Preparing for official English exams like the First Certificate, Advanced or TOEFL can be a daunting task, regardless of your age. Many language students face the preparation of an official certification with fear and many questions. Will I know the answers? What do I do if I don’t know the correct answer? How should I prepare to pass these language exams successfully?
Regardless of the certification that you like the most or that suits your students’ needs, either because they need to learn English for their jobs or for personal reasons, these initial doubts and insecurities are very likely to appear. However, don’t worry! Your students must remain calm and after deciding which official English exam to take, the next step will be to prepare to demonstrate their English skills.
As you know, the period leading up to these official English exams is usually quite stressful, even if your students know the design of each one perfectly. Because of this, at Dexway, specialists in courses and interactive content for language learning, we have put together some tips to follow so you can prepare your students properly for exams such as the First Certificate, Advanced or TOEFL. Keep reading!
Tips for preparing official English exams
The process of preparing for these exams can be very simple if organized correctly. The best thing your students can do to ensure a pass is give themselves as much time as possible to prepare. This way, they can easily divide their information into topics and manage their review time efficiently.
In almost all cases, they will be tested on four different skills, as well as their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. To put their mind at ease and make sure they feel confident on test day (whether they are studying for the First Certificate, Advanced, TOEFL, or another English test), here at Dexway we can offer five helpful tips to prepare your students for any of the official English certifications:
Understand the format and content of the exam
Anyone who wants to take the official English certifications exam is usually informed in advance of the differences between the different exams. However, you will find that the main English tests are divided into the same competencies (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
However, the logistics of the different exams are not the same. Therefore, it is necessary to know aspects such as the following: How many times will the students listen to the test recordings? Is incorrect spelling penalized? Are points lost for a wrong answer? Can the students take the exam online?
Answering these questions will help them organize their ideas and continue preparing for the test. At Dexway we receive many inquiries about the most demanded official English exams at the moment such as the First certificate, Advanced or TOEFL.
Know and focus on their weaknesses
Before they start studying to prepare for their official English exam, it is essential that they know their weakest areas and those in which they may have less fluency. In some exams, all four language skills are valued equally, so the students shouldn’t spend a lot of time on areas where they are already strong. Tell them to spend more time improving their weaknesses.
If the listening part seems the most difficult for them, improve their listening skills by doing numerous listening exercises. Once done, tell them to review them carefully, take note of those points where they failed, find out why the wrong answers are not the correct ones and, fundamentally, know where they went wrong. Only then will they be able to learn from their mistakes and make sure they improve on those points where they should pay more attention.
Plan a practical study schedule
The exam date is approaching and many times we hear expressions like “I should have prepared this better!” To prevent this from happening, it is best to plan or establish a study timetable.
In this study schedule, students should divide their time wisely, always trying to focus on their weakest areas. To properly prepare for their official English exam, it is important to dedicate at least one hour of study per day. Here are some ideas for your students to keep in mind:
- Listen to different material in English and take note of all the vocabulary that they do not know in order to learn it. The app allows permanent access to all resources: audios, videos, texts, to practice at any time of the day.
- Improve their pronunciation by listening carefully and repeating words and expressions. Dexway’s speech recognition technology identifies the words that the student says during our language courses, and colors them so that they know precisely where their pronunciation needs to improve. In addition, putting these tips into practice will help them learn the different accents and improve listening comprehension. They will sharpen their hearing and be prepared to listen and understand better.
- Write about the most common topics in this type of exam and practice the different writing formats proposed: letters, articles, reports, etc.
- Speak in English whenever they can. Tell them to make use of the virtual classrooms to speak with a tutor or a native speaker. They can also create rooms to videoconference and chat with their colleagues, using the integrated virtual whiteboard.
Planning in advance will allow them to learn gradually and they will not have last minute stress.
Practice the test technique
Continuously taking exams or practice tests is highly recommended. It will help your students to acquire new knowledge and to learn more skills and techniques of interest for the day they will have to take the test.
A good technique is to simulate the exact date of the exam to try to make the big day less daunting. As an example of a recommendation to take into account in official English exams, we can mention that in the reading test, for some students it is better to read the main text first to get a general idea of the content before reading the attached questions. However, for other students it is better to read the questions first. That’s why it is important they practice with previous exams, so that they know what works best for them. Also, you can tell your students that in the written test it is best to initially brainstorm and then come up with a basic writing plan.
Think of a strategy beforehand
Before the test day arrives, it is necessary to know essential aspects such as how much time they will need to spend organizing their ideas before proceeding to write or if they will allow some time to review their answers after completing the test.
Also, it is interesting to think that while they are taking the exam other problems may arise, for example, not understanding a part of the listening well or not understanding an instruction from the invigilator. This is why solutions must be prepared (if possible) in advance.
Only with good preparation will they be able to overcome any type of unforeseen event.
Dexway courses, the best option for preparing official English exams
At Dexway we offer language courses focused on teaching through practice. The training we offer is characterized by a unique methodology, a progressive method, an attractive visual environment and additional educational resources.
Our courses for the preparation of official exams in English train students through effective learning, focused on successfully passing international official certifications regardless of their level.
If you want to receive more information about these courses, please contact us.