2 Ways to Study for your English Test
Many people applying for visas to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or other English-speaking countries, are required to take an English Test – IELTS or PTE Academic are the most popular. This can be quite an unexpected shock for some, as they might not have sat a test for years, or even decades! Others might think that because they are native English speakers, the test will be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. It’s very common to need a few months of study and preparation in order to be successful in the English test.
How can you study for the English Test?
There are two main ways to prepare for your English test, whether it be PTE Academic, IELTS or any of the many other English proficiency tests. The first method, and usually the most popular, is to improve your English test skills; learn about the test, practice taking the test and eventually sit the test and see if you achieved the results you need. The other method, whilst less popular and more time consuming, is often equally or even more important than the first; improve your English language skills.
Becoming a master of your English test is one way to find extra points in the exam without actually improving your English language ability. Knowing everything about the test, from the marking criteria to the amount of time you should allocate to each question, will certainly help to improve your score.
For some people, becoming a pro at the test is enough to get them over the line. However, this improvement will always be limited by your English language skills. A common example of this is when someone has taken the test multiple times, perhaps with some improvement each time, but not quite reached their goals. If they aren’t seeing enough improvement from simply studying for the test itself, then they probably need to consider studying to improve their English language ability, too.
Surprisingly, for many people taking the English test, English is their first language. That might sound like an advantage, but in some ways, it’s not. If you have grown up without much emphasis on languages, as many people from English speaking countries do, you probably won’t be overly familiar with grammatical terms like ‘adjective’ or ‘verb’, let alone ‘passive voice’ or ‘present perfect continuous tense’ (which sounds more like a yoga pose than anything relating to grammar).
So how do you improve your English language skills, if you’ve been using English your whole life but need to improve your speaking, writing, listening or reading skills for the English test?
How to Improve your English Language Ability
For people using English as their second or third language, you’ve probably got some idea of your English language ability in terms of a level that you might have achieved in school or personal education. E.g. if you completed an English language course at B2 level, then you’ll know your English is pre-advanced and you can expect a 75 score in PTE Academic, or a 7.5 in IELTS.
However, for native English speakers, it’s a bit more complicated. You can’t necessarily pick up an advanced English grammar book and study it, because the chances are that you won’t be familiar with the ‘lingo’ used to describe most grammatical structures at that level. So, you could go back to basics and learn grammar from scratch, but this would require quite a lot of time to eventually progress to advanced grammar, which is what you’d generally need for a high score in the English test.
So, why not ask for help?
English tuition is not only for test strategies and preparation for the English test. It can also help to target your particular language weaknesses and any areas which need some improvement. You’ll be provided with the relevant grammar, vocabulary, test structure and response advice to improve your test results, explained in a simple way that is easy to understand, without needing to know the ‘lingo’.
Cramming for your English test and learning how to improve your English language skills can be made so much easier and simpler with some help from an experienced English tutor. Your tuition will combine, depending on your individual needs, a suitable combination of English language improvement, as well as preparing you to master the test itself.
How to Improve your Test Skills
The English tests have extremely specific criteria for each question type. Walking into a test without enough knowledge of the test format and what is required of you to attain a high score is setting yourself up for disappointment. While not passing the test the first time is by no means a waste of time, as you’ll learn a lot about the test and your current ability based on your results, but there are much cheaper ways to practice (not to mention, less stressful!).
One of my suggestions for improving your test skills, is to take a scored practice test. I recommend one practice test near the start of your preparation (once you’ve studied the format of the test and know what type of questions will be asked) and another test once you think you have improved enough to get your desired score in the test. You can then sit the practice test, and, if you achieve your goal results, then you’re ready to book your real test! Alternatively, if you don’t quite get the results you need in the practice test, it is back to the books until you feel you’ve improved enough to try again.
As partners with Pearson PTE, we have special discounts to offer!
While scored practice tests do give you feedback on which of your English skills are stronger and weaker, they do not advise you on how to improve, or even where exactly you went wrong. Private tuition allows you to get personal feedback on your improvement, so you’ll always know exactly what you’re doing right and wrong, with methods and test strategies that will help you to achieve the best score possible. Private tuition can save you time, stress, and money. Rather than having to re-sit the exam, being prepared before you book can make the whole experience a lot easier.
English Tuition Costs
1-hour lesson: £50 + VAT
(Down Under Centre members get £10 off per lesson).
Alternatively, if you know you’ll need a few lessons at least, the Down Under Centre offer bundle deals.
Contact Shelley or the office for information or find me on Facebook.
I wish you all the best for your test preparation, and your exciting journey to a new life!
Shelley Mayes – English Tutor
Specialising in English test preparation