How to ace your English language exam


Even if you love English and spend the better portion of your day speaking, writing, and communicating in English, you’ll still likely find the examinations somewhat troublesome. That’s not at all your fault and believe us when we say that you are certainly not the only one who struggles with exam panic.

First off, however great your teacher might be in regard to the language, they most likely don’t know how to prepare you for the specific exams. This is because it’s simply not possible to prepare everyone for the same exam in exactly the same manner. So, here are some of our top tips on how you can prepare effectively and get the grades you want in your exam.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but trust us on this. Even though the exam and the course are broken down into four main elements; speaking, reading, writing, and listening, it’s actually detrimental to your progress to break them up. Why? Simply because all the parts, subconsciously, link to one another. Think about it, when you’re speaking, you also need to listen, when you’re reading, you often need to speak. See what we mean? This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t practice all elements and even do some past exam questions to prepare, we’re merely saying don’t fall into the trap of breaking it into days. Monday for writing, Tuesday for reading, and so on. Try to put everything together in one more intensive session and you’ll soon see a rapid improvement.

One of the major issues with language learning and practice is that we force it too much. It becomes a chore rather than being enjoyable. Revision, of course, will always be a chore, but when you’re not revising and doing things you like such as watching TV, reading articles or blogs, listening to music or playing video games, set the language to English. The concept of flooding is used quite readily by language experts across the world. Think of it as extreme exposure to the language, both consciously and subconsciously. Some people use only English music as their backing track to study, others will have a series they’ve seen many times before playing in English for background noise. No methods are right or wrong, it’s what feels right for you, as long as you get the sense that you’re picking up various pieces of vocabulary or grammar along the way.

Remember that strange phrase you hear today on the train ride home? No?

Well, that’s kind of the point. We so often hear things that could be extremely useful to us but forget to take note and so we lose that potentially important piece of vocabulary. The same goes if you’re watching TV, listening to music, or reading. Take notes!

Humans, with the exception of some super-geniuses, are not designed to retain an extensive amount of information. We have, however, been given the gift of opposable thumbs, meaning we can write down information to review at a later date. When we have access to information which we can then repeat several times to cement, we have a much better chance of remembering. As silly as it seems, always carries something with which you can write. We recommend staying away from your mobile phone to record things like this as you can become too distracted far too easily.

A good method is to set up a system of understanding and reference. This is just an example but it could go something like this:

Vocabulary: “Raining cats and dogs.”
MEANING – Raining very heavily
NATIVE LANGUAGE – “Llover a cántaros”

One of the most difficult parts of English to foreign natives would be the varied accents that are so prevalent in the language. This is especially true in Britain, where the accents tend to change every 20 miles or so. If you ever travel across the north of the UK, you’ll see that it’s even less. For example, you can travel from Liverpool to St. Helens, a trip which will take you less than 15 minutes on the train, and notice a completely different accent in each location. This isn’t a rarity either, it happens across the entirety of the nation. So, what can you do to get used to it? Listen to as many people as you can as much as you can! Luckily, we live in a time where YouTube and Google are fairly well-known aspects of daily life. It’s as simple as googling “accents of English.”

This isn’t a definitive source of accents, but it’s certainly a good start. Once you have some ideas, head over to YouTube and listen to as many accents as you can. Try to really make sure that you can understand them without subtitles and once you can move on to the next.

It’s not certain why, but we, as a species, seem unwilling to ask for help. Perhaps it’s a primal instinct that we must learn to survive without assistance, we can’t say for sure. What we can say for sure though, is that without help, you’re a lot less likely to pass your exams. This doesn’t mean you have to go dolling out thousands of pounds, euros, dollars, or whatever currency you may be using. It simply means looking for people who can help you. You might have a close friend who is ridiculously talented with languages, you may have a cousin in an English speaking country or you may choose to use a website to communicate with native speakers. Here at, we see lots of people learning from native speakers every day and they all ask for help directly. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need in our language exchange. Good luck with your revision and we are sure that if you follow these tips and work hard, you’ll come out on top!

Written by: Jordan Benyon, Staff Writer

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