How to master the English grammar test for graduate school

How to master the English grammar test for graduate school

One of the biggest challenges to studying a graduate degree abroad is the language barrier. Even native speakers of a language can find the rigor of academic discourse and writing a challenge; so attempting to meet these exacting standards as a non-native speaker can seem daunting and universities very often ask for an English grammar test.


English is a particularly frustrating language to learn in this regard. Even formal English is highly idiomatic, full of similar sounding words, and difficult to pronounce for many non-native speakers. The grammar is particularly difficult; lots of the verbs are irregular, almost every rule has an exception, and word order shifts around in a maddening way.


Preparing for an English-language graduate school for non-native speakers of English will involve submitting proof that you have a sufficient grasp of the language. Although a necessary and helpful step – it’s in nobody’s interests for you to be accepted onto a course you cannot reasonably complete – it’s also an obstacle you need to overcome. It’s often wise to seek help and guidance to ensure that you pass the test, and go on to use English properly throughout your graduate experience.


How will I be tested?

The two most widespread English tests available are the International English Language Test System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Both courses assess your Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening of English, giving you a score that indicates your level of English ability - out of 120 for TOEFL and from 1 to 9 for IELTS, with 9 being an expert user. Whereas TOEFL is dedicated to those seeking to study at institutions offering programs in English, IELTS comes in two varieties – one for general use, one for academic use. Be sure to choose the correct course when applying, and that the qualification you are considering is recognised by your host institution.


The price of taking these courses varies according to the location of the test centre, and both last for about two years before they need to be renewed. The testing process itself is rigorous – TOEFL takes 4.5 hours, while IELTS takes 2.5 hours, plus a further 15 minutes for the speaking test.


How do I pass these tests with flying colours?

Although learning English is often offered as part of a normal primary or secondary syllabus in many countries, and a great many part-time English courses are available, you might want to take some further steps to make sure your academic English is top notch:


  • Have a native speaker of English read and correct the grammar and style of your academic work.
  • Attend, or watch online, lectures in your chosen field given in English.
  • Listen to English radio online, so as to become familiar with idioms and modes of expression.
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  • Encourage your English-speaking friends and colleagues to correct your spoken grammar. English people are unlikely to offer correction spontaneously – it’s considered rude – so you’ll need to give them permission before they’ll correct you!
  • Consider hiring a dialect coach to help you master the sounds of English, if its sounds are unfamiliar. 


What next?

Passing the TOEFL ot IELTS tests is just the first step on your journey to get into your graduate programme. Some course lrequire additional tests. Most MBA courses for example require a GMAT, most law course require a LSAT, etc.

Once you have passed all required tests the final step is to prepare your application which consists of your CV and a motivational letter (sometimes called cover letter or motivational statement).

Most people underestimate this part of the application, which can be a huge mistake, because the motivational letter is the only part of the application were you can write about yourself, what makes your application unique. It is fair to say that this is the part of your application were you can stand out from the competition. It's not as hard as it may sound. We have prepared an easy to follow step by step guide with the temples that you can find here: How to write a successful motivational letter - Easy to use guide with free templates



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