Test preparation in the real world

One of the basic techniques in time management relates to an old saying to “kill two birds with one stone.” Here we discuss two ‘birds’— success on the iBT and success in English for career and for life. One’ bird’ is a test world, which is transient, the other ‘bird’ the real world of English communication in school, in global business, throughout your life.

Partake of the sweet apple. Hit your iBT target, succeed in your international life.

Kyoto Market: How about 'dem apples?

If you are struggling to hit your iBT target, consider that in order to achieve a good iBT score, you must supplement your classroom studies with daily, relentless immersion in English. The iBT is designed to gauge your ability to use English in an interactive learning environment. You cannot expect to maximize your test score by limiting your study to an iBT class.

To do well on the iBT and on the GMAT, you must learn to read faster. You must listen to English daily, and you must speak English in a real-world setting as often as possible. You must sacrifice the comfort of reading exclusively books, magazines and newspapers in Japanese, so that you can free up more time to immerse in English.

Remember that the purpose of your improving your English is not simply to score high on the iBT. That may be your short-term focus, but everything you do should be understood within a long-term framework. Your immediate objective is to score high on the iBT in order to pass this stage of your application but the longer-term goal is to improve your English in order to contribute in school and in order to improve your communication skill in English throughout your career.

Because the iBT test is administered online, you should practice reading and listening to English on your computer. It is harder and less enjoyable to read online but important training to prepare you for the actual iBT exam.

Read whatever interests you. To kill two birds with one stone (isseki nichou) you may want to read international and business news. A truly outstanding source for international and business news is my favorite newspaper, the Asian Wall St. Journal:


If you don’t have a subscription to the WSJ, tune in to my tweets (@devalier_warren) and you will find that I send along daily the best of the global and Japan articles from this newspaper.

To improve your listening, listening to podcasts is an excellent investment of your time. Try listening to the Scientific American 60-second science, psychology, and earth podcasts.


Notice that transcripts are available. Try this exercise every day. It should take you fewer than 30 minutes. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth:

1.     Listen to any Scientific American 60-second podcast.

2.     After listening to the podcast, summarize the main points of the podcast in a loud, clear voice.

3.     Now read the transcript of the podcast, also in a loud, clear voice.

4.     Listen to the podcast again to check your understanding, referring to the transcript as needed.

5.     Now write one paragraph that summarizes the main theme and supporting points of the podcast.

Want to kill “three birds with one stone.” You can familiarize yourself with topics being discussed in business school by subscribing to Knowledge@Wharton podcasts:


You may only be able to read the summary of the topic online but can listen to the entire discussion, most often a conversation by Wharton professors to simulate the real-world experience of a Wharton lecture.

Want still more listening and reading practice:

Go to the Harvard Business Publishing site:


1.     Subscribe to the Management Tip of the Day and/or Daily Stat.

You can have these sent to you by email.

2.     Listen to the Harvard Business IdeaCast (podcast).

3.     Read whichever of the Most Read articles interest you.

I also tweet ‘of value’ articles from the Harvard Business Review and send them to my friends at Linked-in:


Here’s an example of a daily stat I recently received, published in the McKinsey Quarterly. It impressed me because I believe that there are great business opportunities for Japanese in venture investments developing green business in China. Sooner or later, China will be investing in “green business.”

Japan has the technology superiority to leverage in joint venture business with the Chinese in this field.

China’s Green Opportunity

“China’s rapid development has catapulted the country into the ranks of the world’s largest economies, but it has also made it a top emitter of greenhouse gasses. The country has set ambitious goals for improving energy efficiency. China’s plans to build more nuclear plants and plant forests could help it avoid producing 8.4 gigatons of emissions annually that it might otherwise emit if growth continued without any mitigation. Still, McKinsey research finds there’s room to do even more. Tapping emerging technologies, such as electric vehicles, new semiconductor-manufacturing equipment that’s better at controlling fluorocarbon emissions, and the use of agricultural waste as a fuel source in cement kilns, could save an additional 6.7 gigatons.”

By clicking on the title of the daily stat (e.g. China’s Green Opportunity), you can register and read the entire article in the McKinsey Quarterly.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2010 Warren J. Devalier