Tips for the English Proficiency Test

The English Proficiency portion of an entrance examination is made up of questions which are designed to test the student’s knowledge in grammar, usage, mechanics, and vocabulary, as well as to gauge his comprehension skills. The examination is usually divided into several sub-tests: sentence completion, sentence correction, synonyms and antonyms, paragraph organization, verbal reasoning, and reading comprehension. The English Proficiency Test, like all other tests, is of varying length and difficulty and is taken under time pressure.

Although the entrance examinations administered by colleges and universities are different from one another in terms of questions asked, the aforementioned sub-tests appear to be common in almost all of these examinations. The student should therefore be oriented on how he should answer them in such a way that he would be able to minimize mistakes, if not totally avoid committing them.

However, the student should realize that the tips only serve as guides which would better prepare him for any college admission test, not an assurance to his passing the examination. He should therefore be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills - by reading relevant materials, study notes, doing exercises, and answering review questions as much and as often as he can. He should bear in mind that reviewers, no matter how brilliantly designed, can only help a student who helps himself.

 

SENTENCE COMPLETION

  1. Identify the classification of the missing word or words in terms of parts of speech (noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, etc.). Immediately eliminate choices which do not belong to the same classification.
  2. Determine the tone or the mood of the sentence. More often than not, the correct answer has the same tone or mood as the rest of the words in the sentence.
  3. Look for word cues like conjunctions and transitional expressions (however, moreover, so, nevertheless, in front, etc.). These will help you determine if the missing word should be in coordination, opposition, correlation, or subordination with or the overall tone or meaning of the sentence.
  4. For sentences with double blanks, immediately eliminate choices which contain inappropriate first words when placed in the first blank.

 

SENTENCE CORRECTION

Read the sentence/s and look for errors in:

  • capitalization
  • punctuation
  • subject-verb agreement
  • pronoun-antecedent agreement
  • parallelism
  • word choice

If there is no error with regard to all of these, do not hesitate to choose E.

 

SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS

For sub-tests which include the given word within a phrase or sentence:

  1. Consider the context in which the word was used, especially if the choices are words that are more or less synonyms or antonyms of the given word.
  2. Make sure that the choice belongs to the same classification or part of speech.

For sub-tests which do not use the given word in a sentence or phrase:

  1. Determine the classification of the given word. Immediately eliminate choices that do not belong to the same classification.
  2. Consider root words and affixes. These will help you derive the meaning of the given word.
  3. Think of instances in which you may have heard or encountered the word. More often than not, recalling and associating will lead you to the right answer.

Many students often commit mistakes in these sub-tests, not because they do not know the meaning of the given words, but because they get confused with synonyms and antonyms. Remember, synonyms are words that have the same meaning while antonyms are words that are opposite in meaning. Another useful tip is for the student to constantly remind himself that he is looking for the synonym - or the antonym for that matter - to avoid further confusion when looking for the answer.

 

PARAGRAPH ORGANIZATION

This sub-test gauges the student’s ability to comprehend and logically arrange ideas. Each number consists of sentences that have to be organized to form a paragraph. Choices following each number feature suggested patterns of organization.

But how should the student go about arranging these sentences?

  1. First, determine which sentence goes first. Remember that this sentence should either present a topic or sum up all the ideas in that particular paragraph.
  2. From the choices given, look for the pattern in which the letter corresponding to that particular sentence comes first. If there is only one, then that is the answer.
  3. If there is more than one possible answer, decide which sentence goes last.
  4. From the remaining choices, look for the pattern in which the letter corresponding to that sentence comes last. That is the correct answer.
  5. If there is still more than one pattern with the same first and last letters, determine which sentence comes second, and then look for the choice which has the letter corresponding to that sentence as the second in the pattern.
  6. If there are still more patterns to choose from, look for the third sentence by repeating step 5.

If you are unsure of how to organize the sentences, take note of the following:

  1. transitional expressions - Sentences with ‘in addition to,’ and ‘moreover’, usually go in the middle of the paragraph, not first or last. In the same manner, transitional expressions like ‘therefore’, ‘this’, and ‘finally’ always come in last.
  2. pronoun usage - sentences containing pronouns usually do not come in first. Sentences with their antecedents (words for which pronouns stand) should be placed first in the paragraph.

 

VERBAL REASONING

Verbal reasoning questions test the student’s ability to determine the relationship between words and measure his or her ability to analyze problems and arrive at a correct answer. An analogy can be written in various ways:

  1. Synonym Relationship
  2. Antonym Relationship
  3. Cause-effect Relationship
  4. Classification Relationship
  5. Object-Action Relationship
  6. Purpose Relationship
  7. Sequential Relationship
  8. Part-whole Relationship
  9. Characterization Relationship
  10. Degree Relationship
  11. Action-Situation Relationship
  12. Symbol Relationship
  13. Country-Capital Relationship
  14. Person-Instrument Relationship
  15. Writer-Work Relationship
  16. Phobia Relationship

Steps to take in answering verbal reasoning questions:

  1. After reading each question carefully, immediately eliminate answers which are evidently wrong.
  2. Determine the kind of relationship that the first pair of words illustrates.
  3. Select the answer that will complete the pair, or choose the pair that exhibits the same relationship as the first pair.
  4. Always choose the best possible answer when confronted with several choices which seem to be possible answers.

 

LOGICAL REASONING

One form of logical reasoning test has given statements and a given conclusion. You will be asked whether the given conclusion is: definitely true, most likely true, most likely false, or definitely false.

In answering this type of logical reasoning test, it is important to remember that all the conditions for the conclusions will be mentioned. Any presupposition, prejudice, and previous knowledge on the topic does not help in getting the right answer. Most of the time, it only muddles the student’s thoughts and adds to his or her confusion.

Students must work within the given statements and disregard all prior knowledge on the topic.

In answering logical reasoning tests, you should take note that statements are neither right nor wrong. They are there to serve as bases for drawing conclusions.

Answer DEFINITELY TRUE if:

  • the conclusion is a repetition of one of the statements.
  • the conclusion is a direct conclusion of all the statements.
  • the conclusion rephrases one or more of the given statements.

Answer MOST LIKELY TRUE if:

  • the conclusion is likely to happen, and no statement contradicts it.
  • the conclusion summarizes most, but not all of the statements, and no given statement contradicts it.
  • the conclusion is somehow related to any one of the statements and no given statement contradicts it.
  • the conclusion supports all the statements but is too general.

Answer MOST LIKELY FALSE if:

  • the conclusion somehow contradicts a given statement but supports one or more of the remaining statements.
  • the conclusion is an argument against the subject, without any supporting statement.
  • the conclusion is too broad.
  • The conclusion does not follow (non-sequitur).

Answer DEFINITELY FALSE if the conclusion is a direct contradiction of any or all of the statements.

 

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