Sometimes you aren’t studying English. This is certainly true when you are studying for tests like TOEIC, TOEFL and IELTS you study specialised kinds of English. What you study depends on the test.
TOEIC tests English for business (as well as everyday English).
TOEFL and IELTS test academic English.
The best ways to study for these tests are to read materials similar to the tests’ reading materials and listen to podcasts about relevant topics. For TOEIC, listen to business and news podcasts. For TOEFL and IELTS listen to podcasts about arts, social sciences and science for TOEFL and IELTS.
Sites I recommend for TOEIC:
For TOEFL and IELTS:
- Open Course Ware Consortium
- New Scientist
- Scientific American
- The History Channel
- National Geographic
Take Notes of Grammar and Vocabulary
Don’t forget to take notes of new grammar structures and make word cards for new vocabulary. Remember also to learn whole word families because these tests sometimes test your knowledge of word families. If you study these as you go, it should not be a problem.
Understand Passive Verb Forms
For all these tests you should learn to understand the passive verb form because it is used frequently in formal business English and in academic English.
He improved his English test scores by reading serious news articles and listening to college lectures. Not passive.
His English test scores were improved by reading serious news articles and listening to college lectures. Passive.
The basic construction is:
THING + ‘BE’ verb + ACTION verb (done to the thing) + DETAIL/CONDITION (optional but more common).
For a long-term skill increase you should study different materials anyway. However, to get a higher score in standardised tests such as TOEIC, TOEFL or IELTS, you need to understand the style of their reading and listening materials.