(OCCUPATIONAL ENGLISH TEST)
- The Occupational English Test (OET) is a language proficiency test aimed at evaluating the English skills of healthcare professionals who seek to practice in an English-speaking country.
- OET content is relevant to many professions, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, physiotherapy & pharmacy.
- It is important that you use preparation material that is specific to your specialization because the writing and speaking sections of the test are tailored to each profession in order to make the scenarios more realistic and relevant to your future work environment.
How much does OET TEST cost?
OET costs AU $587 or US $455 (US$ pricing only for those sitting OET on computer in the USA)
- We Focus on test-taking Skills
- Teaching and practice of all modules daily
- Regular test under timed conditions
- Mock tests with discussion
- Provide explanatory answers to analyse correct and incorrect answer choices
- The Writing sub-test takes 45 minutes and is profession-specific.
- There is one task set for each profession based on a typical workplace situation and the demands of the profession – a nurse does the task for nursing, a dentist does the task for dentistry, and so on.
IN IELTS & PTE
- In the IELTS and the PTE, you have to write an ‘essay’. You are given a prompt and you write according to your thoughts. In the OET, you do not write according to your thoughts. In fact, there is very little room for creativity at all.
- In the OET Writing, you have case notes and a task. You need to select from the case notes according to the task, create a logical structure for your letter and then make sure that the letter is written in your own words.
In this OET Writing article, we will share how you can get a high score on this sub-test. The OET Writing sub-test is unlike any other writing test.
In the IELTS and the PTE, you have to write an ‘essay’. You are given a prompt and you write according to your thoughts. In the OET, you do not write according to your thoughts. In fact, there is very little room for creativity at all.
In the OET Writing, you have case notes and a task. You need to select from the case notes according to the task, create a logical structure for your letter and then make sure that the letter is written in your own words.
Whether you’re a nurse, doctor, dentist or physiotherapist, this blog post will show you how to write the OET sub-test to get an A (or a B)!
The task is the most important part of the case notes. It should be the first thing that you look at in the 5 minutes reading time. The Task tells you WHO you are writing to and WHY. By understanding the Task (who and why) you will then be able to select case notes that are relevant to the reader.
Does the reader already know the patient or are you introducing the patient to the reader?
Compare these two tasks:
Using the information in the notes, write a letter back to the referring GP, Dr Jones, detailing your findings and suggested a treatment plan.
Using the information in the notes, write a letter to Dr Jones detailing your findings and suggested a treatment plan.
In task 1 the doctor already knows the patient. In task 2 the doctor does not know the patient.
How do you think your selection of case notes will change if the doctor knows or does not know the patient?
The answer to this is that they will change significantly. For instance, if the doctor already knows the patient, do you need to include much information from the medical history? No. But if the doctor has never met the patient before? Yes!
Whether read knows or does not know the patient will influence which case notes you choose and why.
Who are you writing to?
Consider these two tasks:
Using the information in the notes, write a letter of referral to Dr Jane Smith at Cicil Dermatology Clinic.
Using the information in the notes, write a letter of referral to Dr Jane Smith at Cicil Neurology Clinic.
The person you are writing to – or what their job is – will almost completely change the way you write your letter. For example, which person would want to know about acne – the dermatologist or the neurologist? Who would want to know about visual perception issues – the dermatologist or the neurologist?
The OET examiners purposefully put in case notes to distract you from the Task. Make sure that you understand the task – who you are writing to and why. If you understand the Task your chances of completing the task successfully will increase dramatically.
Read the sample writing sub-test letters to see how they are constructed according to the Task.
OET Writing Tips and Method
The method works for nurses, doctors, dentists – all professions.
The method is simple and has three steps:
OET Writing Tips 1 – Selecting case notes
OET Writing Tips 2 – Organising case notes
OET Writing Tips 3 – Transforming case notes
Let’s look at each of these steps in more depth.
OET Writing Tips 1 – Selecting case notes
We’ve already talked about the importance of understanding the Task in order to select relevant case notes. That is a big part of it.
After you have understood the Task you then need to be able to look at the case notes and understand WHICH ONES ARE IMPORTANT, and WHICH ONES ARE UNIMPORTANT.
The OET examiners purposefully put in UNIMPORTANT case notes to distract you. Be sure not to include these case notes. For example, if you are writing to a doctor about a patient’s diabetes don’t include that they broke their wrist twelve years ago. It’s completely irrelevant.
OET Writing Tips 2 – Organising case notes
You need to organize your case notes into neat paragraphs. This is a very common mistake made by OET candidates. They just mix all of their case notes into what looks like a paragraph, put space under it and start another mixed paragraph. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a CLEAR STRUCTURE.
The way you structure your OET writing should be according to:
The main issue
The secondary issue
Any other details
The issue will most likely be medical but it might be social. The secondary issue might be medical or social. Any other details may include medication or something else of relevance that did not fit into 1. and 2. Finally, your letter should end with the request to the medical professional or whomever you’re writing to, and this often takes into account the discharge plan or management plan.
Let’s look at this structure in more detail:
The introductory sentence
In the case notes there will be one particular medical issue that will stick out. It is usually found in the ‘admission diagnosis’ section of the case notes. For example, it may be “recurring headaches”. And in the Task, Discharge Plan or Management Plan you may be asked to refer the patient to a neurologist for assessment.
Therefore you need to include two pieces of information in your introductory sentence. (Let’s say that the neurologist knows this patient.)
I am referring Tim back into your care for full assessment of his recurring headaches.
You can see here that there are two pieces of information:
The main medical issue – the headaches
In a single sentence, we have summarized what is happening is what we want the reader to do. This is a great way to start your letters.
The main medical issue
Following on from the introductory sentence we then need to specify in more detail the main medical issue – in this case, the recurring headaches. So we should scan the case notes for ANY information relating to Tim’s headaches. We can then write this up into a single paragraph that encapsulates all the relevant information that the neurologist needs.
The secondary issue
You will notice when you are scanning the case notes that there will be a secondary issue emerging. This will be less important than the main medical issue but it will warrant its own paragraph. For example, following on from our example of headaches, let’s say that Tim is also getting dizzy. There will be several (3-4 case notes) explaining something about Tim’s dizziness. We then outline this secondary issue in the second paragraph.
It’s important to understand that we want to keep our paragraphs single-themed. That is, paragraph one should be about headaches and headaches ONLY. It should not include any other information. The second paragraph – though related to headaches – should only include information related to dizziness.
MIXING IDEAS IN YOUR PARAGRAPHS WILL RESULT IN A LOW GRADE
Any other details
There may be a few odds and ends in the case notes that are worth mentioning to the neurologist. For example, let’s say that Tim has been on a new diet, been drinking more and doing less exercise. Are these directly related to headaches or dizziness? No! Therefore, we do not include them in Paragraph 1 or 2. Instead, we can create a third paragraph for related information that the neurologist may want to know.
We have mentioned the Request in the introductory sentence but we should make it more explicit in the final paragraph. Here we should loudly say to the neurologist (or whomever) what it is that we want them to do. Remember, this information will be in the Task, Discharge plan or Management plan.
I am referring Tim back to your for assessment of his recurring headaches.
It may sound repetitive but it’s okay. You need to say the request twice: once at the beginning of the letter and once at the end of the letter.
OET Writing Tips 3 – Transforming case notes
The final step after you have selected and organized the case notes is to TRANSFORM the case notes for you MUST NOT copy the case notes directly into your letter. Of course, some allowance is given for transferring and some case notes you simply cannot change but most of the case notes are short and ungrammatical. Your job is to tell a story to the reader. You are taking the case notes and re-working them so that they make sense and fulfil the task.
OET Writing Tips
Here’s a summary of some important OET Writing Tips to remember:
Tip #1 Make sure that you understand the task – who you are writing to and why. If you understand the task your chances of completing the task successfully will increase dramatically.
Tip #2 Read the sample writing sub-test letters to see how they are constructed according to the Task.
Tip #3 Look at the case notes and understand which ones are important, and which ones are unimportant.
Tip #4 Organise your case notes into neat paragraphs with a clear structure: introductory, main and secondary issues, any other details and the request.
Tip #5 Select and organise your case notes by transforming the case notes. You MUST NOT copy the case notes directly into your letter, rather tell a story to the reader to fulfil the task.
You need a good approach to writing these types of letters. Without a good approach, the case notes can be overwhelming. There is often a lot of information and for physiotherapists, dentists and doctors, there is often more than there is for nurses…
Remember, you need to be able to:
- Organize, and
- Transform the case notes into a letter of between 180-200 words.
It’s no easy task, but it is possible with practice, feedback and guidance.
- The Reading sub-test consists of three parts and a total of 42 question items.
- All three parts take a total of 60 minutes to complete.
- The topics are of generic healthcare interest and are therefore accessible to candidates across all professions.
THE READING SUB-TEST STRUCTURE
PART A – EXPEDITIOUS READING TASK (15 MINUTES)
- Part A assesses your ability to locate specific information from four short texts in a quick and efficient manner. The four short texts relate to a single healthcare topic, and you must answer 20 questions in the allocated time period. The 20 questions consist of matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.
PART B AND PART C – CAREFUL READING TASKS (45 MINUTES)
- Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist or main point of six short texts sourced from the healthcare workplace (100-150 words each). The texts might consist of extracts from policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos. For each text, there is one three-option multiple-choice question.
- Part C assesses your ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion in two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals (800 words each). For each text, you must answer eight four-option multiple choice questions.
READING PART A
OET Reading Part A is a quick, yet challenging part of the OET Reading sub-test. This post is an overview of what is involved in this part of the test and some tips to get you started.
What does Reading Part A consist of?
Reading Part A is a skim and scan reading test in which you are given 4 short texts which are all related to the same healthcare topic. You are required to answer 20 short questions based on the information in these texts.
The text and answer booklets for Part A are separate to the question paper for Reading Parts B and C. You will only be provided with the question paper for Reading Parts B and C once Reading Part A is over.
However, like Reading Parts B and C and the Listening sub-test, Reading Part A is not specific to your profession, so you get the same texts whether you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, physio etc.
How long do I get to do Reading Part A?
You only get 15 minutes to do this part of the test, after which the question paper and answer booklet will be collected from you. Once those 15 minutes are up, you will not have access to the Reading Part A materials again. The short time that you get to do the test is what many candidates find challenging, but there is a reason for it…
What skills is OET Reading Part A testing?
Reading Part A is testing your ability to find pertinent information quickly and efficiently by using the “skim and scan” reading technique. You are NOT being tested on a deep understanding of the texts, nor do you have the time to read every word. The purpose of this task is related to the types of texts you get in Reading Part A…
What text types will I get in OET Reading Part A?
The texts you will see in Reading Part A are the kinds of texts you might be expected to read while you are with a patient. These include texts like diagnosis tools or information regarding medication or possible treatments. They might be in the form of tables, lists, charts, or other short text types. When you are with a patient, you need to be able to quickly extract the required information from texts, which is why OET Reading Part A is in this format.
What question types will I get in OET Reading Part A?
There are three types of questions in Reading Part A. You must write all your answers on the question paper.
Questions 1-7 are matching questions. This section begins with the phrase “In which text can you find information about” and then lists seven questions which might look something like this:
how to check for signs of a concussion?
You must identify which text contains that information (i.e. the text which tells you how to check for signs of a concussion) and write the letter (A, B, C, or D) which corresponds to the correct text.
Questions 8-14 are a little trickier. They might look something like this:
What is the first step that should be taken if a concussion is suspected?
The answers to these questions require a word or short phrase taken directly from the text. You must first find which text contains this information and write the answer to the question without changing the words used in the text.
Questions 15-20 are gap-fill questions that might look something like this:
Treating concussions requires a ______________ approach.
In these questions, you are provided with a sentence that contains information from one of the texts, but in which the information has been paraphrased. Your job is to fill in the gap in the sentence with a word or short phrase taken directly from the appropriate text.
And lastly, a few tips…
Start by skim reading the texts so you can understand the general meaning/topic of each text. But do this very quickly! You cannot afford to spend more than a minute or two on this, and you can’t get caught up in deep reading.
Practice skim and scan reading with other texts you come across in your daily life, making sure your eye is trained to pick out keywords and other features that might stand out, such as acronyms (e.g. MRI).
Spelling is very important in Reading Part A. Copy the words and short phrases accurately from the text, or you won’t get the mark for that question!
READING PART B
OET Reading part B contains six short texts usually taken from one of the following sources:
- Short, official missives that might be seen on pin-up boards and on the walls of clinics, hospital wards and other medical environments.
- More than just a modern form of an old-fashioned letter, emails are ubiquitous. Nowadays, it is rare to find an adult human whose inbox is not overburdened with emails of varying importance. Emails may be sent out to an individual or group as a means of communicating, eliciting or sharing information.
- The equivalent of the infamous ‘book of words’ that comes with every electronic device that very few consumers actually read but applied to items that have relevance to a medical professional.
- Different to emails, memos are dispatched across a department or organization-wide to inform or update the reader as to new methods, practices or procedures.
- This might take the form of an explanation of a procedure (e.g.: when and how to remove an IV) or a description of best practice.
What type of questions are there in the OET Reading Part B?
When you are reading each of the short texts, you should be aware that you are reading one of three things:
- Reading for gist is when you try to understand what is written even if you can’t understand every phrase or sentence. Your aim is to try to pick out keywords and other clues to help you to have a guess at the meaning.
- Even in a short text, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. This means that, on test day, you end up getting so involved in the details of the text that you either get confused or forget to pay attention to the most important parts of the passage. Focus instead on key words and concepts such as proper nouns, numbers or unusual vocabulary.
- Reading for detailed meaning is very different from reading for gist or scanning. In the first and second instance, you’re expected to skim the text to get an idea of what it’s about overall or scan for a specific piece of information (such as a number or name). Reading for detailed meaning is an active process, whereby you thoughtfully and deliberately read to enhance your comprehension of the text.
Scoring for OET Reading Part B
Of all the reading subtests in the OET, section B has the ‘least’ weight. Think about it: part A has a monstrous 20 questions that need answering in 15 minutes, while part C has 16 questions to answer in 30-35 minutes. In contrast, part B consists of only 6 short texts with one question each.
READING PART C
Reading Part C requires a more in-depth understanding of the texts than Reading Part A or Reading Part B. In this post we are going to go through all the essential facts about this part of the OET Reading sub-test and give you a few tips to get you started.
What does Reading Part C consist of?
OET Reading Part C consists of two semi-academic texts of approximately 800 words. For each text, you must answer six 4-option multiple questions (i.e. choosing between A, B, C, or D). That means there are a total of twelve questions in Reading Part C.
How long do I get to do OET Reading Part C?
You get a total of 45 minutes to complete Reading Parts B and C. However, the texts in Reading Part C are significantly longer and more complex than those in Part B and require a different type of understanding, as do the answer options (see below for further explanation). We recommend spending no more than 12 of the 45 minutes on Part B, and leaving the remaining time for OET Reading Part C.
Note: Remember Reading Part A is separate to Reading Parts B and C
What skills is Reading Part C testing?
OET Reading Part C is all about understanding the inferences, attitudes, and opinions of the writer and other people quoted in the texts, as well as the writer’s purpose. These ideas might be explicitly stated or implied in the language. That means it is often asking you to “read between the lines”, so to speak, to make sure you can show a deeper understanding of a text. You are also being tested on your ability to understand more complex language.
What text types will I get in Reading Part C?
As we previously mentioned, OET Reading Part C involves semi-academic texts. These are the types of texts you might find on websites or in journals for a general medical audience. They will often discuss medical research and case studies and expert views regarding these topics.
What types of questions will I see in Reading Part C?
All twelve questions in Reading Part C are 4-option multiple-choice questions. As I said earlier, the questions focus on opinions, attitudes, and showing an understanding of complex language. Some examples of questions might include:
What point is made about rehabilitation programs in the first paragraph?
By quoting Dr Smith in the third paragraph, the writer shows that the doctor
What does the word ‘those’ refer to in the fourth paragraph?
You will note two types of questions in the examples above. Questions 1 and 3 above are direct questions, while question 2 is a sentence completion. These are the two types of questions you might get in Reading Part C.
You will also notice that each question has a different focus. Question 1 is asking you to understand a particular opinion or attitude expressed about rehabilitation programs. Question 2 is asking you to identify what the writer is trying to achieve by including Dr Smith’s quote. And finally, Question 3 is asking you to show understanding of a reference word. These are just some examples of what the questions in Reading Part C might focus on.
Some tips for Reading Part C
Identifying keywords in the question and answer options is crucial for success in OET Reading Part C. These will help you focus and spot any subtle clues in the answer options.
Becoming familiar with the language of opinion is also extremely important for understanding these texts, and you need to get used to understanding what is being implied in language use, rather than just being satisfied with a surface understanding of a text.
The Speaking sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. This part of OET uses materials specifically designed for your profession. In each role-play, you take your professional role (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist) while the interlocutor plays a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interlocutor is the owner or carer of the animal.
THE SPEAKING SUB-TEST STRUCTURE
In each Speaking test, your identity and profession are checked by the interlocutor and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced one by one and you have three minutes to prepare for each. The role-plays take about five minutes each.
- You receive information for each role-play on a card that you keep while you do the role-play. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. You may write notes on the card if you want. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you can ask them during the preparation time.
- The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on a health professional in those situations. The interlocutor follows a script so that the Speaking test structure is similar for each candidate. The interlocutor also has detailed information to use in each role-play. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration.
HOW IS SPEAKING ASSESSED IN OET?
- The whole Speaking sub-test is recorded and it is this audio recording that is assessed.
- The Speaking sub-test is marked independently by a minimum of two trained OET Assessors.
- Neither Assessor knows what scores the other has given you, or what scores you have achieved on any of the other sub-tests.
- Your test day interlocutor plays no role in the assessment of your performance.
- OET Assessors’ judgments are targeted and specific, not a general evaluation of candidates’ ability in spoken English.
- OET Assessors are trained to focus on how a candidate responds to the particular task on the day. They apply specific assessment criteria that reflect the demands of communication in the health professional workplace. Remember that OET is a test of English-language skills, not a test of professional knowledge
OET Speaking Tips 1 – Start the conversation
A lot of candidates make the mistake of thinking that the OET speaking sub-test is an examination and not a medical situation. As such they wait for the OET person (the patient) to do the talking. Imagine that you are in a professional setting and you are the nurse, doctor or dentist. You are in control. The OET person is the patient – not the OET person.
As such, it’s up to you to start the conversation.
Here’s an OET sample for nurses:
“Hello, my name is Jane and I’m the community nurse. Can I start with your name?”
Don’t sit there and make the patient start the conversation. It’s up to you.
OET Speaking Tips 2 – Keep the conversation moving
It’s also up to you to maintain the conversation. If the conversation stops and silence happens you need to bring it back to life.
Here’s a sample:
“So, please tell me a little bit more about your situation.”
“Is there anything that you would like to add?”
OET Speaking Tips 3 – Ask questions to get the patient to talk
If the patient is reluctant to speak, you will need to ask questions that force him to speak.
Consider the following two questions. Which one will get the conversation moving?
Do you feel sore?
Can you describe the pain to me?
Question A would give you a Yes or a NO answer.
You need to think of questions that will get the patient to talk – to open up and tell you more.
OET Speaking Tips 4 – Listen to the patient
Although the OET speaking sub-test is a test of your speaking ability, it is as much a test of your listening ability. In order to “reply” you need to understand what the patient says.
Perhaps more importantly, you need to “listen” in terms of hearing what the person has to say. Don’t just concentrate on your performance, concentrate on communication. You need to respond appropriately to what the patient says – even if you are nervous.
What’s interesting is that the more that you concentrate on communication through listening, the less nervous you will be. When you focus on yourself – on your performance – the more nervous you will get.
OET Speaking Tips 5 – Adjust your language
Depending on who you are speaking to, you need to adjust your language to suit the scenario.
Think about this:
You are talking to a depressed 87-year-old man.
You are talking to an aggressive 18-year-old man.
How would your language change? How would the words and intonation change?
OET Speaking Tips 6 – Unexpected turns…
Every now and then the OET person will test you by asking you something a little odd. He or she wants to see how well you respond – how flexible you are in your thinking and language.
For example, “What’s the phone number of the occupational therapist?”
What do you do? Do you laugh? No. You give a phone number, or you say:
“I will give you the number after our consultation.”
OET Speaking Tips 7 – Organise the role play
If you really want an A you will have to organise the role play into clear stages with an introduction, body and conclusion.
In the introduction, you introduce yourself, welcome the patient and summarise the scenario.
In the body, you move through the tasks, one-by-one.
In the conclusion, if you have time, you should summarize the role play by saying:
“Ok, so we have discussed the use of X and although I understand your concerns, I think it’s the best thing to do.”
The key to OET speaking
Although you can read ABOUT the OET all day long, when it comes to success it’s all about OET preparation. You need to prepare for the OET. You do need to be careful of the OET material for nurses that is available online and for sale on Gumtree and other classifieds. Sometimes it can be very different from the actual OET. You need to make sure that the OET materials that you use are similar to the actual OET test. At E2Language, we use OET materials that are identical to the actual OET so you can be sure that your OET preparation is effective.
An OET preparation course is a good idea, but again, you need to choose carefully. Many teachers don’t really understand the OET. While they may be able to give you an OET sample test for nurses, do they really know how to teach it? A good OET teacher is very rare because it is an uncommon test.
- The OET Listening sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions.
- The total length of the Listening audio is about 40 minutes, including recorded speech and pauses to allow you time to write your answers.
- You will hear each recording once and are expected to write your answers while listening.
THE OET LISTENING SUB-TEST STRUCTURE
PART A – CONSULTATION EXTRACTS (ABOUT 5 MINUTES EACH)
Part A assesses your ability to identify specific information during a consultation. You will listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and you will complete the health professional’s notes using the information you hear. Note: the health professionals may be any one of the 12 professions who can take OET.
PART B – SHORT WORKPLACE EXTRACTS (ABOUT 1 MINUTE EACH)
Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist, opinion or purpose of short extracts from the healthcare workplace. You will listen to six recorded extracts (e.g. team briefings, handovers, or health professional-patient dialogues) and you will answer one multiple-choice question for each extract.
PART C – PRESENTATION EXTRACTS (ABOUT 5 MINUTES EACH)
Part C assesses your ability to follow a recorded presentation or interview on a range of accessible healthcare topics. You will listen to two different extracts and you will answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract. You may expect two presentations or two interviews, or one of each.
LISTENING PART A
HOW IS THIS SECTION STRUCTURED?
This section is broken into two parts, each containing one task.
- Part A is a recording of a simulated professional-patient consultation (about 15 minutes) with note-taking questions. You must create case notes (under the correct heading), and write down all of the relevant information that you hear about the patient in the recording. You’ll have 25 minutes in total for this task.
- Part B consists of a lecture or talk on a health related topic that will last about 15 minutes. You must answer a series of short answer/ note-taking questions based on what you hear in the recording. You will have 25 minutes in total for this task.
WHAT SKILLS ARE BEING TESTED IN THIS SECTION?
Part A is aimed at assessing your ability to pinpoint and organize critical information in a healthcare setting. This means that you recognize which aspects of the recording are relevant to your patient’s health, and you understand where to put this information.
Part B is assessing whether or not you understand specific information presented to you in English. You must be able to listen for the information that fits each question appropriately and ignore any extra information presented to you.
HOW MANY TIMES WILL I HAVE TO DO EACH TASK?
You only have to complete each task only once.
5 STEP GUIDE TO OET LISTENING PART A
Imagine it’s OET test day, and you’re doing the OET listening sub-test. Of course, you start with OET Listening Part A. What you hear over the speaker system is this:
- “In this part of the test, you’ll hear two different extracts. In each extract, a health professional is talking to a patient.
- For questions 1-24, complete the notes with information you hear. Now look at the notes for extract one.”
So what’s in Listening Part A? Well, as the voice over the PA said, you are going to hear TWO – not one, but two – extracts, or audio files. The first extract will relate to a set of case notes with 12 gaps. The second extract you hear will also be a set of case notes with 12 more gaps. In each extract, as the instruction said, you will hear a health professional — think doctor, nurse, physio etc. — talking to a patient.
5 STEP GUIDE TO OET LISTENING PART A
This is what the case notes, or exam paper, looks like on test day:
Then you will see and hear a second set of instructions relating to the particular Listening Part A extract. It might say something like:
“Extract 1: Questions 1 to 12
You hear an otolaryngologist talking to a patient named Steven Duran. For questions 1-12, complete the notes with a word or short phrase.”
Let’s break down these instructions because they’re important…
The first thing you want to know is that the doctor and the patient are having a conversation. And unlike real life, the patient does most of the talking (joke!). It’s true though. In these OET Listening Part A sub-tests, the patient speaks almost entirely apart from the infrequent question from the doctor or health professional. What you want to keep in mind is that it is the patient that gives the answers that you need to write down, not the health professional (I’m 99.99% confident that this is the case.)
The second thing you need to bear in mind is that the word or phrase that you use to fill the gap can be one, two or a few words and/or a number. Usually it won’t be more than 3 words, but be prepared to scribble down a few more depending on what is said.
The third important thing to know is that the word or phrase that you write into the gap will not change from the audio; that is, you will write exactly what you hear, not a synonym and the word does not need to be translated. For example, imagine the gap-filled case note looks like this: felt (1) ______ especially in the morning. And let’s imagine that the patient says: “Well Doc, I haven’t been feeling too well these days. And in particular I’m finding the mornings pretty dreadful. For about two weeks now I’ve been waking up feeling really dizzy…”
So what’s the answer? The answer is DIZZY, and that’s what you should write directly into the gap, and did you notice that you didn’t have to transform the word to make it fit the gap? For example, you didn’t have to change it from DIZZY to DIZZINESS. Keep that in mind.
The fourth important thing you need to be aware of is that the case note in front of you will differ in the way its written from the way the patient/doctor says it. That is, the written and the aural differ from each other. Let’s take our example from above. I want you to look at the case note and then think about how the transcript relates to the case note but does not say the exact same thing:
felt (1) ______ especially in the morning.
“Well Doc, I haven’t been feeling too well these days. And in particular I’m finding the mornings pretty dreadful. For about two weeks now I’ve been waking up feeling really dizzy…”
Hopefully you can see the relationship between the case note and the audio Can you see how IN PARTICULAR in the audio relates to ESPECIALLY on the exam paper? Can you see how FEELING in the audio relates to FELT on the exam paper? Can you see how MORNINGS in the audio relates to IN THE MORNING on the exam paper?
The fifth thing you need to be conscious of is how the conversation progresses and how you can keep up with the talk. If you look closely at the OET Listening Part A exam paper again you’ll see ‘signpost’ words; these are the sub-headings on exam paper in bold: PATIENT/REASON FOR REFERRAL/BACKGROUND/OCCUPATION/TREATMENT HISTORY
These are the keywords that will guide you through the discussion. And it will usually be the health professional who says these words. But again, the health professional won’t use the exact same language. Instead, the health professional will use a synonym. If you see the word OCCUPATION, for example, what synonym do you think the health professional will use to signal that this is where you are up to? Perhaps WORK?
LISTENING PART B
OET Listening Part B consists of 6 questions. Each question consists of a short audio of around 1 minute where a speaker or two speakers discuss a workplace situation. Along with the short audio is a 3-option multiple choice question. It’s critical that you understand what you are looking at before test day because you get time to read the question and the answer options before the audio begins.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN LISTENING PART B
This is what a Listening Part B question looks like:
You hear a nurse briefing her colleague about a patient. What does she warn her colleague about?
A) The patient is allergic to some types of antibiotics.
B) Care must to be taken to prevent the patient from falling.
C) Oxygen may be needed if the patient becomes breathless.
You can see that it has several parts. The first part is the CONTEXT statement: You hear a nurse briefing her colleague about a patient. From this context statement you will be able to work out some important information. First, how many speakers will there be? One or two? Well, here you can safely assume that there will be two speakers: the nurse and the colleague.
Second, you can identify what the audio will be like. In this case, the nurse will be discussing a patient with a colleague. Other contexts include patient handovers (one or two speakers), team meetings (one speaker) and other such healthcare setting situations.
The second part of the question is the actual question. It says: What does she warn her colleague about? From this question we can identify that at least one of the speakers will be female. Typically, if there are two speakers, they will have very different voices so you can distinguish who is who. It’ll either be female/male or one type of accent – say Irish – and another type of accent – say, British. Critically, the key word in this particular question is ‘warn’: You must listen for a particular ‘warning’.
4 Question Types in Listening Part B
There are a number of different question types in Listening Part B that you will see and which you must listen for. Each question is different. They include:
- Identifying details e.g. He says that errors in dispensing medication to patients usually result from…
- Identifying the gist (overall idea) e.g. What is the plan for the patient today?
- Identifying someone’s opinion about someone or something e.g. How does the nurse feel about the new policy?
- Identifying the purpose of something e.g. Why does the nurse want to transfer the patient?
There are two types of questions that you will see on test day. The first is the straightforward question: Why does X do Y? The other type of question is the incomplete sentence style question: The nurse reported the spill to her manager because… The first type of question is comparatively simpler than the incomplete sentence type because it’s easier to keep the straightforward question in your mind while you listen. What you may need to do for the incomplete sentence style questions is change them into questions in your mind. For example, “The nurse reported the spill to her manager because…” can quite simply become “Why did the nurse report the spill to her manager?” This way the question will more easily stick in your mind while you do the most important part, LISTEN.
As I mentioned the audio goes for less than a minute. It’s critical that you read the context and question before the audio begins so you know what’s happening and what you need to listen for. Once you have the context and the question firmly in your mind you can then begin listening intently to the audio.
How to Answer the Questions!
But what should you do about the answer options? Should you read them before the audio starts? Is there any point? Is there any time? The answer is: It depends. You need to find out what works for you. Some people like to ignore the answer options until the audio has finished because they can keep the question in their mind without any distraction. They then have 5 seconds to select the correct answer having heard the audio more ‘purely’. Other people like to quickly read the answer options before the audio begins bearing in mind that there is no way to memorize them. It is only at the end of the audio that you can then select the correct answer option.
One thing is clear in OET Listening Part B and that is that you should not mix reading and listening. You cannot read and listen at the same time. Think about it… you are lying on the couch reading the newspaper when your friend begins speaking to you. You can’t continue to read the newspaper and listen to your friend at the same time. The key then is to read and THEN listen. This will allow you to perfectly capture what was said and be sure that you are selecting the correct answer.
LISTENING PART C
Listening Part C of the OET listening sub-test is, in my opinion, the most challenging of all the listening parts. In this article, we are going to break it down so that you know what it consists of, what is required of you, and how you can start to work on your skills for this part of the test.
THE STRUCTURE OF LISTENING PART C
In Listening Part C, you will hear two extracts, each of which lasts about 4-5 minutes. They will take the form of an interview with or a presentation by a healthcare professional. You will hear each audio extract once only.
A question for Listening Part C looks something like this:
How does Dr. Lee describe the movement from traditional care systems to non-visit care?
- Large pre-existing medical providers will probably be dominant in the market
- There will be a mixture of reactions from existing and new organizations
- Flexible new organizations will have an advantage over new ones.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO IN LISTENING PART C?
Your job is to answer six 3-option multiple-choice questions per audio extract. These questions may focus on attitude, gist, or the opinion of the speaker, and very often the answer is implied rather than stated outright. The fact that all of the answer options will have some kind of relationship to the audio content complicates the task of choosing the right answer. Therefore, remember your job is to choose the answer that best matches what you hear and that answers the question.
There are two types of questions you will see in the OET Listening Part C. The first type of question is the direct question. This type of question will end with a question mark like the example given above.
The other type of question is a sentence completion. In this question type, your choice of answer will finish the sentence:
According to Dr Lee, a non-visit care culture:
- views face-to-face consultations as a final resort in the treatment
- will develop more rapidly in new medical start-ups
- requires a blend of responses from medical organisations
Before each audio begins, you get 90 seconds of reading time during which you should pay careful attention to and underline the keywords in each question. This will help you focus while listening.
You will notice the Listening Part C looks very similar to Listening Part B. However, whereas in Part B each question corresponds to one short audio extract, in Part C there are no breaks in the audio to indicate that you need to move onto the next question, which means it is up to you to keep up with the audio. For this reason, most candidates feel the interview format is easier than a presentation, as the interviewer provides a paraphrased version of the question on your question paper, meaning you know when a new topic is being discussed. In a presentation, there is only one speaker, meaning that you have to listen carefully for topic changes that correspond to the focus of each question so that you can keep up with the audio.
- OET fee in Pakistan
The fee is to be paid in AUD $587 ~ PKR 74000 (current exchange rate 127), the fee can be paid online via debit/credit card.
OET declares result in around 16 business days ~ almost 3 weeks
3. Conducted by:
Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust (CBLA)
4. Mode of Exam
Computer and Paper – delivered tests and OET at Home
5. Score Range
On a scale of A (Highest) to E (Lowest)
- Is 2 months enough for OET?
Successful candidates are those who spend like 2-3 months in preparation for the exam. Yes, if you are someone who is not so-very-good at English then it is recommended that you shall spend some extra time in brushing up your English language. This will eventually help you a lot with getting a good score
- OET validity
OET certificates are valid for two years. If you are taking the PLAB test, your certificate must be valid on the day you sit PLAB part 1. If you are applying for registration with a licence to practise, it must be valid when we approve your application.
- OET exam center in Pakistan
AEO Pakistan, Islamabad Centre. …
AEO Pakistan, Karachi Centre. …
AEO Pakistan, Lahore Centre. …
Prometric Testing Center (Islamabad) …
Prometric Testing Center (Karachi)
- What is the most difficult part of OET?
OET: Writing component (45 minutes)
The writing part is usually the most challenging, and it is advisable to practice before the actual exam.
- What can you not bring in an OET exam?
You cannot bring:
Bags, notes or study materials. Dictionaries or thesauruses. Jewelry. Electronic items such as phones, headsets, MP3 players, cameras, and watches.
- What are OET passing marks?
What score do you need to pass OET? Most recognising boards and councils require candidates to score at least 350 in each of the four sub-tests. But to make sure you’re up-to-date with requirements, always check with the relevant boards and councils that regulate your profession.
- What does re-marking involve?
To have your subtest(s) remarked, you must pay a fee of AU$120 (OET on Paper) US$95 (OET on Computer) per sub-test to complete your re-marking request.
- How many times can I retake OET?
The OET test can be attempted as many times as the candidate wants to improve his score.
- How many OET tests are held in a given month?
The OET test is held twice in a given month.
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