OET Listening – A complete guide

Listening is an important sub-test in the Occupational English Test, which requires intense practice for getting the desired score. In the article, we have discussed the important aspects of OET Listening and various tips for improving the listening scores.

Basically, the listening module consists of three sections which together last for 40 minutes, during which the test-taker is expected to give answers to all the 42 questions asked, each question carrying 1 mark. The total score of the subtest is calculated in 500. 

oet listening

The OET listening sub-test is conducted by the test developers with an intention to analyze the candidate’s ability to understand the particular information that he or she listens to and also to identify the tone and viewpoint of the speaker. The recorded audios are based on the different situations in the medical or healthcare workplace.


There are a total of three tasks or sections in OET listening with a number of audio recordings being played during each part. The three sections are generally classified into PART A, B and C. Out of the three parts, Part C is reported to be the toughest by the majority of the candidates. 

Now let’s have a detailed look into the Part A, B and C of the listening sub-test

PARTSNO: of questionsMarksTask and purpose of assessment
Part A2424Two recorded audios will be played. You will hear the conversation between a healthcare professional and a patient. The testaker should fill up the notes based on it. The capability of the candidate to comprehend particular information in the extract is being assessed.
Part B66A total of 6 recorded audios containing the monologues or short conversations of various healthcare officials in the workplace will be played. The test taker can give answers to the multiple-choice questions based on the recordings. The test taker’s skill to understand the mood, tone and intention of the speaker is being evaluated.
Part C1212In this section, two lengthy extracts on medical interviews or presentations will be played. There will be multiple-choice questions based on the same for the candidate to answer. Here, the assessors want to know whether the examinee is able to follow the presentation related to healthcare topics.

In all the three parts a wide variety of English accents are used, as the health care assistants are needed to provide their services in different English speaking countries with varying accents including British, Irish, Canadian, American, Australian and so on. Therefore, the candidate should familiarize all these accents while practising for the test.

Regarding Part A, 12 questions will be based on the first extract and the remaining 12 will be on the basis of the second extract. The candidate will receive 30 seconds before playing each audio in order to read the questions correctly. Generally, the patient speaks the most in both the extracts, while the health care professional poses questions.

The candidate is expected to fill in the exact word or phrase that she listens to. Fortunately, there is no negative marking for spelling mistakes. It should also be noted that adding unwanted or additional information and repeating the same words or phrases can result in losing points. The candidates should make use of their reading to get an idea about what they are about to listen to.

Part B usually presents 6 short extracts with one or two speakers involved in each recording. Only one multiple choice question(with three options (A, B, C))will be asked based on each extract. Dialogues between healthcare officials, team briefings or handovers are the common extracts one may get for the exam. Here, the candidate will not have to copy the same words or phrases as the answers are directly included in the options.

Part C is designed in a way that each long extract in the section contains 6 questions each. Similar to Part B, in this section also each extract may include one or two speakers. The listener will get 90 seconds as reading time before each extract. The test taker must utilize the 90 seconds very well for gathering background knowledge and for avoiding confusion while listening to the audio later.

What is the passing score of OET Listening?

Getting a pass mark in OET listening is very much necessary for the OET aspirant to clear the whole test. Generally speaking, most of the health councils, (for instance NMC) demand a minimum score of 350 (Grade B) for the candidates to clear the OET listening sub-test, which means at least 30 correct answers should be there. 

Whereas, according to the terms of NMBI (Ireland), the test taker is expected to get C plus grade or a minimum score of 300 for clearing the OET exam, provided he or she has gained Grade B or a minimum score of 350 for all the other three subtests.

A part of the listening sub-test is evaluated by trained assessors, who evaluate the answer sheets by referring to a marking guide issued by OET. The answer sheets are evaluated twice in order to ensure the accuracy of the evaluation. Part B and C are analyzed by computer by scanning the answer sheets as the answers are marked from the options given in the question booklet. 

To Check your oet score, click here


All the candidates who plan to attend the OET exam should focus on the listening sub-test as it needs more practice. The listening sub test offers several hurdles as it demands the listeners to provide answers spontaneously without taking enough time to think and moreover, the candidates must also understand different accents in a single test and comprehend the message each speaker tries to convey. During the listening test, the test taker is supposed to read and understand the question, listen to the audio and infer data from it and also have to write it down, which means he or she has to make use of three language skills while attending the test, which is really a challenging task. Hence, the candidate needs to know the techniques to improve their listening scores and listening skills.

  1. Understand and familiarize different areas in the healthcare profession. For this. For this the candidate can refer to previous exam models available in the official website of OET.
  2. Learn to utilize the reading time to understand the questions and try to identify the keywords and underline it.
  3. Have a clear understanding of the pattern of the test. The candidate should get familiarized with different types of questions and also about the total number of questions asked in each section and the score distribution.
  4. Develop a technique for yourself which helps you to find out the answers immediately while listening to the audio.
  5. Practice daily with materials available on different websites of OET and try not to repeat the audio for writing answers.
  6. When you practice, try to follow the instructions properly as if you are attending a real test.
  7. Try to watch English programs to get to know about various accents.

Why do people fail in OET Listening?

The main reason behind the failure of candidates in the OET listening test is the lack of practice. As they do not take proper practice, they find it difficult to give the right answers to all the questions without missing any.

Let’s find out the other reasons which cause the candidates to fail the OET listening test

  1. Lack of practice and confidence.
  2. Lack of vocabulary and terminologies related to the medical profession.
  3. Not understanding the intention of the speaker in the extract.
  4. Incompetence in copying the information conveyed in the part A using the same words.
  5. Inability to understand various accents in English.


The OET listening subtest can also be cleared with a great score if you have a mind to practice with consistency. Practice makes a man perfect. Therefore, I would recommend all the candidates to take proper practice and face the exam with complete confidence. Success is all yours.

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