Sitting for an English language standardized test like IELTS and TOEFL, when your first language isn’t English, can be quite daunting. More often than not the cumulative lack of practice, confidence and preparation serves to shatter the hopes of a desired score.
Here are Top 5 tips to overcome slack and get great test numbers if you are appearing in either of the aforementioned tests:
As is the case with everything else, practice is what that takes you to perfection. You can never get a good score if your preparation encompasses a study guide. For a good score, you need to immerse yourself in the language. Try talking to the people in your household in English – even if they don’t understand it! This will improve your ability to formulate sentences in English that revolve around everyday tasks. Also read English language newspapers and books while keeping a dictionary handy to build your working vocabulary. Remember that knowing the word isn’t a big deal, it’s the correct usage that counts.
Many test-takers lose out on a good score in the listening section. And frankly, it can be the most overwhelming part if you do not come prepared. Getting on top of the diction, pronunciation, and in general, making sense of what is being said on the audio track is a whole different ball-game than writing or speaking. Therefore, work to build your familiarity with the spoken language. Listen to audiobooks and online radio shows. You can also watch movies and TV shows without subtitles.
This may sound generic but watching yourself talk in English in front of mirror is one of the best exercises in building a comfort level. You are subliminally making your brain understand that this isn’t something alien but rather is a viable medium of communication that you wish to employ. Also, this way your mind doesn’t wander to how you look when you speak English while giving the actual test – something that acts as a detractor for many people giving the test for the first time.
Too many test-takers are obsessed with this idea of using complex language and verbosity. This is counter-productive in two ways: you might get lower marks because your sentences seem unnatural and you might make a mistake in the nuances of a complex word. So, you are better off just answering the question instead of worrying about convoluted language. Focus on what is being asked and respond in a manner that you would if you were asked the same question in your native language.
Be positive going into the testing center, never think about falling short. Negativity can be your biggest enemy, especially during the speaking exercise, as you can easily get flustered. Instead think positive and focus on all the preparation that you have done. This way you will get a grip on your communication and get the score you are aimed for.