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Many of us learn a language and aside from the exams we have to take at school, we don’t think about taking an exam outside of school and later in life when we no longer have the responsibility or need to study. But, an accredited certification to show your English language level is a great for your CV and a good sign from your future employer that you are capable of working in English. I'd like to answer some of the common questions that my students ask me about taking an English exam and choosing which one and how to prepare.
What exam should I take?
Firstly, it's best to choose an exam that is achievable. If you're intermediate don't go looking at advanced exams or even looking at upper-intermediate exams. Focus on an intermediate exam first, and then after some time when you've successfully passed that exam, look to progress to the next level of that exam. These are not only steps in improving your English, but also clear goals for you to aim for.
Everyone says IELTS is the best!
IELTS should only be taken in my opinion if you 1. You need it to study abroad or 2. You are moving abroad to live or work and it's a requirement for your move. If you don't know why you're taking IELTS, don't bother taking it. A simple 'I'm doing it to see my level of English' I'm not a good enough reason and I would suggest looking at Cambridge exams which have different exams for different levels starting all way down at A2 level with KET and Flyers for younger learns all the way to CPE - Certificate in Proficient English. The really good thing about Cambridge exams too is that they are general English exams, so unlike IELTS where it can be too academic or formal - and remember everybody does the same IELTS test it is not broken down to different levels - Cambridge exams focus on everyday English
What's the best way to prepare?
The most important thing for any exam is being comfortable with the exam format. It is essential that you know how the exam works and what you're going to be doing on test day. You can do this yourself if you prefer. Remember these are tests of English language and not tests of your knowledge of different subjects. You can join a group course at a language school where everyone in that class will be in the same boat and sailing to success (hopefully). You will do it together, and will be able to support each other and make some friends at the same time. You can find a tutor or teacher who specializes in an exam and do your preparation 1-to-1 This way you get more time with your teacher, and to focus on areas you might not be so strong at.And of course, if you prefer, you can prepare yourself for the exam with the help of books, YouTube,
Is exam preparation boring? It sounds boring?
Exam preparation is a collocation that is not synonymous with fun, but it depends on the teacher. I've taught exam preparation in 2 different ways. 1. It was planned as a normal lesson using a course book, but with focus on the exam and freedom in what was said in the classroom to allow for more speaking and clarification. This course lasted just under an academic year and for some students two years, so there was lots of time to prepare students for the exam and answer any questions or concerns they had 2. Each lesson was planned for preparation and only for preparation. This course was more intensive and lasted for no-longer than 2 months.The idea here is to drill the format, and practise as you would do in the exam, so at the end of the course they are ready to go and take the exam. Of course, that doesn't mean 1 is a bad way of doing it. It's just 1 builds on lots of different areas for the exam whereas 2 is here is the exam and this is what you have to do and we are going to practise, practise, and practise it. 2 might sound more boring, but if you have the right teacher, and people in the class, it can be just as fun as 1.
What if I fail an exam?
As I mentioned above, firstly make sure you choose an exam that is achievable. It's not possible to 'fail' IELTS you are given an overall score and even if you don't meet the pass level of a Cambridge exam, you will still be given a certificate with the level you showed at the exam. If you don’t get what you want, reflect on what could be improved, but also remember sometimes we all have off-days and on any other day you could have got what you wanted. If you feel like that's what happened, you can retake it.
How can I practice my speaking?
If you're looking for an English native speaker from England for Skype or Zoom lessons then I can help. I offer online lessons which you can find out more about here . If you aren't looking for an online English teacher then look for English speaking meetings in your city, town, or village. If you live in a big enough town or city then the chances are there will be some kind of weekly meeting in English where people get together to practise their English. If there isn't, then start your own English speaking club and I'm sure you'll find people who want to join. Remember speaking builds confidence. Even if you can't find someone, speak to yourself .... It's not crazy!
Also, if you want to practise the IELTS speaking test in full with me online, then have a look here
I am not a school, so I am not all about profit. I am an individual, a teacher, a teacher who specialises in working with Russian English learners, a native speaker from England who genuinely wants to help. You don't need to deal with a school or online school where you have to speak to this person about this and that person about that, you only speak to me directly, which makes life a lot easier. If you are interested in Skype English lessons or Zoom English classes, then please get in touch, I hope to speak to you soon.
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