeri, pasti yang dimaksud adalah versi terbaru, iBT, bukan versi ITP (Institutional Testing Program). TOEFL ITP hanya disarankan untuk keperluan internal.

Batas minimal nilai TOEFL yang harus dimiliki bervariasi bergantung program Erasmus Mundus. Baca dengan detil persyaratan pendaftaran di website program. Nilai yang bisa jadi patokan: 550/89 (paper based/internet based).

Biaya: USD 165 (per Mei 2010).
Periode validitas: 2 tahun.

Cara pendaftaran:

  • Online (Credit/Debit Card). Baca juga langkah-langkah pendaftaran TOEFL online (PDF).
  • In Person (langsung dengan Rupiah) hubungi:
    Indonesian International Education Foundation (IIEF)
    Menara Imperium, 28th Floor, Suite B
    Metropolitan Kuningan Superblok, Kav. 1
    Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said
    Jakarta 12980
    Tel: +62-21-831-7330

Baca juga:, TOEFL Tips (PDF), informasi lebih lanjut tentang TOEFL iBT.

Erasmus Mundus Scholarship: Money Matters

Foto uang US dollar

Artikel ini dapat digunakan sebagai panduan umum untuk menjawab Berapa banyak biaya yang harus saya siapkan untuk beasiswa Erasmus Mundus?. “Umum” berarti tidak berlaku untuk semua kasus. Biaya-biaya yang dicantumkan merupakan hasil pengalaman pribadi pada tahun 2007, silakan periksa biaya-biaya terbaru di sumber-sumber resmi.

Biaya Pengiriman Dokumen

Foto amplop dan prangko

Beberapa program Erasmus Mundus masih meminta pendaftaran lewat pos. Beberapa dokumen resmi seperti surat rekomendasi, kopi ijazah dan transkrip, dll harus dikirim langsung ke konsorsium penyelenggara program. Setelah diterima, ada yang diminta untuk menandatangani form tanda penerimaan beasiswa dan/atau form pendaftaran (akomodasi) untuk kemudian dikirimkan melalui pos.

Biaya pengiriman dokumen ke Eropa bervariasi bergantung penyedia jasa:

  • DHL dan sejenisnya: sekitar IDR 350,000 per dokumen (< 0.5 kg), hubungi DHL untuk informasi biaya.
  • EMS dari PT Pos Indonesia: sekitar USD 20.
  • Pos biasa: sekitar IDR 50,000 (bayangkan 50 prangko seribuan ditempel di amplop)

Dengan DHL dan EMS, kita bisa melacak surat kita. Pos biasa tidak disarankan.

Biaya Tes Bahasa Inggris

Foto buku TOEFL

Ikuti tes bahasa Inggris versi internasional, yang memang agak mahal. Di Indonesia, tes IELTS memerlukan biaya USD 180 (klik more information) dan tes TOEFL memerlukan biaya USD 150 (cari lokasi tes TOEFL terdekat (PDF)).

Saran saya adalah latih kemampuan bahasa Inggrismu khususnya untuk tes yang akan kamu ambil (cari mock-up atau samples) baru ikuti tesnya.

Biaya Paspor dan Visa

Foto paspor dan visa

Sebaiknya sudah memiliki paspor jika mendaftar beasiswa luar negeri. Biaya mendaftarkan paspor RI sekitar IDR 200,000. Prosedur pembuatan dan lokasi pendaftaran dapat dilihat di situs Ditjen Imigrasi (bagian Layanan Publik dan Unit Kerja).

Untuk pergi keluar negeri, visa harus dimiliki. Mendapatkan beasiswa mungkin tidak menjamin biaya visa digratiskan (visa fee waived). Contohnya student visa UK adalah sekitar GBP 99. Jika pemohon visa bukan penerima beasiswa Chevening/Fullbright, dia harus membayar biaya visa. Beberapa kedutaan/konsulat akan membebaskan biaya visa untuk pelajar pemegang beasiswa.

Biaya Keberangkatan

Foto pesawat terbang

Biaya tiket pesawat sekali jalan ke Eropa adalah sekitar USD 550. Segera setelah mendapat kepastian tanggal dimulainya perkuliahan, cari dan pesan tiket yang murah. Saya punya pengalaman yang bagus dengan Emirates.

Prosedur bebas biaya fiskal (IDR 1,000,000) akan diberitahukan kepada EM awardee sebelum keberangkatan. Tentu jika sudah punya NPWP atau masih dalam tanggungan orang tua yang memiliki NPWP, status bebas fiskal langsung didapatkan.

Biaya Hidup di Awal

Sebelum benar-benar mendapatkan beasiswa, kamu harus hidup dengan biaya sendiri (mulai dari beberapa minggu hingga mungkin dua bulan!) Saran saya adalah membawa sebanyak yang kamu bisa.

Seingat saya berikut biaya yang saya keluarkan (2007):

  1. DHL untuk pendaftaran dan EMS untuk konfirmasi: IDR 550,000
  2. IELTS dulu sekitar AUD 150
  3. Pendaftaran paspor di Bandung: IDR 220,000
  4. UK student visa: GBP 99
  5. Tiket pesawat ke London: USD 550
  6. Untuk darurat dan biaya hidup bulan pertama di UK: sekitar GBP 300, hidup irit!

Foto koper-koper

Masih ada beberapa biaya lain, misalnya (tapi tidak terbatas pada):

  1. Biaya transportasi (di Eropa) dari bandara ke akomodasi.
  2. Biaya akomodasi (deposit, biaya agen).
  3. Transportasi untuk mengurus semua persyaratan (visa, paspor, dll).
  4. Barang yang dibawa ke Eropa (koper yang kuat, persiapan musim dingin layak dibawa, tapi ingat hanya bawa yang esensial).

Raiza – Alumni NeBCC 2007
Photos credits: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]