Top 10 ways to prepare for the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT)

1. Targeted, simulated practice

2. Know the sections of the MLAT

3. Know how to target your study for each section

4. Understand how the test is scored

5. Know what the test is actually testing

6. know what's going to happen on the day

7. Be familiar with the phonetic alphabet

8. test your memorization skills

9. Know why you're taking the MLAT

10. Prepare your body and mind

1. Do targeted practice with realistic, simulated test questions

Did you know that, very often, the first time a pilot flies a Boeing 787 or Airbus A380, it's likely the first time he's ever been on the flight deck of the real aircraft? This might seem crazy but it's very common across airlines. Why is this? It's because the airlines understand the power of simulation and use it to train their pilots to an exceptional standard while saving significant costs.

 

What's more, these pilots can actually be trained better than using an actual jet because simulation allows you to put the pilot in stressful and dangerous situations without any risk to losing passengers or the plan itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just the same for prepping for the MLAT. Simulated test questions with immediate feedback are the best way to learn. They teach exactly how the test is laid out so you understand what will be coming next and what the question is asking of you. Simulation also allows you to deal with the stressfulness of the test (and the MLAT can be very stressful!).

 

What this means is that you can work up to the demands of the test itself and you can then push further, making your allotted time shorter and your questions more difficult. We've taken this approach at MLAT study, our questions will build you up to and push you beyond the test standards so that when it comes to test time, you've got this in the bag! 

    

2. Know the different sections of the MLAT

The MLAT consist of five sections. Each section measures a particular skill required to acquire a new language.

 

In section 1, Number Learning, participants need to learn one, two and three digit numbers using a new language. It starts by the voice on the tape explaining how single digit numbers are pronounced in the new language, for example, “ka” might be number one, while “kaba” might mean two (these are not actually the test answers ;-). The voice will then go on to teach numbers three and four before moving onto 10-40 and 100-400. It works like this, if the word 'twenty' is pronounced as “tu,” then 21 and 22 would be “tu-ka” and “tu-kaba” and so on. The test begins some practice questions before moving onto the real questions. This is quite a difficult section that will test your memory and speed of learning. MLAT study access includes tape-based examples that mimic the test and will prep you to get high scores in this section.

 

Section 2 is titled Phonetic Script, and requires learners to differentiate between words that look and sound quite similar, e.g. “bot” and “but.” The voice begins by familiarizing the examiner with the phonetic symbols associated with each sound. In the test proper, the examinee has to write down the phonetic symbol for the sound he or she hears from the examiner.

 

The third section of the MLAT, called Spelling Clues, is a time-pressured exercise. English words are presented in written form to the examiner, all of which are spelled incorrectly --- they are spelled according to how they sound. The task of the examiner is to select the meaning of the misspelled word for a list of choices.

 

Section 4 “Words in Sentences” requires a bit of inductive reasoning. In this part, examinees must carefully analyze sentences in order to surface the syntax it follows. Afterwards, examiners must be able to apply these syntax rules into new sentences by way of analogy.

 

The last part, section 5, Paired Associates, is a memory test. Examiners are given two minutes to memorize a set of 24 “foreign” words and their meaning in English. Afterwards they have to answer multiple choice questions related to the meaning of the words included in the list.

 

3. Understand how to target your study towards the sections

This point combines points 1 and 2. You need to ensure that what you are studying is as close as possible to the actual questions. Also, you should know how many questions are in each section - this will allow you to weight your study accordingly.  If you will be taking the MLAT, or would just like to try your hand at one of the most reputable language aptitude tests ever developed, you can access over 500 simulated questions here.   

4. Understand how the test is scored

 

The MLAT uses a paper-based booklet, practice answer sheet and exam sheet. The booklet contains all the test questions as well as explanations of test sections. The booklet will also contain the example questions that prepare you to conduct sections 3-5. All answers are to be recorded on the answer sheet.

Students need to be careful to track exactly which questions they answer as some parts of the test (Section 1) will require you to transcribe your score from writing then into the shaded circles.   

Your score will be accumulated according to how many correct answers you got in each section. No points are deduced for incorrect answers or questions that are left blank. No single question is weighted higher than any other. This is important because some sections have many more questions than others. For example, section 2 contains 50 questions, whereas section 5 only has 24. This is important information to know so you can weight your study accordingly. All figures and study techniques can be accessed through MLAT study's portal

Each organisation that conducts the MLAT (e.g. Australian Defence Force, West Point and others) will set different cut-offs. For example, West Point will only allow those students who scored over 100 to study Arabic, Chinese or Russian.  The Australian Defence Force is similar but has five separate brackets and depending which you fall into determines what languages are open to you.  

 

5. Know what the test is actually testing

 

Section 1 tests memory, listening comprehension and basic mathematics. You need to listen, diagnose and differentiate sounds, translate those sounds into numbers and then add the numbers together. This can be quite difficult in the short time afforded to you. 

Section 2 tests listening and memory. You need to differentiate the sounds from each other and keep track of the unfamiliar characters that are introduced.

Section 3 tests reading comprehension, English vocabulary and sound-word recognition. 

Section 4 tests sentence grammar. Especially clause recognition and simple, compound, and complex sentences. 

Section 5 tests memory. You need to remember pairs of words and find their translations.

If you would like to find out more about this inner workings of the test, click here for more academic insights.

6. Know what's going to happen on the day

One of the best ways to be comfortable is to know how the test is going to run. Talk to someone who has done the test previously and ask them about the room that was used, the participation of the instructor/examiner and just what their experience was like. 

Arrive early and get your bearings. Have a look around, see if you can see where you'll be doing the test and become familiar with the environment. This will put you at ease and allow more brain space to answer questions. You don't want to add any unnecessary anxiety and this is a high stakes test!

7. Be familiar with the phonetic alphabet

This will help tremendously with section 2, but will also assist with other sections. This is the international phonetic alphabet (IPA), as opposed to the NATO phonetic alphabet. Learning these sounds and symbols will greatly assist you in your listening skills. It will allow you to differentiate sounds from each other and give you the background knowledge to easily remember sounds better.  

8. Enhance your memorization skills

Have you ever seen the memory Olympics? It's an event where participants need to remember decks of cards and the randomized order of all the cards within those decks. Top performers can consistently remember over three decks. How do they do it? There are specific memorization techniques that are quite easy to learn. 

Most sections within the MLAT test your memory so practicing this skill is essential to success...especially in section 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Know why you're taking the MLAT

Most people who sit the MLAT are doing it for a purpose. Studies show that the best motivator for someone to take on new knowledge is that the new knowledge will have a direct positive impact on their careers. People who sit the MLAT are often doing so in order to get access to a university course or professional language program through their job. These also often come with monetary incentives and allow for more rapid promotion once the language is acquired. 

 

If you will be sitting the MLAT at some point in the future, think about how a successful test will impact your career and your finances. Some reflection on this point should see you motivated to study for the test.   

10. Prepare your body and mind

Contrary to popular belief, you should not be too relaxed going into a test. Often, those who go in relaxed and worry free often change their tune very quickly once they are answering thew questions. They realize that they really didn't have all the answers and probably should have studied a little. 

Human performance improves as stress rises but only to a point. Try and keep yourself under a moderate level of stress. Butterflies in the stomach are good...as long as you can make them fly in formation.

 

Get a good sleep, but don't think about sleep too much. If you're wide awake at 3 am stressing out before your test, don't spend hours trying to sleep...get up and do some study. This study time will help you make progress in your understanding of the test questions and you will feel less stressed for having done it. On the other hand, if you spend all morning trying to get back to sleep again, you both will not have slept and also will not have studied. If you can't do sleep, do study