Preparing for VELT

VELT is a proficiency test. This means it tests how competent you are in mastering aspects of English grammar and vocabulary. Although you should be able to pass VELT without extensive preparation, you might nevertheless want to practise before taking the test.

Below, you can find a list of books and activities that should help you get fit for the VELT. You will be using many of these books in the language courses further in you academic career at the Department. All of them are available in the departmental library.

For more information about the test format as well as some sample questions, please click here.

Practising for VELT

Any practice or preparation you do for VELT is useful. You should, though, be aware that being competent in English is not about demonstrating knowledge in grammar and vocabulary, but being able to apply this knowledge appropriately according to situational needs.


  • Any monolingual, encyclopaedic English dictionary for foreign learners
    e.g. Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary
  • Choice of handbooks of English usage
    • Swan, M. 2005.Practical English Usage (3rd edition). Oxford: OUP.
    • Collins Cobuild. 2012. English Usage. (3rd edition). Glasgow: Harper Collins.
  • Choice of self-study grammar books
    • Downing, Angela; Locke, Philip. 2006. A University Course in English Grammar. (2nd edition). Abingdon: Routledge.
    • Hewings, Martin. 2013. Advanced Grammar in Use with answers and CD-Rom. (3rd edition Cambridge: CUP.
    • Huddleston, R; Pullum, G.K. 2005. A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Swan, Michael; Walter, Catherine. 1997. How English Works. Oxford: OUP. (This book contains a test which should give you an idea of the grammar chapters you ought to revise)
  • Self-study vocabulary books (all CUP)
    • McCarthy, Michael; O’Dell, Felicity. 2001. English Vocabulary in Use, Upper Intermediate, (2nd edition). Cambridge: CUP.
    • McCarthy, Michael; O’Dell, Felicity. 2002. English Vocabulary in Use, Advanced.
    • McCarthy, Michael; O’Dell, Felicity. 2008. Academic Vocabulary in Use.
  • Choice of collocation dictionaries
    • Oxford Collocation Dictionary for Students of English. 2009. Oxford: OUP.
    • Hill, J.; Lewis, Michael. 1997. Dictionary of Selected Collocations. London: LTP.
    • Benson, Morton, et al. 2010. The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English: Your guide to collocations and grammar. (3rd edition). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


  • Listen regularly, e.g. to the news, and make a note of unfamiliar words or structures. Look them up in a monolingual dictionary and study the information given.
  • Read extensively, e.g. quality newspapers or magazine articles. Again make a note of new words and phrases and revise them on a regular basis.
  • Practise new words and phrases regularly using learning strategies (such as revising before going to bed).
  • Practise test taking, for example on the internet.
  • Learn to devise your own multiple choice tests. This way you will become more aware of the choices presented to you in a specific task.