By Iwona Piecyk
Hello Matura students! I’m sure you have been studying hard for your exams. With stress levels increasing, it is good to remember some basic exam strategies which will help you pass the English exam with flying colours. Here are my 5 top tips for the basic Matura.
Top tip 1: Listening Tasks – Focus and listen
Read the instructions and questions for each task carefully and try to predict what the listening will be about. Underline the key words in the questions to focus better on what kind of information you are looking for but don’t expect to hear exactly the same words you have in the questions. They will use synonyms expressing the same idea. Also, make sure you listen until the end because the answer might be in the middle or at the end of the track. Students often stop actively listening towards the end of each track and worry they may have missed the answer. Very important: remember to always listen twice! Even if you think you have all the answers after the first listening, listen again and make sure you got them right. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by listening actively.
Very important: remember to always listen twice! Even if you think you have all the answers after the first listening, listen again and make sure you got them right.
Top tip 2: Reading Tasks – Chronological answers
Again, make sure you read the instructions carefully even if you have done loads of Matura reading tasks and you know what to do. The details of what you might need to do can be different. Underline fragments of the text related to the question and it will be much easier to compare what was actually written in the text with the question. Remember that the information in the text will be presented chronologically for most tasks so the answer to question 1 will be at the beginning of the text and so on.
Top tip 3: Use of English – the whole sentence
The Use of English part of the exam has only test type questions so all you need to do is choose the correct answer. You will be tested on basic grammar structures, vocabulary and collocations. Before you choose the correct answer always read the whole sentence. Do not make your decision based on just the beginning of the sentence or the Polish fragment which needs to be translated. The key to the correct answer might be at the end of the sentence, e.g. yet or just which requires the present perfect tense. If you have to complete the collocation for two different sentences, read both of them and think carefully which answer will fit both.
Before you choose the correct answer always read the whole sentence. Do not make your decision based on just the beginning of the sentence or the Polish fragment which needs to be translated.
Top tip 4: Writing – it’s easy
I know I’m repeating myself but, please, read the task instructions and follow it point by point. You have no idea how often students write a nice email or blog entry but lose points because they do not include ALL the information.
Write a draft or plan of what you want to write and ensure all the information from the input is included. Seriously, even if it is in Polish a plan will help you include all the necessary information. Think about what you are asked to do. If you are asked: “Opowiedz o problemie, który napotkałeś/łaś…” you have to write about the past not the problems you typically have. Also, learn a few useful expressions for writing descriptions, suggesting solutions, describing past events or talking about plans for the future because you may need some of them during the exam.
Top tip 5 – Timing and answer sheet
Do the easiest tasks first and mark clearly those you need to come back to. Also, make sure you have enough time to transfer the answers to the answer sheet – it’s essential and the only way to ensure you get marks for your hard work. It is easy to make a mistake with all the small red boxes on the answer sheet so check your answers twice.
There you have it, my top tips for the English Matura at basic level. Keep revising and you will do fine. If you have any questions about the English Matura at basic level, let me know via the comment box and I’ll do my best to help. Don’t forget our British Council LearnEnglish website has lots of useful exercises to revise the different English skills.