Read the following quote and comment on it:

“Exams test your memory, life tests your learning; others will test your patience.”

Fennel Hudson

 – What do you think about exams? Are they really necessary?

– Do they provide proper knowledge assessment? Why/not?

1. Match the idioms to their meanings

1) ace a test
2) bone up on
3) hit the books
4) knuckle down
5) pass with flying colours
6) study animal
7) teacher’s pet
8) school of hard knocks
9) cram for an exam
10) pull an all-nighter
a) to do very well on a test or exam
b) to study throughout the night
c) to get a very high score on a test
d) to study for a test shortly before it is to happen
e) real and practical experiences of life
f) prepare for the exam very thoroughly
g) the teacher’s favourite student
h) to begin to study hard
i) someone who studies hard
j) to focus on a project or a task

2. Complete the sentences using the idioms from the previous exercise.

1) If you studied during the school term, you would not have to _________.

2) At the end of the school year every party animal turns into a _________.

3) I have an exam tomorrow, I need to _________tonight.

4) He’s gone back to driving school in an effort to _________.

5) I have to _________ civil law for a test next week.

6) I didn’t go to college, but I went to the _________. I learned everything by experience.

7) If you _________, you will be tired and more prone to making careless mistakes on the test.

8) Mark is a _________ because he always gives our teacher presents.

9) I just want to let you know that if you want to pass the class, you really need to _________.

10) If he doesn’t _________ soon, he’ll never get through those exams.

3. What do you know about international language exams? Which of them have you heard of? What are they taken for? Read the article and check your answers.

Higher education in Ukraine has a centuries-old history and world recognition. Modern Ukraine’s educational system has a lot to teach the world. For today, the educational possibilities of Ukraine have allowed the country to become one of 10 leading countries in the sphere of international education.

At the same time, the popularity of foreign higher educational establishments has increased greatly among the Ukrainian graduates. So, hoping to become an international student, there is a number of processes you’ll need to understand and navigate when applying to universities. The three most important aspects are admissions, funding, and visas, however most universities require foreign applicants to take English as a second language tests. These are standardized English language tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), First Certificate in English (FCE), Cambridge Advanced English (CAE), which estimate particular skills in English language proficiency: listening, speaking, reading, and writing testing is an obligatory requirement, even if you excel at your English skills.

IELTS is designed for foreign speakers, who wish to study, work, and live in an English-speaking environment and is multinational worldwide by more than 10,000 institutions, like universities, corporations, immigration offices, and international professional organizations. Since 1989 IELTS has become the most critical and widely approved English-language test in the world. There are currently three versions of the IELTS: Academic, General Training, and Life Skills, that differ in content and address different target groups.

TOEFL provides the opportunity to test the English language fluency of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities. There are three types of the test: the paper version, computer-based, and the online version. The test is accepted by many English-speaking academic and professional institutions. FCE (B2 First) is one of the most commonly attained language certificates worldwide and was originally launched in 1939. It is an upper-intermediate qualification used to demonstrate that a student can use everyday written and spoken English for work and study purposes. Passing the FCE exam indicates that your level of English is at the B2 level and you can handle a variety of different tasks in the workplace. B2 First is offered in two versions, B2 First for Schools, for school-aged learners, and B2 First, for general and higher education adult learners.

CAE exam makes learning English enjoyable, effective and rewarding. CAE was originally introduced in 1991. A unique feature of Cambridge Advanced English is that it is less focused on academic skills and aims at developing more general and broad English knowledge you can apply in daily life.

There is a lot of confusion about how long these exams remain valid and in what countries they are recognized. IELTS and TOEFL have an expiry date, they are officially valid for only two years. They are intended to be a snapshot of your current English level. This is done by giving you a score (IELTS 0-9 and TOEFL 0-120). There is no pass or fail. By taking these exams you will always come away with a diploma, no matter how high or low your score is. University admissions departments, employers, and immigration services prefer these exams, because they can vary the score they require according to their needs. Cambridge exams on the other hand have the advantage of lasting for the rest of your life, although if you don’t achieve a passing score you will fail and end up with nothing to show for your efforts and money. These differences mean that a Cambridge exam may be better in the long term in Britain and other Commonwealth countries, TOEFL is an American exam and is the most commonly required diploma in the USA, while IELTS is accepted by both British and New Zealand academic institutions and over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, as well as by various organizations across the world.

4. Look through the text again and match the words or phrases in colour to theirdefinitions below.

1) to leave in a particular state or condition

2) started

3) being very significant, of great importance for the success (or failure)

4) the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately

5) a piece of information or short description that gives an understanding of a situation at a particular time

6) be good at

7) an official record showing that you have finished a training course or have the necessary skills

8) to deal with, have responsibility for, or be in charge of

9) learning strategies and techniques that help to succeed in studying and life

10) achieved or reached

11) the lowest possible score on a test or other assessment that a student must earn to either “pass” or be considered “proficient”

5. Read the article again and tell which exams the following statements match with.

1) These exam scores last two years after the test date.

2) It is primarily used to measure international students’ ability to use English in academic contexts.

3) This exam confirms that the student can speak and write in English and the results are valid for life.

4) This language certificate can open doors to international academic and professional opportunities in many institutions and places in the world where English is used.

5) This exam is proof of high-level achievement in English and is designed for learners preparing for university or professional life.

6) If you are planning to enter college or university in the United States, you should pass one of these exams.

7) If your dream is to become the international student and enter Oxford University, you should pass this exam.

8) If you wish to get a well-paid job abroad, the employers will ask you about these language certificates.

FOR, DURING and WHILE used in time expressions


 – answers the question How long?

– followed by a length of time

– explains how long something or someone is doing something, or something goes on

E.g.: Henry lived in France for all his life. 

Mark has been writing his final test for two hours. 

Sarah is going to Spain for Christmas holidays.


– answers the question When?

– followed by a noun

– explains what happened throughout the period or in the course of an action or event

E.g.: I will be really busy during the week.

The results of the test were given to us during the lesson.

We always like to travel during the summer.


– answers the question When?

– followed by a subject and a verb

– explains an action that occurs during the time another action is taking place

E.g.: I will work while studying at UNI.

You shouldn’t make noise while you are in the library.

We were taking notes while the professor was giving the lecture.

6. Fill in for, during or while to complete the following sentences.

1) As she had studied English _____ childhood, she could speak well when she arrived in Canada.

2) We were holding hands _____ we were watching the performance.

3) They moved to Ottawa, so I haven’t seen them _____ ages.

4) Tim scored a goal _____ the volleyball game.

5) Girls were gardening _____ her husband was painting the chairs.

6) He planned to stay here _____ two weeks but they need him back at work immediately.

7) Veronika visited the Eiffel Tower _____ her stay in Paris.

8) Don’t speak _____ I am doing this exercise!

9) In Europe, when you are at a cafe you can stay at the table _____ as long as you like.

10) We should travel _____ we are still young.

11) She gets up at 6 a.m. and jogs _____ an hour before going to work.

12) Tim was texting his friends _____ dinner.

13)I’ve been studying English _____ a couple of years.

14) _____ the lecture, the professor was speaking _____ his students were listening.

7. Use your own ideas to complete the following sentences.

1) I have stayed at school for ____________________________________________________.

2) I don’t use my mobile while____________________________________________________.

3) During summer holidays I ____________________________________________________.

4) My family came to see me while________________________________________________.

5) What are you doing while ____________________________________________________?

6) Students mustn’t _______________________during_______________________________.

7) To pass my exams I have been revising for_______________________________________.

8) I was asked a lot of questions during ___________________________________________.

9) I couldn’t sleep for___________________________________________________________.

10) Don’t enter the classroom during______________________________________________.

11) While studying at school ____________________________________________________.

12) During the university course_________________________________________________.

8. Work in groups. Discuss the way you usually feel when faced with a test or exam. Do you ever deal with test anxiety? Match the verbs to the phrases they best go with to complete the descriptions of different states and feelings students have when taking a test. Add some more of your own, if you can. Divide them into positive and negative feelings. Say what you usually do during a test.

Follow-up phrase

Feel (like) Stay


Find it 

Score Perform

…lower/higher than on homework or papers


…suddenly «know» the answers after turning in the test

…relaxed and calm

...the room is closing in on you

...«go blank»

...frustrated or distracted


…heart racing

…difficult to breathe

9. Work in pairs. Imagine one of your friends is going to take an examination soon and feels pretty nervous about that, so you need to help him out. Use the clues below to prepare “DOs and DON’Ts of dealing with test anxiety”. Share your ideas with the classmates and make up a final advice list for successful performance on an exam.

...up late/night’s sleep advance/late/early concentrate/focus on

... relax/reward yourself...

...self-critical/positive attitude

...stress/distracting thoughts

...deep breath/rush

...simple/harder questions ask the teacher/pay attention...

...carefully/attentively review/revise/prepare

... avoid/follow...

For example:


1) Do space out studying over a few days or weeks, don’t wait until the night before.

2) ...

1) Don’t cram for an exam. The amount you learn won’t be worth the stress.

2) ...

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