5 Steps to Improve your English for Competitive Exams

I am dedicating this article to all my friends who consider English as their weak territory. My main motive is not to suggest ways to improve your English but to help you make it a part of your life. To start with let me be blunt with you, there is no shortcut to it, it is not like that you learn some formulas and tricks and overnight you become a maestro. So brace up yourself for a wonderful learning experience.

LEVEL 1- RECOGNISE YOURSELF

recognize yourself

Most of my friends who find English as Achilles heel even when they are academically pretty sound, are the ones who were not privileged to do their schooling from English medium schools, they did it from Hindi medium and other state boards. And when they come into the merciless competitive business, they considerably lag behind their privileged counterparts even when they are doing fairly well in other sections. And this is quite discouraging when you know you deserve better.

Alright, my friends, I will just try to point out what you have been doing:

  • You try maintaining notes consisting grammatical rules, few antonyms-synonyms etc and you just go through these notes before going for an examination. By doing so you are limiting yourself from learning this important language, you will get to know “how?” later. In fact, there are people who do not prepare this section separately as its preparation is in there day to day habits. 
  • Even when you know this section has substantial weightage in your examination pattern you prefer to prepare sections like general awareness and current affairs from Hindi or other regional language newspapers and magazines. In this way, you are restricting yourself from standard study material as most of the worthy books are written in English. 
  • Just because you look at this section from exam point of view you fail to reach the threshold.
Anyways even if I fail to make you realize what have you been doing wrong, the onus lies on you to introspect yourself. And I would like to remind this is one of the important steps to move forward.

And without making much of a fuss I move to next level.

LEVEL 2- THE DIFFICULT PHASE

You must have read many articles regarding the same and almost all of them focus more or less on reading habit. I will talk about why it is so important and how to get habituated in reading because it is very easy to say read this, read that but it becomes an uphill task when you have less or no reading habits.
newspaper english

Let me tell you something about newspapers. Newspapers are one such resource which has a remarkable cost-benefit ratio. Generally, there are two types of newspapers:

  • Mass type and 
  • Class type 
The ‘mass type’ includes Times of India, Telegraph etc as the language used in them are reader-friendly and they contain much ‘masala stuffs’, so attracts masses.

The ‘Class type’ consists of The Hindu, Indian Express as they contain authentic news and the language uses can challenge your English abilities. These types are very important for exam point of view.

But I suggest beginners start with a Mass type newspapers. Initially just turn over the pages and just check out what’s there. Now try to read whatever you like- Bollywood , Cricket, some bahu beating her saas etc.. You can also start with some romantic noble. I mean to say whatever you feel like reading just read that. Sometimes you will find it boring and may be a waste of time. But that is why I consider it one of the most difficult phases. There is no compulsion whenever you find it torturing switch on to different things but just try to be consistent. You have to be patient as it is going to give you future dividends. Slowly but steadily increase your reading capacity. And once you get habituated half of your work is done. I must say all your concentration and focus is required at the outset, once you start flowing, the whole journey will be like riding bicycle downhill.

LEVEL 3- THE LAUNCH PAD

At this level, I assume that reading has become a habit for you after a couple of months of hard work. Now it is time to switch yourself to quality reading for further building.
  • A ‘class type’ newspaper will not only be challenging but also empower you with precious knowledge which will be beneficial for you in descriptive papers. 
  • Norman Lewis for Word Vocabulary – I am a great fan of this book. I have seen people mugging up synonyms-antonyms but even after sheer hard work, the yield is not encouraging. This will help you learn in very scientific way and in no time you can feel the difference. Trust me you feel good about it. 

Now, how will reading habits help you exams perspective??

  • Comprehension – how easily you can comprehend completely depends on your reading habits. The more you read the lesser time you take to comprehend things. Sometimes you will find the same comprehension you have read somewhere before. 
  • Spotting error – It is very difficult to remember all the grammatical rules but when you are into serious reading habits and you read some erred sentence you will instinctively know that there is some error in this part of the sentence. Even if you are not certain you will be correct most of the times.

LEVEL 4 - NO LOOKING BACK

I believe if people in the third level keep on with the good work they will surely perform better in at least banking and SSC exams. But to move to next level writing is very important.
no looking back
  • Maintain a diary of words- write down phrases, words which are used in particular context, speeches whatever you find worth noting down. And when you write new words, note them with context as it is easy to remember. Eg.- the ‘Gandhiji was a teetotaler’ is easier to remember than just the meaning of ‘teetotaler’.
  • Creative Writing- write comments, share experiences, set yourself free to write, write précis of editorials etc.

LEVEL 5

I think ‘Ab Gaddi nikal padi’, no more suggestions , just explore different ways of learning as life is a learning process.

Finally, this article is not ideal, I wrote this article with little experience of whatever I could find in my surroundings. It is still incomplete without your opinions and I am looking forward to your suggestions to make it more inclusive and helpful to the community.

Do not regret about past and believe in being better than yesterday. All the best.

Updated on - 23 October 2017


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