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Test-taking Strategies For Secure English Language Tests

Test-taking strategies for secure English language tests

If you’re planning to take IELTS, TOEFL or PTE, having some effective exam strategies will increase your chances of success. With the right approach, you can improve your performance, overcome test anxiety, and increase your confidence. Let’s take a look at how you can develop a secure English language test strategy to get the score you need. 

Common challenges in a secure English language test

English language exams are often required for visa, university or job applications. So, these tests are designed to test your language skills in lots of different contexts. They can be very challenging test experiences – here are some of the common challenges that test-takers find: 

  • Time pressure

IELTS, TOEFL, PTE and TOEIC are all timed tests. So, you’ll need to move through the exam questions at a decent speed. 

  • Difficulty understanding accents or vocabulary 

English is spoken with many different accents around the world. Depending on which material the test uses, you might struggle to understand certain accents or unfamiliar vocabulary.

  • Complicated exam tasks 

There are some complex tasks in each English language test, and it can be difficult to understand exactly what the test is asking you to do – especially if you’re not familiar with that type of exam question.  

  • Test anxiety

Test anxiety is a common issue that can affect test-takers of all ages and backgrounds. It can cause you to feel nervous or scared of failing your test – strong emotions that can affect the way you perform in the test.  

However, with proper preparation and practice, these challenges can be overcome. 

Work on your exam technique

Let’s have a look at some effective strategies for secure English language tests.Here are some ways to boost your performance and get the score you need: 

1. Manage your time

Time management is one of the biggest challenges in a secure English language test. Often, these official language tests take a couple of hours at a minimum. It’s common to feel like you have plenty of time at the beginning of the test, and then start to panic as the time passes! So, it’s essential to manage your time efficiently. You can do this by dividing the time allotted for each section wisely, and saving extra time to check your answers at the end. Most important of all is working through the test at a steady pace, and moving on from each question in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Learn the test format

Each secure English language test has its own structure and specific types of questions. Often, there are specific answer formats which can help you to get the score you need. It’s crucial to learn which types of questions you’ll be asked, so that when you’re in the exam, you’re prepared and you know how to complete the exam task. Even if you make a language mistake, at least you won’t lose points because you haven’t understood the exercise properly! 

3. Improve your English speaking skills 

The speaking part of a secure English language test can be one of the most challenging parts of the exam. Test takers often feel very nervous – however, if you work on your speaking skills in advance, you’ll perform better on the day. You can boost your exam performance by practicing your speaking with ELSA Speak. You can hold back and forth conversations with our AI tutor and then receive feedback on your grammar, vocabulary and speaking skills. What’s more, there are specific courses designed for people who are sitting IELTS, TOEFL and PTE, to help you prepare. 

Learn how to overcome test anxiety 

Test anxiety can significantly impact your performance on a secure English language test. So, managing your anxiety is just as important for success as managing your time in the exam. Here are some ways of reducing your pre-test anxiety and building your confidence

1. Identify your triggers

The next time you start to feel anxious, try to identify what has triggered your anxiety. For example, maybe you’ve seen photos on social media of relatives or friends who have moved abroad, and you start to worry that you won’t get the score you need for your visa. If this is the case, maybe it’s a good idea to avoid social media until the day of the exam. Whatever your trigger is – social media, tiredness, caffeine – if you can avoid this trigger, you’ll feel calmer in the days before the exam. 

2. Develop a positive mindset

Creating a positive mindset is essential to success in your secure English language test. You can cultivate this mindset by focusing on the learning process rather than worrying about your score. Practice positive affirmations and visualizations – for example, imagine your first day at university in Canada, if that is your goal. Finally, celebrate the small achievements as progress towards your goals to help you feel positive and excited about sitting your exam! 

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can help you feel less anxious both before and during your English language test. Meditation, deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation are powerful tools to help you feel relaxed. If you are feeling calm and grounded during your English language test, you are more likely to get a good score! 

Prepare thoroughly for your secure English language test

Whether you are sitting PTE, IELTS or TOEFL, there are lots of resources out there you can use to prepare for your test. Preparation is key with language tests. Even if you have a very high level of English, you still need to understand the test format and develop techniques for answering the questions. That way, you’ll get the best score possible. Here are some ways you can prepare: 

1. Access study materials and online resources

You can find secure English language test preparation materials and resources online, including sample tests, language learning apps, and study guides. These materials can help you familiarize yourself with your test format and question types. 

2. Join study groups and communities

Joining an English language study group or community can provide you with language practice opportunities and emotional support leading up to exam day. There are even specific groups for specific exams, so you can chat to people who are preparing for the same test as you. Read more about how to learn English with social media to find out where to connect with other learners who are preparing to take an English language test. 

3. Look for a tutor

If you require personalized guidance when preparing for an exam, it might be an idea to look for an English tutor. Private tutoring can be very expensive, but there is another option – an AI tutor

The ELSA AI English tutor can provide you with feedback, help to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and help you develop strategies to get the best score you can! 

Unlock new opportunities with a secure English language test

Secure English language tests and certificates are essential for demonstrating your proficiency in the language. They are widely recognized by governments, academic institutions, professional organizations, and employers worldwide. So, earning a certificate can open up new career opportunities, enhance your academic prospects, and facilitate immigration processes.

But this means that the stakes are often high when you’re sitting a test. So, it’s important to develop your exam technique, prepare thoroughly and overcome test anxiety. That way, you’ll be more likely to get the score you need. Good luck!

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