Thousands of health professionals attend different language tests every month to enhance their career growth in foreign nations. Out of the various tests available OET, conducted by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment (CBLA), is the choice of most people working in the health sector. In this article, let’s try to find out What OET is about.
The Occupational English test (OET) is mainly conducted with an intention to evaluate proficiency in the English language by assessing the four language skills of the health care professionals in 12 different streams including dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology and veterinary science.
CBLA has not set down any strict rules regarding the eligibility criteria for attending the OET test. But it is generally known that the candidates must have educational certificates and relevant experience in the field in which they are planning to attend the test and should be aware of the countries and councils which accept OET results as evidence of their competence in the English language.
What is the structure of the OET exam?
CBLA follows the specific scoring criteria for all the sub-tests by adhering to the rules and regulations established for assessment. Even though the OET exam is conducted for examining the candidates from 12 different health care sectors, the structure and scoring of the test do not vary.
The four sub-tests or modules in OET are as follows:
The OET listening module mainly lasts for 40 minutes with 42 questions and a total score of 42. The section is divided into 3 parts which should be completed in the stipulated time. The audios played during the test are generally related to health topics. Even though the audios are played only once, two minutes will be available at the end of each part for checking the answers.
- Part A consists of two audios based on consultation extracts (between health care professionals and patients). The listener must listen to the audio carefully and note the information that he/she hears. Each audio may last for 5 minutes. Part A is intended to check whether the candidate can understand particular information shared during the consultation. The test takers are not allowed to paraphrase or change the information about what they hear; instead, they must prepare notes using the same words in the extract.
- Part B contains the audios of short workplace extracts. There are a total of 6 audios which last for 1 minute each. The listener needs to give answers to the multiple-choice questions based on the extracts. The extract can be either a dialogue, team briefing or handovers. The main intention of the B part is to assess whether the listener can identify the tone, gist or opinion of people and the purpose of the workplace extract.
- Part C is a recorded interview or presentation about health subjects. It consists of two extracts which together last for 10 minutes. In connection with each extract, six multiple-choice questions should be answered. The listener’s ability to understand the recorded medical interviews and presentation is mainly evaluated in this part.
The answers to Part A can be written in the space provided in the booklet whereas for parts B and C the test takers should shade the box corresponding to the right answers.
A series of varying English accents such as US, British, Australian, Newzealand, African etc are used throughout all the three parts of the listening session. This is to check the candidate’s capability to follow the accent of nationals from various English speaking countries in the workplace.
Similar to the case of OET listening, OET reading also has three parts which contain 42 questions based on the extracts related to medical topics and the aggregate score is 42. The candidate will get 60 minutes to complete the whole reading session.
Part A is designed in a way that 4 short texts on the same medical topic will be given and the candidate ought to give answers to the 20 questions based on it. This will help the assessor to know the candidate’s accuracy in identifying particular information from the given text within a short span of time. The total time assigned for completing Part A is 15 minutes.
The candidate can expect the following types of questions in Part A:
- Complete the sentence
- Short answer question
The examinee should rely on the technique of skimming and scanning to find out the particular point in different texts efficiently.
Part B contains six short texts of 100 to 150 words each, which mainly focus on the matters related to the workplace. The text could be a part of official mails or memos, hospital guidelines, manuals and so on. In this part, the test taker must prove his or her skill in recognising the main ideas or points conveyed. Regarding each text, one can expect a multiple choice question with three options below it.
Part C is a combination of two long texts with a total of 800 words. The sole purpose of the task is to test the aspirant’s capacity to find out the in-depth meaning and concept of the text. Also, the test taker must be capable of complex vocabulary and terminologies used in the text.
To calculate your OET Score click here
Unlike the other two sub-tests (Listening and Reading), OET writing is structured with a single task. The test-taker is supposed to draft a letter based on the information furnished in the question associated with the healthcare context in 45 minutes. Generally, any of the three forms of formal letters given below are to be composed for the OET writing test:
- Referral letter for a patient
- Transfer letter
- Discharge letter.
All the information related to the patient will be included in the case note or discharge summary so that the test-taker can make use of the same for planning and writing the letter. The writer should present the letter using a minimum of 180 to 200 words without missing any of the relevant data. Out of 45 minutes, the examinee should utilize the first 5 minutes for planning the letter, to compose a well-organized letter.
The assessors evaluate the letter using six different parameters. They are as follows:
|Purpose of writing the letter||First of all, the candidate must understand the exact purpose of writing the particular letter. Next, he or she must reflect the same in the letter for making the reader understand the purpose with the aid of a proper introduction and appropriate action verbs.|
|Content of the letter||Transfer all the information needed for the reader to know the details regarding the patient’s care. For this, the writer must precisely identify the content of the letter.|
|Conciseness and clarity of information||The test taker should present the relevant information by omitting the irrelevant data with clarity and precision.|
|Genre, tone and style of the letter||The letter should be written formally using the proper tone and vocabulary.|
|Organization and layout of the letter||Each letter has its own way of organization and layout. The writer must understand the difference and choose the right layout.|
|Language of the letter||The assessor focuses on the grammar, punctuation and vocabulary part of the letter while evaluating the letter. Make sure to use suitable lexis and grammar.|
The speaking sub-test mainly consists of two tasks(roleplays). The interlocutor and the test taker take part in the role play, in which the latter enacts the role related to his or her own profession whereas the former does the part of the patient, carer or client.
The whole session lasts for 20 minutes. The speaking test starts with a warm-up conversation between the examiner and the examinee during which the candidate reveals his or her professional details. The candidate can take 3 minutes time for preparation before each roleplay using the card given and can also create notes based on the data in the question card. The candidates are allowed to clear their doubts regarding the basic idea or theme of the roleplay. The presentation of each roleplay may last for 5 minutes.
The context of the roleplay is solely based on different situations in the workplace. The assessment of the speaking test is not done by the interlocutor but by the well-trained assessors of the OET exam. The assessors evaluate the responses from the health professional’s part in different contexts and provide scores separately.
The candidate must present the ideas fluently using the right pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and expressions. Moreover, the candidate should learn to build a good relationship with the patient or carer by listening to the problems and by providing constant assurance about recovery. The test taker must bear in mind the fact that the assessors want to know your language skills rather than your subject knowledge.
Different modes of OET exam
The OET exam is delivered in three different modes, and the candidate can choose the mode as per their convenience. The three modes of OET test delivery are as follows:
- Paper-based or OET on paper conducted at the test venue
- Computer-based or OET on computer conducted at the test venue
- OET at home – the test taker, can attend the test from home.
The exam booking and the test administration vary for all three modes of exam delivery. The regulations established by CBLA apply to all three forms, and the candidates need to have a clear understanding of them before taking the test.
How to book an OET exam?
Let’s have a look into the steps involved in booking an OET test:
- Log onto OET Login (myoet.com).
- Click on the Register option as the first step.
- Give the personal details such as full name and surname (as in the passport or national id), gender, date of birth, address, contact number, Pincode, profession, mail id, nationality, passport or national id or alternative id, the id number and first language in the space provided. Also, upload a photograph of the candidate of a specific size (between 200 Mb and 1 kb).
- Click on the next option and go to the next page.
- Click on the I agree option after reading the rules and regulations given.
- Create a user id and password. Also, select the hint question from the list given.
- Click on the next option and go to the next page.
- Now you may choose the purpose of attending the OET exam and the council you are opting for, also give the details regarding your qualification and the college you studied. You need to confirm whether you have attended the OET before and if yes, mention the month and year of the exam.
- Click on the finish button,
- Now you will receive a link to activate the account in your mail-id. Click on the link and activate your account.
- On the home page of your profile, you can click on the option called “book a test”.
- Choose the country where you plan to write the exam and the month.
- Now select the date and centre of the exam.
- Now you will have to pay 587 Australian dollars using your credit card(master or visa).
- After the successful completion of payment, your booking is finished.
Chasing career dreams and getting settled along with the family in the dreamland is a matter of delight for all. As far as medical professionals are concerned, cracking the OET with the desired score is the stepping stone to fulfilling their dreams. Here, in the article, we have included the details of the OET exam and how to book the test which may be of use for all the OET aspirants.