How to score in your MUET
MUET tests you on your English language proficiency and while everyone has to work hard at scoring a good band, it’s normally those who are good in English and use them as a first language that will do well. To do well in MUET, here are some tips:
Having a wide vocabulary doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do well in writing. You must know how to use those words in the right context. Of course, grammar is just as important. If you’re weak in grammar, it’s best to use short succinct sentences than weaving in big bombastic words. Use grammar books, read more English materials and notice how sentences are structured. Then practice writing and have someone to correct your work.
To improve on your speaking, watch a lot of English shows. Avoid reading the subtitles. Be very careful not to use slangs which most Malaysians are used to. If you try not to speak Malaysian English from now, you’ll find it easier when sitting for the MUET Speaking section. Don’t be embarrassed – ask friends to speak to you in English, start conversing at home and with family members and you’ll find yourself improving along the way.
Many dismiss this paper as easy. But, this reading paper is tough. It requires students to analyse the questions and familiarise themselves with the type of data. A lot of practice helps so get cracking on all the questions online and from MUET reference books.
You may be well prepared for the listening test, but find yourself struggling to decipher what’s being said during the exam. This could be due to the sound system and nerves. Stay calm and if you’ve done it a few times before the actual day, you’re less likely to clam up if you missed out on certain bits. The audio is played twice – the trick is to write down the answers first in pencil and then the second time in pen. Another thing you should know is that MUET sometimes test your general knowledge. It could be topics surrounding Malaysia, sports and education.
What you need to work on
Merely reading the dictionary will not help hone your English. You can understand a bombastic word and fairly know how to use it, but it still doesn’t equate to having a good grasp of English if your grammar is all over the place. Master your grammar first, then go ahead and memorise those fancy big words. Simple grammar rules like present and past tenses and when to put an S after a word must come naturally to you. To practise, pick up an exercise workbook on grammar and practise hard till you get there. Start reading lots of English materials as they’re grammatically correct. Take notice of how they’re written and slowly, you’ll get used to the grammar being used.
Get rid of ‘rojak’ English
Get rid of the habit of speaking in ‘rojak’ English. It may be widely spoken in Malaysia, but you’ll be heavily penalised if you do so in your speaking paper. Avoid using words like lah, mah, wah and eh when you speak. Do this long enough and you’ll naturally speak without all the bad habits.
Learn to scan
Of course you should read carefully and thoroughly for your papers, but it’s also important that you learn to scan huge chunky paragraphs of information. This will help you with information search and limit the time spent going through an article over and over again in search for answers.
Underline as you read
Train yourself to underline important words and points when you read articles or questions. Carry this habit into the exam hall and you’ll realise that the act of underlining words helps to engrave the points in your head and at the same time, allows you to pick out the gist of information.
Train your ears
You must be able to differentiate words that sound similar such as soup and soap, hard work and hardwood, and lame and lamp. It’s also important that you can tell the different meanings of words like limp and lymph, nodes and notes, and trip and tripe. Although you may not have heard some of these words, listening carefully and relating it to the context will enable you to identify the accurate word.
Be prepared for the worst
In some instances, you may be unlucky and end up doing your listening paper in a hall filled with echo. Or the sound system may sound a bit too muffled for your liking. The trick is to stay calm and not panic. Train yourself to listen carefully, write down your answers in pencil first, or write more than one answer when you’re not sure and finalise it using a pen.
Tips for listening
Score in writing
Doing well in your speaking test
Advice from a MUET expert
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.