Why should I have English certificate of proficiency?
A certificate of English proficiency is required when you want to pursue a higher degree overseas. If you browse on the internet what the most common language used in academic teaching internationally is – English is the answer. No wonder, no matter where you want to study, universities usually ask you to take an English proficiency test, such as TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, or CPE.
Having English certification will not only benefit you in terms of pursuing higher studies. When applying for a job, the certificate can prove to potential employers that you possess strong English skills – such that it will amplify your chance of getting hired because English is the most spoken language in businesses beside Mandarin or French.
What should I learn TOEFL, IELTS, CPE or others?
There are numerous English tests to examine your language proficiency. But before taking one, you should understand that those tests are intended to give an official justification of you fitting into the system for either academic or working purposes.
For example, as cited in Project Access, if your purpose is to pursue an academic career or studies, CPE will suit better. IELTS will be so much necessary for visa purposes in Europe, Great Britain, and Australia, while TOEFL is for America. In terms of the expiry date, both IELTS and TOEFL certificates need to be renewed after 2 years, while CPE is valid for life.
On the other hand, if your purpose is for business or working matter, taking the TOEIC test is preferable. TOEIC is an English language test designed specifically to measure the language skills of people working in an international environment. The certificate is only valid for 2 years.
If you are still unsure which tests to take, you could always ask your employer or university advisor. You could also get more information from the English test counsellor.
What should I prepare for an English test?
This might not be your first time taking English language test. In fact, some colleges or universities hold IELTS or TOEFL test as a requirement for graduation. Yet, if you still feel a bit anxious about the test, here are preparations you can apply.
1. Get used to testing structure
Different tests have different formats. As an example, IELTS and TOEIC are paper-based tests while TOEFL and PTE Academic are taken on a computer. Albeit they examine the same competencies, including writing, speaking, listening, and reading, getting used to and comfortable with each form of a test you want to take is needed. It will give you ease when doing the real test.
2. Practice with additional test prep materials
English proficiency test uses information from various fields and by researching different source. Hence, you might feel more at ease if you prepare yourself by doing self-study. Read newspapers or books in English. Choose trusted courses which use a high level of English (either from books or online). Watch news or journalistic videos that cover different topics.
3. Know your ability and improve
In order to achieve your goal, you should know your ability and improve your weaknesses. In this case, get to know your English level. Identify which area you lack the most – is it reading, listening, speaking, grammar, or writing? Then, do learn all the skills but focus more on which you lack.
4. Practice your time management skills
As you strengthen your ability in each level, try to hone your time management skills as well. Commonly test takers have a limited time to complete all required sections of an exam. If you have mess-up time management, sure will you find it overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating – nothing new there. Fortunately, by starting early preparation and by timing yourself on practice tests, you can feel more comfortable with the time constraint.