Elevate your English Skills: 7 Test-Taking Tips

March 26, 2024

Sitting an English Language test is a necessary step for most passport holders applying to work or study in Australia. If English is not your native language, these English Test-Taking Tips will help you to Elevate your English Skills!

Understanding the Importance of English Test-Taking Tips

English is Australia’s only national language, and the English language is an important unifying element for Australian society.

English language skills are vital for working safely in Australian workplaces, and for achieving your best if you are studying in Australia.

Passport holders of only five countries meet most English language requirements for Australian visa applications because of their passports – UK, US, Canada, NZ, and Ireland.

For most other passport holders an English Test is essential for a work or study visa application – even if you have grown up as a native English speaker but have a passport from a country other than the five listed above.

Applicants from the UK, US, Canada, NZ, and Ireland may need to sit an English Language test to boost their score on the Points Test for a Skilled Migration application.

If you are sitting an English language test for a Work Visa Application, Study Application or to boost your points on the Points Test, the 7 Test-Taking tips in this article will help you Elevate your English skills and boost your score.

Test-Taking Tip 1: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

The more preparation you do in advance, the better you will do on the day of your English test.

Some people just turn up to their English test and see what happens – no study, no preparation, no practice in advance.

While it might seem like a great idea, just turning up and winging it won’t help you achieve your best on the test.

Being eligible for the visa you are applying for might hinge on the results of the test, so it makes a lot of sense to maximise your performance through preparation.

Even if you are a native English speaker, you will do better at the English test if you invest some time and brain power in preparation.

So how do you prepare?

Test-Taking Tip 2: Live in English

Improving your English skills takes time, but you can fast-track your progress by using your English as much as possible.

Aim to live in English – at work, at home, on the weekends. Talk in English with your family and friends, and strike up conversations in English with people that you meet.

Actively seek opportunities to talk.

Here are some great ideas:

  • Read the news in English. This has the double bonus of giving you an insight into life in Australia. Listen to talk back radio.
  • Make sure you are talking English at home to your friends and family – if you are already in Australia this will help all of you to improve your English skills.
  • Reset your phone so your phone is in English.
  • Set your Gmail to English.
  • If you have kids at school in Australia, sit down and help them with their homework.
  • Join clubs or organisations where you can meet other people and talk in English.
  • Don’t use the self-checkout at the supermarket, go through the checkout so you can talk to the supermarket worker.

Test-Taking Tip 3: Write in English every day

Even if you don’t have to write in English very often in real life, you will have to write in English for your English test.

The best way to become more confident in writing is to do it.
Write something in English every day as you prepare for your IELTS test.

You might like to try the following:

  • Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper about a topic that interests you – you don’t have to send it if you don’t want to, just write it.
  • Watch a current affairs program on TV and write an essay in response to one of the topics they cover.
  • Message family and friends in English.

Test-Taking Tip 4: Be Familiar with the test format

Students who are familiar with a test format tend to do better on a test because they know what to expect.

English language tests have four components:

1. Speaking

2. Reading

3. Writing

4. Listening

Speaking: You will be asked general questions about yourself, questions about a topic, and then more extended questions about the topic.

Reading: You will need to read a variety of extracts from sources like books, magazines, newspapers, and work papers and answer questions about what you have read.

Writing: You will have two writing tasks – a letter requesting information or explaining a situation, and an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. The tasks are based on general interest topics.

Listening: You will listen to recordings and answer questions related to what you are hearing. A variety of voices are used, and you only hear each recording once.

The best way to become familiar with the format is to follow Test-Taking Tip 5.

Test-Taking Tip 5: Do practice tests and questions

Doing practice tests and questions is the best way to familiarise yourself with what you are likely to encounter in the test.

Whether you choose to sit IELTS or PTE, there is a wealth of free practice material available for the paper-based and computer-delivered tests.

On the IELTS Essentials website, free resources include practice exams and questions. These are great resources and it’s worth investing the time in doing the course before you sit the test.

Test-Taking Tip 6: Get extra help if you need it

If you have never sat a test in English before, you may feel more confident if you get some extra help to improve your skills.

If you are seeking paid help, choose a reputable provider. We would always suggest that you start by checking out the paid preparation options provided by English language test providers.

You might choose to get some feedback on the writing tasks by completing practice tasks and receiving feedback. You can also do a practice speaking test online and receive feedback from an examiner.

Check out the IELTS Essentials website for lots more information about the resources IELTs provide to help people do their best on the test.

Test-Taking Tip 7: Set Yourself Up for Success on the Day

Give yourself the best chance to do your best by putting a little bit of time into setting yourself up for success on the day.

Make sure you know where you need to go. Maybe do a trial run if you are going somewhere unfamiliar by public transport. If you are driving, check out parking available in the area and give yourself plenty of time to find a car park.

Arrive early so you won’t get stressed out by being late, or worse still miss the start of the test.

Bring your ID. You won’t be able to sit the test without it.
You can’t take personal items into the test, so be prepared to check these in before you enter.

Bring your stationary – pens, pencils, eraser.

Eat a healthy breakfast before the test so your brain has the best chance of doing its best work.

Leave your family at home if they will be a distraction before the test.

And one Handy IELTS or PTE Bonus Trick…

English is like lots of things in life – the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Don’t leave sitting your IELTS test until the last minute.

Plan ahead.

Talk to your Migration Agent.

Know the relevant deadlines.

Book a test date that gives you time to prepare.

Use your preparation time wisely to follow the steps above.

Do practice tests.

Seek extra advice.

On the day of your test, set yourself up for success.

Once you are at the venue waiting for your test to begin take a couple of deep breaths, calm your mind, and remind yourself (in English) of everything you have done to give yourself the best chance of doing your best on the test.

You’ve got this. Good luck.

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  1. Expertise: Our Migration Agents possess in-depth knowledge of the latest immigration policies and regulations. They are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARN 1575613) therefore they can provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique circumstances and situation.
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  3. Peace of Mind: Navigating the path to citizenship can be complex. With our Migration Agents by your side, you can have confidence that your application is in capable hands.
  4. Support: From answering your questions to addressing concerns, our agents provide comprehensive support, making the entire process more manageable and less stressful.

About Port Migration

Port Migration is a full-service Australian Migration Agency based in Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. We help individuals, business owners, and HR managers to consistently achieve successful visa outcomes. We are registered with MARA so you know you can rely on our advice (MARN 1575613).

At Port Migration we are here to give you friendly, efficient service. We make complex and constantly changing Australian visa application requirements simple and stress-free for clients.

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future in Australia

Our Registered Migration Agents specialise in making Work Visa applications tailored, simple and stress free. We are here to guide you through every step, helping you secure your future in Australia.

Joanna Hill

Registered Migration Agent

Joanna Hill is a Registered Migration Agent with over 8 years experience assisting individuals, business owners and HR managers to apply for all Australian Visas. Joanna’s areas of expertise include Work Visas, Partner Visas, Visitor Visas and Australian Citizenship. She makes the complex and constantly changing process of applying for Australian visas simple and stress free for client sand achieves a 100% success rate for partner visa applications. Joanna is a Member of the Migration Institute of Australia and is registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARN 1575613). In addition to her work in Migration, Joanna has over 15 years experience as a teacher, Leading Teacher and Learning Specialist in Primary and Secondary schools. She has a research Masters in Education and has presented research and workshops at conferences in Australia and internationally

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