Five Ways To Prepare For iTEP

While some English proficiency tests offer training programs, at iTEP, we intentionally do not. We feel strongly that the International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP) should be an aptitude test, which means it accurately measures the English skills you already have, not language skills you learned specifically for the test.

However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing test-takers can do to prepare for iTEP. The key is to minimize your anxiety and avoid any potential confusion.

International Test of English Proficiency

Here are 5 ways to help make sure your experience taking the test is as low-stress as communicating in English in your daily life. These ideas apply to all of our tests. Whether you’ll be taking iTEP Business at your workplace or iTEP SLATE or iTEP Academic for admissions or placement in school, all of our examsshare a similar intuitive structure, a convenient administration procedure, and a standardized scoring rubric.

Determine which skills will be assessed

One critical aspect of preparation is understanding what skills the exam is testing. iTEP exams assess some or all of the follow skills: speaking, writing, grammar, reading, and listening. It’s important to know which skills will be tested on the exam you are planning to take.

For admissions, institutions use iTEP Academic (college and university) or iTEP SLATE (young learners), which assess all five language skills. In some academic settings for placement and progress monitoring, only grammar, writing, and listening are assessed (these are the sections of iTEP that are scored instantly and automatically).

In some business settings, such as restaurants, hotels, and cruise lines using our iTEP Hospitality test, only speaking and listening are assessed because these are the skills most necessary for jobs in this field.

Learn the question formats of International Test Of English Proficiency

The questions you’ll find on the International Test of English Proficiency are in different formats than you will see on any other test. Becoming familiar with these formats ahead of time can make you more comfortable and relaxed during the test.

While previously it cost $10 to take the iTEP Practice Test, you can now take it online for free! The practice test uses questions that have been retired from the exam, so these are real test questions that just aren’t used anymore. You’ll be able to see exactly what the test looks like and how the different sections work. You will receive a score for the practice test which can help you get a sense of what your score may be on the exam.

Our social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Weibo also post retired test questions every week. Following these accounts is a great way to keep preparing for the test during your downtime playing on your phone.

 

Think like a grader

The Official iTEP Preparation Guide is a hard-copy book that is the only official guide to preparing for iTEP. In addition to examples and descriptions of every type of question you’ll see on the test, the Prep Guide provides information on how the different sections are scored. There are no secret tricks here, but it can helpful to have an awareness of all the different factors graders will take into account.

The speaking and writing sections of the test combine many language skills such as grammar,vocabulary, and pronunciation, so it can be helpful to give some thought to what graders will be looking for ahead of time.

Get comfortable with the clock

During the speaking and writing sections of iTEP, your response will be timed. Seeing a timer ticking the seconds away can make some people nervous if they’re not used to it. Find a friend and use the timer on your phone to practice speaking continuously for a certain period of time. On your own, you can practice writing out a complete thought within limited time.

Identify and focus on weaknesses

Either through taking an iTEP Practice Test or looking at recent homework assignments from an English class, try to get a sense of which skills your struggle with most. Then go deeper—within each language skill, iTEP also assesses sub-skills. For instance, the reading section assesses the test-taker’s performance on recalling details, understanding the main idea, recalling the sequence or order of information, synthesizing the information to draw conclusions, and understanding the vocabulary in the passage.

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You likely will find that you are better at some of these sub skills than others. Even if you don’t have much time to build new language skills, being aware of your weaknesses can help you be more mindful during the test. For instance, if recalling details is hard for you, you may want to take extra care to slow down and absorb the details of the passage instead of rushing through once you see what it’s trying to say.

 

The best way to prepare for iTEP? Use your English skills in your daily life!

While this may be somewhat frustrating advice to some test-takers, our number one recommendation for preparing for iTEP is to learn the English language and practice using your skills. We’ve carefully designed the International Test of English Proficiency to be an English assessment that can’t be gamed or tricked. While familiarity with the test can help your score be accurate by eliminating nervousness, there is no way to artificially increase your score.

If you’re reading this the night before you take your test, don’t stay up late studying. You already know what you know. Take a practice test if you have time, but most importantly, get plenty of rest, eat well before the test, and take deep breaths during the exam.

 

Want to learn more about iTEP’s English Language Assessments?

Who Needs an English Language Proficiency Test?

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English proficiency tests are typically associated with international students, but there are a wide variety of reasons that organizations of all types would need an accurate English language proficiency test. Companies, governments, as well as educational institutions at all levels have a need to precisely determine the English language skill of large or small groups of people in order to compare individuals to one another, monitor language acquisition progress, or develop curriculum.

This article explores the ever-expanding uses of English proficiency tests in order to give an overview of how these tools are used across industries and sectors in our increasingly data-driven world. Most importantly, we’ll also explore why English assessment tools are used and the opportunities they create for those who use them.

Better Than Guessing or Praying

Before we look at how English proficiency assessments are used today, it may help to understand why they came into existence in the first place. My career in international education actually predates the introduction of TOEFL, the first English proficiency test, in 1964. Before then, there was not an English proficiency requirement for admission of international students to US colleges and universities. Administrators simply hoped the students they admitted had strong enough English skills to thrive at the institution.

Similarly, employers had no choice but to do their best to size up the English skills of their applicants and employees based on interviews and conversations. It was all based on gut feeling.

Finally, governments that might have been curious about the English level of their population were left to wonder about it. There was no feasible way to test English language skills on a wide scale.

Thankfully, English testing has come a long way. There are now so many applications for English assessment tools, that there are products designed for specific uses and situations. Let’s explore some of the most common.

Higher Education

One of the most important parts of higher education is the cultural exchange that comes from studying with people who come from different places and backgrounds. International students are a vital part of any vibrant campus. However, when their English proficiency skills are too poor to participate effectively in class discussion or to complete the assignments, it’s harmful to both the international students and their classmates.

As a result, essentially all U.S. colleges and universities now have an English language proficiency requirement for admission of non-native English speakers. Typically, the test is taken at a test center in the applicant’s home country and the score is submitted with their application.

Over time, institutions of higher learning have realized that there is so much more they can do with an English language proficiency test. For instance, by testing students upon arrival and graduation, they can measure how their English language skills improved over the course of their study. If they’re using a test like iTEP that scores specific language skills and sub-skills, the institution can come to understand which language skills their international students are acquiring most quickly, and which may require greater focus in the curriculum.

Intensive English Programs

All over the world, there are thousands of programs designed specifically to help non-native English speakers improve their English language skills. (This site lists over 600 in the US alone).

Since these intensive English programs, or IEPs, exist to improve English language skills, providing proof of English proficiency for admissions isn’t necessary. However, it’s crucial that the students in these programs are placed into the proper level where they are most likely to succeed. An accurate and easy-to-administer test is key this process. iTEP has been working with IEPs for over a decade to refine how proficiency tests are used in placement, and we now enable IEPs to comprehensively assess the English language skills of their students within a few hours of their arrival on campus.

In addition, the potential to calibrate how an IEP functions, using an English language assessment test like iTEP that provides rich data, is tremendous. IEPs can make sure that different instructors teaching the same level are producing the same results and evaluating their students in the same way, for instance.

English Language Proficiency Test for Secondary School

The fastest growing segment of international students are not college students, but rather high school and even middle school students. The English language proficiency skills of these applicants are most accurately measured by an English test designed specifically for them. The word choices and scenarios presented in an English test meant for adults could be confusing or unfamiliar to young learners and skew the results.

Historically, this need has been neglected by the marketplace. ETS’s SLEP exam was a paper-based test that was widely used by private high schools and boarding schools favored by international high school students coming to the US. When it was retired in 2013, iTEP SLATE (Secondary Level Assessment Test of English) stepped in to become the industry standard.

 

Private Companies

The job interview process is so subjective. With the help of an English language proficiency assessment, comparing the English language skills of applicants is no longer guesswork. This is particularly helpful when a company grows and is rapidly hiring. Particularly if there is more than one person interviewing candidates, it helps to have concrete numbers to compare.

However, not all jobs use all language skills. Waiters, for instance, don’t need particularly good writing skills as long as they are able to speak and understand English quite well. They also don’t need to be able to discuss business or academic topics—their job is mostly focused on food and pleasant conversation. In recent years, iTEP has created English assessment tools for specific industries such as au pairs, real estate, and hospitality. In fact, we even create customized English tests for specific companies when they can identify unique language skills or scenarios they want to assess.

Governments

English Language Proficiency TestFor governments, data is power. Knowing how well their population communicates in English can be a major help to employment initiatives, attracting international companies, or becominga popular tourist destination.

Part of our goal at iTEP has been to make English assessment efficient enough to be implemented on a large scale. As a result, our tests have been used in massive initiatives in Colombia, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and more. In addition to national governments, state, county and municipal governments also rely on English

proficiency testing, both to get a sense of the skills of their citizens, and to ensure that government workers have the necessary English language skills for their job.

What’s next for English language assessment?

When organizations started to come to us with ideas for how to use our tests that we had never thought of, we began to understand that we had succeeded at creating English assessment tools that were flexible, affordable, and convenient enough that they had taken on a life of their own. With the continued proliferation of English as the global language, I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of how English language proficiency tests can help organizations of all types do what they do better.

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