First, when you’re considering booking an exam date, please ensure that you allow yourself enough time, to prepare adequately. Stepping into an exam room without any preparation for the tasks ahead is never a good idea as resits are expensive and demoralising! Therefore, starting your study schedule at least a month in advance of the exam is advisable. More importantly making time for this in busy, daily routines is crucial. Next, get your head into ‘exam mode’ by avoiding spellcheck and trying to use proper punctuation in texts, and e mails. A simple way to review overall grammar and spelling is by writing on A4 lined paper for 10 minutes, every day about something in the news. For Pearson PTE and Academic IELTS, this should be a science, technology or environment reports.
Second, when you have an exam date booked, it’s time to focus on specific exam practice material, relevant to the exam you’ve decided to sit. There is a wide range of material available but some sites may be confusing and even misleading so if in doubt, ask an expert for guidance. When you book an IELTS exam, included in the exam fee is 20 hours free material which is helpful and can be accessed though the same site as you book the exam on, using your booking reference number. In contrast, for Pearson PTE, there is less free material available so it is generally helpful to purchase a couple of mock exams in advance of the actually taking the exam. From these mock exam results, you will gain valuable insight into how you might score on the day and also, which aspects of the exam you need to improve on.
Finally, understand the exam assessment criteria so that you know how to gain, not lose marks. Remember, you are marked on how you use English language in a functional way. For example, what’s the ‘job’ of a letter in General IELTS Task 1? How do you build and link paragraphs in exam essay writing? How wide is your range of vocabulary? What grammar do you use in academic exams?