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The Occupational English Test (OET)

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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.

Our blog offers details about each section (Listening, Reading, and Writing & Speaking) and some useful tips for test preparation in the hope that we can help you feel comfortable with what you’re getting into!

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 questions. 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. 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.

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.

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