How to Prepare For IELTS and Other Exams

study abroad exams

To gain admission to a foreign educational institute, you need a language proficiency test score. This is where IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE come in. Although if you do not prefer any three of these, some institutes have their own, only some! In a way, an English language proficiency test becomes necessary. It is a requirement in your admission procedure abroad. These study abroad exams are not a piece of cake. Though it is only a measure of one language proficiency, it is not super strict. But these exams test your expertise differently and are not to be taken lightly. Just the difference between two different language proficiency tests can throw out your strategy and momentum. Therefore, the very first step is to select which English language proficiency test you will take. Then, further planning will be according to your selection.

There are three major kinds of English language proficiency tests; IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. However, more alternatives like CAE, CPE, and online English language proficiency tests like Duolingo are not recognized and acknowledged globally. Institutes generally set a score requirement for these English language proficiency tests, which normally is not that high. However, it would help if you considered the acceptance rates of the institute you apply for. Acceptance rate leaves even brilliant minds hanging out dry in terms of decimals.

Types of English Language Proficiency Test


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardized English language proficiency test for non-native English language speakers. Established in 1989, it is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. Over 11,000 organizations accept IELTS in more than 140 countries.


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities. TOEFL is a trademark of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private non-profit organization, which designs and administers the tests. The test is accepted by more than 11,000 universities and other institutions in over 150 countries.


Pearson Language Tests is a unit of the Pearson PLC group dedicated to assessing and validating the English language usage of non-native English speakers. The tests include the Pearson Test of English Academic, PTE General, and PTE Young Learners. Presently there are 74 PTE accepting countries across the world, including all the famous study abroad destinations. However, the number of institutes accepting PTE is not significant.

How to Prepare For English Language Proficiency Test

As mentioned above, all three of the major exams are different. Therefore, it would be best if you considered a few factors while preparing for a specific choice. One can only list so many ways to prepare for an English language proficiency test. However, here are some crucial ones:

Test Exam Format

The very first point to be noted is the format of the exam you choose. For instance, there are sections in exams, and each is assigned marks as per exam format. It can be assigned equally or not, considering the importance of the section. So if you prepare all sections equally and then find out that certain sections hold more value, it will be unfortunate. Also, these exams consist of practical analysis as well. There are listening and speaking sections. So, your preparation must begin with a proper format analysis of the test.

There are two IELTS tests available; IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. According to IELTS official website, both tests are graded the same way. TOEFL has three different platforms; paper version (PBT – Paper-based Test), computer-based (CBT – Computer-based Test) and online version (iBT – Internet-based Test). At last, PTE is also a two type exam: PTE General and PTE Academic. PTE General is not used as an English proficiency test. Apart from these, find different sections and the time difference between each test.

Scheduled Study Plan

These exams are English language proficiency tests, not technical subjects. So do not plan to study hard and learn everything. Consistency is the key here. A schedule assigning necessary time to necessary aspects is an intelligent way to prepare. English is a language that can be understood regularly. Plan your study plan accordingly. Do not exclude Sundays as well. You need a consistent plan that follows a continuous progression. Evaluate yourself and find out what sections are required to prepare more. Assigning equal time to all actions is not an intelligent choice.

Keep allocating various types of exercises to different sections. You can use the internet, social media, newspaper, or television. English is a language that is most comprehended rather than understood. Include tasks like listening to podcasts, reading an unfamiliar article, writing on any topic suddenly, etc. Divide your day schedule into different sections and then different exercises relevant to the section.

For instance – 


Reading: Read newspapers and essays.

Listening: Try audio script papers.

Writing: Take a mock test.

Speaking: Speak on some particular topics.

Also, do assign different tasks and exercises. Going through the same exercise can be helpful in mathematics or science, not in English.

Grammar & Synonym

Grammar may not be necessary to comprehend and use English in daily life activities. But these English language proficiency tests focus significantly on it. It does not mean your grammar will be a factor in checking (which it will be). It means there will be questions that are relevant to grammar expertise. So you need to clear out your doubts. Grammar is not something to prepare for an exam. It only needs revision. You need to go through all the details once a day. Do not overthink it, and do not redo it.

Synonyms, on the other hand, will show you a direct approach. The questions will include synonyms of texts used in paragraphs. And they may not be indirect. So if you do not have a good hold on synonyms and antonyms, you can face difficulties even understanding the questions. Many questions in these English language proficiency tests seem like trick questions with synonyms, do not worry, there are none. Learning synonyms will automatically boost your language reading, writing, comprehension, and speaking.

Over Answering is a No Go

Students often over-answer questions in exams. It is good if you have extra explanations and solutions. But English language proficiency tests do not appreciate this trait. You must analyze and decide what is necessary and what is not. Until explicitly asked to provide an explanation or an additional answer, please do not do it. If you are not sure about an answer, move on and mark it for later. As you proceed, the exam format will keep building up your comprehension. It will present what kind of exam it is and what kind of answer it seeks.

At a basic level, doing shows potential. But at a higher and technical level, overdoing shows overdoing. As you become more and more professional, you will find out the essence of time. Time management becomes a pivotal point in any task. Not using multiple solutions will result in the preseason. Plus, you will be saving time by neglecting that extra work, present precisely what is needed. Getting along with your gut is necessary, but so as well maintaining professionalism.

Mock Test

Mock tests are a pretty standard preparation tool in exams, right? Probably that’s why it is underestimated. For an English language proficiency test, mock tests are the best way to proceed. When you are in your actual exam, the time and exam pattern will challenge you to perform extraordinarily. You will be needed to maintain your confidence and momentum. Mock tests eliminate all these kinds of exam pressures. It will show you a similar presentation of your exam before you do it. You have the option to experience it beforehand. Take mock tests to find out possible challenges you will face in the exam.

Going through a mock test will build a pattern in you, just like muscle memory. Not to mention these mock tests are designed by experts. Many of them have taken these English language proficiency tests multiple times. So the question in there will be directly relevant to your actual exams. Sure, you have multiple attempts to make. You can take these exams as many times as you want or even different English proficiency tests. However, records show that test results do not show much difference if different attempts for a particular student. Plus, you have full liberty to take mock tests. Many websites offer online mock tests that are free of cost. So you do not have anything to lose. A mock test will ease up your stress and preparation. Go for it.


You can take these exams many times if you want or even different English proficiency tests as well. However, records show that test results do not show much difference if different attempts for a particular student. So do not believe in ace it on several chances. Instead, prepare for it as it is a one-go. One trick almost every expert finds superlative is; think in English. It is not as easy as to read, but yes, this works. It will take time to be comfortable, but ultimately you will be able to save up a ton of work after getting used to it.

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