Heidi Rizzo, Exam Coordinator, ESE Malta

Heidi Rizzo, Exam Coordinator, ESE Malta

Key advice on language exam preparation from ESE in Malta

Sitting for an exam can be a nerve-wracking experience even for those mature and skilled students who have experienced this many times over. Butterflies do have a habit of getting the better of us but a positive approach remains essential for exam success. We have to keep in mind that an exam is primarily a showcase of what we have learnt and how we have grown academically during the preceding study period.

An exam is what pulls us through to our next phrase in life and can lead us to reach brighter future prospects. At the European School of English (ESE) we  guide our students to find a pathway which can help them build more confidence in themselves and their work. Together we look for a way which makes the preparation journey more convincing and personal. As the Exam Team, we try to instil a conviction in students that it is possible to overcome even the toughest academic hurdles ahead.

ESE’s top tips for students:

1. Gauge your motivation:

Motivation is a key factor affecting much of what you do in life, exams and their preparation appearing high on the list.  As an exam student, you need to ask yourself the reason for doing this exam.  Do I really need to sit for this particular exam?  What is my goal?  Is there a probable challenge that I need to face, for example, a higher level in my academic life? Am I hoping for better job prospects and opportunities? Am I interested in starting a new life in a different country? A positive answer to these questions will give  you the much needed energy to start and make an effort during the exam preparation course.

2. What’s my level?:

The next question you have  to ask before taking a decision to get started on an exam preparation course at ESE is your level of English proficiency.  You have to realistically assess your knowledge and competence in all of the four skills.  A good grammatical foundation of the language,  a basic understanding of reading and listening texts and a sound ability to communicate verbally are a healthy platform from where this exam journey starts.  A lack of ability in any of  these basic skills could turn your road into an upward struggle which could be so tiring and demotivating.

3. My Space – A healthy learning environment and the right frame of mind are extremely important while you are preparing for exam.

Many students leave the comfort of their home and families and travel to foreign countries to prepare themselves for such exams.  They reside in student residences, host families and even hotels.  Exam preparation could become quite stressful (especially towards the end of the course) and  lots of work has to be done “at home”.  This space has to offer an element of peace and quiet, a good night’s rest, basic cooking facilities,  effective communication facilities and as top priority you would need a space which you can call your own. It is essential to settle in a place where you can sit and study, learn, absorb and build yourself into a better candidate.

4. Take instruction:

The majority of students preparing for an exam to achieve an English proficiency qualification have already sat for numerous other exams throughout their student years.  You could have already gone through high school  and university where exams and the journey towards them have become second nature. You will already have formed your own study habits and methods of study but it is important not to be set in your ways. You may need to unlearn your old ways and take a risk in following the skills and techniques passed on by our qualified and experienced teachers or tutors.  At ESE, our experienced teachers offer skills and techniques which specifically help you to focus on the relevant detail, choose the correct answer, put well-thought of concepts into words and so much more.

5. Be Independent – As in any other task in life, it is truly beneficial when you honestly get in touch with your strengths and weaknesses.

Learning English as a Foreign Language is definitely no exception.  Knowing the highs and lows of your linguistic ability will help you identify the potholes which need to be filled in and concretised in order to reach your destination as effectively and efficiently as possible.  This self-recognition and concrete response is key to becoming an Independent Learner  –  where you can change a dynamic learning class experience into a personal journey.  This  entails lots of extra work, practice, reading etc “at home”.  Independent Learning can take the form of extra grammatical or lexical practice given by your teacher or tutor tailored to solidify a weak skill, reading or listening to authentic material which benefits contextual understanding, preparing a presentation for classmates who enhance your research and communicative abilities and so much more.  All this is always aimed at raising the bar on your personal level.

At ESE, we believe that preparing and sitting for an exam is all part of our growth process which if taken seriously, matures us and ultimately prepares us for “life”.  Yes it’s true, we need to be determined to reach the target, confident in ourselves and focused on a clear and real aim in our lives.  Your teachers and the Exam Coordinator at ESE make it their mission to help you achieve all of this.  Your first step is to believe and have faith that with us, at ESE, you can achieve your goal!


Heidi Rizzo is Exam Coordinator with the European School of English (ESE) in Malta (www.ese-edu.com).

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Members of IALC share their insights on the language travel industry. Contributors are owners, directors, managers, teachers or administrative staff of IALC-accredited language schools worldwide.

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