Before You Take a Test

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It's important to prepare well for big tests - especially for exams like the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge First Certificate (FCE). This guide will help you take steps towards doing your very best on the big day.

Know Your Test

First things first: Find out about the test! Reading test-specific preparation materials will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses on specific topic areas covered in the test.

Understanding which types of problems are easiest and which are most difficult will help you develop a study plan for the test. While developing your plan, take note of grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking and writing expectations. Also, take note of specific exercise types on your exam.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you have established a study plan, you'll need to do lots of practice. Practice begins with understanding the subjects that will be included in reading, writing and listening. If you're not taking a course, using advanced level resources at this site can help you study up and practice grammar, build vocabulary, as well as improve writing techniques and listening skills.

Practice Specific Types of Test Problems

So you've studied up on your grammar, writing, and vocabulary, now you'll need to apply these skills to specific types of exercises you will find on your exam.

There are a number of free and paid resources available on the Internet.

Take Practice Tests

After you have become familiar with the types of exercises on your test, you'll want to practice taking the test as often as possible. For this purpose, the best thing to do is purchase one of the many books that provide practice tests for the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Exams.

Prepare Yourself - Test Taking Strategy

Shortly before the big day, you'll also want to spend some time developing specific test taking skills. These skills include strategies on multiple choice questions, timing, and other issues.

Prepare Yourself - Understand the Test Structure

When you understand the general techniques required to do well on a test, you'll also want to study specific exercise techniques to help you develop a strategy for each type of question. These links focus on specific exercises that you'll find on the Cambridge's First Certificate Exam. However, these types of exercises are found on most of the major exams in one form or another.

  • Taking a Listening Gap Fill Exam
  • Taking a Word Formation Exam
  • Taking a Vocabulary Cloze Test