How do I prepare students for English exams?

More and more these days, students are learning English purely to pass a high stakes English exam. Often this is to gain entrance to a school, university, or to progress in their job. Other reasons include for immigration and for studying abroad. This has led to the rise of language centres which exclusively teach exam prep. Teaching exam prep classes has some specific requirements, as follows:

1. You can teach to the exam a little, but don’t neglect proficiency

It is of course important to familiarise the students with the exam, especially how to answer questions, timing, and exam technique. But don’t be afraid to teach language proficiency too.  You can sometimes forget that you’re not teaching just how to take an exam, you’re still working on their skills in English – so try to strike a balance!

2. Tell students not to rely on ‘tips and tricks’

All over the internet are hundreds of websites devoted on how to get past English exams, speaking exams, and writing exams by using ‘tips and tricks’ to improve their score. Honestly, memorising tips and tricks doesn’t work, and it detracts from time when the student could be studying the language and preparing effectively, so try not to focus too much on this.

3. Lots of practice exams

Quite often, test prep doesn’t have enough real, timed practice examinations or similar styles of tasks. It’s vital that students learn how to manage their time during an exam, or they risk losing their marks. This is one of the negatives of high stakes testing of a language, but it’s unavoidable and you have to be practically minded to teach exam prep.

Follow these three tips and you’ll be better prepared for teaching exam prep. Don’t be afraid to research and develop your knowledge on the exam format too.