- Study prep
- English certification and assessment
- English for work and migration
Studying for the Pearson English International Certificate (PEIC) is a challenge for any student, but there are many different areas where you can help yourself or your students achieve top grades.
By becoming familiarized with the test format, equipping test-taking strategies and having awareness of commonly occurring vocabulary and topics, learners can be on the path to success in the PEIC.
Know the test
Understanding the test format and what to expect in each exam section will give students the confidence they need on test day.
Do drills on how many sections there are, how long they have for each section, and the order of the sections too. This will help learners anticipate what’s coming next and feel prepared throughout the exam. For example, the recording is played twice in listening section 2 – dictation. If students are aware of this, they can use the first recording to note key ideas and the second to complete the dictation fully.
Give yourself/your students plenty of practice under test conditions. Do timed mock exams, without phones or dictionaries, to help get a feel of the real test.
As the speaking section is done simultaneously for all candidates, get yourself/your students used to communicating in loud environments. Doing mock exams for the writing sections will also help students become aware of their word count and how long it takes to achieve this. It’s important to note that each writing task has a word limit and there are penalties for being significantly above or below.
Learn test strategies
Knowing the test format is important, but so is being equipped with test-taking strategies. For all sections, train yourself/students to use the questions and rubric to their advantage. Underlining the keywords from the question will help learners prepare for the task ahead and predict potential answers.
In the listening sections, students are given ten seconds before the recording is played. Learners should identify and underline keywords and use this time to predict the topic and vocabulary of the recording. Remind yourself/students that even if you think you have the answer, you need to listen carefully to the entire recording, as it’s also likely that some of the keywords will be used as distractors.
It’s also helpful to highlight keywords in the prompts and questions in the reading sections. For example, when dealing with multiple choice questions like in section 5, test takers should first highlight keywords from the question, then scan the text for these keywords. This is the part of the text where the answer is located, and where they should direct their attention. It’s important to read this section of the text carefully and also be aware that the answer may be paraphrased or a synonym.
Planning is crucial in the writing sections, and highlighting keywords from the question is an important planning step. Read the task carefully and identify the words that indicate the type of writing that is required and the audience. This will help guide the writing style and register. For example, in section 8, noticing the difference between writing a letter to a friend and a letter to a magazine editor will change the tone of the task.
Build a strong lexical base
Prepare further by building a strong grammar and vocabulary base with topical and functional language.
Introduce yourself/students to a wide range of themes on social and current issues, as well as personal and familiar topics. It's useful for learners to note useful vocabulary and phrases and test themselves on these regularly, making a note of the spelling, as this is essential in all sections of the exam.
Test takers will encounter gap-fill style tasks in both the listening and reading sections. Students can predict what kind of word is missing by reading around the gap. Train yourself/your students to consider what part of speech the answer will be, and if the other words in the sentence give clues to the topic or theme. Give them plenty of practice with word formation so they can easily identify the missing information.
Higher points are awarded for complex structures and expressions during the speaking and writing sections. Teachers should provide learners with functional language such as discourse markers and linkers, so they can connect and extend their ideas. It’s also important to have a range of vocabulary they draw on to express their opinions, offer suggestions and to give reasons, as this will help give their answers complexity and depth.
Studying these things should provide a solid knowledge base of the exam format and structure, coaching learners to use different test-taking strategies and directing their study of vocabulary and grammar, so they can work more efficiently and confidently toward their goal of passing the PEIC.