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High-Stakes Tests Made Simple: Tips for English Learners


When you’re an English language learner, the very idea of taking a standardized test in English can be enough to send you running for the hills. We’ll be the first to say that some of the most common academic tests in the United States are designed with native English speakers in mind, leaving many ESL test-takers feeling underprepared and overwhelmed. But even if it feels like the deck is stacked against you, we’re here to tell you that it gets better. That daunting test you’ve been avoiding is actually entirely within your reach. In fact, with a little extra prep, finally tackling that exam could be your ticket to your dream job, an awesome education, or the lifestyle you’ve always wanted. Learning English often serves as your foot-in-the-door for your ideal career and awesome opportunities, both internationally and in the U.S, Add in awesome scores on some of the most respected English-language standardized tests, and opportunities will be abound.

It can be daunting to take on an English-based test as a non-native speaker, but fear not. We have the tips and resources you need to fast-track your test prep and out make your English test-taking anxieties disappear. From LSAT to TOEFL to GRE, there’s no test that you can’t tackle.

Do your research.

Step one: know what you’re up against. We recommend you get familiar with what to expect from your specific test. Get involved with blogs, online communities, and local study groups focused on test prep, and you’ll quickly learn the ins ands out of the exam. We recommend the Magoosh blog, designed to educate test-takers on everything from effective study habits to a regular report on student happiness. You’ll hear from high school bloggers who have been in your shoes and experts in the field who can give you insider advice. You can also check out the official blogs run by your particular test: the GMAT exam runs their own blog, as does the TOEFL, and you can keep up with the latest news on the GRE on their site.

Because we know so many of you are English language learners, we thought we’d point out a few other awesome resources, including a free TOEFL practice test, an eBook that explains the TOEFL in detail, as well as study plans and guides ranging from two weeks to two months, and even one that combines your TOEFL study plan with the GRE.

Create a routine.

Speaking of study plans, the key to test-taking success: commit to a schedule. More importantly, keep that routine varied and strategic. A recent article on study habits to adopt and avoid by USA Today encourages students to avoid ineffective methods like re-reading (and re-reading, and re-reading…) material and mindlessly highlighting. Instead, opt for practice test questions, self-summarizing for comprehension, and investing an extended period of time into studying and prep. You’ll be far better off spending your time getting familiar with test-taking language and working to identify and strengthen your weak spots. That top test score is just a few effective habits away.

Work with experts.

Now that you’ve done your research and set a study schedule, you’ll want some experts in your corner for when the going gets tough. For concepts that just won’t click  and vocab that you’re still grappling with, you’ll need to consult a professional. As part of Magoosh’s comprehensive test prep tools, you can watch video lessons taught by experts to help clarify your pain points. Or, just practice customized test questions designed by professionals in the field specifically for each test. When the going gets tough, you’ll need more than just an ACT prep workbook or a generic instruction packet to guarantee test-taking success. Take advantage of the resources available to you online and in your community to customize the perfect learning landscape for your individual needs.

Ready to simplify your English test-taking and earn that top score? Whether you’re brushing up on your English with a customized ELL course from Mango or flipping through flashcards with Magoosh, your playfully-named online learning resources are there for you. Find out how Magoosh can make your test prep better by checking out their test prep resources and super-informative blog. Sharpen those No. 2 pencils, English language learners, you’ve got this.

Meet The Author:
Author - Jillian Rodrigez
Jillian Rodriguez
Writer and Editor at Mango Languages
Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts – in Spanish and in English!

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