OET Tips

Part 1: How to Succeed in Reading Part A of the OET Exam

Part A of the reading section of the OET exam can seem impossible to finish and many students dread this part of the test. Time seems to be everybody’s worst enemy as you only have 15 minutes to complete the section but fear not! I have compiled a number of tips that have significantly helped my students improve their score for Reading Part A:

  1. When you are given the paper do not waste time by trying to read each of the texts. You only have 15 minutes, do not waste time.
  2. Instead read and underline the headings of each text, but more specifically the key words. For example below are four titles of texts on vasectomy and I have underlined the key words:“Vasectomy: a patient’s story

    “A retrospective cohort study of vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer

    “Vasectomy: procedure, cost and effectiveness

    Fact sheet for patients undergoing a vasectomy

    Now that these key words are underlined, it will be easy for you to identify which text you need to skim through to find the answer for each blank space.

  3. Now the key is to try and MATCH each paragraph (with missing words) to one of the four texts. Go to the first paragraph and skim read only as much as you need to be able to identify which text you need to look at to find the answers. Generally each paragraph can be matched to a specific text and most of the answers to the blanks can be found in this text.
  4. However, sometimes one or two of the words you need for a particular paragraph will be in a different text to the one you have used to find most of the answers. Watch out for this and try and identify this as soon as possible so you do not waste time reading the same paragraph.

This concludes Part 1 of How to Succeed in Reading Part A. More tips can be found in Part 2 of How to Succeed in Reading Part A.

Hope you find this helpful and good luck!

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Tutor.

 

Tenses in OET Writing – Part 2: Present Tense

Incorrect use of tenses is a common grammatical error that I encounter when I mark the letters that students write in my OET classes. This series of blog posts will provide a simple outline for using the correct tense in your writing. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Part 1, which discussed the simple past tense. This blog will discuss the present tense.

You should use the simple present tense for the following situations in your letter:

  • To describe the patient’s current social background
    • Mr Smith smokes 20 cigarettes and drinks 2 bottles of wine daily.
    • Ms Rollinson is overweight and has a BMI of 27.8.
    • Mr O’Connor lives in Lake Park with his 70-year-old wife, Mary.
  • TO describe anything that occurred during hospitalization that is STILL continuing
    • Mr O’Connor (still) needs assistance with dressing, toileting and transferring.
      • *NOTE: There is no need to include the word ‘still’ in this sentence. However it still makes sense if you do or don’t include it.
    • Ms Simms consumes a low calorie diet in order to maintain her weight.

A particular form of the present tense called the present perfect tense (has/have + past participle) can be used for the following situation:

  • To describe ongoing, CHRONIC CONDITIONS in the patient’s medical background
    • Mr White has had hypertension for 20 years and diabetes since 2000.

I hope this clears up some confusion for students. Use internet resources to revise grammar if there are parts you still don’t understand!

 

Tenses in OET Writing – Part 1: Past Tense

When I mark the letters that students write in my OET classes, there are several major grammatical errors that I see repeatedly. One of them is the incorrect use of tenses. So this series of blog posts will provide a simple outline for using the correct tense in your writing.

You should use the simple past tense for the following situations in your letter:

  • To describe anything YOU previously did whilst the patient was under your care
    • We performed daily dressings on Mr Smith’s surgical wound.
    • Panadol was prescribed for the patient.
      • *NOTE: In this example, we have used the passive voice. If you don’t recall the difference between passive and active, be sure to revise this grammar point as well!
    • Jamie presented with tonsillitis, for which I instituted penicillin.
    • During her visit, I discussed healthy dietary regimes and gave her brochures.
  • For anything else that occurred during the patient’s stay in hospital
    • A family meeting was held to discuss possible nursing placement for the meeting. However, the family refused.
    • Therefore, a home assessment was conducted and modifications were installed.
  • For any past SURGICAL history in the patient’s medical history
    • Mr O’Connor had two bypass grafts in 2004.

I hope this clears up confusion for students. Look out for further blog posts about other tenses. As always, keep practicing!

 

Part 1: How to Succeed in Reading Part A of the OET Exam

Part A of the reading section of the OET exam can seem impossible to finish and many students dread this part of the test. Time seems to be everybody’s worst enemy as you only have 15 minutes to complete the section but fear not! I have compiled a number of tips that have significantly helped my students improve their score for Reading Part A:

  1. When you are given the paper do not waste time by trying to read each of the texts. You only have 15 minutes, do not waste time.
  2. Instead read and underline the headings of each text, but more specifically the key words. For example below are four titles of texts on vasectomy and I have underlined the key words:“Vasectomy: a patient’s story

    “A retrospective cohort study of vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer

    “Vasectomy: procedure, cost and effectiveness

    Fact sheet for patients undergoing a vasectomy

    Now that these key words are underlined, it will be easy for you to identify which text you need to skim through to find the answer for each blank space.

  3. Now the key is to try and MATCH each paragraph (with missing words) to one of the four texts. Go to the first paragraph and skim read only as much as you need to be able to identify which text you need to look at to find the answers. Generally each paragraph can be matched to a specific text and most of the answers to the blanks can be found in this text.
  4. However, sometimes one or two of the words you need for a particular paragraph will be in a different text to the one you have used to find most of the answers. Watch out for this and try and identify this as soon as possible so you do not waste time reading the same paragraph.

This concludes Part 1 of How to Succeed in Reading Part A. More tips can be found in Part 2 of How to Succeed in Reading Part A.

Hope you find this helpful and good luck!

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Tutor.

 

Tips for Improving Reading at Home

Many of my students struggle to complete either part A or part B of the reading for a

number of reasons. Part A requires you to be able to quickly skim read and pick out key

words that will guide you to the answer, while Part B is a test of your reading

comprehension and will highlight a need to improve general vocabulary and understanding

of the written language. Below are some of my suggestions on how to improve your reading

at home.

1. Get into the habit of reading every day. Whether it is an English novel, the

newspaper or a magazine it is very important to read something every day, or as

regularly as possible to improve your reading speed and comprehension. For the OET

in particular it would be a good idea to read scientific journal articles online from

wites such as Medline, EBSCO and PubMed, or read information on medical websites

such as the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

2. Following on from the above suggestion, when you find a word that you do not

understand while you are reading, copy it down into a book with the dictionary

definition for future reference. I find that a lot of my students miss out on choosing

the correct answer in Reading Part A and B because they come across a word that

forms part of the answer but they do not know what it means. Therefore, it is

extremely important to read regularly and write down new words when you come

across them. To really improve your vocabulary put some time aside in your day to

also revisit the new words you have written down so that you learn them for the

future.

3. Finally be smart about what you read and try to summarise the meaning to test

how well you understand the text. This is an exercise you can do to see how well

you are able to understand what you have read. While you are reading a

book/newspaper/magazine pick a page, or a few paragraphs and read them, then try

to summarise what you have just read either verbally or by writing a small summary.

Hopefully these small tips will help improve your reading skills immensely. Best of luck in the future with the OET!

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Teacher

OET Listening Component

As well as listening out for word stress, intonation and specific vocabulary, you will need to familiarise  yourself with the 12 occupations listed in the OET. These are:

Dentistry Pharmacy
 Dietetics  Physiotherapy
 Medicine  Podiatry
 Nursing  Radiography
 Occupational Therapy  Speech Pathology
 Optometry  Veterinary Science

This is important because not only do you need to be aware of subject matter –disease, illness, ailment, procedure etc. you must acquire some basic knowledge of the topics most likely to be discussed. The more familiar you are with any given subject matter, the higher the chance you will recognise occupation specific terminology.

At the beginning of every listening test Part A, they will tell you who will be involved in the discussion. Acquiring some basic knowledge of each occupation simply by reading a page or two on each, will give you not only the confidence you need but will allow you to anticipate what is coming. Remember that at no time are you tested on medical terminology, but being as comfortable and familiar with a topic as possible will certainly be place you in the best possible position.

More Tips to Improve OET Speaking

1. Explain everything in as much detail as possible!

Remember your speaking task is marked using the recording of your voice. This means that the examiners cannot see your hand actions or facial expressions. Therefore, you need to explain everything in words – clearly. Step by step.

Example: Explaining how to inject insulin.
Firstly, you should choose your site for injection (such as, the abdomen). Then, you need to pinch the skin between your thumb and index finger. Then, hold the needle at 45 degrees to the surface and inject!

2. As the example above, use words like firstly and secondly, etc.

This is recommended as it gives your speaking task a sense of structure. It allows you to explain medical procedures in a simple, systematic sequence. Some other words you can use include in addition, furthermore, following on from that… and the list goes on. You can use these in writing, too!

3. Clarify with the patient and check that they are understanding you.

As medical procedures can be quite complicated and detailed, it may be difficult for the patient to follow what you are saying. To overcome any confusion and to clarify with the patient, use pauses throughout your speaking to give the patient a chance to ask their questions. In addition, you can ask them questions like “Are you following?” “Does this make sense?” “Do you have any questions about this procedure so far?”

I hope these tips can help you improve in OET speaking and reduce those nerves! Good luck.

5 Simple Steps to Improve OET Speaking


1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Before you begin each speaking task, you will have 2-3 minutes of preparation time. As you are reading the task, if there are any aspects which you don’t understand, it is worthwhile to ask the roleplayer as they may be able to help you out. You will NOT be marked down for asking questions.
 
 

2. Follow the dot points in order.

This is NOT something you MUST do, but it is highly recommended. By following the dot points in order, you will not get lost or confused during the task and this will ensure that you are able to engage with the roleplayer (i.e. the patient).

3. If you get stuck, use the phrases/terminology on the card.

You are allowed to do this. This is particularly useful if, perhaps, the topic is unfamiliar to you.

4. Listen to the samples on the OET website.

Most students neglect to check the official OET website for samples and materials. In fact, they have uploaded 2 nursing speaking tasks and 2 medicine speaking tasks. Have a listen to these as they will familiarise you with the structure of the speaking exam, even if you are not taking the nursing/medicine exam.

5. And, as always… practise, practise, PRACTISE.

With a family member. With a friend. With your dog? Even by recording yourself! Just practise!!

 

All the best!

 

Carol Luo

Overcoming the Fear of OET Reading Passages – Part 1

Comprehension can be challenging because, apart from assessing your English vocabulary skills, it is a test of your understanding and interpretation of extensive passages in English.

This sparks cries of fear from OET students.

Although you have 45 minutes to tackle 20 questions from two texts in the OET, you need to have some good techniques under your belt to help you overcome your fear of the reading passages.

#1 Start with the questions

You should start with the questions to give you an indication of which paragraph to read. This is because, if you read the entire passage, you will probably not recall all the finer details anyway and will waste time reading over it again.

#2 Circle conjunctions that link ideas together

As you read the appropriate paragraph of the passage, circle words like ‘but’ or ‘however’ or ‘in contrast’ which show two contrasting ideas. Or perhaps phrases like ‘in addition’ or ‘furthermore’ that show similar ideas. Or, if any, try to spot ‘which causes’ or ‘leading to’ which show a cause and effect relationship!

#3 RTFQ = Read The Full Question!

Once you have a good understanding of the relevant paragraphs, return to the question and read all the options carefully. This is because often there is simply one word that can affect whether the answer is right or wrong.

By coupling these simple techniques with constant reading of medical passages to build your vocabulary, you can surely gradually overcome your fear of OET reading.

– Carol Luo

Another tips for OET Writing

“The” patient

A common mistake that ESL students make in the writing section is when making reference to the patient. This is done as necessity all throughout the letter.

Letter header

The patient’s full name and date of birth or age should be mentioned right at the start of the letter in the letter header “Re: (patient’s first name AND surname, date of birth).” This should always be included in a referral letter as the doctor or health specialist that you are writing to will most likely have hundreds of patients they see and need a quick way of filing and identifying patients without mixing them up.

First paragraph

In the introductory paragraph of the letter, you will invariably be mentioning the patient. It is important to mention at least the patient’s first name or their surname with appropriate title of Mr/Ms when referring to them.

Body paragraphs.

Ideally you would mention the patient’s name at the first sentence of every new paragraph. You would refer to the patient by their name if there is more than one person involved in the patient’s case. For example, the patient’s name may be mentioned when describing reports from a collateral account like a parent to not confuse the two.

Otherwise, you can refer to the patient as “the patient” or she/he etc as appropriate grammatically. Oftimes I see students just writing “patient” instead of “the” patient. It is always “the patient.” It may seem like a pedantic pointer but always remember this is a English test so proper grammar counts!

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