OET (Occupational English Test) is very popular in medical circles. This is because it is designed specifically for medical professionals, compared to general English exams such as IELTS or TOEFL. However, since the exams are held up to 12 times a year, do they keep creating new questions, or do OET repeat questions?
In general, if you retake the OET, there is a likelihood that you may see some repeat questions. However, OET has stated that even if there are repeated questions, they will not be in large numbers. This means you should not bank on meeting repeat questions to score in any OET resit but to study and prepare for it properly.
In this article, we discuss whether OET repeats their questions and if you need to do anything about it in case you encounter some in your own resits. We also discuss what the OET questions may look like.
How Does OET Create Exam Questions?
OET does not officially explain how they create questions. Still, it is believed that OET holds a large bank of questions, and they select from it to produce test questions for a particular seating. The system may differ regarding online-based OET exams since the questions may be based on your previous answers.
OET does not openly explain how they create the questions. Judging from some of the FAQs, we may make some educated guesses.
When reading the Q&A for the question ‘If I buy and take the test twice, will I see the same set of questions?’, OET’s official answer includes the sentence:
“OET Pulse has a very large number of questions. The questions you will see depend on the answers that you give.”
This may mean that there is a likelihood that OET questions for a particular seating are taken from a bank of a large number of questions, assembled, and then issued to candidates to take.
We may also make an educated guess that OET may select questions differently for its online or computer-based test. In a computer or online-based test, there is a likelihood that the questions you will get next may depend on your previous answers.
It means the questions served to you may be taken from the question bank on the spot, based on what you answered beforehand.
What Are OET Questions Like?
OET questions are divided into four subtests, reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The questions may require multiple types of responses, such as multiple-choice, short responses, or essays.
Reading: For the reading test, the questions are divided into three sections – A, B, and C. For Part A, candidates are required to read a text and then give short phrase answers by filling in the blanks. For sections B and C, candidates read multiple texts and answer multiple multiple-choice questions.
Writing: A writing test generally involves the candidate reading a certain input and producing essay-like writing based on the document. The writing tasks may be different depending on the profession. For example, doctors were given a profile of a patient and tasked to write a referral letter to another doctor.
Listening: In a listening test, the paper is divided into three parts – A, B, and C. In part A, candidates listen to a conversation and fill in a task sheet with short phrases based on what they heard and understood from the audio. For parts B and C, candidates listen to audio and answer multiple-choice questions.
Speaking: In speaking tests, questions and tasks may differ by profession. But in general, candidates are paired with a roleplayer to perform a task. For example, in medicine, a doctor may be asked to converse with patients during a clinical visit. Throughout the conversation, the doctor needs to accomplish some communicative tasks.
Does OET Exam Repeat Questions?
In short, OET does repeat questions. This makes sense since OET has also mentioned beforehand that they have a large question bank. This indirectly implies that the questions for OET seatings may be compiled from the questions in the question bank.
Suppose the questions are taken from a question bank, and you resit for OET. In that case, there is a likelihood that you will encounter repeat questions.
However, before you rejoice or set plans to rely on repeat questions to help you score higher points for resitting, hold back that thought. This is because OET has followed up its previous statement with the following:
“… but it’s unlikely that all the questions you see will be the same.”
This means you should study and prepare for your OET resit just as you prepared for your first seatings, and you should not expect to see repeat questions. If you see any, consider it a bonus and some help, but do not bank on it as your main strategy to do well in OET.
Do I Lose Marks If I Answer Repeated Questions?
OET does not give out an official answer. However, it could be deduced that if you are lucky enough to encounter a repeated question, you can answer it and not lose marks. The logic is the test needs to be fair, and penalizing candidates over something they cannot control (the questions asked) would be grossly unfair.
We know that OET does repeat questions, although the probability of encountering a repeat question is rather low. Even if you do, only a small part of the test would be repeated questions.
However, you should thank your lucky star if you encounter a repeated question. Continue to treat it as a regular question, answer to the best of your ability, and hope you got it right.
This is because, logically speaking, it makes no sense for OET to make you lose marks over a repeated question. If OET is to do this, it would be rather grossly unfair since you are being punished for something out of your control – you cannot select which questions to answer in your OET resit.
Should I Tell The Examiner If There Is A Repeated Question?
There is probably little need to tell your examiner that there is a repeat question since it is probably little the examiner could do. You will probably not be punished or lose marks if you work on a repeated question. Simply proceed and answer the question as if you encountered it for the first time.
The dilemma may be true – when you encounter a repeated question, you may feel happy inside since you have worked on the question before, meaning you are likely to do well at it. However, you also fear that you may be penalized for it.
One thing to remember is that even the OET admitted there might be a likelihood of repeated questions, and they have not issued any instructions that candidates must inform examiners in the event of a repeat question. If there are such instructions, you will see them in the test regulations.
This means you are not under any obligation to tell the examiner that you have a repeat question in hand.
OET does not have any official issuance that repeat questions will be penalized. If they do this, it may be unfair, as candidates are punished for something out of their control.
On top of that, even if you tell the examiner about the repeat question, there is little the examiner can do for you. They may not have the power to switch or change the questions on the paper.
Perhaps your best bet in the situation is to simply treat the questions as if you have just seen them. Read it well, answer them to the best of your ability, and hope you score the maximum points from the question. You should thank the lucky star you got yourself for repeated questions!