The Listening exam is the first test, and has four parts with forty questions that lasts for 30 minutes. The first two parts should be relatively easy as its emphasis is on social usage of English – the type of English that is used on a regular basis in an English-speaking country.
While the last two parts involve topics on training and education. Remember, you will only hear the recording once, so it is crucial that you listen carefully as the recording is played back.
So what can you do to prevent the possible catastrophe of missing the needed answers?
Listen to spoken instructions, and read carefully the given instructions. Some questions will only allow up to two words and/or one word and a number as answers.
Prior to the start of the actual test, you will be able to listen to a sample recording to test for clarity and volume. Be sure to raise any concern when appropriate.
When prompted to look at a set of questions prior to the playback of the audio recording, you should glance over quickly through the questions – as this will guide you to understand what information is needed and help you anticipate and predict the answers.
Minimize stimuli and try not to mind the people around you, and just focus on the questions before you as you listen to the recordings.
You don’t have to understand every spoken word, and if you don’t know the answer, move on to the next. Don’t dwell.
Even if you are not sure or don’t know the answer, you should write the closest answer that comes to mind. You don’t lose points for wrong answers.
Jot down provisional answers on your test questionnaire, and transfer final answers during the allotted last ten minutes of the test.
Spelling is important. Make sure you write your answer clearly. You can write in capital letters if you want.
You will be given sixty minutes to finish three reading passages, and depending on whether you have the Academic or General Training version, the passages will range from descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical (for the Academic version), and from factual and work-related to general interest (for the General Training version).
So, how do you make the most of your reading test?
Before you begin to read a passage, quickly go over the questions – as this may help you to see possible answers as you go through the reading passage.
Look out for the headings, capital letters, important dates, names and other special features – and encircle, underline or mark words as you go along
Skim and scan. Read with a purpose in mind, you don’t need to understand every word in the text.
Pay attention to time. Don’t dwell on a question or a passage. Attempt to answer but don’t waste time mulling over a question. Again, there are no penalties for wrong answers.
Even if you are not familiar with the topic, stay calm. All the answers are found in the text.
Be sure to use correct singular/plural form, check spelling, and write legibly.
With only an hour to accomplish two writing tasks of at least 150 and 250 words for each task, the writing test is probably the toughest part of the examination.
The academic writing tasks require the candidate to summarize, describe, or explain a given table, picture, graph or diagram, and produce an essay in response to an argument, opinion or problem. The general training writing tasks involve writing a letter and a short essay in response to a social issue.
Read carefully, analyze, and plan your answers. Spend some time writing an outline to help you with the flow of your writing.
Manage your time wisely. Remember task 2 has more weight compared to task 1. Spend 40 minutes on task 2, while 20 minutes on task 1.
Don’t go off topic by writing about unrelated subjects. Be clear and avoid redundancy.
Be clear with your paragraphs, present one idea per paragraph.
Do not copy exact sentences from the questions – paraphrase instead.
Write in full, do not abbreviate nor use bullet points.
Check spelling, grammar and punctuation, and avoid informal language. Ensure that you have some time to reread your work, and correct your answers.
Be mindful of the number of words, but don’t waste time counting your words. Just count the number of words per line for the first 3-5 lines, then get the lowest number and multiply that by the number of lines – that should be your approximate word total.
Most people feel terrified with the speaking test, which is a face-to-face conversation with an examiner who will ask questions about familiar topics to a structured discussion.
The main key is to practice a lot to build your confidence. That said, how do you make the most of your speaking test?
As soon as you enter the exam room, act as if you already under exam conditions, even before the examiner start to record your conversation.
Smile confidently, exchange pleasantries, and maintain eye contact.
Try to relax, and talk as much as you can – as naturally, fluently, and spontaneously as possible.
Develop your answers well, and speak more than the examiner.
Ask for clarification if you do not understand something.
Try to avoid speech fillers uh, uhm, y’know, and the like. If you find yourself thinking, just pause briefly, then resume talking.
You will be asked for your opinion, and judged on your ability to express them.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, then say so, and continue on with the closest opinion you can come up with. Or the examiner may change the question altogether if he finds that it’s a knowledge and not a language problem. Just don’t stop talking.
Maintain a pleasant demeanor throughout the test, and remember to thank the examiner afterwards.
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