What You Should Know Before Taking the OET


The OET (Occupational English Test) is the most widely recognized English language test for the healthcare sector. This test assesses your language communication skills as a healthcare professional who wishes to register and practise in an English-speaking environment. It  validates all four language capabilities; reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Your OET scores can make or break your chances of getting registration, so make sure that you are well prepared for your big day! We bring you some tips for OET Test preparation.

  • Be aware of the OET Format

The OET comprises four sub tests, which are graded from A to E (where A is the highest and E is the lowest). Grade boundaries are determined by taking a statistical analysis of the scores of candidates, and finding out the spread of performances to establish the highest and lowest capabilities. The timings are as below:

  • Listening (approximately 50 minutes)
  • Reading (60 minutes)
  • Writing (45 minutes)
  • Speaking (approximately 20 minutes)
  • Set a Target Score

Check out the minimum recommended scores for acceptance to the schools of your choice, and set a goal of the scores you need to achieve. This way, when you do your practice tests, you will know if you are falling short of the mark and can work on improving your scores to that level.

  • Chalk out a study plan

For most students, a minimum of 6 months to 1 year should suffice as preparation time. This, of course, depends on your present language skill levels and the amount of time that you can spend every day on exam prep. Focus on your weaknesses and sharpen your skills in your grey areas.

  • Improve Your Vocabulary and Knowledge of Healthcare terms

All OET sections need a good knowledge of English as well as healthcare terms. You must know the meanings of the most commonly used words in order to be able to easily understand the English you read and hear. With a good vocabulary, you will also be able to articulate yourself more clearly and effectively in speech and writing.

  • Do practice tests

Practice tests that are scored and worked out in the exact time frame of the actual test will give you a good idea of where you stand, what you need to improve in and what you are already good at. Put in some work on improving your weaknesses. If possible, get some feedback on your speaking and writing.

  • Writing test

At the beginning itself, understand the task clearly. You should know who you are writing to and the reason why. Carefully read the sample writing sub-test letters, look at the case notes and understand which ones are important. You must organise your case notes into short paragraphs with a clear structure. OET writing should be structured in this manner: Introductory sentence, the main issue, the secondary issue, any other details and the request. Paragraphs must be single-themed and should not be confusing. Note that the case notes should not be directly copied into your letter.

  • Speaking test

As you are being tested for your professional capability, you must be the one to begin the conversation. You also have to keep the conversation going, and ask the right questions to make your ‘patient’ (the OET person) talk. Listen to their responses, and adjust your language to suit the situation. You will be tested on how flexible you are in your thinking and language.

  • Listening test

The Part A listening test requires you to gather information, and you can give the correct information in your own words or close to what you have heard on the recording. Part B involves listening to a talk on a health related topic after which you have to answer a range of questions in different formats. Choose answers which fit logically. Make sure that you manage your time well.

  • Reading Test

There are 8-10 questions that must be answered after each passage. As you read, underline the parts where numbers are mentioned. As you read the questions, go back to the passage and underline all the obvious answers, marking them with the question numbers. Time management is the key and you should work out your best strategy. Some people like to answer all the easy questions, skip the difficult ones and come back later. However you should finish each passage before going on to the next as otherwise you may lose the gist of the topic and get confused between the content of different passages.

  • Be well rested the day before the test

To be able to perform well, you must take care of yourself. Make sure that you get a full night’s rest before test day—last minute cramming does not help and if you are feeling tired you will forget what you already know. Give your brain a well-deserved rest! On the morning of the exam, eat a nourishing breakfast that fills you up.

  • Above all, stay calm!

Last but not least, it is very important that you stay calm while you do the test. Keep a clear head and you will be able to ace your test. Good luck!

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