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How To Practice For English Proficiency Tests

International students interested in studying at Ivy Leagues and other top universities abroad have to fulfill English proficiency requirements. These students often turn to one of the two most popular English Proficiency Tests: the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). IELTS is scored out of 9 Bands and TOEFL is scored out of 120 points. For admissions to top schools, 7+ Bands in the IELTS or 100+ points in the TOEFL is usually a prerequisite.

At the core, these tests evaluate students’ proficiency in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The method of evaluation and the question types vary from test to test and so does the method of preparation. Some students are very confident with their language skills but often struggle to get the kind of scores they would like on these tests. This challenge can only be overcome by targeted practice. This article sheds light on the significance of practice to succeed in these tests.

Importance of Practice:

In order to succeed in an English Proficiency Test, students must become familiar with the test structure. As mentioned above, the test focuses on the 4 core language skills; however, the pattern varies from one test to the other. For example, the listening section of the IELTS requires students to be good at multi-tasking whereas the same section of the TOEFL requires good note-taking skills. Identifying these sub-skills is just as important as practicing them using quality material. Time is another important factor – especially for the reading and writing sections on these tests. Therefore, it is important for students to solve these sections with a timer and keep a tab on question types that are more demanding in this aspect. Moreover, the speaking section is also timed, and often, students struggle with pacing their responses. Many students take the speaking section for granted and thus, usually do not spend as much time practicing as they should. It is essential to strike a balance between practice for all 4 sections of the test so that the students are well prepared for the test day.

How To Practice:

The phrase “targeted practice” is often used while preparing for English Proficiency Tests. As they start practicing for these tests, students should first identify the skills they would like to spend more time on. This is an integral part of practicing correctly for these tests. Often, students find the listening section interesting and even though they are good at it, they spend more time going through listening exercises. This behavior is common and leads to students losing track of the sections that they need to focus on. More often than not, students need to allocate the majority of practice time to reading and writing modules. For TOEFL, it is also important to devote some time to develop note-taking skills. Many successful students make a calendar of tasks to be completed within a week. This calendar also covers fundamental skills such as grammar, sentence formation, and vocabulary along with the 4 core skills. This calendar is then expanded to include specific question types and brainstorming sessions for writing & speaking tests. This targeted practice allows students to stay on top of their preparation.

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Value of Mock Tests and Analysis:

Identifying weaknesses, fixing them, and practicing regularly make up only half the recipe for success in English Proficiency Tests. Students should sit for regular mock tests and get them evaluated by expert tutors to understand where they stand. This gives them an insight into their areas of strengths and weaknesses. While appearing for mock tests can flag question types and time-related issues for students, the feedback received from expert tutors can give the right direction for further preparation. Appearing for multiple mock tests with the same approach also leads to the students’ downfall. It is, therefore, essential that students evaluate their mistakes, take corrective measures, tweak their approach, and then appear for the next mock test.

How can Scholarly Help?

At Scholarly, we provide students with expert guidance for IELTS and TOEFL. We provide interactive classes led by our certified faculty. Our expert tutors help students target all modules of the test along with sub-skills like grammar, vocabulary, and note-taking. On top of these sessions, students gain access to a personalized dashboard where they can see their progress on all 4 modules. For IELTS, we provide 80 practice tests, 5 mock tests, grammar quizzes, and individual feedback for writing and speaking modules (including one-on-one speaking mock tests with our expert trainer). For TOEFL, students can take advantage of 45 practice tests, 6 mock tests, grammar quizzes, and individual feedback for writing and speaking modules. Our tutors are certified by test conducting bodies including IDP, Cambridge, and ETS.

We hope this article has provided you with an insight into the importance and way of practicing for success in English Proficiency Tests. Feel free to reach out to our team for any questions about our IELTS/TOEFL classes.

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About the Author: 

Aashay Ghadge is an American TESOL Certified English Trainer. He has spent over 5 years teaching 4000+ students from varied cultural and educational backgrounds across China and Thailand. He also has certifications for teaching IELTS, TOEFL iBT, and PTE from exam-conducting bodies like Cambridge, IDP, ETS, and Pearson. He has been helping students succeed in these tests since 2018.

Scholarly helps ambitious international students locate the right universities and courses to pursue their education. We provide college credit courses and research papers to students that want to learn more and differentiate themselves. We help students develop and present their best version to their dream university. Our recommendations are based on the student’s field of interest, academic performance, financial resources and career plans. We provide test preparation classes from the best teachers to help improve scores and thus the prospects for admission. We also assist students with their visa and loan applications to reduce the anxiety associated with international education.

For additional questions about international education, choice of majors, university selection or admission strategies please visit the Questions section of our website.

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