We all know the importance of creating a good plan when you’re preparing for an exam. It helps you set achievable goals, organise your time, and make sure you’re focusing on the right learning objectives to pass the test. But how can you decide what to study each day?
Using sample papers can be a great way to start. The Oxford Test of English B2 practice tests help you to prepare for all parts of the exam and using them will increase your confidence and chances of success on the big day.
1. Organise your week
Our practice tests are made up of four modules: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. 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 or two parts from each module, depending on the time you can dedicate to your studies.
An example week could look like this:
|Reading Module: Part 4||Listening Module: Part 2||Writing Module: Part 1||Speaking Module: Parts 1 & 2||Vocabulary and language review|
Remember, you don’t have to limit your studies to the exam tasks. Continue reading for tips on how to use the tests to work on your vocabulary and grammar and develop the four skills.
2. Learn from the test
As you’re reading a text or listening to a conversation, you might find that you encounter new vocabulary or structures you haven’t seen before. The practice tests contain lots of useful vocabulary on the topics that usually come up in the exam which you need to understand, but not necessarily use yourself. A wide vocabulary makes receptive skills such as reading and listening easier, so it’s a good idea to make a note of any language you think is useful.
In this extract from Reading Part 2, you might be coming across words like relaunch, new releases, non-mainstream, and unparalleled for the first time. However, you know that they are used to talk about music and entertainment, so the next time you read a similar text, knowing the context of this new vocabulary will give you an advantage.
3. Exploit the answer keys
The answer keys are not only there for you to check answers and mark your test. They can actually be a really useful resource, as they provide detailed information about why each answer is correct (or incorrect). Look at this example:
Can you see how the answer key highlights the words and phrases that give us the answer? Make a habit of checking your answers, even if you think the questions were easy – knowing why you got something right is just as important as knowing why you got it wrong!
You can also use the sample answers in the Speaking and Writing modules to help you improve your performance. Make a note of any useful expressions, connectors and structures then try to use them in your own answers as you practise.
For more advice on how to prepare for your test, check out our blog post: 7 things you can do every week to prepare for the Oxford Test of English!
4. Study the audioscript
Audioscripts can also be a fantastic source of language: informal English, collocations, expressions and idioms are often found in conversations. You may also find examples of connectors and good (and sometimes bad!) organisation in a longer speech.
You can use the audioscript along with the audio files in order to work on your pronunciation, too. Choose a short section of the audio and listen carefully to the sounds, the sentence stress and the intonation. They try to copy the speaker. If you have trouble on individual sounds, isolate those. This kind of activity can also help with listening. Identify any phrases that have features of connected speech such as the schwa in unstressed syllables or “missing” sounds in words like interesting.
Check out our free Speaking Tips, complete with audio for more advice on the Speaking module.
5. Look for a study buddy
Exam preparation doesn’t necessarily mean studying alone! It can be much more fun and motivating to study with someone else and compare answers to each part of the exam or work on the tasks together. In fact, discussing any differences of opinion is a really useful activity!
In the Speaking module, one of the tasks is to record a 40 second voicemail message. Why not try recording your message using a voice recording app on your mobile phone? You can then send it to your study buddy for feedback. Listen to your friend’s message and check the following:
- Did they include all the necessary information?
- Did they use an appropriate register and language?
- Was there anything you didn’t understand?
You can use the sample answer and compare your friend’s message with it to check whether it’s at an appropriate level.
You can also record the other parts of the speaking module, such as the one-minute talk in Part 3.
Finally, your study buddy can also help you improve your writing skills. Peer assessment of writing can be much more effective than self-assessment because we often miss our own mistakes. Use the sample answer in the Answer key as a guide.
So, are you ready to make a start on the Oxford English Test practice tests? Download your two FREE sample papers now!
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