Things to Think of when Studying for your English Language Proficiency Exam

Are you about to take an English language proficiency exam? Regardless if it is TOEFL, TOEIC or the IELTS test, the key to maximize your score is to prepare for the test efficiently and with a purpose.

You should have a clear schedule on what to study for and which specefic areas to focus on. By having a study schedule you avoid panicking the days before taking the test and cramming the night before your exam. We have all been there, the panic and anxiety the night before a big exam. Studying a little every day will help you avoid those feelins and prepare effectively without becoming overwhelmed with information (cramming).

There are cases when students actually don’t need to study for their English language proficiency exam. If you feel like you are fluent and could pass as a native speaker you might not need to study. However, we always recommend that every student should at least take a practice test before deciding to skip studying. By taking the practice test you will, 1. Know what level the language exam is and 2. Learn what the format of the test is.

Before you start preparing for your exam you should be aware of how much time you have available to study for the test. Different students need different amount of time to best prepare for their test. If you have good background knowledge of the English language we recommend you give yourself at least one month to study. If you feel a bit more insecure with your English language skills, you should give yourself at least two months of preparation time.

A key factor when studying for your exam is to know what your weaknesses and strengths are. Give yourself plenty of time to study on sections you are struggling with. By focusing on improving your weaknesses you’re exam score will increase noticeable.

When taking practice tests always analyze the questions you missed and review your mistakes. It’s easy to just read prep books and expect to be prepared for your test but remember that the best way to prepare for your exam is to take actual practice tests. By taking practice tests you will learn how to apply what you have learned.

Always keep yourself disciplined and on track with your studying. A good way to keep yourself on point is to have an outlined schedule that you check off every time a day of study session is complete. Always keep in mind of the big picture and end goal. Thinking about your goal helps you remember why it’s important to stick with your study schedule.

The Night Before the Exam

Many students panic the day before their exam and start cramming the night before. However, if you have followed a study plan and studied a little bit every day there is no need for panicking. Instead get a good night’s sleep, and have a healthy breakfast in the morning.

Improve your IELTS Listening Skills

ePrepz has a few posts about different aspects of IELTS test. If you are facing a specific IELTS challenge, I highly recommend you browse our IELTS tips section. This post will focus on how to improve your IELTS listening skills.

Learn how to interpret tones and sentence transition. The tone of the voice can determine a lot on what the speaker is trying to share. Be aware of the attitude of the speaker or the people in the conversation.

Focus on improving your comprehension of different sounds in English. For example, listen to a song and really focus on trying to hear the lyrics. A good exercise is to try writing down the lyrics of the song while it’s playing and then comparing it with the actual lyrics. This also works well with speeches if you’re able to listen to the transcript while writing down the speech. Check out tedtalk to listen to speeches and lectures in English.

If you continue to practice these exercises you will notice a difference when listening to someone speak in English. Everything will sound clearer and also make sense.

These exercises will also improve your ability to take notes and keep pace with what you hear. When taking the IELTS listening test half the battle is to keep up with the speed of the recording. A useful tip is to always make sure you read the question before you start listening, remember you only get to hear the recording once.

There might be occasions when you don't know the meaning of the some keywords you are listening to. You always can try to figure it out by looking at what else the speaker says, meaning the context surrounding the word.

Make sure you are aware of how much time you spend on each question, click here to learn more about the IELTS listening format.

Improve your Pronunciation for the IELTS Speaking Test

Many students worry about their accent and pronunciation when taking the IELTS speaking section. The fact is that speaking perfectly doesn’t need to be the focus of your attention.

If your responses are understandable it’s unlikely that a slight accent or mispronunciation will affect your score. Although you don't need to speak like a native English speaker, it’s important to work on reducing your accent if it affects your ability to speak in a comprehendible manner.

Working on reducing your accent and improving your English speaking pronunciation can be a hard task. But there are a few helpful exercises you can do.

A good first step is to make an effort to communicate with a native speaker. By shadowing the way he or she speaks you will quickly get a feel on how to pronounce specific words. If you’re not able to speak with a native speaker you can use a speech from YouTube and record yourself saying the same sentences. After you have completed your recording, compare your sentence with the original sentence. Identify what words you say differently and how it is different.

Identify a group of words that are more challenging to pronounce and record yourself, try to adjust your speech and see how it sounds.

After working on your pronunciation for specific words, next step will be to work on complete sentences. Look up any words you don’t understand. Then listen all the way through, repeating everything the speaker says as soon as he or she says it.

If you don't have time to watch full speeches online, just pick a couple of sentences that include words you have difficulty pronouncing, and practice saying them through the day.

By repeating this process you will improve your pronunciation and develop your speech patterns. Remember to focus on speaking clearly rather than worrying about speaking without an accent.

Sign up with ePrepz to learn more about the IELTS Test and get access to ePrepz IELTS practice package.

5 Tips on How to Maintain Your Concentration during Your Exam

Taking a standardized exam can be mentally exhausting. Going into to a big exam with the feeling of being unprepared only adds to the stress. A crucial component on staying focused throughout your exam is to be prepared and know what to expect from the test.

By being familiar with your exam you can focus your attention on what to answer rather than thinking about distractions. Make sure that you start studying months in advanced rather than days prior.

Be aware of the timeframe of your exam, how long the different sections are and when you can expect a break. Make sure that you take a few practice tests before taking your actual exam with the same time constraints as the official exam. This will help your concentration ability and get your mind prepared when it comes time to take the real test.

Get plenty of rest and sleep the night before taking your exam. Prepare your mind like you would prepare your body before an athletic event. Have a good breakfast and make sure you are hydrated. Coffee is my beverage of choice before taking a long exam.

Also, make sure that you visit the restroom before your exam begins! Walking out to visit the restroom in the middle of your exam will only add stress to your situation and distract you from your performance.

When you walk into the exam room your main focus should be solely on answering the question at hand. Always focus on the question you are working on, don’t worry about what comes next or other distractions. If you are thrown off by a question and are unable to answer it simply move on to the next question.

The key component to being able to maintain your concentration during your exam is to be prepared. To view some practice questions and to learn more about the structure of your exam check out our test preparation packages at ePrepz.

IELTS Band Score: How the IELTS Exam is Scored

Lately we have been getting some questions about how the IELTS exam is scored. Today we are going take a look at the IELTS band scale and explain how your score is calculated on the IELTS exam. The IELTS exam is scored a little bit differently than other standardized English tests.

The IELTS test is scored on a nine-band scale. Each band refers to a different level of ability in English. So there is no “pass” or “fail” when taking the exam but rather an estimate on your level of English proficiency.

A good idea that will benefit you is to find out what score you will need on the IELTS before taking the exam. Regardless if you take the IELTS exam for immigration purposes or to get admitted to a University in English speaking country it will help you know what kind of score you are expected to achieve.

For example if you are taking the IELTS to attend a University you might want to check what the IELTS score requirement they have. Different schools have different score requirements. After completing your IELTS exam the score will be valid for two years.

IELTS Band Scale

9 Expert user
8 Very good user
7 Good user
6 Competent user
5 Modest user
4 Limited user
3 Extremely limited user
2 Intermittent user
1 Non user
0 Did not attempt the test

Each section of the IELTS exam (reading, listening, speaking and writing) will give you a score between 0-9 and then calculated together to give you an overall score.

If you receive an overall score of 8.25 or 8.75 your score will be rounded up to the nearest half band or full band. 8.25 becomes 8.5 and 8.75 becomes 9.

Learn more about the IELTS exam, check out our previous posts about the IELTS exam. Read more about the IELTS.