At school, exams were the bane of my life. They required hours and hours of tedious study. They were always on the horizon, and no sooner had you passed one, than it was time to start preparing for the next one.
Moreover, they actually restricted my learning. Got something you wanted to ask the teacher?
“Yes, that’s an interesting question, but it’s not on the exam.” End of discussion.
So you’d think that after I left school, I wouldn’t want to go near an exam again, let alone start going around telling people how great they are. But actually, when it comes to learning English, taking an exam is one of the best things you can do to keep up your progress and extend your learning.
So, here are my reasons why you should take an English exam:
Reason #1: give yourself some motivation
Many learners, especially those who self-study, find it difficult to motivate themselves to put in the hours each day. Equally, many B1 students find it difficult to know how to make the jump to B2 by themselves. Signing yourself up for an exam will make sure you have something to aim for, and make sure that you improve.
Set yourself a goal: e.g. By December I will have passed the FCE exam.
Reason #2: they cost money!
The internet is full of free resources and courses to help you learn English. But free isn’t always best. How many times have you signed up for something free, but never finished it?
Quite simply, as the saying goes, “it matters more when there’s money on it”.
If you pay for an exam, you’re more likely to do it (and study for it!).
Reason #3: they test all your skills
Every learner has certain things they are good at and things they struggle with. The problem with this is that we tend to prefer doing the types of task we know we can already do, which is why some students can read to an advanced level, but can’t understand pre-intermediate listening exercises..
Most exams have papers examining your reading, speaking, writing, listening, grammar and vocabulary. If you take an exam in English, you will have to improve in all areas to pass.
Reason #4: they could get you a job
Is there are lot of competition for jobs in your industry? Do you work for a company that deals with other companies around the world? For most people these days the answer to these questions is “yes”.
Show that you are a cut above the rest by putting your English exam achievement on your CV!
Reason #5: they’re easy to understand
Has anyone ever asked you how good your English is, and you haven’t really been able to respond?
Exams follow the Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR), so when you say you’ve passed your B2, everyone will understand what this means.
Reason #6: they help you to learn a language faster
Studying for an English exam like FCE or IELTS needs a lot of practice of skills like skimming and scanning while reading, listening for gist and detail, or turn-taking when speaking.
These skills will not only help you pass your exam, but they will help you to learn much faster in the future.
So there you have it – six reasons why taking an English exam is the best way to supercharge your learning! What English exam would you like to study?