We all know how important it is to create a good plan when you’re preparing for an exam. It helps you choose the right goals, organise your time, and make sure you’re focusing on the right learning objectives for exam day. But how can you decide what to study?
Using sample papers can be a great way to start. The Oxford Test of English B1 practice tests contain all parts of the exam. Getting practice in doing each part will help you feel confident on test day.
Here are some tips to help you use the practice tests in the best way possible!
1. Practise all four skills
You can practise speaking, writing, reading and listening in our practice tests. When you’re planning your study timetable, try to include all four skills each week. You don’t have to do all the parts – perhaps choose one section from each module.
An example week could look like this:
|Speaking module: Parts 3 & 4||Reading module: Part 2||Listening module: Part 4||Writing module: Part 1||Vocabulary and language review|
Remember, you don’t have to limit your studies to the exam tasks. Use them to help you develop your knowledge and skills. Continue reading for tips on how to use the tests to work on your vocabulary and grammar.
2. Identify new language
The practice tests contain lots of useful vocabulary on topics from the exam. Creating vocabulary lists can help you identify words, phrases and even grammar structures that you could learn.
Look at the reading texts and highlight any language that you think is useful. Then create vocabulary lists by topic. When you see a word or phrase from one of the topics on your list, write it down. Afterwards, when you need to talk or write about that topic, look at your list and try to use these new words.
Read the text message and choose the correct answer (A, B, or C).
3. Spend more time on your weakest skills
You’ll find that you do better in some parts of the test than others. Use the answer key to check how you’ve done and make a note of the tasks where you got a lower score. Try to think about why you find these parts more difficult.
For example, in Listening Part 3 you need to listen to what two people say about a topic. It’s important to remember that the speakers won’t use exactly the same words as the question. You might also need to listen for functional language, like agreeing and disagreeing. For the listening tasks, use the audioscripts to check why your answers are wrong (see more below).
4. Use the answer keys and audioscripts
Once you have completed one part of the test, check your answers immediately while the activity is still fresh in your mind. The answer key gives you detailed information about the answer and where you can find it in the reading and listening texts.
The audioscripts can also help you work on your listening skills. Listen to the audio while reading the audioscript and underline any words or phrases that are pronounced differently to the way they are written. Speakers of English often join words together when they talk. Analysing these features of connected speech will help you identify them the next time you hear them.
5. Read, read, read!
In the exam, you’ll read lots of different types of texts from short messages and notes to emails, brochures and articles. As well as the texts in the Reading module, you can also find emails, essays and reviews in the answer key for the Writing module.
Use these texts to check your reading comprehension, your level of vocabulary and your knowledge of grammar structures and functional language. You can also read the model writing answers to find expressions to use in your own writing. And don’t forget the audioscripts!
6. Use your devices
In the Speaking module, one of the tasks is to record a voicemail message. You are given instructions and then you have 40 seconds to give your message. The best way of practising this at home is to use a voice recording app on your mobile phone. Record yourself doing the task then see how long it took you. Did you speak for more or less than 40 seconds? Try again. You can also use your mobile to record the other parts of the Speaking module. When you’ve finished, listen back and see how you did. Did you follow the instructions? Did you finish in time? Did you say everything you wanted to say? What was your pronunciation like?
It’s also useful to do the Writing module on a computer, as this is what you will do on the day of the exam. Make sure you give yourself plenty of typing practice, especially if you don’t use a computer often.
For more advice on the Writing module, read our Writing Tips study guide.
7. Find a study partner
Even when you’re studying for an exam, you don’t have to study alone! It can be much more fun and motivating to study with someone else and compare answers for each part of the exam. In fact, discussing any different answers you have is a really useful activity!
You can interview each other for Part 1 of the Speaking module and also send each other your recorded answers to the speaking tasks or your writing. A second pair of eyes (and ears) can help you produce a better piece of work.
Are you ready to start using the Oxford Test of English practice tests? Download your two FREE B1 sample papers now!
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