Monday, January 25, 2010

MUET Made Easy

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Posted by Nurly

People have been telling me that MUET is JUST MUET. Contaminated by the thought that MUET is EASY, I didn’t put much effort when I sat for the end of 2009 MUET. I perceived MUET as just another English test to sit. I simply thought that as long as I pass the minimum band requirement for my college, it is good enough. I only spent a few hours the night before the test by going through several essay questions to kick-start my brain and that was it. Despite my little effort and much to my astonishment, I scored a Band 6 in MUET. J I am very grateful that Lady Luck was on my side. However, some of my friends weren’t very lucky. They had the same mindset as I did – no need to do preparations, just achieve the minimum band and rejoice. Sadly, quite a number of them had to re-sit the test as they scored below the required band for our college. Hey, MUET IS A HIGHER LEVEL ENGLISH TEST. If you screw it once, you’ll have to pay and re-sit for another. And because I don’t want others to face what my friends faced, I wish to help everyone out there who is eager to perform well in their upcoming MUET. So here are some brief introduction and tips on how to ace MUET based entirely on my experience.

Firstly, there are 4 papers to sit for MUET: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. The Speaking test is conducted on one day, while the Listening, Reading and Writing tests are held altogether on a different day.

Speaking Test

What to expect: You’ll be placed into groups of 4 according to your candidate number. 2 sessions will be conducted beginning with Individual Presentation and ensued with Group Discussion. A main topic will be given, for example, ‘There are many ways of obtaining information today’. Each candidate will then receive one suggestion to elaborate on. For instance, ‘the Internet’ for candidate A, ‘the mobile phone’, ‘newspapers’ and ‘radio and television’ for candidates B, C and D respectively. Candidates will be given 2 minutes to prepare their points and another 2 minutes to present their views individually. Once the Individual Presentation session is done, the second session begins. 2 minutes will be given for all candidates to discuss and decide as to which of the four suggestions is the best.

My experience: I was very lucky as I was the fourth candidate and the last to present my points. I had more time to jot down my ideas while other candidates were presenting theirs. I am fluent in English thus I had no problem elaborating my points. As for the Group Discussion session, everyone in my group voiced out different views and hence made the session a lot more interesting. We didn’t fight or debate, we simply said what we believe was right. We also helped each other throughout the session. We were tolerant to one another in which each person had almost equal time to speak. Everyone had their say and none of us conquered the discussion.

Tips: If you are competent in English, there is nothing for you to worry. However, if you are not fluent in this language, I suggest that you practise speaking English with your friends beforehand. It helps if you warm-up your brain before the test by having a discussion with your friends. Use simple words and speak at a normal pace. Speak clearly. Don’t rush your words or mumble. Also, if possible, try to give out-of-the-box views. This test does not only assess your fluency in English. The invigilators will give extra marks for mature, wise and sensible ideas. Furthermore, make full use of the 2 minutes duration time by elaborating in details or giving more suggestions. 2 minutes sounds short, but when you’re out of words it can be very long. Most importantly, avoid saying ‘uhm’, ‘err’, ‘well’ repetitively as this clearly shows how nervous you are.

Reading Test

What to expect: A total of 45 objective questions; 10 are True/False questions. The questions are based on several passages. Duration of 90 minutes.

My experience: Honestly, this paper was the most difficult for me. The passages were difficult to understand as a broad range of vocabulary was in use. The MCQ choices were very tricky and time constraint made it even worse. I didn’t even have the time to recheck my answers.

Tips: Truth be told, you need to practise answering some MUET sample questions as preparation. I didn’t try any questions and oh my, I was so stumped that it took me a long time to understand the passages! The passages are very difficult to comprehend but I suppose that if you’re used to reading newspapers it wouldn’t be a problem. When answering the paper, read the excerpt first (understand the main idea), then go through the questions briefly and finally read the excerpt again. Underline or highlight sentences that are related to the questions. Most importantly, FOCUS! Don’t bother looking at other candidates or build castles in the air. Trust me, the 90 minutes is not enough!

Writing Test

What to expect: 1 summary (comparison) question based on a graphic. The graphic can be tables, graphs, short excerpts or even bar/pie charts. You are required to make comparison based on the graphic provided. Also, 1 essay question; usually argumentative. 90 minutes.

My experience: The night before my MUET, I sat with my roommate and we brainstormed on points for the essay, new words, idioms, quotes and the like. I’ve always loved writing so I wasn’t very worried for this section.

Tips: For the summary question, familiar yourself with comparison words. Use words like ‘better than’, ‘higher’, ‘rise’, ‘elevate’, ‘levelled out’, ‘equal’, ‘reduce’ and ‘lessen’ to give your essay a boost. Concentrate only on the main points as you are to write a very short 200 words summary. You should first compare on the statistics/graphs/etc given, then add 1 or two points based on your understanding of the graphic. Or in other words, write a few lines on your inference on the graphic. As for the argumentative essay, try to memorise a number of bombastic words and idioms to beautify your essay. You shouldn’t simply memorise them but you ought to know how and when to use them. Also, check out a thesaurus to find synonyms for useful words that you may want to use repetitively. For instance, alternatives to ‘thus’ are ‘therefore’, ‘hence’, ‘consequently’ and ‘as a result’. In addition, to defend your stand, use words like ‘justify’, ‘strongly belief’, ‘affirm’, ‘emphasize’ and et cetera. If you are weak in writing, avoid composing a lengthy essay. The longer you write, the more grammatical errors you’ll make. Try to write a short but compact essay.

Listening Test

What to expect: 20 questions consisting of both MCQ and subjective questions. The tape will be repeated twice and extra time will be given for you to answer all the questions.

My experience: I have to say that I am very lucky for MUET. I was seated in the first row and the radio was right in front of my desk. Unlike my friends who sat far behind and could only hear whispers of voices, I could hear loudly and clearly – word by word. Very lucky, weren’t I? *grins*

Tips: Frankly speaking, the questions for listening test are pretty easy and straightforward. You just have to listen attentively and take your time in answering the questions. I have to warn you that the questions are not in sequence with the dialogue so you should first brief through the questions before the session starts. Don’t panic if you missed a point as the tape will be repeated for a second time.

Well, I hope that I’ve made MUET easy for you. May you have a great MUET experience and score one of the high bands. MUET is rather tough if your English isn’t strong but fret not because practice makes perfect. JBuy a MUET exercise/sample papers/past year compilation book to have a better grasp of this test. If I can score a band 6, why can’t you? I am neither a debater nor a public speaker. I speak in my mother tongue (which is not English!) 24/7 at home. So if I can ace a band 6, I’m pretty sure you can too.

Have faith in yourself and all the best, folks! xD

Recommended: Free MUET Tips & 10 Reasons Why You Should Buy This MUET Guide (Panduan MUET) written by MUET teacher & examiner at RM30!


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