4 Tips for English language test preparation

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preparing for your english language testIf there is one part of the immigration process that’s underestimated by many, it’s the English language test.

“But I can speak English, it won’t be a problem”, we hear you say.

This may be the case, but can you speak English to the level Immigration New Zealand requires? How’s your spelling and grammar? And when was the last time you were subjected to the nail-biting anxiety of having to complete a test in a certain time?

Your English language test score is an important part of your visa application. It could even mean the difference between being able to submit a visa application or not. Won’t you want to be as prepared as can be?

Tip 1: Understand the test format

The most common English language tests are the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and the PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic).

Both of these tests consist of four parts:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

In turn, each part consists of a set of questions and tasks. Familiarising yourself with all the parts, questions and tasks will prepare you for what’s coming on test day. Going in blind is setting yourself up for failure!

Let’s give you the Reading section of the IELTS as an example:

The Reading section consists of 40 questions and you have 60 minutes to answer them. You’ll get tested on a wide range of reading skills which include:

  • Reading for gist, main ideas and detail.
  • Skimming.
  • Understanding logical argument.
  • Recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The reading material will come from materials you are likely to encounter on daily basis in an English-speaking environment such extracts from books, magazines, company handbooks, and advertisements.

When it comes to the questions, you can expect a variety of questions ranging from multiple choice and identifying information to summary completion and matching features.

And while this may be the reading part of your English language test, you will be penalized for poor spelling and grammar!

Can you already see why it’s important to prepare for your English test?

Tip 2: Practice with sample tests

Completing sample test materials will help to prepare you for the test in a big way! You’ll be able to:

  • Familiarise yourself with the test format.
  • Experience the types of tasks you’ll be asked to do.
  • Test yourself under timed conditions.
  • Review your answers and compare them with model answers.

This is like the tests that came before the big end-of-year exams at school. Do you think you would’ve done half as good in the exam if you didn’t write the tests beforehand?

Both IELTS and Pearson have sample tests available on their websites, and you download it here and here.

Tip 3: Consider working with an English language teacher

You don’t have to prepare for this important test on your own! You are allowed to work with an English language test teacher.

Most teachers work with you over Skype but there also teachers who’ll meet up face-to-face. The content of the session and the support provided also range from one teacher to the next.

In general though you can expect English language teachers to introduce you to the test format, take you through sample tests, give feedback, and focus on your developmental areas. Some teachers also provide you with learning materials and ebooks.

Intergate has a list of English language teachers we recommend and you can access this list if you’re a client of ours. If you haven’t asked us for this list yet, do so today.

Tip 4: Know what to expect on test day

Cast your mind back to those important end-of-year exams at school. Remember how you had to be seated at a certain time? Remember that you had have at least two pens, a ruler and a pencil?

The English language test environment is similar. You’ll obviously have to be on time, but there are in fact also items to bring to the exam. One such item is a means of identification.

If you’re an Intergate Emigration client, your advisor will be able to advise you on exactly what to expect on test day. Alternatively, you can chat to your English language teacher who’ll also be able to guide you.

In summary…

This is not ‘just’ an English test.

Your English language test score counts towards your overall points score which determine whether or not you can live and work in New Zealand. Scoring well is thus important if you want to boost your chances of immigrating.

If you don’t prepare you’re potentially setting yourself up for failure – and we’re sure you wouldn’t want to do that.

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