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Importance of Comprehensive Study Material for English Proficiency Tests

Many students dream of studying in a high-ranked university abroad these days. Likewise, many professionals are now moving abroad for jobs with the aim of settling down. One essential requirement for either of these dreams to come true is a good score on an English Proficiency Test. In this article, we are going to discuss how your choice of study material can act as a determining factor in fulfilling your desire.


What is an English Proficiency Test?


As the name suggests, an English Proficiency Test evaluates a candidate’s language proficiency. In other words, this test assesses the ability of a candidate to access various facets of the language in different situations. At the core, it evaluates Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking skills.


What are some popular English Proficiency Tests?


For non-native English speakers around the world today, 3 English Proficiency Tests have become popular. They are (in no particular order): IELTS, TOEFL iBT, and PTE. In terms of administration, IELTS is co-owned by Cambridge English Language Assessment (which is a part of the University of Cambridge, UK), the British Council, and IDP (International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges). TOEFL is administered by ETS (Education Testing Service), which is headquartered in New Jersey, USA. PTE is administered by Pearson (which is a British multinational publishing and education company headquartered in London).

These tests have wide acceptance for admissions and immigration across the globe. Although they are all grouped under the category of “English Proficiency Tests”, they require different methods and approaches to prepare for and succeed. As for the minimum score requirements, there are specific guidelines laid down for each test. For example, 7.0 Bands (out of 9.0) and above in IELTS, 95 (out of 120) and above in TOEFL, and 65 (out of 90) and above in PTE are all considered good scores. So, when it comes to preparing for these, one must have access to the right kind of material.

Now that we have understood the importance and scope of these tests, let us see why comprehensive study material is such an important factor while preparing for them.


Understanding the Test Format:


If you wish to excel in your test, you must be well-versed with the exam structure. One thing which is common with these tests is that their format keeps evolving over time. For example, the order of the IELTS sections was changed this year (25th June 2022) for those taking it on a computer. The TOEFL test was restructured in August 2019 with a shorter test duration and the addition of super-scoring. PTE is no exception as it was made shorter in November 2021. As a test-taker, you need to be on top of these changes and only trust relevant material published by the makers or evaluators of these tests. So, for IELTS, you should follow the material from Cambridge. You can also practice from any material that comes from either IDP or British Council. For TOEFL, you can use the ETS Material for practice. Barron’s and Kaplan also have good preparation material for this test. For PTE, the material given out by Pearson is recommended. This way, you can be assured of the practice sets you have gone through before your test day.


Covering All Question Types:


As all these tests are fairly popular, candidates can find a plethora of resources online. The problem with these resources is that they may not always cover all sections of the tests. You may find that some material is very effective for practicing one or two modules but has almost nothing on the others. Relying on these materials can be a huge risk as you end up only partly prepared for your test. One of the most important aspects of securing a high score on these tests is your familiarity with all the question types. If you refer to a comprehensive study guide from any of the organizations mentioned above, you ensure that you know your preferred test inside out.


Practicing the Right Way:


As mentioned earlier, these tests assess the 4 core language skills. However, they all have unique ways of evaluation. You may not find many similarities in the question types or the content and topics covered on these tests. Once you are familiar with the test format, the next step is to iron out any weaknesses that you have identified. The advantage of practicing with comprehensive material is that you get enough practice on all aspects of the test. Some even cover Mock Tests on top of the practice sets for each question type. For example, ETS and Pearson provide scored practice tests for TOEFL and PTE respectively. These can be purchased from their respective websites for a nominal charge.

All things considered, it is important to rely on comprehensive study material for your test prep. It will ensure that you have understood the test thoroughly, are ready to face the question types that the test has to offer, and have practiced the right way.


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.

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