TOEFL and IELTS are two of the most famous internationally recognised English language proficiency tests. Most universities around the world require an official score from one or the other test for admission to university studies. These language certificates can also be used for employment or other general purposes.
The skills you need:
These tests assess all the skills that you need in order to communicate effectively in an academic environment – reading, listening, speaking and writing. Grammar and university-level vocabulary are embedded in the tests.
If you are planning to study in a university programme that is taught entirely in English, then you certainly need to master all these skills.
Reading seems like the easy part of your university experience. However, when it comes to comprehending large specialized texts in a limited time, your task is getting challenging.Moreover, you will be mastering new subjects and gaining knowledge on the academic level.
This can be pretty challenging in your own language as well and when English is not your first language, the challenge is much bigger. You should practice a lot in advance in order to achieve the level of easily capturing the information in an academic text in English. You will have no time to check each new word in the dictionary. So, you should build a rich vocabulary in advance and this doesn’t happen overnight.
Listening and Speaking:
You will be attending classes where the sole language of communication is English, so you should be able to understand what the lecturers say. You will also be expected to participate in class discussions. Very often university professors and your peers in class will be international, so you should also be ready to comprehend various accents in English.
Communication in English usually extends outside of the lecture hall. You will have team projects to prepare with your peers, and you will need it to communicate with the university administration and the local community.
Written assignments and exams are an essential part of university studies in the English-speaking world. But, to start with, you will have to prepare you university application package in excellent English including your CV/resume, statement of purpose/motivation letter or essays, and an application form with various details about your academic and professional background, your career plans, etc.
How to study for language tests:
Your studies can be divided into two steps – general language proficiency and preparation specific to the format of the test that you have chosen.The emphasis is of course on the general acquisition of the English language, which can take several years of intensive study.When you have decided to take one of the international language tests then you can start your focused preparation. How long to study for TOEFL or IELTS will vary.
Depending on your level it usually takes from one to several months. Most of the language tests have a two-year validity of their scores, so you should not rush to take a test too early.
There are plenty of foreign language teaching methodologies, just as there are plenty of learning styles. You have to find what works best for you and ensures steady progress toward your goal.The most efficient way of learning a foreign language for adults is usually a well-balanced combination of guided preparation, self-study and practice. However, this approach is particularly important for your focused preparation specific to the test format.
Self-study is an integral part of your preparation. You should plan time for homework and drilling and keep to your schedule. Experts recommend splitting the time during the week and not squeezing it into the weekends only. The help of a professional is indispensable, but doing your homework will actually improve your skills.
It is just as essential to do practice tests. Starting from different types of question, then whole sections, untimed full-length tests, and finally realistic timed full-length tests is the most effective programme for your practice. Make sure you use up-to-date materials and software that reflect the current version of your chosen test.
Well, achieving your best score can require a second attempt. The first taking of the test may be too stressful for you to perform at your best. Also, be aware that your achievement in practice tests can be considerably higher than in the actual test.
That is why you should allow enough time for preparation, but also for taking and possibly retaking the test. And don’t forget to anticipate the time for your test to be processed and the official score to reach the admissions offices of your chosen universities. This by itself can take a month.So start your English-language preparation early and aim to achieve fluency of communication, as this is essential for the success of your educational and intercultural experience.