Whether you are studying for GMAT, GRE, IELTS, or TOEFL, there are different test prep strategies to rely on depending on your specific personality type. Check our selection below for a smooth start of your exam practice and don’t forget that you can always combine the ones that work best for you.
Self-study for the highly organized
This method of studying is especially suitable for people who are disciplined and know how to manage their time. If you already have a strong starting point in terms of the structure, format, and content of the test you are taking, you might want to consider studying on your own.
For example, let’s say you are planning to sit the GMAT, the globally recognized aptitude test for business school admission. It is delivered in a computer-adaptive format in English and it is designed to measure the quantitative and problem-solving skills of test-takers. If this is not new information for you, and most importantly, if you have strong analytical thinking and reasoning, you might already have a good starting base for your preparation. It will be essential to brush up on your maths knowledge but even more so, candidates should establish a regular practice schedule to get used to the specific format of the test they are taking. This piece of advice provided by The Economist emphasizes a similar argument:
To be successful on the GMAT, you must have a balance in your approach and skill set. It is not just about the knowledge you have consumed, but how you can answer questions to the best of your ability within time constraints.
E-learning for the digitally savvy
Are you a fan of alternative learning methods? Do you feel more confident working on your smartphone or tablet than on a paper textbook? If so, online study materials and digital apps designed for test prep might be a good option for you. Especially if you have already decided to sit an exam delivered via a computer format such as GMAT or TOEFL, e-learning can be just the right means to get used to digital test-taking. For example, the English language proficiency test TOEFL has its own app which provides access to free sample questions for all four sections of the exam. According to Valentin Vassilev, content writer and editor at PrepAdviser, there are many more TOEFL preparation resources suitable for tech-savvy learners.
Check out: Top Free TOEFL Preparation Resources
Even if you are planning to take a paper-delivered test such as IELTS, there is a lot to benefit from digital apps and online study materials. In June 2019, Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment English partnered with Kaplan Test Prep, a premier provider of educational services, to deliver livestreamed and online preparation courses for IELTS. These courses include over 180 interactive video lessons as well as full-length practice tests and personalized score reports.
However, keep in mind that the digital learning method has a lot in common with the self-study approach. Whether you choose paper or computer for your preparation, self-discipline and a steady routine will be essential for your success on the exam.
Private tutor for those who need personal feedback
Unfortunately, not everyone finds it easy to follow a strict work and study routine. If this is your case and you experience difficulties estimating your weak spots during exam practice, do not despair. Learning takes place differently for everyone so perhaps your solution could be to hire a private tutor. Taking private lessons might be a bit more expensive since you will be getting the undivided attention of the teacher and as a result, you will receive very personalized feedback. However, as long as you find the right tutor, the investment will be worth it. A good tutor should be able to get to know your learning preferences while targeting the gaps in your knowledge in the way that is most effective for you. Tom Foster, editor at The Educator, agrees that private lessons can be particularly useful for some people:
The impact that [one-to-one tuition] can have on a student is profound, as teachers will be able to get to know their students better, and so will find it easier to spot potential problems and give them assistance. For shy students, being in a learning environment with less people can also help them to express themselves, as they are under less pressure from their peers.
Check out: What GMAT Prep Method Suits You Best?
Group work for the social learner
Private tutoring may be personalized and self-study may be focused but there is nothing like a group of people who share the same goal and study together. If you feel confident in the company of others and thrive most when you communicate and share ideas, consider taking group lessons for your test preparation. Since they usually follow a predetermined schedule, it will be more difficult to slack and stay behind. Instead, group work will give you the social element of meeting new people and learning from their own mistakes and experience. For example, let’s say you are practicing for the GRE test. According to The Economist, solving various exam tasks in a group can be beneficial for your ability to think through different solutions.
A member of your group might approach, say, geometry-based questions in a way that you hadn't considered, or have a clever trick for remembering tough vocab words. In other words, group study can help you learn new strategies you didn't know you were missing.
Ultimately, the study method that will help you succeed on the admissions test you are taking should be compatible with your personality. You can always experiment with different approaches, or even try to combine them, but be sure to stick to a steady schedule. Your responsibility and determination when taking on this challenging task will yield the good results you are aiming for.