Once you have decided to take the OET as a health professional in order to fulfil your dreams of migrating and working overseas, the next vital question is how to prepare for the exam. The techniques and plans for preparation can vary depending on your present English language competence as well as the amount of time you have available for the preparation process.
Ideally one to two months’ time is necessary for preparing for the OET examination. If you already have an intermediate level of English proficiency, then a one month time would suffice. However, if you are on an A1 or A2 level of the CERF framework then more time should be dedicated for the preparations.
Let us formulate a one month strategic plan to prepare for the OET examination. Take note that one timetable does not fit all so you should restructure the strategies to suit your time and pace of learning.
As you know, the OET assesses your English language skills in the four communicative skills namely listening , reading , writing and speaking. You should structure your learning in such a way that you give equal importance to all the four modules.
The one month plan for studying OET
Understand the structure of the OET exam and the types of questions asked in each module.
Focus on the listening module today. Practise Part A and check your answers. Formulate strategies to get maximum right answers for listening part A which includes two consultations audios between a patient and a health professional.
Attempt listening part B and part C today. Both these sections contain multiple choice questions. Strategies such as reading the question and the passage before reading the options will be effective in getting more right answers.
Attempt the reading part A. The reading part A is a challenging session as you have to complete 18 to 20 questions in 15 minutes time. There will be four texts given and 3 different types of questions will be asked based on these texts. Initially, don’t worry about time, rather take enough time and try to familiarise with the question types and focus on finding the right answers.
Attempt reading Part B and C which is a single timed session of 45 minutes. Similar to listening, the reading part B and C also contains multiple choice questions. Though you shouldn’t worry about meeting the time in the beginning stage of practise, it is best to observe how much time you take to complete the test.
Day 6 and 7
Do at least 2 practice tests for listening and reading and monitor your scores.
Start with speaking today. It is best to see videos of mock speaking tests to get a clear idea on how you should present yourself during speaking. Refer to speaking materials available online and learn regular phrases and questions that you are supposed to use in your speaking. It is best if you have a speaking partner who could take up the role of the interlocutor.
Practise reading by placing a timer which will help you to evaluate whether you are taking longer to complete the test. Attempt one listening test and check your answers, to rectify your errors refer to the answer key and the audioscript.
Take up writing task for OET which is letter writing. You are supposed to write a single letter of reference, discharge or transfer to a concerned health professional using the case notes provided in the question. Don’t attempt to write a letter on your own for the first day, rather learn the structure , salutations and the basic rules to be followed while writing a letter. Refer to fair letters given in the OET official website.
Learn how to filter out relevant information and skip the irrelevant information from the case notes to present in your letter. The easiest way to learn it is to watch this video byE2 language. It is critical to present the letter in a logical order and also in lucid language so that the health professional who reads the letter understands it easily. Try to write a letter on your own and ensure that you attempt a letter that has a sample answer, or you can take the support of an experienced tutor to check your letter later.
Practise speaking with a partner. Remember to maintain a humble tone and ask your questions in a patient manner. Learn to lead the conversation and elicit answers in situations where the interlocutor is not cooperating or giving apt information necessary to continue the roleplay.
Day 6 and 7
Do a timed practice test for all the four modules. It is best to take the help of a tutor to check your letter to get an idea about your band range and also to give you feedback on your speaking.
If you are experiencing difficulties in the listening module, try to improve your basic listening skills by using the BBC review and free materials available on the Cambridge website. Similar method can be adopted for the reading module too. The above mentioned websites will help you improve your basic comprehension skills coupled with reading health related articles or journals. Dedicate this day only for the purpose of improving your shortcomings.
Practise listening and reading and observe whether there is improvement in scores after dedicating the previous day exclusively for enhancing those skills.
Attempt to speak with a partner. Pick out role play cards that you find difficult and try to formulate the given information into questions and relevant answers to the patients queries.
Dedicate today for letter writing. Attempt reference letter and ensure that you include all the relevant information in a logical manner.
Practise speaking today along with a discharge letter. Remember that your word count should not exceed 200.
Day 6 and 7
Do 2 mock tests one each day. Monitor your scores, get feedback and rectify your errors.
Practise transfer letter today. Ensure that you use the right grammar and your sentences are free of spelling mistakes. Refer to grammar for OET materials available online.
Practise listening and reading modules. Follow strict time schedule for reading.
Practice 2 complete speaking tests, which means 4 roleplay cards. Observe your mistakes and make necessary corrections.
Attempt listening, reading and writing today. Do timed practise only.
Read more speaking role play cards and attempt to do the tough ones. Ensure that you are speaking with the right emotion, intonation, stress and pause as it plays a vital role in getting a B grade.
Day 6 and 7
Attempt 2 timed mock tests.
|Dedicate the whole of week 5 in doing mock tests and also spending more time on the modules you still face a difficulty with. Clear all your doubts and be ready for the examination.
When should I attempt the exam after my preparations?
Ideally, it is best if you attempt the examination within 2 weeks of completing your studies as per plan. It is important that you do not give a long gap after your preparations to appear for the exams. However, it is fine to take a 2 week gap wherein you practise more and build the confidence to attempt the examination. But an extended time gap will lead to losing touch with your learning and may affect the results of your OET test.
The OET has only 2 test dates a month, that is 24 test dates a year. However, the availability of test centres in each country differs so it is ideal to book the test at least 3 weeks prior to the date you plan to take the test. When you start your preparations, check for the test centres and dates available in your region so that you can make a decision on when and where to appear for the exam.
What if I fail in my first attempt?
If you are unable to achieve your score in the first attempt, give some time before you take the date for your next attempt. Evaluate on why you got a reduced score in one or more subsets. Focus on working on your shortcomings and monitor your improvement. Analyse your progress and take the next exam only when you feel really confident about it. As the OET can burn a hole in your wallet, it is best to give the second attempt after more preparations.
Your consistent learning and preparations can help you reach your needed score. However, do not panic and stress yourself if you are unable to crack it in the first attempt. Many times even after strenuous preparations students may find themselves losing their desired band at a very slight score difference. Your mindset on the particular time of the examination and the questions you get can possibly have an impact on your scores.
What should I do to get a B band for my OET exam?
Following the above mentioned study plan will help you gain a B band or more for your OET. Along with that, implement the following techniques which will help you reach your dream B band and above:
- If you learn best working in a team, it is good to enrol for a preparation course at an institute or take the support of a certified tutor.
- Review the key strategies by going over the test overview again to ensure that you follow it accurately.
- It is important to relax and take enough rest the day before the test. Exam related anxiety and panic can affect your performance. Also do not tire yourself by practising a lot the day before exam.
- Having a book like the official OET course guide can help you review the strategies that you learned and it even includes full length practice tests.
- For listening and reading it is important to read all the questions carefully, do not rush in the process of reading as you would be misled or skip any vital part that will help you reach the right answer.
- Practising a short meditation can help you improve your concentration and focus which will be of great help in all the modules, especially listening.
- For the speaking test, the examiners primarily look into whether you are addressing the patient’s concerns in a right manner using layman terms.
- Do not use tough medical jargon in your speaking as it can lead to a reduction in score because it is important to present the information given in the roleplay card in a simple understandable manner.
- It is important to include the purpose of the letter in the introduction part itself.
- Do not overdo during your preparations as it can tire you out. It is critical to choose a timing in which you will be relaxed and comfortable for your learning.
- Be expressive in your speaking subset so that you can present your information with the right intonation.
- It is critical that you do not make judgemental advice or comments regarding a patient’s condition during the speaking test, especially while addressing alcoholism or smoking.
- Ask closed end questions if you need specific information from the patient. For instance, if you need to ask whether a patient drinks alcohol, it is best to structure your question as such ‘ can you describe your habit of consuming alcohol ?’
- It is best to have a conversation partner for the speaking module if you wish to improve at a faster pace in an effective way.
- For both writing and speaking, imagine yourself to be in a real scenario and presenting the information exactly as you would do as a health professional.
OET is an examination that requires a solid study strategy to succeed in the first attempt itself. Knowing each subset and devising techniques to crack them is critical for achieving your desired band score. However, a clear understanding of your current level of English proficiency is also important because if you are at a beginners level based on the CERF, it is preferable if you devote sufficient time to transition your English levels to at least an upper intermediate level in order to easily scale the OET examination.