Monthly Archives: September 2017

Reading A – 3 common trick questions

In this post we will talk about three reasonably common trick questions in Reading A that aim to find the best students. It is very easy to lose marks on these questions when you are rushing because they are very sneaky, but being aware of them can increase your chance of getting them correct.

1. Plural and singular
Text: “Screening mammograms are the best method for detecting breast cancer in the early stages”
Question: “The best method for detecting breast cancer in the early stages is …..?…..”
The text and the question sentences almost look identical, although obviously the order of information has changed. The other thing that has changed is that where the text used the plural verb “are” the answer has the singular verb “is”; therefore, we need to change the words “screening mammograms”, which is plural, into a singular form – the answer is “a screening mammogram”

2. Splitting up acronyms
Text: “25% of Australian adults are obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher”
Question: “Obesity is defined as a …..?….. index of greater or equal to 30”
The answer is obviously to do with body mass index, and as they have used the abbreviation BMI in the text we are allowed to use this for our answer. However, note that the question already has the word “index” written down, so writing “BMI” will be marked wrong, because you are saying “body mass index index”. The answer is therefore “body mass”, and we do not use an abbreviation.

3. Fractions and percentages
Text: “When treated with both a statin and ezetimibe, the rates of STEMI were lowered by 40%”
Question: “Combination lipid-lowering therapy was associated with a two …..?….. reduction in myocardial infarction incidence”
As has been mentioned in previous posts, for all reading you should be comfortable changing between simple fractions and percentages (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/10). This question type revolves around being comfortable with these. The answer in the text is 40%, but of course we can’t put this in our answer because “two 40%” does not make any sense. Instead, we have to convert this to a fraction – 40% is two-fifths, so the answer would be “fifths”.

26 August 2017


Why we often use the passive voice in healthcare letters

The most simple sentence structure in the English language is:
Noun + verb.
If the noun is doing the action described by the verb, the noun is known as a subject.E.g. The doctor consulted. (“doctor” is the subject of this sentence).

If the action described by the verb is being done to someone or something, the recipient of the action is known as the object. We add this noun after the verb:
E.g. The doctor consulted the patient. (“doctor” is the subject and “patient” is the object).
This sentence structure is:
Subject + verb + object

Using the passive voice allows us to do two useful things in healthcare letters:
1. Focus on the object of a sentence by putting it first.
2. Save space by leaving out the subject (that is, the noun actually doing the action).

The sentence structure in usage #1 is:
Object + Passive verb + subject./span>
E.g. The patient was consulted by the doctor.
This allows us to focus the reader’s attention on the patient, rather than the doctor, by putting them first in the sentence. This is useful in discharge and referral letters, because the patient is the most important focus of the letter.

The sentence structure in usage #2 is:
The patient was consulted.
This is very useful if the person or thing that did the action isn’t as important as the person who received the action. It also allows us to leave out irrelevant information. For example, “the patient was admitted on 27/08/17” is more concise than “the patient was admitted on 27/08/17 by a doctor”. It doesn’t really matter who admitted the patient, so it’s best to leave this information out when doing the OET Writing Test.

Overall, passive voice can be a very useful tool in improving your letter in the OET Writing Test!

26 August 2017

Anna Brzeska

IELTS: Five steps to write IELTS Task 2

How do you produce a decent piece of essay within 40 minutes or less to achieve your target band? Just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Understand the Question Type. (2 minutes)

Read the question (Is it Agree/Disagree, Advantage & Disadvantage, Problem & Solution, Discuss both issues + own opinion, Double Questions or Outweigh?)
Paraphrase the topic accordingly based on the question type and take your Position

Step 2: Brainstorming. (3 minutes)

Think of a few main points / specific reasons based on your taken position. Ask yourself if you can develop any 2 or maximum 3 of these into a full paragraph (of approx. 100 words). If no, discard the point/s; if yes, go ahead to step 3.

Step 3:   Planning. (5 minutes)

Now use a mind mapping, flowcharting or tabling technique to expand th main points. What specific related details can I add to this? What example/s (from my experience, observation or knowledge) can I use?

Step 4: Writing. (25 minutes)

a. Introduction – (3 sentences of 30-40 words in total, consisting of Background General statement + expansion + Position / Thesis Statement).

b. 2-3 Body paragraphs – 1 sentence of Main Point, 2-3 detailed explanations, 1-2 example sentences AND 1 final Recap to relate back to your Main Point.\

c. Conclusion – 2 sentences of 20-30 words in total, summary / conclusion of your essay + a general reason / prediction / condition / position of the subject matter.

Step 5: Checking (5 minutes)

Proofread your essay for Grammar, Vocabulary, Spelling, Punctuation and Relevance / Consistency for the best result.


Keep practising till you get the hang of this!


26 August 2017


PTE: SEVEN Reading Question Types in MCQ and How to Tacke them

Understanding academic Reading question types and where to look will certainly help you find your answer more quickly! Here are the types

  1. Main Idea / Gist Question.General Purpose Question.
    Read the beginning + the end of the paragraph/s and ask yourself what the THEME is
  2. Detailed Information Question.
    Usually located at the beginning and/or the end as well. Ask yourself what the author wants to ACHIEVE by writing the passage.
  3. Organisation Question.
    You need to read the whole passage for this. This type usually has the wordings of WHAT, WHO, WHICH, WHERE, WHEN, HOW FAR, etc.
  4. Inference Question.
    Ask yourself how two parts of the text are related. (Is it Definition + example? Similarity vs difference? Cause + effect? Problem + Solution? Event 1 + event 2 + event 3?)
  5. Specific Purpose Question.
    Ask yourself what implied conclusion can be drawn from the passage / certain aspect in the text. You may need to read the whole passage to understand this.
  6. Tone Question.
    Ask yourself WHY the author says something or quote a certain example. You need to spot / match the relevant key words from the options to those in the passage.
  7. Tone Question.
    Pay attention to the author’s feeling, attitude and/or degree of certainty. Is it positive, negative or just neutral. The Adjectives / Verbs in the choices may guide you.

Good luck!

26 August 2017


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