How to prepare for International exams

A Guide to Preparing for International Exams: Types of International Exams, Effective Study Tips, Registration Process, Eligibility…

 

When applying to study abroad, you will be required to take a series of entrance tests to meet some academic standards before you gain admission to any university or scholarship. These international exams could range from language proficiency tests that prove your language is of an acceptable standard to a professional test like the GRE, which measures your analytical skills.

These tests will not only help you secure admission to a university or college but also help you secure financial aid and government documents like visas. Depending on the university and country you are applying to, different universities require different types of international exams, such as IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, and Duolingo, for admission consideration. 

Universities and scholarship bodies use the test scores as a benchmark for eliminating candidates when picking applicants for their programs. This shows how important these tests are and why they must be taken seriously.

Taking these tests can be very demanding and stressful. The requirements are daunting. International tests are peculiar in form and nature, so familiarization is in order.

Before you take an international exam, there are things to put in place to help you boost your overall performance. In this article, you will learn how to prepare for international exams, the documentation, and the variety of exams available.

Let’s dive right in.

What are the various types of international exams?

Based on your choice of course and location, different types of exams are required. We will talk about the required ones below:

Language proficiency tests:

The language proficiency test is required by many universities in almost all countries. This language test assesses all aspects of communication and certifies that the applicant can communicate effectively in the language of the destination country.

These language proficiency tests are requested for both work and education purposes; they are also required when obtaining government documents like a visa.

The most popular language proficiency tests are the IELTS and TOEFL, which are required by universities in the US, UK, and Canada. These language proficiency tests, especially those in English, contain various sections like speaking, reading, writing, and listening exercises. Excellent performances in these tests can provide easy access to financial aid like fee waivers and scholarships.

Language Proficiency test

 

Types of Language Proficiency Tests

IELTS:

The International English Language Testing assesses your listening, speaking, reading, and writing of the English language. If you are planning to move to a native English country like Australia, Canada, or the UK for work or study, you will be required to take the IELTS. The IELTS is required by employers and university admissions boards.

The IELTS is divided into two versions: the academic version and the general training version. The academic version is required by academic bodies as a requirement for admission, while the general training version is required by government and immigration bodies.

What is the eligibility requirement for IELTS?

The registration process for IELTS is available to everyone except candidates younger than 16 years old.

Documents To Prepare for the IELTS Test

  • A registered ID 
  • Your Passport
  • A credit card for payment

How To Register For the IELTS Test

  1. Visit the official IELTS website here
  2. Click on the Register for test option
  3. Select your preferred test, test type, and available date in the nearest city to you.
  4. Input your details in the required spaces
  5. Next, you will be required to upload a copy of your valid passport.
  6. In the next screen, you will be required to choose the schools you want your score to be sent to.
  7. Review your details one last time before making payment.
  8. Make payment for the test
How much does registering for IELTS cost?

The cost of the IELTS ranges from $140-$310, depending on the country and exam center chosen.

What happens after you register for the IELTS exam?
  • After You have registered for your test, you will receive 
  • An email confirming your username information 
  • Another email that will verify your ID document
  • A new email for payment confirmation
  • The last email will contain information about the day of your test

TOEFL

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the most common language proficiency test in the world. The TOEFL test is widely used in the US and Canada, but not in the UK. If you are going for an undergraduate, MSc, MBA, medical, or law course, TOEFL is required.

As a result of the pandemic, you can now take the TOEFL test right in the comfort of your home with the launch of the Home version of the TOEFL test. Candidates can now pick their exam date and location for their exams. The TOEFL exam has two formats: the TOEFL IBT (internet-based test) and the TOEFL paper-delivered test. The IBT exam is available for candidates who have access to the internet, while the TOEFL paper-delivered tests are available for candidates who have no access to the IBT.

Documents required for the TOEFL test
  • A valid ID card used for registration and brought along on the exam day
  • A payment receipt for the TOEFL exam
  • The names of four universities you wish to accept your results.
  • For more information, you can visit the TOEFL website here 
How to Register for the TOEFL test
  1. Visit the official TOEFL website
  2. Create an ETS account with a step-by-step video guide on the website. If you have an ETS account, you can log in to the website or mobile app.
  3. Select a convenient test date and test centre for you. Put in your preferred location, and when you find a convenient time and date for you, click on Register.
  4. Review your submission and complete your registration.
  5. Pay the TOEFL registration fee, which will be determined based on your location.
  6. Print out your payment confirmation, and save the confirmation page for the exam date.

Duolingo

In today’s interconnected world, the ability to speak multiple languages has become an invaluable asset. Not only does it open up opportunities for communication and understanding, but it also enhances your cognitive abilities. Enter Duolingo, a pioneering language-learning platform that is revolutionizing the way we acquire new languages.

Duolingo, founded in 2011 by Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, has quickly become one of the most popular language-learning apps worldwide. The secret to its success lies in its user-friendly design, gamification, and accessibility. With over 30 languages to choose from, Duolingo offers a versatile learning experience for people of all ages and backgrounds.

One of Duolingo’s distinguishing features is its gamified approach to language learning. Through a system of rewards, achievements, and interactive lessons, it turns the often daunting task of learning a new language into a fun and engaging experience. Users are encouraged to complete daily challenges, compete with friends, and unlock new levels, all while building their language skills.

The app’s lesson structure is highly adaptive, allowing learners to start from scratch or take placement tests to assess their current proficiency. This flexibility ensures that both beginners and more advanced learners can find value in Duolingo. Lessons encompass various aspects of language learning, including vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, and writing exercises.

Duolingo is also available on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and the web, making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This means you can learn a language whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you.

Moreover, Duolingo offers a premium subscription service, Duolingo Plus, which removes ads, offers offline access, and provides additional features.

Duolingo’s impact on language learning is not just anecdotal. Several studies have highlighted the effectiveness of the platform, showcasing significant improvements in language proficiency among users. This data, combined with the app’s vast and engaged community, underscores its place at the forefront of language education.

Duolingo has set a new standard for language learning, making it accessible, enjoyable, and effective. With its gamified approach, a wide range of language options, and commitment to inclusivity, Duolingo is propelling the language-learning revolution forward, allowing people around the world to unlock the power of multilingualism, one lesson at a time. Whether you’re a beginner or seeking to improve your language skills, Duolingo offers a vibrant, supportive, and interactive platform to embark on your language-learning journey.

Graduate Exam:

The graduate exams are required to assess graduates in verbal, mathematical, and general analytical skills. These tests are sometimes mandatory for students in the engineering field applying to universities in the US or Canada. The two most popular graduate exams are the GRE and the GMAT. To eliminate candidates at various application review stages, university admission boards take into consideration these exams as a benchmark.

GRE or GMAT?

Types of Graduate Exams

GRE:

The GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, is a test required by universities in the US that students sit for before enrolling in college. Various universities accept and trust the GRE. Aside from that, students applying for a Master’s, MBA, or Ph.D. program must take the GRE general tests.  There are two types of GRE tests: the general test and the subject test.

GRE Exam Fee

The cost of the GRE can range from $150 to $205, depending on your location.

GRE test eligibility

According to the ETS, anyone can register for the GRE, irrespective of age.

Where can you take the test?

Any location of your choice. The GRE test is available in 160 countries around the world. In response to the pandemic, the ETS, the exam body conducting the GRE test, has launched a GRE General test from home. This initiative was to continue the exam even during the lockdown. So from the comfort of your home, you can choose to take the GRE test.

How to register for the GRE test
  1. Visit the official ETS website here
  2. On the website, create an ETS test-taker account. 
  3. Select the GRE test type you want to take: general GRE test or subject test.
  4. Pick the convenient date you wish to apply for the exam and the location.
  5. Input your academic details. All information provided must match your passport.
  6. Complete your registration by making a payment.
GMAT:

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a series of admission tests required for candidates applying to business colleges. The test is regarded as one of the most competitive tests in the world, especially as more students show interest in applying to business colleges in the US.

What you will need to register for GMAT 
  • Internet connection
  • A stable internet connection
  • A credit card to pay for the exam
Eligibility for the GMAT 

For a candidate to register for the GMAT, they must be at least 18 years old. An applicant falling between the age group of 13 and 17 must have the written consent of a parent or guardian before they can sit for the exam

How to register for GMAT
  1. Visit the official MBA website to sign up.
  2. Begin your GMAT registration process
  3. Input the personal information requested on the website
  4. Verify your online profile
  5. Schedule the date for your GMAT exam.
  6. Pay for the GMAT registration fee to complete the application

Professional exams:

Professional exams are mandatory for candidates applying to law school or medical school, especially in the US. Because these courses are highly competitive, the entrance exams are required to eliminate candidates at all stages of the application review. There are two major types of professional exams: the MCAT and the LSAT.

MCAT:

The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is a multiple-choice test designed to assess candidates applying to medical schools in various aspects.

How do you register for the MCAT?

To register for the MCAT, you have to:

  1. Create an account with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). After signing up, you will receive a unique AAMC ID. Be careful not to create a duplicate ID when registering.
  2. When you are logged in, click on “Start Exam Registration” to begin your registration process
  3. You will be asked to input personal information on a government-issued ID card, the same as you will use on exam day.
  4. After you have completed your personal information, you will schedule a date to sit for the MCAT exam.
  5. You will be required to pick a test date and location for the exam.
  6. When you have completed the above steps, you will be taken to the checkout page, which requires payment for the exam registration.
How much does it cost to register for the MCAT?

The cost of registration for the MCAT is $320. For candidates who cannot afford this, the AAMC has a fee assistance program to support such candidates. To apply for financial aid, you must submit a request via  MCAT Accommodations Online. The review process can take up to 60 days, so you have to prepare ahead.

How early do you have to register for the MCAT?

You should register for the MCAT as soon as you can. The MCAT opens up in October and February every year

How to prepare for any international exam

Start preparing early. Early preparation means you have sufficient time to cover up a large portion of the past questions and tutorials. For international exams, you should start preparing about two to three months before the actual date of the exam. When you begin preparing early enough, you can cover up the lessons and past questions without rushing at the deadline.

Develop a detailed study plan. Planning a detailed study plan can help you study more effectively. A detailed study plan will:

  • Break down a list of sections in the exam, e.g: writing, speaking, reading, and writing
  • Allocate time to cover each section 
  • Stay informed about the topics you have covered and the ones you have yet to.

Collect study materials: Collect every study material that can aid your preparation for the exam. Study materials like past questions, notes, and tutorials can prepare you for what to expect on exam day.

Get rid of distractions. Distractions while studying are common. For effective studying and revision sessions, it’s best to get rid of distractions around you. Distractions could come in the form of phones, people, or even the place you choose to study. Choose a quiet place to study for 2-3 hours daily and cover all past questions and tutorials you have available.

Practice, practice, practice: International tests are judged on speed and accuracy. Without practice, getting a good score on these tests will prove quite difficult. Try to create the condition of the exam hall and work with it. The best way to do this is by enrolling in a tutorial with a similar mock-up exam to calculate your speed and how well you have prepared. It’s always good to brush up on what you’ve learned and give yourself a chance to prepare for the exam.

Before the exam day

Get your documents ready. The required documents are a government-approved ID card or passport, which is still valid as of the day of the exam.

Confirm your exam date: A confirmation email containing the date and time of your exam should be sent to you. Check that you have the right time and date assigned to you.

Take practice tests: Take as many mockup tests as you can to prepare for the test.

Know your exam location.

DOs and DON’Ts of language proficiency tests:

Dos:

  1. Prepare in advance: Familiarize yourself with the test format and content. Practice past test papers and sample questions.
  2. Know the Test Requirements: Do understand what the test assesses, whether it’s grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, or writing skills.
  3. Time Management: Do manage your time effectively during the test. Allocate time for each section or question.
  4. Read Instructions Carefully: Do carefully read and follow the instructions provided. Misunderstanding instructions can cost you valuable points.
  5. Practice Regularly: Do practice regularly to improve your language skills and build confidence. Consistent practice is key.
  6. Use Allotted Resources: Do use any resources or aids provided during the test, such as dictionaries or reference materials, if allowed.
  7. Stay Calm and Focused: Do remain calm and focused during the test. Nervousness can affect your performance.
  8. Answer Every Question: Do attempt to answer every question, even if you’re unsure. There’s no penalty for guessing in many language proficiency tests.
  9. Revise and proofread: If you have time, do revise and proofread your written responses for errors before submitting them.

Don’ts:

  1. Procrastinate: Don’t leave your preparation until the last minute. Adequate preparation takes time.
  2. Overuse Idioms or Slang: Don’t use excessive idioms or slang, especially in formal tests. Stick to standard and appropriate language.
  3. Rambling or Off-Topic Responses: Don’t write or speak at length if the question or prompt doesn’t require it. Stick to the point.
  4. Guess Wildly: Don’t guess answers randomly if you don’t know. In some tests, incorrect answers may carry penalties.
  5. Avoid Neglecting Any Section: Don’t spend too much time on a single section or question to the detriment of others.
  6. Multitask: Don’t attempt to multitask during a listening or speaking test. Give your full attention to the task at hand.
  7. Rush Through the Test: Don’t rush through the test without reviewing your work, if time allows. Careless errors can be costly.
  8. Use Offensive or Inappropriate Language: Don’t use offensive or inappropriate language, even if the test allows for creativity in writing or speaking.
  9. Forget to Check Technical Requirements: If taking an online test, don’t forget to check your computer’s technical requirements and internet connection in advance.

Remember that different language proficiency tests may have unique requirements and scoring systems, so it’s vital to review the specific guidelines for the test you’re taking. Additionally, maintaining a positive attitude and approaching the test with confidence can significantly improve your performance.

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