Get Prepared for an English Language Exam in 5 steps

If you’re looking to improve your English skills for academic or professional reasons, an English language exam can be a great way to measure your progress and set goals for improvement. Preparing for an exam can be a daunting task, but with thorough and targeted preparation you can calm your nerves knowing that you are ready to showcase your language skills. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some key steps you can take to prepare for your English language exam, including how to navigate exam types, what learning material to use and tips for achieving top scores on English certificates such as TOEFL or IELTS. We’ll also discuss best practices for children learning English and tips for success in English classes.

Step 1: Get to know the format of the exam

Understanding the format of the exam is crucial to achieving a good score. You should research and familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be asked, the time limits and the scoring system. Knowing the format of the exam will help you prepare effectively and increase your chances of success. Some initial things to consider:

  • The exam form: written or oral
  • The types of questions you’ll be asked
  • The time limits
  • The scoring system
  • If allowed, ask the examinator for the topic of the exam

It’s also helpful to understand the format of each section of the exam and the types of questions that will be asked in each section. Feeling mentally prepared for the exam situation helps you stay calm and focused on presenting your skills.

Example of exam forms: written and oral exams

There are some fundamental differences between written and oral English exams, which are important to familiarize yourself with before you start to prepare:

A written English exam typically includes various types of questions, such as multiple choice, fill in the blank, and essay writing, that assess a student’s knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension of reading materials. The exam may also include a section on writing, where the student is asked to compose an essay or short story.

An oral English exam, on the other hand, typically involves speaking and listening tasks, such as having a conversation with the examiners, giving a presentation, or describing a picture or graph. The exam may also include a section on pronunciation, where the student’s accent and intonation are evaluated. The goal of an oral exam is to assess the student’s ability to communicate effectively in spoken English.

Preparing for TOEFL and IELTS

The TOEFL and IELTS exams might have a slightly different format than regular school exams, as these are standardized tests that assess your proficiency in the English language. TOEFL and IELTS exams test all four skills in the English language: reading, writing, speaking and listening, so it’s important to practice and improve your abilities in each of these areas.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the TOEFL and IELTS are competitive exams, and that preparing for them requires extra time and effort.

Step 2: Master the Basics: Vocabulary, Grammar, and Pronunciation

When preparing for a written or an oral English exam, the three basic elements you need to focus on are vocabulary, grammar and, for oral exams, pronunciation. These will provide the foundation of your exam, no matter the theme or exam form.

How to improve your vocabulary

Vocabulary is a fundamental component in any English exam. To improve your vocabulary, you can try these 10 learning methods:

  • Changing the language on your phone, computer, and social media accounts to English for daily language exposure
  • Reading blogposts in English about topics of your interest
  • Reading books, newspapers, and magazines in English
  • Watching movies in English, with subtitles if necessary
  • Journaling in English
  • Finding study groups where you can speak to each other in English
  • Using flashcards or online resources to learn new words and their meanings
  • Setting a goal of learning at least 3-4 new words every day
  • Make sure to learn these words in context or sentence, so you’re comfortable using them
  • If you know the theme of the exam, find learning material that is related to the topic – this is also a good opportunity to watch movies with a similar theme
  • Also, try to learn words that are commonly used in specific topics such as business, science, or technology, as the exam may often include questions on these topics.

    How to improve your grammar

    Next, you need to practice your grammar, especially when taking a written exam. To improve your English grammar, you can follow these learning tips:

    • Practice writing in English regularly
    • Study grammar books and online resources
    • Read English texts to expose yourself to correct grammatical structures
    • Take an English course online to learn grammar rules and receive feedback
    • Practice with native speakers to get an idea of how the language is used in a natural context
    • Use language learning apps and software to help you improve your grammar through interactive exercises and lessons

    How to improve your pronunciation

    Finally, in order to be fully prepared for an English language exam, particularly an oral exam, you need to practice your accent and intonation. By following these steps, you can prepare yourself the best way possible:

    • Practice speaking in English regularly
    • Listen to native speakers to improve your listening skills
    • Learn key vocabulary and phrases
    • Practice conversation skills
    • Practice giving presentations or speeches
    • Work on your intonation

    Pro-tip: Use materials from real life

    Using real-life materials such as news articles, podcasts, and videos is a great way to improve your reading and listening skills. This type of material will expose you to the style and format of the English language as it is used in real-life situations and help you to understand the nuances of the language.

    Step 3: Get help from a tutor

    A tutor or mentor can be incredibly helpful when preparing for an English exam, as they can provide personalized instruction and support that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. A tutor can also work with you on the specific area where you may be struggling, such as grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation. They can also help you practice and improve your speaking and listening skills in a real-life setting, which are crucial for oral exams. Many English tutors or teachers offer their services online, so you can take your English classes from the comfort of your own home, regardless of your location.

    If you wish to find local English tutoring to where you live, you might also find these online – some learning platforms will offer a search option where you can look up local offers, for instance English classes in London, English lessons in Birmingham, an English teacher in Glasgow or an English tutor in Liverpool.

    Working with a tutor can also be beneficial if you are preparing for an English certificate exam, such as TOEFL or IELTS. A tutor can provide you with test-taking strategies and practice materials to help you improve your performance. They can also help you identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts.

    When looking for an English tutor or teacher, it’s important to consider the qualifications of the tutor to ensure that they have the appropriate knowledge and experience to help you reach your goals. Here are some qualifications to look for in an English tutor:

    • A degree in English or related field
    • A teaching certification such as TESOL, CELTA or DELTA
    • Experience teaching English to non-native speakers
    • Familiarity with the exam you are preparing for
    • Positive references or testimonials from previous students

    It’s also important to note that having a tutor with the right qualifications is not the only factor to consider, it’s also important to find a tutor that you feel comfortable with. Someone who you can communicate with easily and who is able to adjust their teaching style to suit your learning style will help you stay motivated and organized.

    Step 4: Stay Organized

    Staying organized is important when preparing for an English language exam. Creating a study schedule (and sticking to it!) and making sure you set aside enough time to study and work on the areas that you need to improve on the most, will keep you on track. You should also notice your progress and adjust your study schedule as needed. Make sure to take breaks and give yourself time to relax and recharge.

    An organized approach to studying for an English language exam will not only help you stay focused and motivated, but also ensure that you are utilizing your study time effectively. There are many ways to stay organized and make the most of your study time, and some tips are listed below:

    Create a study schedule:

    Plan out when you will study and stick to it. Make sure you set aside enough time to study and work on the areas that you need to improve on the most. This will help you stay on track and make the most of your study time.

    Find English lessons or classes:

    You can take English lessons or classes, whether it’s in-person, online or through a self-study program. This will ensure that you are learning from a professional teacher and getting the proper guidance for your exam.

    Keep track of your progress:

    Keep a journal or a notebook where you can track your progress, take notes and write down any new vocabulary words and grammar rules that you learn. This way you can easily go back and review the material you’ve covered.

    Organize your study materials:

    Keep your study materials organized and easily accessible. Use flashcards or other memory aids to help you memorize important vocabulary and grammar rules.

    Stay motivated:

    Find a study group or study partner to stay motivated and accountable. Reward yourself when you reach certain milestones or when you finish a difficult task.

    Step 5: Practice!

    This is key when it comes to preparing for an English language exam. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with the format of the exam and the types of questions that will be asked. One way to practice is by taking practice tests and working on sample questions. This will help you get a sense of the types of questions that will be on the exam, and it will also help you improve your overall test-taking skills. Additionally, you can practice your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation by reading, writing and speaking in English as much as possible.

    Some practical ways to practice regularly for an English language exam are as follows:
    • Time yourself on practice tests
    • Speak and write with a native speaker
    • Practice under exam conditions
    • Practice all sections of the exam
    • If possible, travel to immerse yourself in the language

    Helping a child prepare for an English language exam

    If you’re a parent helping your child prepare for an English language exam, there are several ways to help them. Children learning English as a second language may face challenges such as difficulty understanding and using new grammar structures, lack of fluency, and limited vocabulary. However, with the right approach and resources, children can learn English effectively. Some effective methods include providing a supportive and encouraging learning environment, using visual aids and hands-on activities, and using native English speakers as teachers or language models. Additionally, providing opportunities for children to practice speaking and listening in a natural setting, such as through conversation and play, can help them improve their fluency.

    Here are some ways you can help your child prepare for an English exam:

    • Encourage them to read a variety of texts in English, such as books and cartoons. This will help improve their vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension skills.
    • Have them practice writing in English, such as composing fairytales, short stories or playful poems. This will help them improve their writing skills and develop their ability to express themselves clearly in writing.
    • Have them practice listening to and speaking in English. This can be done by having them watch English-language movies or TV shows, or by having light conversations for instance during dinnertime.
    • Help them practice grammar and vocabulary in fun ways. This can be done through exercises, flashcards, and quizzes.
    • Hire a tutor or enroll them in an English language course. This will provide them with additional support and guidance to help them prepare for the exam.
    • Encourage and help them to manage their time and stay organized. This will help them to stay on track and make the most of their study time.

    Lastly, be supportive and encouraging, and remind them that practice and hard work will help them succeed.


    In conclusion, preparing for an English language exam is a challenging task, but with the right mindset and approach, you can achieve your goals. By understanding the format of the exam, improving your vocabulary, practicing, and using authentic materials, you’ll be well on your way to success. Additionally, working with a tutor or taking English classes can provide you with the personalized instruction and support you need to achieve your goals.