Monthly Archives: January 2013

OET Reading – How to Practise for Faster Reading and Understanding

The reading section of the OET is about reading quickly and actively as well as having a good understanding of the passage. These skills can be practised.

You should practise increasing your reading speed by finding new medical passages online or in a printed journal and reading them at home. Time yourself and challenge yourself to increase your speed each time.

You also need to be able to retain the information – so try writing down what you remember after reading the passage. You should then aim to increase the amount you remember each time you practise.

Eventually, you will have increased the speed at which you read as well as the amount of information you remember from your reading. As an extra plus, you will have expanded your medical vocabulary (which can definitely be helpful in the OET and your professional life!) because of all the new scientific articles/passages you have read!

…. so practise, practise, PRACTISE!

Tips for OET Writing

Preparing for the OET Writing task is not just about doing piles and piles of practice tasks – it is about doing them RIGHT.

Many students may repeatedly sit the OET but never pass the writing section as they just don’t have the right approach. If you are one of those students, this blog will hopefully point you in the right direction.

It is important to consider what the examiners are looking for – that is, the “marking criteria”. Your task is marked against the following 5 criteria:

  1. Overall task fulfilment – make sure you stick to the required word length of approximately 180-200 words!
  2. Appropriateness of language – choose the appropriate vocabulary and tone for the particular situation. Also, ensure your writing is organised into clear ideas!
  3. Comprehension of stimulus – choose to include the most relevant information to the situation! This will show the marker you have understood the stimulus.
  4. Control of linguistic features – grammar and cohesion!!!!!!
  5. Control of presentation features – check the spelling and punctuation, as well as the layout of your letter!

In your preparation for the writing task, make sure you are considering each of these key points because these are the things that the examiner will be looking out for. So if you are confidently fulfilling these 5 criteria, then you can surely impress the examiner!

Common mistakes in writing

When writing a referral letter, there are always some common mistakes that I have found students repeat over and over again.
The first is not making grammatically complete sentences. Since the patient file lists patient information in point form and not complete sentence form, it may be tempting to just list the information. However, markers can easily pick up on that because it does not flow grammatically correct. For example, when you are referring to a medical condition or treatment on a particular part of the patient’s body, then to be grammatically correct, you must use possessive pronouns. E.g. ulcer on his/her left lower thigh. This also applies for things that belong to the patient. E.g. her exercise program, his weight.

Another common mistake is the use of the word ‘diagnosis.’ A medical diagnosis refers to the process of finding out the cause of the disease or disorder and to the opinion reached by this process. This means that there is a level of difficulty or investigation required to find out the illness. For instance in the case of cancers or infections, blood tests or pathological investigations must be carried out. However, in the case of burns or cuts, fractures etc, you would not refer to them as being diagnosed with a burn or a cut.

Finally the use of tense is often a challenge for students. Just remember that in general a letter is reporting a patient’s case so it is generally in past tense. When you are reporting on events or symptoms that occurred in the past then you use past tense. E.g. he had diabetes since he was 10 years old. When you are requesting a call of action for post-discharge then you use future tense. E.g. He will need regular blood pressure checks.

Of course there are a lot more ways that writing can be perfected, so practise is the key and regular proof checks from the teachers at Sydney language solutions the ultimate solution to passing OET!

New Year’s Customs in Austria , Germany and Switzerland

GUTES NEUES JAHR – Happy New Year!


In Austria, New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated with friends and family. At exactly midnight, all radio and television programmes operated by ORF broadcast the sound of the Pummerin, the bell of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, followed by the Donauwalzer (“The Blue Danube”) by Johann Strauss II. Many people dance to this at parties or in the street. Large crowds gather in the streets of Vienna, where the municipal government organises a series of stages where bands and orchestras play. Fireworks are set off by both municipal governments and individuals.


In Germany, parties are common on New Year’s Eve (Silvester). Fireworks are very popular, both with individuals and large municipal displays. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in all of Europe, attended by over a million people. The focal point is the Brandenburg Gate, where midnight fireworks are centered. Germans toast the New Year with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne.

Since 1972, each New Year’s Eve, several German television stations broadcast a short comedy play in English (recorded by West German television in 1963) entitled Dinner for One. A line from the comedy sketch, “the same procedure as every year”, has become a catch phrase in Germany.


In some parts of Switzerland, Sylvester Clauses drive away evil spirits. In Urnäsch, in the canton of Appenzell Outer Rhodes, a colourful tradition continues to be practiced on the last day of the year. Strangely clad figures with elaborate masks and noisy bells move from house to house, in a bid to drive away evil spirits.

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January 2013
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