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Taking care of your mental health in the lead-up to your test is essential. Whether you’re taking IELTS, TOEFL, CELPIP, OET, PTE or TOEIC, being well prepared is about more than your language skills – mental preparation is just as important. 

It’s easy to let your nerves get the best of you when preparing for such a critical test, but being calm and confident will give you the best chance of success. Below are some tips to take you through the lead-up to your test and help you prepare and relax so you can be your best on test day.

1. Make a plan

Whether you’re a planner by nature or prefer to take things as they come, a plan for the days and weeks leading up to your exam can make a big difference to your mental health. 

The first step to feeling confident and calm in your test preparation is to create a study pathway in the E2 platform. The study pathway will give you a detailed outline of how best to meet your study goals and achieve the score you require in the time you have. Once you’ve built your study pathway, use it to build your study plan and include rest, self-care, days off, exercise and socialising.  

Planning can help you get an overview of what areas you’re confident in and where you might need to look for additional support. Avoid headaches and eyestrain by giving yourself regular breaks away from your computer or other screens (including your phone!)

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is key to making an effective study plan. To do this, take a mock test and use the results to guide your study. 

2. Create good habits for your mental health

The content you study is important – but so is where and how you study. If you can, set up your study space in a quiet place free of distractions. Put your phone away so you’re not tempted to procrastinate, find some calm music if it helps you concentrate, and set yourself specific goals for each study session. 

3. Change your stress mindset

Feeling stressed can be – well, very stressful. But there’s another way to consider stress. Research has shown that how we perceive stress can affect the way it affects our bodies in the long term. Consider that the physical effects of stress – elevated heart rate and rapid breathing, are your body’s way of naturally preparing you to take on the challenge you’re facing. This mindset shift may help you worry less about how the stress of preparing for your test will affect your body in the coming years. 

Besides, short bursts of stress can be a great motivator and a reminder that what you’re doing is truly important! 

4. Get additional support where you need it

Getting additional support on your learning journey in the lead-up to your test is easy. Via your E2 profile, you can buy additional test preparation elements, including one-on-one tutorials with professional teachers and assessments with expert feedback. You can purchase as many add-ons as you need, which lets you tailor your package to your needs. Use your existing E2 test preparation account and select the element you want to purchase from the left-hand-side bar. 

These materials complement your test preparation package and will help you feel confident in your skills come test day. Our expert teachers offer coaching and support and are here to guide you on your test preparation journey. 

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5. Watch your sleep!

Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep before your big test means you’ll wake refreshed and ready to go. Don’t stay up late doing last-minute study; by this stage, you should be well prepared and feel confident, and staying up late to study will only serve as an additional stress factor. Go to bed early, read a book, have a bath or do whatever you like to unwind. The night before the test is your time, so try to keep the test from your mind and get some quality sleep.

6. Get some exercise

Exercise is a great way to burn off any lingering anxiety or nerves you have about your upcoming test. It releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone, which will help you relax. If you’re sporty by nature, an exercise class or a jog on the morning of your test might help you get into the right mindset. Others might prefer a long, relaxing yoga session the night before test day. Find what suits you best and use it to your advantage.

7. Focus on what you need to improve

Most English students find that there are certain aspects of test preparation they find more challenging than others. Some might have the most trouble with speaking, for instance, and others with writing.

Speaking Tip: Many English students find speaking the most challenging test element because it requires you to think on your feet and because active language acquisition happens slower than passive. If you can, find an English buddy, either in your community or online, with whom you can regularly speak English. This way, you can support each other and learn together to speak confidently in your test interview. 

Another great way to keep up your study momentum is watching E2’s test-specific YouTube videos. These will give you valuable insight into the different test elements of each English language test and help you feel prepared and confident.

8. Talk to a friend or an expert

Remember that you don’t have to face your worries or fears about your upcoming test alone. Talking to a trusted friend or family can help put your worries into perspective. Sometimes, just speaking your fears out loud can have a healing effect, so sit down for a cup of tea with a loved one or go for a walk and tell them what’s on your mind. If you don’t have access to trusted people around you, consider an online community, some journaling or going for a walk by yourself. 

Learning with peers: E2 offers small group classes for OET and IELTS . With a maximum of ten students and a specific focus on either speaking or writing, you’ll get personalised feedback and the chance to interact one-on-one with your teacher. A small group class is a great skill booster right before your exam and can help you deal with nerves about the IELTS speaking or OET exam.

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9. Know your limit – relax and call it a day

Once you reach a certain point, your study will become less effective. Know your limits and when to call it a day and do something else. Close your laptop and spend some time outside or with family and friends. This way, you’ll be refreshed for a new day of study the next day rather than feeling burnt out.

Immersion is a great way to improve your English language skills stress-free. While it can be tricky to do in a non-English speaking country, you can make the best of English language media available to you by watching English tv shows, movies or documentaries, listening to English news and tuning in to E2’s Everyday English podcast. A new episode is released every week, so you’re sure to find something interesting to listen to.  

10. Eat a balanced diet – better food better mental health

Everyone’s body needs different things, so make sure you listen to yours and what it needs. While mountains of sugar may seem tempting in the middle of a midnight study session, you might find it makes you sluggish the next morning. Balance your study snack cravings with foods that give you prolonged energy, and you’ll find you have more study stamina. 

At E2, we understand that preparing for your English test can be an incredibly stressful experience. You’ve likely poured months, if not years, of hard work into preparing for your big move overseas, so there’s a lot at stake. With E2, you’re in the best possible hands. Make sure you take care of your mental health during this time with these tips that will have you feeling your best on test day.

Experts develop E2’s materials, and we are an official partner of all the language tests we provide preparation materials for, so you can rest assured you’re learning with the best.

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