Indonesian Language Proficiency Test - Uji Kemahiran Berbahasa Indonesia (UKBI)

By Sari Monica Ully

This time, I want to write an article about UKBI. First, let me introduce you to UKBI. It is an abbreviation for Uji Kemahiran Berbahasa Indonesia. It is an official test of both oral and written Indonesian language proficiency and covers listening, reading comprehension, writing and speaking. UKBI also tests your competence in Indonesian grammar usage your ability to use the language in different contexts and language styles such as informal daily conversation and formal written communication that can be found in government reports or media articles.

There are five sections in UKBI; multiple choice questions (Sections I, II, and III), writing (Section IV), and speaking (Section V). The details are on the following table:

The maximum score from a UKBI test is 900 and you can be awarded a variety of grades. These range from Istimew (>724) which indicates that you have an amazing command of written and oral Indonesian, to Terbatas (251-325) which means that you have "severely inadequate fluency in communicating using Indonesian" and that you may be "ready to communicate for survival needs". To see the full range of scores click here. After taking this test, you get a certificate published by The Indonesian Language Center, The Ministry of Education and Culture.

A few days ago was the first time I took the UKBI test. Even though I am an Indonesian, it was also my first time hearing about this test. They said that it is an Indonesian version of TOEFL and since it is Indonesian, it should be easy for us, native speakers. But still, I was nervous because I'd never taken it before and it would be a little bit embarrassing to get a low score (it’s the pride of a native speaker).

As I mentioned in the table above, there are 5 sections but on the test I took, we skipped 2 sections (writing and speaking). The test went with 40 questions for Dengaran (listening), it consisted of monologue and dialogue. 25 questions of Merespons kaedah (grammar), that consisted of two sentences and two options below it. Both of the sentences had bold words/phrases and one of them had an error in it. Our job was to determine the error words/phrases and choose the right option below it to replace and correct the sentence. The third section was perhaps the easiest for me because we only had to find specific information in the texts to answer the questions.

While the third section was easy for me, I was sure I made many mistakes during the listening section. The questions in this section could be tricky if you don’t comprehend it well like I didn't, and I was so sure that I was a good listener! It was just yesterday that I received the score. I am on the III predicate, Unggul (perhaps it’s Advanced in English). My score was 635. If I hadn’t screwed up my listening section then 6 points more would have got me the Sangat Unggul (Outstanding) level. But still, the result is better than what I expected so I’m still happy with it.

Below is a screenshot of UKBI test results in Indonesia for 2014. The result said that even in Indonesia, no one (0%) scored the highest level (Istimewa/Special). There was only 3 people (0,13%) who scored the 2nd level (Sangat Unggul/Outstanding) out of 2394 test takers. 548 people (24,39%) out of 2394 scored in the 3rd level (Unggul/Advanced) same as me. The rest were Madya, Semenjana, Marginal, and Terbatas consecutively 1393 people (58,19%), 398 people (16,62%), 15 people (0,63%) and 1 person (0,04%).

Well my Australian fellas... are you interested in testing your Indonesian skills through UKBI now? You might score better than me. Who knows you might be the first to get Istimewa in UKBI! If you’re currently in Indonesia and want to register for this test, you can visit this link

Good luck and keep learning Indonesian!