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How to Prepare For OET?

HOW TO PREPARE FOR OET

For medical professionals

The OET exam stands for Occupational English Test. It measures the language proficiency of people in healthcare sector who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication.

OET is available for the following 12 professions: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science.

OET exam has opened gates for tremendous opportunities for Indian students. While the exam has its challenges, it is something that most students can master with the right training and guidance.

What is OET? For whom is it relevant?

The Occupational English Test (also known as OET) is an international English language test for the healthcare sector. It assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practise in an English-speaking environment.

OET is available for the following 12 professions: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science.

The test has been researched and developed continuously since the 1980s to ensure that it has kept up with current theory and practice in language assessment.

It is very relevant for healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses who want to settle in countries like U.K., Australia, Singapore, Dubai, New Zealand etc.

How much preparation is enough?

Of course this depends on the candidate’s current English proficiency. Our advice is for candidates to focus on establishing their current level of English and then complete the recommended number of hours’ preparation to achieve the score they require. For a candidate with a previous score of C+ (IELTS 6.5) the recommended number of hours is typically 100. For a candidate with a previous score of C (IELTS 6) the recommended number of hours is 200.

However, there are other factors that determine test outcome, including individual test-taking and language- acquisition skills.

Our free session at Jeremy Education Centres in Ahmedabad & Vadodara teach test-taking skills and provide advice on how candidates can improve their language skills.

If I am already good at English, do I need to prepare?

Absolutely! Candidates are assessed solely on the language produced on test day in each of the four skill areas – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

In addition, they are tested in a specific time-frame and this requires test strategy practice. In other words, even those with good English language skills will benefit from time spent preparing.

How am I assessed?

The OET assessment has four skill areas:

1-Listening

approx. 50 minutes

  • Same content for all healthcare
  • Part A: recorded, simulated professional/patient consultation with note-taking
  • Part B: recorded talk or lecture on health-related topic, with range of short and multiple choice

 

2-Reading

1 hour

  • Same content for all healthcare
  • Part A: skim and scan short health-related texts and complete a summary paragraph by filling in missing
  • Part B: read longer health-related texts and answer multiple-choice

 

3-Writing

45 minutes

  • Specific to profession, based on typical workplacesituations.
  • The task is to write a letter, usually a referral Sometimes, especially for some professions, a different type of letter is required: e.g. a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise or inform a patient, carer, or group.

4-Speaking

approx. 20 minutes

  • Specific to profession, based on typical workplace
  • In a private room you will take part in two role-plays. You take your professional role (as a healthcare professional) while the interlocutor plays a patient or client, or sometimes a relative or

What’s there in the Listening test?

The Listening sub-test consists of two parts, with approximately 20-28 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest, accessible to candidates across all professions. Each part consists of about 15 minutes of recorded speech, containing 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 Listening sub-test structure

Part A – consultation (20-25 minutes)

Part A assesses your ability to follow facts during a consultation. You will listen to a recorded health professional-patient consultation and complete a note taking task, guided by relevant headings.

Part B – presentation (20-25 minutes)

Part B assesses your ability to understand a short talk on a health-related topic that might realistically occur in the workplace. You’ll listen to a recorded talk or lecture (monologue) by a healthcare professional and complete a range of open-ended and fixed choice tasks.

How is listening ability assessed in OET?

A wide range of task types are included so that a good sample of each candidate’s listening ability is tested. This includes tasks assessing comprehension, such as:

‘multiple- choice’ questions

‘short-answer response’ questions

tasks that assess your ability to listen for specific information – for example, completing tables or lecture notes, ‘sentence-completion’ tasks or ticking/circling boxes or lists, etc.

Assessors who mark the Listening sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior Assessors for guidance. Candidates with scores that are near the borderline automatically have their papers double- marked to ensure fairness and consistency.

How is the listening test scored?

Your answer booklets for the Listening sub-test and for Reading Part A are marked by trained Assessors at the OET Centre.

Answer booklets are assigned at random to avoid any conflict of interest. Your answer sheet for Reading Part B is computer scanned and automatically scored.

Listening and Reading Assessors use a detailed marking guide which sets out which answers receive marks and how the marks are counted.

Assessors use this guide to decide for each question whether you have provided enough correct information to be given the mark or marks available. Assessors are monitored for accuracy and consistency, and the data entry of scores is also double-checked for accuracy.

Part A and Part B of the Listening sub-test both sample from a range of Listening skills and are therefore weighted equally. Even if there are more marks available in one Part than in the other, your score on each Part will count for exactly 50% of your total score for Listening.

How is each section in the OET Listening sub-test weighted in terms of overall score?

Part A and Part B of the Listening sub-test both sample from a range of Listening skills and are therefore weighted equally. Even if there are more marks available in one Part than in the other, your score on each Part will count for exactly 50% of your total score for Listening.

Where do I write my answers for the Listening sub-test?

You must write your answers for Part A in the test booklet under the appropriate heading for each question. Assessors will not consider any responses you write in other locations, e.g. under a different heading elsewhere in the booklet.

You must write your answer for Part B in the correct location/space/gap etc. in the test booklet. Assessors will not consider any responses you write in other locations.

It is a good idea to use the sample tests to familiarise yourself with the different task formats you might find in the test.

What’s there in the Reading test?

The Reading sub-test consists of two parts and takes 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 – summary task (15 minutes)

Part A assesses your ability to source information from multiple texts, to synthesise information in a meaningful way and to ‘skim’ and ‘scan’ material to retrieve information quickly. You are required to read 3-4 short texts (a total of approximately 650 words) related to a single topic, and complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words (25-35 gaps in total).

Part B – multiple-choice questions (45 minutes)

Part B assesses your ability to read and understand comprehensive texts on health-related topics similar to those in academic or professional journals. You are required to read two passages (600-800 words each) and answer a set of multiple-choice questions (16-20 in total).

How is reading ability assessed in OET?

Reading Part A (the summary task) tests your ability to skim and scan quickly across different texts on a given topic in order to identify and synthesise selected information. For that purpose, Part A is strictly timed and you must complete all the items within 15 minutes. To complete the task successfully, you will also need the ability to understand the conventions of different medical text types, differentiate main ideas from supporting information, and understand the presentation of numerical and textual data.

Reading Part B tests your ability to understand longer passages of text at the level of word/phrase, explicit meaning, and implied meaning. To complete the task successfully, you will also need the ability to identify the purpose of a text, to understand the relationships between ideas, and to understand at the level of the paragraph as well as the sentence.

Assessors who mark the Reading sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior Assessors for guidance. Candidates with scores that are near the borderline automatically have their papers double-marked to ensure fairness and consistency.

What’s there in the Writing test?

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.

The Writing sub-test structure

The task is to write a letter, usually a referral letter. Sometimes a different type of letter is required: e.g. a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise or inform a patient, carer, or group.

Along with the task instructions, you will receive stimulus material (case notes and/or other related documentation) which includes information to use in your response.

How is writing ability assessed in OET?

Your performance on the Writing sub-test is marked independently by a minimum of two trained 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 performance is scored against five criteria and receives a band score for each criterion:

  • Overall Task Fulfillment
  • Appropriateness of Language
  • Comprehension of Stimulus
  • Linguistic Features (grammar and cohesion)
  • Presentation Features (spelling, punctuation, layout).

What’s there in the Speaking test in OET?

The Speaking sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. You take this part of OET using materials specifically for your profession. In each role- play, you take your professional role (e.g. as a nurse) while the interlocutor plays a patient/client or sometimes a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science the interlocutor is the owner or carer for 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 2-3 minutes to prepare for each. The two role-plays take about five minutes each.

Role-plays

You receive information for each role-play on a card, which you keep while you do the role-play. You may write notes on the card if you want. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. 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 the professional in those situations. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration. 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.

How is speaking assessed in OET?

The whole Speaking 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 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’ judgements are targeted and specific, not a general evaluation of candidates’ ability in spoken English.

Assessors are trained to focus on how a candidate responds to the particular task on the day, and to apply specific assessment criteria which reflect the demands of communication in the health professional workplace. Remember that the OET is a test of English-language skills, not a test of professional knowledge.

Candidates who pay attention to the details of the specific role-play task, and who are familiar with the assessment criteria, have a better chance of demonstrating their ability in the key areas. Candidates who use pre-prepared material, or who rely on techniques which worked in other circumstances, tend not to perform to their full potential in the test.

Your performance on each of the two role-plays is scored against five criteria and receives a band score for each criterion:

  • Overall Communicative Effectiveness
  • Intelligibility
  • Fluency
  • Appropriateness
  • Resources of Grammar and

 

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