Here's our advice about how to practise, what to do on exam day, how to prepare for online exams and more.
1. Learn all about the exam
Find out as much information as you can. How many questions are there? How long is it? Is there any planning time? Do you speak alone or with a partner? It's important to know the exam format so that you can practise speaking in the same way.
Understanding the marking criteria is also important. The criteria are what the examiners want you to demonstrate and what they will reward with high marks.
Different exams have different criteria, but common ones include:
- task completion
- grammar and vocabulary
2. Search for examples
Search online for videos of the exam. These will help you to understand what happens in the exam. You can also learn from what other candidates did well, or not so well, in the videos.
Search for exam papers too. Many exams have sets of practice papers and answers that you can download.
3. What and how to practise
To get ready for the exam, speak English as much as you can! Make a big effort to speak in class, with other candidates or whenever you have an opportunity to speak.
Practise answering questions similar to the exam questions and do at least one full test from start to finish. Recording yourself and listening back to it may help you to find ways to improve.
Prepare some answers about common topics such as work or travel, but don't plan to give a memorised answer in the exam. The questions probably won't be exactly the same as the ones you’ve practised, so be ready to adapt your answers. Memorised answers also sound unnatural, and the examiners might give higher marks to natural speech.
4. What to do on exam day
Before the exam, warm up your English by speaking to someone or to yourself. Arrive at the exam centre early. Make sure you won't be hungry or thirsty. Mute your phone.
Most people feel nervous before exams, so take some deep breaths to calm yourself down and focus your mind on the task ahead.
5. How to prepare for an online exam
If you are taking the exam at home, find a quiet place and ask people not to disturb you. Check your device, microphone and earphones all work OK. Practise making eye contact with the camera on your device while speaking.
Ask a friend to act as an examiner and do a practice exam together via video call. If possible, ask your friend to record the video call, so that you can watch it and see and hear how the examiner will see and hear you.
6. After the exam
Well done for completing the exam! We hope you got a great mark.
But if not, don't worry. After gaining the experience of the first exam, people often do better the second time around.
After your exam, take some time to reflect. What questions were you asked? What did you do well? What could have been better? Note down all your thoughts as they will help you to do even better in your next exam, whenever that may be.
Good luck to you all!