Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Guide to Applying to Cambridge University from Malaysia

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Help us help our junior students in Malaysia. Share with us your application process and interview tips for applying to world's top universities. Send in your personal experience in writing and get published here.

Posted by Celine Wan

This blog post of mines was written two years ago. Since it has captured the attention of many recently by consistently being one of the most popular post for these past few months (deadline to apply to OxBridge is coming soon), I thought it would be great to repost this here!

Cambridge University Application Guide

Dear self,

After all the mayhem, there is one ultimate lesson that I've learnt, and I'd like to share it with my readers here (I'll publish more of my application experiences next time :D After the entire process is done that is, because Cambie is the first to be completed; hence the first to be publicised. Stay tuned!):-

"Do not listen to what others have predicted for you. Just because a want is difficult to achieve, doesn't mean that it's entirely impossible. The only absolute way for you to be certain that you'll never get it is if you never try, and for once, believe in yourself and stop listening to others' opinions about you (just because they found it difficult or they can't do it). What's there to lose?"

Just saying. Since I got comments like "why bother applying. it's just a waste of time"

Random: Please tolerate my perpetual abusal of rhetorical questions and parentheses. It's a habit for me to type this way when I'm mentally-- and informally-- talking via writing. (well, when you read, you're dwelling into the inner thoughts of others, and this is how I really sound like in my mind. Pretty pathetic I know)

When I've decided to apply to UCAS, it was a week before the Cambridge application deadline. So you can guess: sleepless nights because I started my UCAS from scratch! Not to mention the additional essays and stuff in COPA. In all honesty, I do not think that Cambridge even bothers about your essays because I wrote mines in 5 days or so. If they do care, I don't know how I got accepted (or maybe it's because I work best under stress). The reason why I applied to Camby despite the 5 days mania is because of the course structure. I really wanted to apply to Oxford but I soon realised that they only have the general engineering route, and I was immediately taken by Camby's Natural Science route (it's Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences if you don't get what I'm talking about). There's a general engineering route too. Some may say that Bio or Phy Nat Sc is the same but for Chemical Engineering, it should be physical..? But I'm determined to do lots of Chemistry in my tripos! And so, I've applied to Cambridge and not the latter. (not because it's more famous for science and oxford, the arts...okay..)

Homerton College
Homerton College
My interview was held in Malaysia and I had to pay 100 pounds for that (all worth it)! People would normally get shortlisted during this stage (though I think everyone gets the interview if they're having their interview 'overseas' like me). In Malaysia, we would have one 30 minute interview but if you would like to be interviewed in Cambridge, then it's 2-3 interviews in total I think. Some have claimed that it's easier to enter if you go to UK because you'll personally see your tutor/decision maker and not the medium/messenger. But I'm not going to take my risk, because it's only under the assumption that a messenger reporting your interview would reduce your chances of admission. They are still the "Cambridge fellas" anyway. Oh, I've made an open application (despite the myths that it's harder to get accepted this way) because I want to avoid being asked why I want that college during the interview xD Haha I'm so so lame. I think I almost applied to Homerton College though. Because it looks pretty and stuff. But Cambridge is beautiful full stop.

Since I've applied for Chemical Engineering, I was required to take a Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) on a separate day from my interview (which is a day or so after). It's a one hour paper consisting of 50 questions. I had a 76% or 78% for the mock test (which is available online) and was pretty satisfied with it, till I know of a friend who got a 86% for it T_T I don't think this is significantly important too because some colleges don't even bother about your TSA. And we don't get to know our actual TSA results. But since I'm an overseas applicant being interviewed in Malaysia....I really don't know, for it's made compulsory regardless of the college I'm allocated to. Also, since I'll be interviewed in Malaysia, I was required to write a 30 minute essay (written assessment) in place of a second/third interview.

I had my interview in Taylor's College and my written test in Sunway College two days after. Speaking of TSA and written assessments (I'll start with that), our essay was right after our TSA. We were in the hall with the rest of the Cambie applicants (not including BMAT and stuff). There were lots of Caucasian people in the hall too, obviously representatives of the university. They weren't smiling so I got a little nervous; not to mention that they were wearing formal suits! I got really emo after the test because I wasted 10 minutes after my TSA wondering what was happening-- when everyone else was working on their essay! I thought my 20 minute work would ruin my entire application. The questions are very technical and course-related. So know your stuff. TSA was generally fine, though I couldn't solve approximately 5 questions or so (not enough time). After the tests, I went window shopping with my long lost friend-- Xuelin-- AND WE GOT INTO THE SAME COLLEGE! (still can't believe it) She is my best friend since I started my A levels...we were once classmates until JPA took her away...

Then came (actually this was before my TSA and written test) the notorious Oxbridge interview: what everyone has been talking about since I entered college. Unlike other interviews, an Oxbridge interview involves a lot of technical questions and doesn't bother much about your life and eca. Familiar with Taylor's College (I graduated there so duh!), I involuntarily wore a turtle neck t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of snickers. I thought that was okay, because based on the sample interview video in Emmanuel College's website (the one for Chemistry), I saw that the boy was wearing t-shirt and jeans.. so I thought it was okay here too...........The look on my face when I noticed that EVERYONE was wearing (I only saw ==) a suit!!! WITH A TIE!!!AND I WAS WEARING A T-SHIRT AND THREE QUARTER JEANSSSS Got so embarrassed I felt looked as if the Cambridge interview didn't matter at all to me -_- (but it really really did!). I had my interview in a really quiet meeting room (pin drop silence kind of quiet). It was bad enough that I could hear myself breathing, the chair was so big and I was sitting at the very end of the long table! And he was next to me! It felt nothing like my casual chat in Starbucks for my MIT interview (got gobsmacked when I heard someone brought an invention in his interview). In fact, the one for MIT lasted for an hour till I had a really bad stomachache after that (from talking while drinking). Still, 30 minutes was just too fast.

Side note: Mock interview was kind of helpful.

The Caucasian man must've obviously been a Chemistry expert because all his interviewees applied for Chemical Engineering and the like. He was very friendly and PROBABLY tried to calm me down when he noticed my tensed up demeanor. He smiled and said "I see that you've got 4A*s in your A levels *smiles* Good good, Cambridge likes that *smiles and stares at me*" I got so nervous from the silence all I could do was to smile back. I think my hands were shaking when he gave me a pen and a paper. Then the questions began. (my 4 subjects in a levels were: bio,chem,phy,maths.. i didnt take further maths but im currently self-studying it, including economics lol)

If I have readers who are applying to Oxbridge, here are my advises (otherwise you can ignore this bit of my post)

Guide to Applying to Cambridge University from Malaysia

Based on experience in an Oxbridge interview, I would say that I am generally lucky to not get creepy questions like "talk about a banana" and "how is snow formed?" (true story, friend who applied for medicine in Oxford got these questions). There are many more really awkward questions but I don't know if I'm allowed to tell them all here without formal approvals. So I'll just let that be. There isn't any standard/general model of a Cambridge interview too because some have claimed that theirs were strictly A levels, and some totally awkward (not even course-related I was shocked!). In summary, we can't really prepare much for it because based on my opinion, the questions are devised in such a way that last minute preparations will not be that helpful anyway. I've prepared random questions after re-reading my personal statement (because some have been asked based on that) and general questions like "why Cambridge?" Anyway, the questions that I got are not strictly based on A levels. I would generally feel that it has nothing to do with it. Why? I was given random mathematical equations and was asked to draw them out. I was also asked to interpret the graphs he drew. There are many more questions that are pretty surprising (as in, one wouldn't expect to even think of such a question). I had 3 "long" questions in total which was a combination of maths and chem (but everything included a lot of critical thinking). I had spent most of my time 'problem-solving' them on the spot. The interviewer had helped me along the way too, i.e when I got stuck during the 'deduction process.' Although 3 questions seem to be short, I'd spent most of my time "developing my thoughts" so it's something like I'm "learning on the spot."

In conclusion (just for the interview), the most important element is not the answer, but the process of getting it. Also, an interview is to see if you're teachable; thus, try not to act too stubborn, pompous, or anything else they'll not favor from a prospective student. More importantly, don't get too upset about getting anything wrong. Because I had one wrong out of three very open-ended, subjective questions and emo-ed till I received my offer. Even when I had the final question wrong, my interviewer asked me why was the correct answer--well-- the correct one! The 'lol' moment when I figured that out. It is expected to be hard anyway because they don't expect you to know that answer immediately, but a progressive discussion till you get it. Moments of serendipities :')

like this!
like this!
Note: during my application process is actually the time when I really got to know Cambridge. I didn't know they frequently have formal halls which includes wearing robes (so Harry Potter!) and the colleges are just places where you eat and sleep. You'll be studying with everyone from your course and have personal tutors from your college. And I got asked a couple of times if the Cambridge is in the UK or US, because the US Cambridge is in New England, which is where Harvard and MIT is (yes harvard and mit is in cambridge). So yeah, UK or US, WHO CARES! The England Cambridge is in Cambridgeshire to be more specific (like Oxford in Oxfordshire). The US's Cambridge is in Massachusetts (MA). Want to know a dirty little secret? I didn't know what was MIT, KCL, LSE, Imperial, UCL, etc till I entered college (but I know about harvard, cambridge, and oxford since primary school). Nor do I think that it's even possible for me to meet people who've actually attended Oxbridge and the like.

The outcome

Guide to Applying to Cambridge University from Malaysia
Am I dreaming?
Am I dreaming?

Till then!

One Year in Cambridge University: Awesome Experience Shared

► Read more on Guide to Applying to Cambridge University from Malaysia

Sunday, September 28, 2014

5 Top Tips to Make Your Revision Timetable More Effective

36 Scholarships for IPTA Undergraduate Students
44 Model Essay Samples for SPM English, O-level, IELTS, TOEFL & MUET Writing

5 Top Tips to Make Your Revision Timetable More Effective

Guest post written by James Timpson (Submit your essay and get read by 26,000+ students like YOU!)

Making a revision timetable may be at the bottom of your list of priorities, yet without one you will find it difficult to utilise time efficiently. A good revision plan will help you identify material that needs a bit of extra work, which will reduce your stress and anxiety come exam time. If you don’t know where to begin, these 5 tips may help you out.

1. Divide time between subjects wisely

When making your revision timetable, the first thing you'll have to do is decide how much time to allocate to each subject as not all of them will require the same amount of attention. Break down each of the subjects into different categories based on your confidence. Allocate more time to subjects that you find more challenging, and less time to the ones that you are more comfortable with.

The natural thing to do would be prioritising subjects you like and alienating the ones you find more challenging. Address your weaknesses early in the revision programme to ensure your confidence is balanced across the subjects. In addition, it’s very important to not overload the brain with information as retaining could be a challenging task.
 If you’re feeling stressed give yourself a break.
If you’re feeling stressed give yourself a break. / PicCredit

2. Mix up your subjects

According to researchers at Oaklands College, revising the same subject all day can negatively affect your concentration levels. Instead, mix up your subjects to keep yourself engaged as time goes on. Most students end up revising all their least favourite subjects together. Do not take this approach as it could prove frustrating and disheartening. Alternating between difficult and easy subjects will provide you a much needed mental break while you study.

Revision can be made more effective depending on the methods you choose. Balancing your weaknesses and strengths is ideal as mentioned above, mix up your subjects to compliment each other. E.g. your weakest subject is chemistry, therefore allocate a sufficient amount of time and follow the session with one of your stronger subjects. Repeating your weakest subjects hinders your focus and could become a detriment to your revision programme.

3. Allow for breaks in your timetable

Don’t make the mistake of cramming all your revision into one sitting. You’ll get much more done if you study in short spells and take frequent breaks. With shorter study periods, your concentration will be much higher. Frequent breaks will also give you time to walk around, stretch, and get yourself a nutritious snack, all of which are important stimulants for the brain.

By arranging a revision timetable like this, you will feel more confident going into the exam period and will have a fresh approach to the chaotic programme. Student’s perception of revision is the stereotypical design of cramming information in a short period, however the pro’s outweigh the con’s when devising short breaks between subjects in your timetable.

4. Use memory techniques

Use practical techniques to improve your memory. For example, make notes while reciting information out loud. Simply reading out of a book for hours on end may not cut the mustard. Making notes and summarizing facts while you read will help you more effectively retain information. While it may be tiresome and tedious, it will yield positive results. You could also use different colours to highlight facts and information that require extra emphasis.

The brain retains relevant information if certain layouts are highlighted or underlined to emphasize importance. Certain diagrams can become useful such as; brainstorms or mind-maps to categorise large amounts of information and enforce order to your notes. Evidence has shown that these methods are extremely effective with highlighting certain keywords in your choice of colour can be an advantage too.

5. Change your setting frequently

To keep yourself motivated and interested in studies, change your setting frequently. For example, if you usually study alone in your room, consider studying in a group with other students. In fact, studying with others could really help you stay motivated if you lack enthusiasm. If you just want to get out of the house then perhaps the library or a quiet cafe will help?

Even if you have a very short amount of time left before your exams, with a smart revision timetable you could still get a lot done. If you’ve got some time left and truly feel like you’re lacking in a particular subject you could even consider taking a part-time college or online course to strengthen your knowledge. Even degree-level institutions such as the University of St. Albans often offer additional short courses to help you improve your grades.

► Read more on 5 Top Tips to Make Your Revision Timetable More Effective

Sunday, September 21, 2014

5 Top Tips to Avoid Procrastination

5 Top Tips to Avoid Procrastination

Guest post written by James Timpson (Share your stories with 26,000+ students like YOU!)

Procrastination is the bane of revision and when you’re preparing for exams there’s nothing more boring than trolling through your notes and trying to fill in the blanks. It’s hardly surprising that most people leave it until the last minute. If this sounds familiar, then these five tips may help.

1. Start in the morning

Revision expert Justin Craig states that most people find the morning to be the most productive time of the day. There’s nothing like waking up, cracking on and getting all of your work done before the afternoon. Not only does this make the days feel longer, but it gives you more free time to relax and recuperate – which is half the battle.

The second you’ve had breakfast, set yourself a goal and see it through till the end. The longer you leave it the more creative your excuses will become, and before you know it you’ve wasted the whole day. Having a “Do it now” attitude will prevent delays. While it may be difficult to begin with, after a few days your mind and body will start to adapt.

Top Tips to Avoid Procrastination
Top Tips to Avoid Procrastination / PicCredit

2. Reduce your workload

This may seem counter productive, but it’s far better to get a little bit done than nothing. For example, it can be pretty daunting to look at your schedule and realise that you need to write a 2,000 word essay. However, if you split that up across five days, it’s now a mere 400 words – not quite so bad is it?

Don’t worry about completing entire projects in one sitting. Spreading it across multiple days will not only make it much easier to manage, but will improve the overall quality of your work.

3. Don’t prioritise small tasks

Of course you’ll need to get the smaller tasks out the way as well, but don’t do them to compensate for bigger tasks. Answering emails and reading research notes, etc., needs to be done, but is it really a priority?

Don’t kid yourself; prioritise by order of importance. Whatever you do make sure you tackle at least a small portion of a bigger task, otherwise you’ll just end up overburdened when all the smaller tasks are out of the way.

4. Get some company

According to The Happiness Project, studies have shown that we enjoy activities more when we have a partner. If you think you’d work better with someone by your side, choose your study partner wisely. If you’re not careful they could be an even bigger distraction.

Find a study partner who makes an effort to do well themselves. Their good habits will inspire you to try harder. If you don’t have any close friends doing the same course as you, ask your tutor to arrange an after-hours study group.

5. Create a schedule

Create both long and short-term schedules and stick to them. Having a detailed plan in front of you will inspire you to stay ahead of the game. Creating a schedule will also help you pinpoint problem areas so you can make extra time for them.

At the beginning of each week make a detailed plan outlining what you expect to achieve by the end. Then, at the beginning of each day – before you start working – write down a list of everything you want to achieve by the end of that day. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a list!

When it comes to revision everybody is different and what could work for others may not work for you. Try to find a routine that you find beneficial, even if it doesn’t stick to conventions. Sometimes it’s the oddest and most ‘out there’ ideas that work.

► Read more on 5 Top Tips to Avoid Procrastination

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UM Ranked at 151 in QS World University Rankings 2014/2015 (UKM: 259, UTM: 294, USM: 309, UPM: 376)

Source: London-based QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings 2014/2015

Rank    University
1           Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
2           University of Cambridge,UK
2           Imperial College London, UK
4           Harvard University, US
5           University of Oxford, UK
5           University College London (UCL), UK
7           Stanford University, US
8           California Institute of Technology (Caltech), US
9           Princeton University, US
10         Yale University, US
22         National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore
28         University of Hong Kong
31         University of Tokyo, Japan
31         Seoul National University, South Korea
39         Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
151       Universiti Malaya (UM)
259       Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
294       Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
309       Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
376       Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

Universiti Malaya World University Rankings
The Malaysian Insider wrote:
All five institutions improved on their rankings compared to last year.

In the survey last year, UM was ranked at 167th while UKM at 269th. UTM and USM were both at 355th and UPM was in the 411-420 ranking.

The criteria used by QS to rank the universities are academic reputation, employer reputation, student to faculty ratio, papers per faculty, citations per paper, internationalisation, and student exchange programmes.

The QS Rankings grades a total of 863 tertiary institutions out of over 3,000 that it assesses.

Universiti Teknologi Mara made the biggest jump, up from the 701-plus level to the 651-700 group.

However, the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) did not improve its position and remained in the 501-550 tier.

In a statement today on the latest QS World University Rankings, QS Quacquarelli Symonds said with the exception of IIUM, all the other universities had improved or remained stable in three out of the six ranking indicators.

The indicators were Academic Reputation, based on 63,676 academic responses and representing 40% of the weight; International Faculty which weights 5%; the research impact indicator; and Citation per Faculty which weights 20%.

"USM is the only institution that has improved across all six indicators," the organisation that has been ranking universities in the world for a decade said.

► Read more on UM Ranked at 151 in QS World University Rankings 2014/2015 (UKM: 259, UTM: 294, USM: 309, UPM: 376)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Education in Malaysia: A Teacher's Perspective

Written by Izz Adha, first published as his public Facebook post last week. It has gone viral on Facebook with more than 13,000 likes and 8,000 shares to date. Have something to say? Send us your guest post and get published here.

Hari ini saya mengamuk di sekolah. This is not who I am. You will never see me this way again. Usually, if I am mad, I will disappear. Today, I sent three girls to the principal and called the parents of three boys. These are the problematic students from the first day I was here. They don't listen, they enter and leave the class as they want, they don't do homework, they don't do classwork, they don't do group work, they talk as they please, there is absolutely no manner in them, they don't go to surau for prayers, they bully other students, they make fun of other students, they choose to leave the class, and walk by every 5 minutes to scream over the door to disturb the class.

You know who they are?
The girls are a PPD and teachers' daughters
The boys are nelayan and social workers' sons.

One of their dads came to school after I talked to his wife on the phone. He said "He never says he had homework, and he always says that everything is well in school." I showed him his mark (21, failed) and his worksheet that I collected every day after class. Blank. Empty. I told him, "I am not toying with you. He doesn't care and do his homework. I am not mad that he didn't do the work; I am disappointed that he did not put an effort." to which the father replied "He's so kind at home." Other teachers who taught his son jumped to the opportunity to tell him the truth too. He was shocked.

The girls, on the other hand, cried, begging the principal not to call their fathers because who they are at home are the opposite of who they really are outside. Mind you that these are some of the most problematic students in the school yet none of their parents know about it.

Before this fiasco, I was teaching them how to write an essay and asked them to write an essay. They asked me to translate every single word. Cikgu, "Yang" apa? Cikgu "Dengan" apa? Cikgu "melaksanakan" apa? Cikgu macam mana nak mula karangan?

What did they learn in primary school? Why are their basics so poor? It is utterly difficult to prepare them for PT3 while having to teach them basics again that they were supposed to know, at the very least, during their six years in primary school.

How do you explain the complexity of this problem?

It is shocking to me because I came from good schools. I came from good primary school, then a good SBP, good middle school, and finally at a good MRSM. This experience was not expected, and I am thankful that I entered good schools. I am thankful that my mom humiliated me at report card days by telling everything about me, and exchanged numbers with teacher and called them every month — I am thankful for this. It is shocking to me because I came from schools, which environments built my interest to learn. It is shocking to me because my primary school provided me with ample and strong basics. As I write this, it is not to say that other teachers are not good, or other schools are not as good as my schools. What I mean is: I came from an environment that cultivates learning since I was a kid. I never thought of this situation before. It is a surprise to me because I never thought there are people out there who don't think education is important.

One of the teachers said to me; This is shocking to you because you come from a good school, and you are smart. This will not be surprising if you come from schools like ours.

So, how do you explain the complexity of this problem?

Are the teachers to be blamed?
Are the parents to be blamed?
The system?
The students?
The primary school teachers?
The Ministers?

Where do we even begin?

The teachers are giving up,
The parents are hopeless,
The system is troublesome,
The environments are demotivating,
The students lack interest.

I am not joking: a teacher confessed that she is teaching because of the money — and she is not the only one. I am not kidding: A few teachers gave up — and they are not the only teachers giving up.

My fear is that we are too busy building a better nation, by working harder, by creating better system, by raising the benchmark, and then quietly, without anyone noticing, we are demolishing every essence of education from its core; from home to school, from students to teachers.

The complexity of this matter demotivates and disappoints me — a fake teacher for a few months. What do you think of the real teachers who have taught for 15-30 years?

If everyone is to be blamed, then why we start with only one or two factors? A quote from an Ustaz I talked today: Kalau bumbung tirih (bocor), kita tak boleh dok letak timba kat lantai, kita kena tukar bumbung."

- - - - - -

First of all, I am not complaining. I am a temporary teacher who works during summer break, and I am leaving this school in 3 days. I am still studying. This is not complaining, this implies that I am worried about this situation. I volunteered to teach at different places before during breaks — from refugee camps to orphanage but the situations were different — because they don't have the privilege to learn hence an extra effort to acquire knowledge. However, that is not the case here. Some of them really don't want to learn. When something like that occur, you have to wonder what are the reasons someone doesn't want to learn?

Secondly, I am not blaming anybody but I am questioning everybody. Are we playing the roles we are supposed to play — as parents, as teachers, as students, as ministers? While there is an abundance of good teachers, students, parents, ministers out there, it doesn't mean that all of them are good. We are focusing on the problem right now, not to compare nor to compete on who is better. While the numbers of good students are increasing, that doesn't mean we have to ignore those who cannot perform.

Thirdly, I acknowledge the fact that they are various types of students, and I can't expect everyone to succeed in education. I acknowledge the truth that not everybody were born smart. Kids have different IQ and EQ, therefore, I am not expecting them to sit still and study. What I am expecting out of these students is an interest to learn — whatever that is. If you want to be a mechanic, then show your passion for that. If you want to cook, learn and cultivate your interest from now. I don't expect my students to be doctors and lawyers. I don't. My problem is different: They don't want to learn at all. Don't respect anybody. They don't even care.

Someone wrote among the comments "Kalau dah susah sangat jadi cikgu, kenapa tak berhenti je? Tau la gaji tinggi dan banyak cuti." Let me tell you something; This is not about the money. Right now, they paid me RM54/day. I have my own bakery and my own business. I have my parents' money. I have scholarships. If I want money, I don't have to be a teacher. This is not about money. This is about the education, and by default; it is about our future.

Teacher's Thoughts on Malaysia's Education System

When I was in primary school, my teacher gave me the first step into the world. She pushed to speak English. She pushed to conduct choral speaking; she made me join public speaking. She made me compete in dancing, boria, storytelling or science exhibition competition — and everything she did make me who I am today and allow me to experience the world differently. All I want, by writing this post, or by teaching, is to give the same experience to my students so they too, could experience the same things. Our students, no matter how smart they are on papers, are lacking skills in general. Thinking skills, speaking skills, writing skills, communication skills and other skills and these skills can only be installed and developed by giving everyone a fair chance to experience it themselves. If you want to be a sprinter, you don't think about sprinting on the track. You have to go to the field and run. If you want to be a writer, you cannot sit and think about writing, you have to write. Similarly, if we want our students to think outside what the examination questions are, we have to make them think outside the perimeter of textbooks by doing things. We need to give them the space they needed.

- - - - - -

I don't care about results. They can fail all they want. What's important to me is the knowledge. When you no longer want to seek knowledge — what is the purpose of living? Islam starts with Iqra'!, bacalah, read. If Nabi Muhammad (p.b.u.h) refused to read thousands of years ago, there would be no Islam today.

We are discussing on higher ground here; knowledge. One, anyone, must always learn. Learning and seeking knowledge is a continuous work. If we are not trained to seek, respect and love knowledge, we will grow up as someone who blindly follows instructions.

I've written many thoughts on education previously but as a student and as an observer. The reason I applied to be a teacher this time around is to see the system and the management from a different point of view; a view of a teacher.

- - - - - -

To all of you; Parents, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties, grandparents, friends, seniors--anyone, who is related to a student, as you come home from work today, ask them about school. Ask them about homework. Ask them about each and every subject. Ask them about their teachers. Ask them about their interest. Get to know your sons and daughters. Then, tomorrow, or after the school holidays, call their teachers, visit their school and meet the teachers themselves. Ask them about your children. Ask them about their weaknesses and strength. Ask them what can you do to help. Ask them about their marks. Contact each other and keep updated.

There is a lot of work to be done and let's do it together.

(I'm a "he," by the way. Somehow, a lot of you think I am a woman.)

► Read more on Education in Malaysia: A Teacher's Perspective

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Malaysia Public Holidays 2015 Calendar (Kalendar Cuti Umum Hari Kelepasan Am Malaysia 2015)

Source: Bahagian Kabinet, Perlembagaan Dan Perhubungan Antara Kerajaan, Jabatan Perdana Menteri

Malaysia Public Holidays 2015 (Hari Cuti Kelepasan Am Malaysia 2015)

Related 2015 Calendars:
  • School Calendar 2015 (Kalendar Persekolahan, Tarikh Cuti Sekolah, Takwim Sekolah 2015)
  • UPSR, PT3, SPM, SPMU, STAM, MUET & STPM 2015 Exam Dates / Examination Calendar (Kalendar Takwim Peperiksaan)
Malaysia Public Holidays Calendar 2015 Kalendar Cuti Umum Malaysia

Malaysia Public / National / Federal Holidays 2015 Calendar (Kalendar Jadual Hari Cuti Kelepasan Am Persekutuan Malaysia)

  1.         January 3 (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. / Maulidur Rasul)
  2.         February 19 (Thursday): Chinese New Year (Tahun Baru Cina)
  3.         February 20 (Friday): Chinese New Year Second Day (Tahun Baru Cina Hari Kedua)
  4.         May 1 (Friday): Labour Day (Hari Pekerja)
  5.         May 3 (Sunday): Vesak Day (Hari Wesak)
  6.         June 6 (Saturday): Agong's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong)
  7.         * July 17 (Friday): Hari Raya Puasa
  8.         * July 18 (Saturday) Hari Raya Puasa (Hari Kedua)
  9.         August 31 (Monday): National Day (Hari Kebangsaan)
  10.         September 16 (Wednesday): Malaysia Day (Hari Malaysia)
  11.         * September 24 (Thursday): Hari Raya Haji / Qurban
  12.         * September 25 (Friday): Hari Raya Haji / Qurban Hari Kedua
  13.         October 14 (Wednesday): Awal Muharam (Maal Hijrah)
  14.         * November 10 (Tuesday): Deepavali (Hari Deepavali)
  15.         December 24 (Thursday): Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. / Maulidur Rasul)
  16.         December 25 (Friday): Christmas (Hari Krismas)

State Holidays 2015 (Jadual Hari Cuti Kelepasan Am Negeri)

  1.         January 1 (Thursday): New Year 2015 (Tahun Baru 2015)
  2.         January 14 (Wednesday): Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan)
  3.         January 18 (Sunday): Sultan of Kedah's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kedah)
  4.         February 1 (Sunday): Federal Territory Day (Hari Wilayah Persekutuan)
  5.         February 3 (Tuesday): Hari Thaipusam
  6.         February 20 (Friday): Chinese New Year Second Day (Tahun Baru Cina Hari Kedua)
  7.         March 4 (Wednesday): Anniversary of Installation of Sultan of Terengganu (Hari Ulang Tahun Pertabalan Sultan Terengganu)
  8.         April 3 (Friday): Good Friday
  9.         April 15 (Wednesday): Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City (Hari Perisytiharan Melaka Sebagai Bandaraya Bersejarah)
  10.         April 26 (Sunday): Sultan of Terengganu's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Terengganu)
  11.         May 7 (Thursday): Hari Hol Pahang
  12.         May 16 (Saturday): Israk dan Mikraj
  13.         May 17 (Sunday): Raja Perlis' Birthday (Hari Ulang Tahun Keputeraan Raja Perlis)
  14.         May 30 (Saturday): Harvest Festival (Pesta Kaamatan / Pesta Menuai)
  15.         May 31 (Sunday): Harvest Festival (Pesta Kaamatan / Pesta Menuai)
  16.         June 1 (Monday): Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak
  17.         June 2 (Tuesday): Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak
  18.         * June 18 (Thursday): Awal Ramadan
  19.         July 4 (Saturday): Hari Nuzul Al-Quran
  20.         July 7 (Tuesday): Georgetown World Heritage City Day (Hari Ulang Tahun Perisytiharan Tapak Warisan Dunia)
  21.         July 11 (Saturday): Penang Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang)
  22.         September 12 (Saturday): Sarawak Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak)
  23.         * September 25 (Friday): Hari Raya Qurban / Haji Hari Kedua
  24.         October 3 (Saturday): Sabah Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah)
  25.         October 9 (Friday): Malacca Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka)
  26.         October 24 (Saturday): Sultan of Pahang's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Pahang)
  27.         November 11 (Wednesday): Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kelantan)
  28.         November 12 (Thursday): Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kelantan)
  29.         November 18 (Wednesday): Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar
  30.         November 22 (Sunday): Sultan of Johor's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Johor)
  31.         November 27 (Friday): Sultan of Perak's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Perak)
  32.         December 11 (Friday): Sultan of Selangor's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Selangor)
Note: * Subject to change (Tertakluk kepada perubahan).

Kalendar Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Malaysia 2015 Persekutuan & Negeri

► Read more on Malaysia Public Holidays 2015 Calendar (Kalendar Cuti Umum Hari Kelepasan Am Malaysia 2015)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SPM 2014 Tips: How to Score Straight A+'s in SPM

Who Says You’re Not Gonna Score?

by Hoe Zhan Hui [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

SPM Tips Straight A+

So, who said so?

All in all, I am not talking about anyone scoring a hat trick in a soccer game. I’m talking about real business! I mean, some serious study plan! Everyone wants to be somebody. I wish to score STRAIGHT A+ in SPM, you too! Now, what to do? Easy…

1) Leave everything behind (for the time being while doing something)
‘One target at a time.’ It’s more effective in reducing your overall workload and stress. Trust me, you’ll feel much lighter. I won’t say, ‘Prioritise’. It’s more like getting the job done rather than prioritizing something else that you should not be. FOCUS on the task in hand. Say, you are in chemistry class. Then, don’t do other stuffs during your chemistry class. Strictly, only do chemistry stuffs. It’s a good time to finish your undone chemistry homework!

2) Blend in with the education system
Hey, don’t go fussing about the downside of our education system. Eventually, you’ll be the one going through it. Save your effort! You don’t like to memorise, do you? Well, don’t memorise! Instead, you lean on the ‘practicing’ approach. Trust me, you won’t even realize that you could answer questions you are already so familiar with. This technique is much more effective for slow-learners like me! I need all the time I could get to digest raw information and making them a part of me. However, some ‘facts and figures’ are unavoidable. You need to memorise somehow. But here’s the trick. You practice ‘remembering’ the facts. In other words, you might need a few days, maybe weeks to get them familiar with. You will remember them in times of need!

3) Never stop asking stupid questions! – Not annoying ones
Have you ever wanted to know minute details of how to solve a question but sounded like asking stupid questions? This is perfectly fine in my point of view as long as you stick to the rule of thumb. Firstly, don’t ask repetitive questions, it’s annoying, yes. Secondly, explain what you are trying to do before asking what you wish to know further. You get the picture. Feeling better? Keep your questions simple and straight to the point. By asking always, I actually knew what to do when I’m on my own during my exams! Glad I asked. Believe me, trying to be stupid to gain extra info is better than trying to be “Mr-Know-It-All”.
You Can Do It
4) Dream BIG & Dream ON!
You got to have something in your mind that you want so badly! In this case, say, “I want straight A+ in SPM!” Now, I got a BIG dream and I must literally ‘dream on’ to keep the spark alive in me. With this, I’ll have just the right push to be successful. Motivation is a very powerful tool to spur one on. No man will be successful doing things that they themselves are not passionate about. To quote it, you must be goal-oriented and optimistic plus a little bit of extra effort. Bon voyage!
Walt Disney if you can dream it you can do it

Narrowing down on how to do well in different subjects…

a) Language Subjects (Bahasa Melayu & English)

How often do you speak Malay Language or English? You might find them a little difficult to score in exams. However, surprisingly, some can write better than they speak. In writing a piece of essay, it’s all about expressing out your ideas. Having good ideas are as important as knowing how to write.
  • Start practicing your grammars.
  • Try grabbing maximum scores in grammar, comprehension and literature sections.
    • Grammar – Start off easy with building simple sentences to writing complex and compound sentences with beautiful words in it. Here, I’m not stressing on bombastic words but anyhow a handful of beautiful words would definitely suffice to add colours to your essay.
    • Comprehension – Grammatical errors in this section are rarely penalized as this part tests on the ability of a student understanding a passage. As long as you write down the answers that are understandable, you might be in your way to scoring a few marks here.
  • Don’t cheat in your literature sections by just reading the synopsis on everything. This is not going to work.
b) The Sciences (Physics, Chemistry & Biology)

Science subjects are often the far most interesting ones in school, well, at the very least.
  • Start off slowly by doing topical assessments, which includes actual-exams format questions.
    • By doing this, you’ll get to know every topic inside out. (Possible questions, definitions, level of difficulty and most importantly, your mastery of the topics.)
  • Do questions first before memorising facts.
    • Frankly speaking, I can’t memorise facts on the go. Instead, I felt better memorising facts in question form that is a much easier technique. The question and answer are paired. Thus, the moment when you look at questions even if they’re twisted, you’ll still know the answer.
  • Paper 2 is where you need to pay attention to the most.
    • Throw away PMR habit of spending so much time revising objective questions.
    • In exercise books, there are already answers provided in factual form for essay practices. Make them your “reference book”! It is a much easier and convenient way to look at your facts than reading your thick, bulky reference book, which you don’t even know where to start!
c) Math Subjects

Again, all you need is practice, practice and practice.
  • Get yourself familiarize with all types of questions.
  • Use the ‘topical approach' mentioned earlier in (b).
  • In Additional Math Paper 2, you’ll normally find ‘application questions’.
    • Therefore, start practicing with real-exam format questions after understanding the concepts of each topic on the whole.
    • Invest more time on the must-score questions especially in Section A and Section C just to play it safe. The topics involved are still manageable like the ‘Index Numbers’ and ‘Simultaneous Equations’. At least, you can still get a good mark if Section B is too hard.
  • Modern Mathematics should not be a problem compared to Additional Mathematics.
    • Some easier questions do carry a lot of mark such as the ‘Venn diagram’ or the ‘Plane and Elevation’.
    • Again, practise more and you’ll get the hang of it! This subject would be easy if you did your homework back in lower secondary.
Good Luck in Your SPM
d) History and Moral
  • Start early.
    • By doing so, you not only create more time to remember the facts, but also lessening your burden during last-minute study.
  • History
    • Use the ‘topical approach’ to remember facts from each topic without jumbling up everything.
    • Refer and answer questions simultaneously.
    • Slowly after some time, try answering without textbooks. You don’t want ending up being too dependent on textbooks, right?
    • A must-score in Paper 2. Using the same technique, use answers provided at the back of the exercise books as quick notes! They are perfect to use as long as the facts are extracted from the official textbooks.
  • Moral
    • There is nothing much to do but to memorise the definitions first.
    • Easily, you can break down any one of the definitions into key words on the spot. You save all the time memorising definitions alone and then key words another.
    • Last year, there were slight modifications in the format! That was pretty scary. I was thinking whether I should approach the questions like what I used to do before or to use a totally different approach according to the new instructions. Well, I packed in both just to be on the safe side. Quite lengthy answer, though.
Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

So, what’s the moral of the story? Be flexible! ‘Blend in’, remember?

This year, questions requiring higher order thinking skills (HOTS) might be trending. Anyhow, think out of the box! Remember, you can always apply concepts and formulas that you have learnt in class. The problem is, how can they be applied in a question itself?

Hoe Zhan Hui
I really do hope the techniques shared earlier will come in handy! Those are just my personal opinions and experiences throughout my years in school. I was once an SPM student no more than any of you. Enjoy your secondary school life and hey, WHO SAYS YOU’RE NOT GONNA SCORE!
Make yourself SHINE. Make the people around you PROUD!

Hoe Zhan Hui, 18, has achieved 10A+ in his SPM and also 7As in his PMR. He opted to continue his study in Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas for the IB Diploma Programme under KPM Bursary and is still waiting for the Maybank Scholarship Award scholarship. He is a slow starter but that’s not stopping him to achieve his goals! His life goal? He is interested in tech entrepreneurship and he wished to take up computer engineering course. He dreamt of having all the modern science fiction technology coming to life one day!

► Read more on SPM 2014 Tips: How to Score Straight A+'s in SPM

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Get Band 9 in IELTS: 10 Practical Tips to Score Perfect IELTS Band

Semakan PLKN Siri 12/2015

PLKN Siri 12/2015 shortlist checking is available since 14 August 2014 at Alternatively, try

Band 9 in IELTS?!! No problem!!!

by Nick Chung [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

How to Score Band 9 in IELTS
IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, a standard for English that has been popularly used by the colleges, universities or English-speaking countries to test whether the applicants or migrants are qualified to live in their country or not. (Editor's Note: Read here to know what is IELTS and when are the upcoming IELTS Malaysia test dates 2014.)

So basically, there are 9 band scores, acting as the scale of assessment for IELTS and if a person gets a Band 9 in his/her result, then obviously he/she is an expert user. During the test, there will be 4 parts that a test taker has to go through: speaking, listening, reading and writing. I know, many of you might ask please give us the main tips already, but still, I need to fill in some general information for those who don't really know about IELTS. Getting a Band 9 score may be hard, however, chances are only available to those who made their preparations. Prepared test takers will have a higher chance in gaining a Band 9 score. So, here you go:

IELTS Speaking Tips

Speaking is actually a very simple task for an English speakers and I believe most of our students do communicate in English, at least a little bit. Okay-lah, maybe we do use the "-lo", "-lah" and a bunch of slangs probably only us, the Malaysians will understand. It's no harm using our "Manglish" in our life; after all it is part of our culture-bah, but not in the speaking part. Try to get off the slangs in the IELTS speaking test. To get good grades in this part,

1. You will need to spend some time correcting your English. 
First thing first, ignore the "-lah", "-bah" or whatever it is. Be aware of what you are talking about, and there's one way to correct them. As most of us are using smartphones now, you can actually use the recording media as your "mirror" to "reflect" your voice. Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell! By recording what you have spoken and re-playing them to yourself, you can notice your pronunciation and other errors as well easily. In that way, you might be able to get rid of the slangs.

2. By the way, sitcoms and TV shows that are based on English are quite some great ways to improvise your English.
I love watching sitcoms like "Wizard of the Waverly place", "How I met your mother", "Sonny with a Chance" and many others. I don't care if anyone said them childish or stupid but that actually helps me to improve my English. I used to be very lousy particularly in English and ever since I watched these sitcoms and imitated their way of talking, their accents and pronunciation, I could speak at least a little. So, mimicking the intonation actually helps in accumulating your experience dealing with English indirectly.

3. Speak normal, do not go too fast or too slow. Think carefully before you speak.
Well, the final part for speaking would be the way you talk. It holds the key to your lock. This is the final step of your preparations. You already got your sword forged nicely and all you got to do is to hurl them to your enemies, off with their heads! I'm sorry, haha...Back to the topic, the way you speak is quite crucial, but bear in mind, always be CONFIDENT, ALWAYS. You speak in confidence, do not be afraid of making mistakes, even if you did, don't panic as if you were suffering a heart attack. Speak normal; do not go too fast or too slow. Think carefully before you speak. Most importantly, give your best shot to impress the examiners. Give them some Try exploring books to give you some terrific ideals.

IELTS Listening Tips

Listening could be easy if you could heed my advice. Normally, it will be an Australian speaker or a British accent that was recorded and play for only once. It might be kinky if you missed a small part or the whole thing. Here's how to help alleviate the problem:

4. Listening to more of the samples actually helps you to recognize the difference between accents.
We say "How are you today?" but Australians say "How are you to-dieee?" Australian accents are just slightly different from the normal English, but British accents tend to go heavier on the "a" sound. This may varied to individuals and by listening to the sample tapes or recordings may help you to differentiate and identify some words that are not so familiar with. However, these recordings might need to be bought online or from the nearby IELTS taking centres, so, in order to save money, listening to the radio is a great alternative to prepare for IELTS listening test.

5. Calm down.
First thing is to calm down, find the inner peace in you. Now, there's only two choice to go: Try to re-connect your ear with your brain before you hand in your answer sheet or let it go (only for the worst case scenario). You can somehow remember the missed part, as it is still fresh in your brain, it's just that it would be a bit hard to search them out. Let it go only if you cannot remember it at all. Yeap, you heard me...Just like what Elsa sang in "Frozen": "Let it go, let it go, can't hold it back anymore..." Sometimes holding onto it is not the best option of all as you might be distracted and missed the rest of the part. That's when I called losing EVERYTHING.

IELTS Reading Tips

Sounds like another easy thing to do, but there's a tick here, people: Only people with high reading skills and good observation skills can do very well in this sector. If you're not, need not to be worried because I'm going to talk about tips to improve them.

6. To sharpen your observation skills, one can focus on details.
No matter when you're watching TV programmes, try not to focus on the main character, but concentrate on the background. For example, you're watching your favourite soap opera and somehow a good observant could have noticed that there's no internet connection shown in their computer and yet, they still claimed that they were browsing the internet. It's funny when you saw that moment. I'm not asking you to pinpoint somebody's weaknesses or errors, but it helps you to see things in details and in a shorter period. Hey, don't forget to give yourself some fun while training your observation skills! Remember, all work and no play makes YOU a dull boy/girl! During the practice or test, don't forget to look for keywords and underline the main points. This skim and scan technique ought to help a lot in finding answers.

7. When you are answering the questions, do keep yourself on track so that you won't use up a lot of time in a certain passage.
You won't want to spend about 30 minutes in one passage and spend the remaining half an hour to complete the rest. Oh, and don't forget to read the instructions! They are the utmost important things to do before answering questions as there might be some tricky instructions that requires you to differ between "words" and "phrases" so that you could answer your questions correctly. Answers are often given from one paragraph to another so don't worry that you will need to search your answer in the paragraph prior to your last answer in the previous paragraph. Just be confident and keep up in a normal pace, then a Band 9 score for this section won't be a problem.

IELTS Writing Tips

Finally, the writing part. An hour to write is definitely not enough to express what you want, so you can only write the main points. But, be prepare, my dear friends! Be prepared for you will encounter some of the strangest topics of all. Eg. "To what extent should university courses be geared to the economic needs of society?" Henceforth, it's no surprise that there might be topics that relates both pens and cooking, or whatever strangest and the craziest thing you will see. To counter this area,

8. Read more. Again, the old saying - "Knowledge is the key to everything".
In this context, the statement "Ignorance is bliss" couldn't be applied here. Through reading, one can broaden their horizon and mind...blah...blah...blah...Whatever the old folks were saying. Old, but true. Reading actually fortifies your knowledge fort; concrete knowledge poured into you will strengthen yourself and differs you between those who don't read at all. There's actually a wide selection of reading materials range from books to online reading materials. Instead of sticking your eyes towards Facebook accounts and comments, you can actually do better by reading the articles shared. They are good forms of improving your writing styles as well as the lexical as these are some of the marking criteria that adds up your marks. (Editor's note: 46 IELTS sample model essays)

9. Logical thinking.
It is not enough just by reading. You'll have to think. The essay you're going to write is actually the word-based expressed in your thinking. By thinking logically, one can almost relate anything together. For instance, the above strange topic that I have said: pen and cooking. By asking who, when, which, what, where and how is actually a great foundation in building up your logical thinking. Who use pen to talk about cooking? Critics do. How, where, when and what? They give remarks about the food, the surrounding and the atmosphere of a restaurant whenever they went to a fine restaurant or eateries. TripAdvisor is actually one of the most-trusted guides to find restaurants for travelers who want to have an unforgettable meal in a foreign place. These are just some random ideas, but it leads me to think critically. There is a lot of ways to train to think logically and chess playing is one of them.

10. Practice makes perfect.
Most of the people said that because it is a fact. Through intensive writing, your ability to express yourself in words will grow stronger. The discipline of writing more enables you to target topics in different areas effectively as it accumulates as experiences in you. You would probably use the word "upset" instead of "angry". The vocabularies in you won't be limited as your lexical database continues to expand. While doing the writing task in IELTS test, focus more on your writing task 2 as it has a greater weightage than the task 1. You will be given an hour to complete both tasks. You can buy some sample question papers from the IELTS test centres or download them online, depending on your financial ability. Frequent your practice, try to do at least three sets of writing tasks every week the month before you take your test.

I think that's all for the tips. Nothing is impossible, if you start earlier, then there would a greater chance you might get good grades in IELTS. All you need to do is to action now. Although I cannot guarantee you can have a Band 9 score after you read this article, and if anything that I have written offends you, criticises are more than welcome to be made as long as it is subjected to the above topic. Should you have any typical tips in scoring Band 9 in IELTS, please don't hesitate to share them to me! After all, we are learning together to improve our English. All the best for IELTS takers! Happy test taking!

Get Free IELTS Tips to Help Your Test Preparation

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Nick, Nicky, or Nickie, whatever you call... 19, Tawau, Sabah. He has completed his SPM last year and is currently studying HELP Foundation in Science in ISM, Tawau. A wide range of hobbies, writing becomes one of them and had not been writing for months. Love to swim, no matter in sunny or rainy day, as long as the Cumulonimbus clouds are not on top of him then he will continue swimming! He really hopes to be an entrepreneur, who sells fast food franchises like Colonel Sanders did! He believes to be a successful entrepreneur, one must be able to endure all sorts of hardship, from poverty to risk handling... whatever it is, you name it!

► Read more on How to Get Band 9 in IELTS: 10 Practical Tips to Score Perfect IELTS Band

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

IELTS Malaysia Test Dates 2014

IELTS Malaysia Test Dates 2014 2015 2016

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, the world’s proven English language test.

IELTS was one of the pioneers of four skills English language testing over 25 years ago, and continues to set the standard for English language testing today.

IELTS is accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by over 9,000 organisations worldwide. Last year, more than 2.2 million tests were taken globally. IELTS is recognised as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.

IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment through more than 900 test centres and locations in over 130 countries.

Free IELTS Tips to Help Your Test Preparation

Want to get our exclusive 10 practical tips to score band 9 in IELTS sent to your email? Enter your email address into the form below to join 26,000+ students who get all the latest English improvement tips and blog updates via email. You cannot afford to miss them! Join our email subscription list now!

Test Center: IDP Education

IDP Education Malaysia IELTS

Testing fee : RM 630 (payable in either cash,cheque or credit card via Paypal) to IDP Education Pty Ltd. Both AC and GT are available on the dates in Red.

Kuala Lumpur  / Subang Jaya  / Penang  /  Johor Bahru 


 January   11 Sat  18 Sat 25 Sat   11 Sat  18 Sat
 February 01 Sat 15 Sat 22 Sat 15 Sat 22 Sat
 March 01 Sat 08 Sat 15 Sat 08 Sat 15 Sat
 April 05 Sat  12 Sat 26 Sat 12 Sat 26 Sat
 May  10 Sat 17 Sat 24 Sat 17 Sat 24 Sat
 June 07 Sat 21 Sat 28 Sat 21 Sat 28 Sat
 July 12 Sat  19 Sat 26 Sat 12 Sat 19 Sat 
 August 02 Sat 09 Sat 16 Sat 09 Sat 16 Sat
 September 06 Sat 20 Sat 27 Sat 20 Sat 27 Sat
 October  11 Sat 18 Sat 25 Sat 11 Sat 18 Sat
 November  01 Sat  08 Sat 22 Sat 08 Sat 22 Sat
 December 06 Sat 13 Sat 20 Sat 13 Sat 20 Sat

Your listening, reading and writing tests will be completed on the same day. Your speaking test may be conducted on the same day or up to a week before or after your main test day. You will be informed in advance if your speaking test is on a different day to your main test day.

Test Center: British Council

British Council Malaysia IELTS

Testing fee : The fee for an IELTS test is RM630 (there may be an additional fee if booked through a registration agent). Places are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so we strongly recommend that you register at least two months before the test date.

The British Council offers IELTS tests in 9 states across Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor Bahru, Melaka, Perak, Terengganu, Sarawak & Sabah. Registrations are handled by the British Council in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

Your listening, reading and writing tests will be completed on the same day. Your speaking test may be conducted on the same day or up to a week before or after your main test day. You will be informed in advance if your speaking test is on a different day to your main test day.

Kuala Lumpur IELTS test dates and venues

Test dates Test module
Saturday 26 July 2014 Academic
Saturday 2 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 9 August 2014 Academic
Saturday 16 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Thursday 21 August 2014 Academic
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 27 September 2014 Academic
Saturday 11 October 2014 Academic
Saturday 18 October 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 1 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 8 November 2014 Academic
Saturday 22 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Thursday 4 December 2014 Academic
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 13 December 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 December 2014 Academic

The listening, reading and writing tests will be conducted at British Council Examination Hall Level 2 South Block in Wisma Selangor Dredging, Jalan Ampang and Parkroyal Hotel, Jalan Sultan Ismail. The speaking test will be conducted at British Council Examination Hall.

Petaling Jaya IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 16 August 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 September 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 September 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 11 October 2014  Academic
Saturday 18 October 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 1 November 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 22 November 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 13 December 2014  Academic and General Training

The listening, reading and writing tests will be conducted at Stamford College Jalan 222 Petaling Jaya. The speaking test will be conducted at British Council Examination Hall.

Malacca IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 20 September 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014  Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at International College of Yayasan Melaka (ICYM).

Johor Bahru IELTS test dates and venues

Sunway College test dates and modules
Test dates Test modules
Saturday 20 September 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 18 October 2014  Academic and General Training
Saturday 8 November 2014  Academic
Saturday 6 December 2014  Academic and General Training

Kuala Terengganu IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test dates
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training
The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at UCSI University.

Penang IELTS test dates and venues

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 2 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 16 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 27 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 11 October 2014 Academic
Saturday 18 October 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 8 November 2014 Academic
Saturday 22 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading and writing tests will be conducted at Cititel Hotel. The speaking test will be conducted at Cititel Hotel or British Council Penang centre.

The speaking test will be conducted at Sentral College Penang or British Council Penang centre.

Ipoh IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 26 July 2014 Academic 
Saturday 20 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 1 November 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at:
Asia Metropolitan International School ( AMETIS )

Kota Kinabalu IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 2 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 16 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 11 October 2014 Academic 
Saturday 18 October 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 8 November 2014 Academic 
Saturday 22 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 13 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at Palace Hotel.

Tawau IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 13 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading and writing speaking tests will be conducted at Marco Polo Hotel.

Kuching IELTS test dates and venues

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 2 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 16 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 20 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 11 October 2014 Academic 
Saturday 18 October 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 1 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 22 November 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 13 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at Chung Hua Middle School No 1, Kuching.

Sibu IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 16 August 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 13 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at RH Hotel, Sibu.

Miri IELTS test dates and venue

Test dates Test modules
Saturday 6 September 2014 Academic and General Training
Saturday 6 December 2014 Academic and General Training

The listening, reading, writing and speaking tests will be conducted at Imperial Hotel, Miri.

► Read more on IELTS Malaysia Test Dates 2014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What is it like studying abroad in Cambridge University? Awesome first-year experience shared

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One Year in Cambridge University

Posted by Celine Wan

This post is to recount the events that have happened to me during my first year in the UK, and maybe some musings, after reflecting my time in Cambridge.

Forgive the grammar because I did not put in much effort in proof reading and I have not been writing for a long time. 95% of my time in university is to do maths or some science-y thing. The other 5% is—drawing and writing things in simple English.

Matriculation as an official Cantabrigian
Matriculation as an official Cantabrigian

Michaelmas Term 2013

This is my very first term of formal education after two and a half years of leaving college. All in all I am surprised that I could fit in quite easily, maybe because I took a month off just to refresh my mind in Physics and Chemistry. Maths was something I didn’t really “abandoned” so there was no need for a major revision session.

The first term was obviously the adjustment period. Michaelmas was essentially the best and worst time in UK because everything was completely new from settling down to getting used to the weather and academic system. Best also because that's the time when you're pumped with excitement from the new environment and awed by the beauty of Cambridge. Even though it was a steep learning curve to settle down (I kept getting lost from cycling in Cambs because I HAVE A BAD SENSE OF DIRECTION), the privilege to be studying in one of the best universities in the world overrides them all. I was that happy girl with an unbroken spirit.

I think I was a little bit obsessed with the academic gown.
I think I was a little bit obsessed with the academic gown.

PS – The skinniest moment before right when I entered UK.

Winter Break 2013/2014

I had my first trip to a European country.  This was a one-week trip to Italy: Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Vatican City. It was an unforgettable memory indeed, and so far, I find this my best trip ever in my first year in the UK. After all, the places I've visited there feel like a dream come true since the places are like the background scenes I see in movies. Winter break was also a very, very stressful time because I took my mocks exam very seriously. Christmas and New Year in London was amazing too. Words cannot describe the first time feeling of truly celebrating and enjoying oneself overseas.

A winter night in Florence/ Firenze.
A winter night in Florence/ Firenze.

Lent Term 2014

The first part of Lent was really cold because it's below 5 degrees on average, and can go down to negative 1 or 2 degrees. I don't like it because I need to cycle everywhere-- imagine waking up and seeing ice crystals on your bicycle seats! It was depressingly gloomy since sun sets at 4pm. Easter was harder because I had theatrical plays to juggle with and had a lot of humbling lessons to learn along the way.

The last part of spring felt very cheery because sun sets at a much later time and colourful flowers started popping up! The weather got a bit warmer and I cannot help but to smile when I walk outside. All in all I got much more used to the Cambridge system and know what to expect out of myself.

Easter Break 2014

I went to Portugal: Porto and Lisbon with my Singaporean friends. I revised the whole Michaelmas and Lent but at a much more relaxed pace than last winter. Sort of regret it to be honest. Spent most of my time in London and watched the Game of Thrones. Generally happier than Winter Break but the intensity of happiness last winter was much, much higher due to the novelty of living overseas during a festive season.

Easter Term 2014

Stressful times. This is my exam period time and definitely the MOST DEPRESSING AND STRESSFUL term. This is the time when I cursed my fate of being in Cambs. My exam started the last and also ended the last compared to everyone across universities and courses. Weather was much better though I started skipping lectures to revise. Imagine having to force-feed new information while having your finals exams like 10 days later? Now that I've survived Easter Term, something tells me that Michaelmas in my second year would be much smoother. Easter in general is the hardest term.
End of Easter is obviously the best. That's the time you box everything up, attend May Balls, and generally have nothing to be stressed about! By then the first thing I wanted to do was GET OUT OF CAMBRIDGE. By the time I finished exams, I had a temporary existential crisis while spending my first day of holidays watching two movies: Maleficent and X Men.

That feeling of freedom CANNOT be forgotten. It tasted too good.

Privileged to attend the St John's MayBall 2014: Lost Worlds. MayBalls in Cambs have been regarded as one of the top ten best parties in the world!
Privileged to attend the St John's MayBall 2014: Lost Worlds. MayBalls in Cambs have been regarded as one of the top ten best parties in the world!

Summer Break 2014

3 months and this is still the present. I'm in Malaysia now and I still haven't eaten everything I missed! Even the food I've eaten is only once? That's not enough! This is partly because I'm interning and I previously travelled to Prague before coming back. I only have a month to travel and totally relax before going back to UK in October! I notice that I've changed and the people around me too. How a year can change people and surroundings rather significantly. Ever since I started travelling around Europe, I plan to travel around Malaysia for a bit, starting this September.

Prague. I'm finally able to wear short sleeved clothes again. Notice the weight difference from first term.
Prague. I'm finally able to wear short sleeved clothes again. Notice the weight difference from first term.

My one year in the UK so far was a total eye opening adventure: bittersweet but delicious all the same. After having some time off reading my personal diary, I really shouldn't be complaining about how stressed I've chosen my life path to be: I do it because I can. I am really lucky and fortunate to be who I am right now and I thank God for that. I'm going to relax this summer and enjoy the journey that lies ahead as a second year Chemical Engineering student in Cambridge come this October!

► Read more on What is it like studying abroad in Cambridge University? Awesome first-year experience shared

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