New year, new promises. Even though we all start the year so optimistically, sometimes our resolutions fall by the wayside as expectations, circumstances and life gets in the way. However, if you need to pass an English exam this year, such as the Pearson English International Certificate, here are eight tips to help you stay on track and keep that promise to yourself.
1. Little and Often
Life is increasingly demanding – work, friends, family and digital overload means that we have very little time to sit down with our study notes for consecutive hours. The ‘old-fashioned’ way of studying at our desks at home in our room after school is unrealistic. Therefore, the strategy of ‘little and often’ is a great motto to bear in mind. Rather than trying to do a once-a-week long study session, try blocking off little 15 or 30 minute sessions every day. If you can do it for 7 days a week, you’ll end up having studied more things for more time than in one block.
2. Turn off the distractions
You might not need your phone or the Internet to study, it could be that you are reviewing your notes from class, writing, or using your course book. So do yourself a favour and turn your mobile phone to airplane mode, and if you are using your computer, close all non-essential tabs and shut down your email. Like that, you will not be distracted from your study time. Furthermore, if you live in a noisy home, try to purchase some noise cancelling earphones to wear, or take yourself to the library for your study time.
3. Use a study-time management app
If you find it hard to concentrate deeply for a long period of time, feel the need to take a break and move, or are simply a procrastinator, then the Pomodoro technique may help you. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method based on 25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks. Longer breaks, typically 15 to 30 minutes, are taken after four consecutive work intervals. Each work interval is called a pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato. There are many free and purchasable apps out there to help you manage your time.
4. Use other apps
There are plenty of free websites and apps out there to help your study, and a simple internet search helps you to find what you are looking for. Some recommend apps are:
StudyBlue or Quizlet to make electronic study cards
Evernote to keep notes and memos
Forest, which is similar to Pomodoro, but does actually contribute to helping plant trees in the world
Warm up which is the Pearson app to help you prepare to take your Pearson English International Certificate Test. You can download it here.
5. Know the test well
It may sound like strange advice, but by knowing how the exam works, e.g. how many sections of an exam are there, what type of question you are expecting, means you are more likely to be focused and do your best on the test day, rather than worrying if you are doing ti correctly. The best way to get to know an exam is to do practise tests and past papers. Many of these can be found for free online, such as the Pearson English International Certificate past papers, or in course books.
6. Sign up for an exam class
Teachers are highly trained and knowledgeable about the test you will be taking, and they can provide direct advice and personalised corrections to help you achieve your goals. Plus, signing up for a class helps you to get into a rhythm of learning and be accountable to achieve your goals.
7. Talk to your friends or yourself!
Languages are for communicating, so it is not enough to only be studying from a book, you have to speak it, too! If you have friends or family, try to find at least 10 minutes of the day to practise your English, for example, having breakfast in English together. If you do not have anyone to practise with, then you can ‘narrate your life’ as you go about your tasks, and comment aloud what you are doing or thinking at a particular moment. You might also want to speak aloud some vocabulary you have been trying to learn by using it in a sentence. Finally, there are a number of websites you can sign up to for free called the ’30 day speaking challenge’ where you audio record yourself answering a question and a native person will correct you and give you advice, in exchange for your help as they learn your language.
8. Keep your notes visible
In keeping with tip number 1 of this blog post, little and often works well. In that sense, keep your notes out and visible, and keep glancing at them as you walk by. Put sticky notes around your bathroom mirror of words you would like to learn and try to memorise them as you brush your teeth. Put poster up in the kitchen and glance at it as you are cooking. Go for a run and listen to an English podcast. Learning can therefore compliment your busy life, not be a barrier to learning.
Studying towards passing an English exam is a great motivator and keeps you focused on your goals. The Pearson English International Certificate is recognised by more than 50 countries as a reliable indicator of an English level, which means that a whole host of universities and international organisations will value its worth. It is accredited by Ofqual, the United Kingdom’s national regulator of official qualifications, and 100% of the exams are marked in the United Kingdom. It assesses A1-C2 levels and you can choose to take the test in a traditional way at a test centre with a paper format, or choose the computer-based version which is being launched this year, giving you even more choice and flexibility.
If you’re looking for different materials and resources to achieve your New Year’s language resolutions you can #MakeItHappen with Mondly by Pearson!