If you are a non-native speaker and are planning on applying to a University in the UK or US, you will most likely have to submit a language certification as part of your application.
TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, CPE, they are all quite similar: They consist of a set of standardised questions and tasks that you have to complete, so regardless of which exam you take. It goes without saying that you need a good level of English, but here are a few tips to help you prepare:
- Start early
Give yourself the time to prepare well. Start with a practice test to see where you stand and which areas you need to work on most.
There is no secret recipe for doing well in these exams. After doing a number of past exams and exercises in books, you will start to recognise that there are only a handful types of questions and you will become familiar with the way they are phrased. This is crucial. I worked through my entire book and did every exercise, checked it and took notes of words or idioms I was unfamiliar with.
- Master time management
You have a limited amount of time to complete all the exercises, so whenever you practice do it under exam conditions. That means timing yourself, strictly not using your phone or computer to look something up and learn to find around things that you just cannot remember.
- Go above and beyond
Learning a language is a lengthy process, you will need to invest a lot of time into it, but it should be fun! Reading helps tremendously, you can also listen to audiobooks or the news to soak up the intonation and come to grips with accents. The internet is your friend.
Don’t worry if that sounds stressful, many people have done it before and if you are well organised and practice, get exposure and keep your head cool during the exam, you should not have to worry.