Monthly Archives: May 2017

General FAQs for the OET

In this blog, I will outline some of the general questions that students have asked me regarding the OET as it’s very likely that you will have the same questions.

How should I practice speaking at home?

Practice is key to improving and preparing yourself for the OET. For all the components, I strongly encourage you to practice within the time limits. For speaking in particular, you should be practicing with another person and, if possible, record the conversation so you can listen back to it.

What if I don’t know anything about the topic in the test?

This may happen and it’s important that you do not freak out! Remember the OET is designed as a English test and not a medical knowledge test – this means that, if the you don’t know the topic, just analyse and comprehend the information given to you and you should still be able to complete the task.

Should I use pen or pencil in the exam?

For MOST of the components, it actually doesn’t matter if you use pen or pencil! My best advice is to use whichever writing utensil you feel most COMFORTABLE writing in because you will be using it a LOT on the exam day. However, for reading part B, you will need a pencil to fill in the multiple choice answer sheet.

These are all very common concerns for the OET student – you’re not alone!

Easy, Quick Tips for OET Reading

I often get asked by students how they can improve their reading. I hope these following tips will give you a better grasp of mastering OET reading.


This particularly applies to Part A of the reading. When the clock starts, begin by glancing over the texts and their headings for key words that highlight their content. Seek out words that identify the SETTING, the KEY TOPIC or the TIME of the text.


Apart from completing the practice tests, it is important you get used to medical writing styles. So I strongly encourage students to seek out medical writing from online resources and read them often. This will expose you to the type of language and writing structure that will come up in the exam.


The reading is completed under time pressure and this is often the key thing that stumps students. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to move on! You can always come back to the question with a clearer head after you’ve completed the rest of the task.


Timing is key in OET reading so make sure you are putting that pressure on yourself and getting used to the time limits! And, as always, PRACTICE.

All the best for your preparation.

Easy, Quick Tips for OET Writing

Many students trip up in the OET writing for the same reasons – all of which can be easily avoided if you follow the following easy, quick tips.


This seems obvious, but it’s remarkable how many students glaze over the task. Make sure you read it CAREFULLY and identify WHO you are writing to, WHAT is the purpose for writing and their ROLE in the patient’s care. Do not assume you are writing to a community nurse, as this is where students commonly make the mistake.


Read through the notes carefully and identify what are the most important issues in the case. This ensures you pick up the most relevant information to include in your letter, rather than blindly writing everything from the notes.


The word count of the task is 180-200 words. This is one of the key marking criteria so I strongly encourage all students to leave at least 1 minute at the end of the task to quickly count their words and ensure they are within the limit. Aiming to stay within the word count also encourages you to choose your relevant information carefully, as discussed in tip #2 above.


This doesn’t need to be said but I will say it anyway. Practicing will not only allow you to hone in these quick tips I’ve mentioned in this blog, but also give you an idea of how much time you are using to do each task.

All the best and I hope you will put these tips into practice.


A collocation is two or more words that often go together. These combinations sound natural to native English speakers, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some common examples.

Examples of common collocations in healthcare letters are given below, along with their parts of speech and meaning:

  • Verb + noun:
    • Take a pulse/temperature/blood pressure
      • g. I will take your blood pressure regularly.
    • Sustain an injury
      • g. She sustained a right femoral fracture.
    • Do a test
      • g. Please do a repeat x-ray next week.
    • Verb + preposition:
      • Diagnose with
        • g. He was diagnosed with pneumonia.
      • Admit to
        • g. He was admitted to the geriatrics ward.
      • Discharge from
        • g. She will be discharged from our facility tomorrow.
      • Complain of
        • g. She complained of trouble sleeping.
      • Associate with
        • g. The headache was associated with nausea.
      • Suffer from
        • g. He suffers from type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to spend some time learning collocations, because using them incorrectly can confuse or mislead the reader/listener. Here are some hints to help you learn collocations more effectively:

  1. Learn collocations as single blocks of language. E.g. learn “diagnose with” rather than “diagnose” + “with”.
  2. Google is a powerful tool. Find new collocations by Googling “English collocations in healthcare”. Then, Google the collocation itself to find examples of its use!
  3. Revision, revision, revision! Every time you see a new collocation, add it to a list and write it down in a sentence. Revise your list every week.

IELTS: Five Secrets to Tips to finally pass the Writing Test

So many students dread the IELTS test primarily owing to the Writing Section. Let me tell you five (5) secrets to help you eventually make it!

Get your brain moving!

This means do brainstorming for ideas based on the some 20 topic categories of Task 2 essays.

Get to know the question types!

Do you know that there are six (6) types of questions in Task 2? You have to specifically tailor your introduction and body paragraphs based on each unique type. You can find some real questions from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS at

Get to know what vocabulary to use!

You need to utilise precise yet flexible expressions to score high in this criteria. Here are our recommendations: Collins Cobuild Key Words for IELTS Series (Book 1-3: Starter to Advanced). Get them at

Get to know what common grammatical mistakes to avoid!

Most common errors are whether to use singular or plural nouns and when to use ‘the’ and when to use no articles at all.

Get to know how to manage your time!

You need to allocate specific time frames for each of these:  brainstorming ideas, planning how to explain and what examples to use, writing the introduction, writing the body paragraphs, writing the conclusion, proofreading and then still have time to finish Task 1 within 20 minutes. You can find some sample essays from Complete IELTS (Band 4-5, 5-6.5 and 6.5-7.5) at the above website.

We’’ll train you on all these five secrets. See you at next month’s blog on IELTS Writing!


30 April 2017


PTE: Five Tips on How to bust the ‘Speaking Monsters’!

While many students choose PTE over IELTS to pass Writing, many struggle and are put off by the so-called by speaking ‘monsters’! No worries anymore just bust ‘em! Ready?


  1. Run like hell – or heaven if you like.

Yes, I mean speak really FAST. Don’t mind if you trip over some banana skin.. er… i mean mistakes.. Just SPEAK, SPEAK and SPEAK. And don’t even look back!

Ignore the ‘grammar monster’.

No worries about grammar, present or past, singular or plural forms. Just SPEAK, SPEAK and SPEAK. And don’t even look back!

Beat the ‘Vocab monster’.

No worries about paraphrasing. Don’t even bother. Just press on and don’t even hesitate to think!

Forget the ‘Worry monster’ or ‘Nervous monster’ or whatever you call it!

Don’t even worry of the worry monsters. Do you still have time to worry when you’re dating the PTE beauty or handsome? Seriously!

Ignore the ‘neighbour monster’.

Yes, I mean you just focus on your stuff in front of you. Don’t even turn your eyes at your neighbour test takers. Even if they scream ‘HELP!!’ or shout ‘FIRE’!!


Take this weaponry with you and you’ll fly over the finish line!


30 April 2017


PTE: Five Tips on How to excel in PTE Writing

While many students would agree that the Writing section is the hardest to pass in IELTS, they find that, to their amazement, PTE Writing is the ‘easiest’ skill to score high. That’s right, if only you know these secrets!

Know how to write the essay.

The structure of the introduction and body paragraphs depend on what type of question it is. There are six (6) types in PTE, including two types unseen in IELTS.

Know what to include in summaries.

In Summarise Written Text, you have to know where the main points are usually placed, when the text has 1, 2 or 3-5 paragraphs,

Know how to take notes.

In Summarise Spoken Text, what and how much do you need to take down and how do you ‘transfer’ these bullet points into interconnected academic sentences?

Know what phrases to use.

Yes, you’re right. You can memorise and copy some phrases from our resources and the computer won’t penalise you!

Know what topics wil be examined.

Yes, you can know what the essay questions may be, so you can brainstorm ideas and prepare how to explain the points and what examples to use BEFORE the exam!

Okay! Once you are familiar with these ‘secrets’, the PTE Writing section will just taste like a piece of cake!



27 March 2017


PTE: Five Tips How Not to Lose Marks

While passing the three other skills, there are incidents where students got a score of 63 or 64 instead of 65 in just one skill, which inevitably requires them to retake the whole test. To avoid such annoyance, it’s worth knowing some ‘hidden’ hurdles which can negatively impact your marks.

Know how many maximum errors are possible.

In Highlight Incorrect words, how many minimum and MAXIMUM errors are possible?

Know how many maximum options to choose.

In Listening and Reading choose multiple answers, how many options EXACTLY do I need to select if there are 5, 6 or 7 options available? Can I just mark one choice instead if that is the only one I’m sure of?

Know whether to write on the notepad first or type instantly.

In Listening fill in the blanks, there are instances where you’d better type instantly and note down the words first. You need to fit the tactics with the gaps.

Know what English to use in Writing.

 Can I use American and British English interchangeably or do I have to stick to either from the very beginning?

Know how detailed to speak.

In Describe Image for example, if there are eight or even ten names of countries, do I have to mention them all? Then, do I need to describe the figures for each of the elements?

Knowing the answers to above questions will surely save you from unnecessary disappointments!

Good luck!


17 February 2017



Many students find the reading section the hardest section of the test because it relies on your fast high level reading skills, wide vocabulary, and strong familiarity with written expressions and collocations. So from now until you pass your test read for at least one hour everyday, in quiet,
without stopping to use a dictionary. Choose a book with a good story so you want to read, and use your finger or a pen as a guide to force you to read at a good speed. If you’re not used to reading then this takes practice, but it won’t take long to get your reading speed and comprehension up to
300+ words per minute. We don’t need luck 😉

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