OET Scoring: Exam Grading and Procedure | How is the OET Scored?

Understanding OET scoring is an important step for achieving a high score.  

This article from E2Language outlines the four language skills assessed for OET scoring and provides an explanation of the grading scale and exam procedure. 

Fill out the form below to receive a list of simplified medical vocabulary you can use on the OET!

OET Scoring: Your Guide Simplified!

OET Scoring

OET Language Skills

The OET assess the four main language skills shown below:

Skill Area: Content: Demonstrates their ability to:
Listening Common to all professions Follow and understand a range of health-related spoken materials such as patient consultations and lectures
Reading Common to all professions Read and understand different types of text on health-related subjects
Writing Profession Specific Write a letter in a clear and accurate way which is relevant for the reader
Speaking Profession Specific Effectively communicate in a real-life context through the use of role-plays

According to the OET Preperation Support Pack

Each skill area is referred to as a “sub-test” in the OET. You will need to become familiar with each skill area, including the number of tasks and how they test your skills.

OET scoring: how do assessors graph results? 

OET scoring
Learn how OET results are report below!

The Grading Scale

Your scores will be given to you on a scale from A (highest) to E (lowest).

The following table describes each grade level:

Grade: Description of Ability:
A Very high level of performance
B High level of performance. i.e. able to use English with fluency and accuracy adequate for professional needs
C Good level of performance; however, not acceptable to a range of health and medical councils
D Moderate level of performance: requires improvement
E Low level of performance: requires considerable improvement

According to the OET FAQS

In other words, you must score a B or above in all sub-tests in order to “prove” that your English ability is adequate for professional needs.

Exam Grading and Procedure

So, who grades the exam and what’s the procedure?

Listening and Reading

The entire Listening sub-test and Part A of Reading is scored by trained OET assessors on-site. All answer packets are randomly assigned to avoid possible conflict of interest.

These assessors score your answer booklet using a detailed guide. It specifies exactly which answers receive marks and how those scores are counted.

This guide helps assessors decide whether the test taker provided enough correct responses to be given the available marks (or mark). Every assessor is monitored and scores within data entry are double checked for accuracy.

Part B of Reading is automatically machine graded when the answers are scanned into the computer.

View E2Language’s method for passing your OET Reading Part A here!

Writing and Speaking

OET scoring
Practice recording your voice and typing on the computer as this will simulate real test conditions!

Writing and Speaking sub-tests are graded by at least two of the OET assessors. Similar to the Listening and Reading sections, your audio files and scripts with be given at random.

These assessors are monitored and the scores they give are adjusted depending on if they are a strict or lenient grader.

In order to ensure accurate scoring, the OET centre only accepts marks if both of the assessors award the same grade to a given performance, audio file or script.

If the two assessors award different scores, your piece will be passed on to at least one senior OET assessor (who has not previously been involved in your marking) to decide your grade.

View a previous post for three simple steps for passing your OET Speaking!

 Grading criteria


The Writing Sub-Test Criteria (all equally weighted):

  1. Overall Task Fulfilment
  2. Appropriateness of Language (The use of correct vocabulary and phrases)
  3. Comprehension of Stimulus (Correct context)
  4. Linguistic Features (Grammar and Cohesion)
  5. Presentation Features (Spelling, Punctuation, and Layout).

The Speaking Sub-Test Criteria (all equally weighted):

  1. Overall Communicative Effectiveness
  2. Intelligibility (How easily you can be understood)
  3. Fluency (Flow and ease of speech, “natural sounding”)
  4. Appropriateness
  5. Resources of Grammar and Expression (Working vocabulary)

Grade B for Writing and Speaking requires a high level of performance on all criterion.

The OET standard is high but don’t let that scare you. With the right study plan, material, feedback and practice you’ll be closer to getting your desired score than you ever imagined! E2Language wants to help OET aspirants just like you reach your goal!

Improve Your Core Skills

Find the OET study packages on our website

Watch Jay on the E2 OET YouTube channel provide some speaking tips for maximising your score on test day:

Follow our social media for more tips on how to pass OET!

Written by: Olivia

 

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How to Pass OET Speaking: Three Steps to Success

Do you require some OET preparation material on how to pass OET speaking sub-test? In this article, Jay from E2Language will give you three simple steps for you to follow that will help you ace your OET examination! 

Fill out the form below to receive a list of simplified medical vocabulary you can use on the OET!

In the OET speaking exam the examiner will hand you a role play card. You will have a few minutes to prepare and then you will converse for up to five minutes.

To ace this part of the exam you need to follow a structure. You need three steps:

Step 1: initiate the conversation

Step 2: maintain the conversation and;

Step 3: conclude the conversation.

Initiating the conversation

It’s important to understand that although this is an English speaking exam it is a workplace simulation. As such, you are not the candidate; you are the medical professional. You need to take charge of the conversation.

When you look at the role play card the first section is the ‘scenario’. This section will tell you whether you know the patient or whether this is the first time you are meeting the patient. Use this information to construct your opening statement. If you know the patient then you can say something like:

Mrs Smith, it’s good to see you again.

Or if you don’t know the patient you can say something like:

Hello my name is Mr Doctor. What’s your name?

You then need to begin the consultation. It’s important that you follow the tasks on the role play card. They are your guide posts. Use them constructively. Understand that your tasks will relate directly to the patient’s tasks.

In a word, your tasks are ‘interconnected’. If you have to ask about “Meals on Wheels” you can be sure that the patient’s role play card will also have something there about “Meals on Wheels”. The role play cards are constructed in such a way that if you follow the tasks the conversation will follow a logical path.

How to pass OET speaking: Maintaining the conversation

OET examiners are not allowed to maintain the conversation. If it dries up, it is up to you to continue the conversation – not the OET examiner. You need to learn how to ask open-ended questions, not closed questions. Put simply ask questions that make the patient speak. Don’t ask questions that simply elicit a yes/no answer.

Don’t speak about nothing …

how to pass OET speaking
If the conversation is drying up, don’t speak gibberish, remember to speak with confidence about the topic by asking open ended questions.

Although this is your speaking exam, you are being assessed on your ability to converse – not talk, the difference being that if you just talk, you are not talking with the patient. You need to engage the patient in a meaningful conversation. In short, you need to listen. Actually, you need to do three things:

Three tips on how to pass OET speaking: 

a) Glance (at the task)

b) Speak

c) Listen

This is a cycle that you will follow for the full five minutes. You will glance at the role play card, ask a question of give a statement then listen to the patient’s response and either glance at the role play card again or answer the patient’s concern before glancing at the role play card.

If the conversation dies then you need to revive it. One way to do this is to prompt the patient to speak about something. For example, let’s say that you can see on your role play card something about ‘trouble while driving’.

So you know that the patient knows that he/she has trouble while driving. Why not ask him/her about that? Even though the topic has not been raised yet, you can simple ask: “Can you tell me about the problems you have while driving?” The patient will then begin to speak about that particular issue and the conversation will be revived. Keep it alive!

Another way to maintain the conversation is to complete the tasks in order. It’s not a good idea to skip tasks or do them in a random order. You don’t get points for being creative with the tasks. You just need to follow the logical order given to you and if you do happen to miss one then you can always come back to it.

How to pass OET speaking: It’s not a difficult puzzle (thankfully!) 

How to Pass OET Speaking
Follow the logical steps of the task card and you should come out on top!

Concluding the conversation

It’s difficult to tell how long you have been speaking for but if you take a tutorial with E2Language then you will have a much better idea. Either way, at the end of the conversation it’s a good idea to conclude it. You can this by summarizing the tasks that you have spoken about.

This is a neat way to chew up the extra time and it adds a sense of professionalism to your role play rather than you sitting there awkwardly. For example, you can say something like: “It’s been good chatting to you Mrs Smith. Let’s summarize what we have spoken about today. Firstly, you mentioned… You also described…” Of course, you don’t have to use your memory here; you can use your task card to remind you about what you spoke about to make a great conclusion.

Initiate, maintain and conclude

If want to know how to pass OET speaking, you’ve now found these key three steps: initiate, maintain, conclude. You will feel more confident on test day because you won’t have to ask the OET person what to do. You will know what to do. The biggest take home message is that you need to be professional. The OET examiners are listening for your ability to engage in a professional way and that means that you know how to start, continue and end a conversation as a nurse, doctor, dentist or physiotherapist, etc.

I hope you have found this OET preparation article helpful; make sure you use the three steps to to enhance your OET Speaking sub-test score! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any of your own tips on how to pass OET speaking, or if you have any concerns about the OET speaking section in general. 

Follow our social media for more tips on how to pass OET!

 

 

Written by Jay.

PTE or OET? Which Test Should I Take?

Many of our students are confused about whether they should take PTE or OET for immigration and employment purposes, so we decided to provide some facts about which test may be right for your situation. 

Hi my name is Jay and I’m one of the expert teachers at E2Language. E2Language is the OET’s only authorised ‘feedback provider’. We are the only institute trained by the OET to give feedback on writing and speaking. We have an online OET course that is second to none. Our materials and our methods get students the score they need.

But is OET the right test for you? Although you are a medical professional, you can take other tests, such as the PTE. Should you take the OET? Here are some reasons why and why not that you should consider…

PTE or OET: Why you should take the OET instead of the PTE.

Medical vocabulary

The main reason doctors, nurses and physios take the OET instead of the PTE is because they feel more comfortable with the vocabulary associated with their profession. In the OET writing sub-test you must write a letter using vocabulary that you are familiar with. You will not be faced with a question prompt about ‘spaceships’ or ‘global warming’. The same goes for reading and listening: The words you hear will be medical words; they will be familiar to you.

Professional development

The other big reason why doctors, nurses and physios choose the OET over other tests is because they feel it relates to their professional development. The tasks that you do in the OET are ones that mirror the workplace environment. Listening to a consultation and taking notes in the listening sub-test, for example, is one such real-life task. Writing a discharge letter is another. The test can prepare you for your upcoming job in the hospital or clinic whereas the PTE will not really apply.

PTE or OET
The OET takes into account the English skills that you will need in the workplace if you are a healthcare professional.

PTE or OET: Why you should take the PTE instead of the OET.

It’s cheaper

The cost of the PTE is substantially less than the OET, so if money is an issue then PTE might be a better option.

It’s quicker

The results of the PTE are released within 2-3 days of taking the test, so if time is an issue for you then the PTE might be a better option.

It has more tasks

Why would more tasks be a better thing? Wouldn’t that make it a worse test to take? Well… it depends on your attitude towards taking the test. If you see the PTE or OET as a barrier that you have to get through then it doesn’t really matter what you have to do, but if you see these tests as an opportunity to improve your spoken, written and comprehension of English then the PTE is arguably a more ‘rounded’ English tests. It tests more aspects of your language and as such gives you more opportunities to improve your English all ‘round. For example, in the reading section of the PTE there are five different tasks, each of which tests a different aspect of reading and vocabulary. Preparing for the PTE, then, gives you a better insight into English language.

Make sure you check out our blog’s free PTE practice questions and PTE writing sample.

It’s on a computer

I’m not sure about you, but I can’t write with a pencil anymore. Years of typing on a keyboard has rendered my handwriting skills redundant. While I haven’t taken the OET, I have taken the PTE and the IELTS. Typing, for me, is far easier than writing by hand.

PTE or OET
The PTE is completely digital, which is certainly an advantage for tech-savvy test takers!

There aren’t many OET preparation materials

One of the problems with the OET is that the preparation materials are extraordinarily difficult to create. As such, there are very few ‘sub-tests’ on the internet to practice with, and usually what you find is sub-standard. E2Language is different in that our preparation materials are top quality. However, if you need HEAPS of practice materials because your English is low, then you should opt for the PTE because we have more practice materials. On the other hand, if your English is already very good, then you should consider doing the OET because you don’t need that much practice.

If you decide to take the PTE, make sure you visit the E2 PTE YouTube channel for webinars and video lessons like this one:

What else do you need to know about the OET?

If you are leaning towards the OET as your preferred test, there are some other things you should know before you go ahead and book your test.

A) Get feedback

Vocabulary and grammar aside, the way that you write a referral or a discharge letter is quite complicated. The method of selection, transformation and organisation requires practice, and more importantly, it requires feedback. You shouldn’t just get any old feedback, however. You need expert feedback from people who are officially trained by the OET – in other words, us. We know what you need to do to get an A or B on the OET writing.

B) Learn methods

OET Reading Part A is a real killer. You have 15 minutes to answer about 30 questions – or 1 question per 30 seconds. Without a method – without a step by step approach to this sub-test it is virtually impossible to score highly. There are two skills that OET candidates consistently fail and they are writing and reading.

PTE or OET: What should I do now?

If you need to become a registered nurse or practice medicine in Australia, for example, and you need to pass the OET or another test like the PTE then you should start your preparation immediately. Don’t underestimate how challenging these tests are. We’ve had candidates who have completed a four year nursing degree in Australia – who have written essays and done workplace practice – yet fail the OET several times because they did not prepare adequately. This is the final step before you land your dream job – don’t let this test stop you.

If you decide to take the OET, make sure to visit our E2 OET YouTube channel for some free webinars and video lessons like this one:

Do you still feel like you need some expert advice about whether you should take PTE or OET? Contact us and one of our knowledgeable tutors can help you make your decision and select the PTE or OET preparation course that best suits your needs!

Follow our social media for more PTE & OET resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Jay Merlo.

How to Pass OET Reading Part A

The OET Reading Part A test is unlike anything that you’ll see on IELTS or PTE. It’s been designed to mimic the kind of fast-paced reading that you need to do in a medical situation. It’s hard! This blog will tell you exactly what it is and how you can pass it using E2Language.com’s “secret step-by-step method”.

What is the OET Reading Part A?

OET Reading Part A is a ‘summary completion’ task. What does that mean? It means that you are given a summary of four short texts with GAPS.

OET Reading

Your job is to fill the gap with the correct word taken from the TEXTS. Sounds simple? Well… keep reading because you need a Step-by-Step method to complete this one.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE TOPIC (3 seconds)

Just below the INSTRUCTIONS and just above the TEXTS is the TOPIC. Can you see it here in red?

OET Reading

That’s it: The topic of these TEXTS and the SUMMARY is Vasectomy. How long did that take you to identify? It should take you less than 3 seconds to find and understand.

Identifying the topic is the best possible start. It will prime your brain with relevant language on what the TEXTS and SUMMARY will be about. You don’t want to waste valuable seconds looking at the TEXTS trying to deduce what they are all about because the TOPIC gives it to you immediately.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY THE TEXT TYPES (10 seconds)

You need to be able to quickly identify the TEXT types.

There are usually 4 (but sometimes 3) of them. These TEXTS might be:

  • Statistics
  • A research abstract
  • Q and A
  • A definition
  • A short case study

They’re short. Sometimes they are just a couple of hundred words, or a bunch of numbers. But they’re not exactly easy to read. Check this one out; it’s a Research Abstract:

OET ReadingThese are Statistics:

OET ReadingGlancing at the TEXTS and being able to identify them will help you enormously because the SUMMARY will directly relate back to these TEXTS. If you see a reference to statistics in the SUMMARY you know that the answer will be in the statistics TEXT, for example.

STEP 3: SPEED-READ THE TEXTS (1-2 minutes)

I know it’s scary because the clock is ticking down but you need to spend 1-2 minutes speed-reading the TEXTS. You need to get an idea of what they are about. If you miss this step you will not be able to fill out the SUMMARY correctly.

You need to understand three things when you speed-read the TEXTS:

  1. The general idea
  2. The headings and subheadings
  3. Keywords

Look at this one again:

OET Reading

  • The title states the “risk of prostate cancer” after vasectomy. That’s the general idea.
  • The headings and subheadings talk about:
    • Authors
    • Context
    • Objective
    • Design, setting and participants
    • Outcomes
    • Results
    • Conclusions
  • The keywords are:
    • “Risk”
    • “Prostate cancer”
    • “Diagnosis”
    • “No association”
    • “Does not increase risk”

STEP 4: MATCH THE SUMMARY TO THE TEXT

Now it’s time to look at the SUMMARY. What you’ll notice in the SUMMARY is that there are clues as to which TEXT you should look at to find the word to fill the gap.

Look at this SUMMARY paragraph:

OET Reading

There are clues in here as to which TEXT you should look at to find the correct words to fill the gaps. Can you remember which one it might be?

  • Statistics? No.
  • Q and A? No.
  • Case study? No.
  • Research abstract? YES!

Look more closely at the KEYWORDS in this SUMMARY paragraph:

OET Reading

These KEYWORDS directly link back to the TEXT that was about research. Remember? Aha! This is where we need to go to fill the gap correctly.

KEYTIP 1: EACH PARAGRAPH IN THE SUMMARY CONTAINS INFORMATION FROM ONE OR TWO TEXTS

Keep in mind that each paragraph in the SUMMARY usually contains information from one paragraph. Sometimes, however, each paragraph in the SUMMARY may contain information from two TEXTS. As a result, you may have to look at the TEXT on research and the TEXT on statistics to fill the gaps for that single paragraph.

STEP 5: MAKE SURE THAT THE WORD FITS FOR MEANING AND GRAMMAR

Most of the time you cannot take a word directly from the TEXT and fit it directly into the gap in the SUMMARY. The word may have to be changed to fit for grammar or meaning.

STEP 6: …

Sign up to www.e2language.com/home/oet to see the rest of the STEPS to complete OET Reading Part A successfully.

If your OET exam date is nearing, you may need to do an OET preparation course. E2Language.com has OET sample tests, including OET reading sample tests including lots of practice for OET Reading Part A. Our course is 100% online – OET online. If you need OET writing tips or an OET writing sample then sign up today!

 

 

Written by Jay Merlo

Failed your PTE, IELTS, TOEFL or OET Exam? Switching tests may not be the answer.

If you fell short of the score you needed in a particular English proficiency exams, one of the first things you’ll want to do is switch tests. You tell yourself: the “PTE must be easier than IELTS!”

Disbelief and blame is a common symptom of failure.

The truth is, switching tests takes a lot of time and energy and may not be the solution to your problem. Each test has a very different format and each format takes a long time to learn.

fed up

Consider the different structures of the following listening tests and your head will spin:

PTE Listening: 45 – 57 minutes / 7 different tasks

Summarize spoken text / Multiple choice x2 / Fill the blanks / Highlight the correct summary / Select missing word / Highlight incorrect words / Write from dictation

IELTS Listening: 30 minutes / 4 “sections” with 10 different question types

Multiple choice / Matching, plan/map/diagram labelling / Form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion / Sentence completion

TOEFL Listening: 60 – 91 minutes Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions

Specific detail / Function / Attitude / Organization / Connecting / Inference

OET Listening: 50 minutes / 2 “parts” of 20-28 questions. Part 1 is a consultation where you take notes. Part 2 is an academic lecture on a medical topic. There are many different question types including:

Multiple choice / Short answer / Gap-fill

If you failed the PTE or the TOEFL because you’re digitally illiterate, then switch. I don’t think that the PTE or TOEFL are suitable for people who struggle to use a mouse or keyboard. Think older test-takers. It may be the machine and not the content that you failed on. And if you struggle to use a pen or pencil in the IELTS or OET, then switch to the PTE or TOEFL and use the keyboard.

But if you’ve unfortunately failed your English test because, well… your English is weak, there’s only really one thing to do: learn. And when I say learn, I don’t mean practice.

English practice tests are only effective after you have learned, or re-learned, your fundamental English skills.

Grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, writing, speaking and pronunciation. Practice tests should be the cherry on top before you take the plunge (you should learn idioms, too).

If you’ve failed a particular test more than, say, three times, and you have learned, reviewed and practiced the test then you may want to think about switching. If the essay topic in the IELTS threw you, and you are more comfortable with your medical topics because you’re a nurse, then the OET is probably a better choice. If you suffered anxiety in the OET speaking and you’d feel more comfortable talking to a computer, then switch to the PET or TOEFL.

But if you failed because your English is weak, hold your horses and stick to the test that you know and concentrate on building your English.

Check out www.e2language.com for online preparation courses that are effective, enjoyable and convenient.

Written by Jarrad Merlo

OET Speaking Tips – Get an A on the OET speaking

After sharing our tips on OET Writing, we now have some OET Speaking tips. If you want to get an A (or B) on the OET speaking sub-test then you need to know what the examiners are listening for when you speak. Your OET results will depend on how well you include the following criteria into the way you speak.

Fill out the form below to receive a list of simplified medical vocabulary you can use on the OET!

OET Speaking Tips 1 – Start the conversation

A lot of candidates make the mistake of thinking that the OET speaking sub-test is an examination and not a medical situation. As such they wait for the OET person (the patient) to do the talking. Imagine that you are in a professional setting and you are the nurse, doctor or dentist. You are in control. The OET person is the patient – not the OET person.

As such, it’s up to you to start the conversation.

Here’s an OET sample for nurses:

“Hello, my name is Jane and I’m the community nurse. Can I start with your name?”

Don’t sit there and make the patient start the conversation. It’s up to you.

shutterstock_153548087

OET Speaking Tips 2 –  Keep the conversation moving

It’s also up to you to maintain the conversation. If the conversation stops and silence happens you need to bring it back to life.

Here’s a sample:

“So, please tell me a little bit more about your situation.”

Or,

“Is there anything that you would like to add?”

OET Speaking Tips 3 – Ask questions to get the patient to talk

If the patient is reluctant to speak, you will need to ask questions that force him to speak.

Consider the following two questions. Which one will get the conversation moving?

  1. Do you feel sore?
  2. Can you describe the pain to me?

Question A would give you a Yes or a NO answer.

You need to think of questions that will get the patient to talk – to open up and tell you more.

OET Speaking Tips 4 – Listen to the patient

Although the OET speaking sub-test is a test of your speaking ability, it is as much a test of your listening ability. In order to “reply” you need to understand what the patient says.

Perhaps more importantly, you need to “listen” in terms of hearing what the person has to say. Don’t just concentrate on your performance, concentrate on communication. You need to respond appropriately to what the patient says – even if you are nervous.

What’s interesting is that the more that you concentrate on communication through listening the less nervous you will be. When you focus on yourself – on your performance – the more nervous you will get.

OET Speaking Tips 5 – Adjust your language

Depending on who you are speaking to, you need to adjust your language to suit the scenario.

Think about this:

You are talking to a depressed 87-year-old man.

You are talking to an aggressive 18-year-old man.

How would your language change? How would the words and intonation change?

OET Speaking Tips 6 – Unexpected turns…

Every now and then the OET person will test you by asking you something a little odd. He or she wants to see how well you respond – how flexible you are in your thinking and language.

For example, “What’s the phone number of the occupational therapist?”

What do you do? Do you laugh? No. You give a phone number, or you say:

“I will give you the number after our consultation.”

OET Speaking Tips 7 – Organise the role play

If you really want an A you will have to organise the role play into clear stages with an introduction, body and conclusion.

In the introduction you introduce yourself, welcome the patient and summarise the scenario.

In the body you move through the tasks, one-by-one.

In the conclusion, if you have time, you should summarize the role play by saying:

“Ok, so we have discussed the use of X and although I understand you concerns, I think it’s the best thing to do.”

The key to OET speaking

Although you can read ABOUT the OET all day long, when it comes to success it’s all about OET preparation. You need to prepare for the OET. You do need to be careful of the OET material for nurses that is available online and for sale on Gumtree and other classifieds. Sometimes it can be very different from the actual OET. You need to make sure that the OET materials that you use are similar to the actual OET test. At E2Language, we uses OET materials that are identical to the actual OET so you can be sure that your OET preparation is effective.

An OET preparation course is a good idea, but again, you need to choose carefully. Many teachers don’t really understand the OET. While they may be able to give you an OET sample test for nurses, do they really know how to teach it? A good OET teacher is very rare because it is an uncommon test.

If you want to get optimal results then check out our OET preparation course at www.e2language.com because we are OET experts. We are the OET’s only authorised partner. We specialise in getting OET candidates the OET results that they need and we do it FAST.

 

Written by Jarrad Merlo.

 

OET Writing Tips – How to get an A on the OET writing sub-test

In this OET Writing Tips article, we will share how you can get high score on this sub-test. The OET writing sub-test is unlike any other writing test.

Make sure you fill out the form below to receive a list of simplified medical vocabulary you can use on the OET!

In the IELTS and the PTE you have to write an ‘essay’. You are given a prompt and you write according to your thoughts. In the OET, you do not write according to your thoughts. In fact, there is very little room for creativity at all.

In the OET writing you have case notes and a task. You need to select from the case notes according to the task, create a logical structure for your letter and then make sure that the letter is written in your own words.

Whether you’re a nurse, doctor, dentist or physiotherapist, this blog post will show you how to write the OET sub-test to get an A (or a B)!

The Task

OET Writing Tips - Writing Sample
Material from www.occupationalenglishtest.org

 

The task is the most important past of the case notes. It should be the first thing that you look at in the 5 minutes reading time. The Task tells you WHO you are writing to and WHY. By understanding the Task (who and why) you will then be able to select case notes that are relevant to the reader.

Does the reader already know the patient or are you introducing the patient to the reader?

Compare these two tasks:

Task 1:

Using the information in the notes, write a letter back to the referring GP, Dr Jones, detailing your findings and suggested treatment plan.

Task 2:

Using the information in the notes, write a letter to Dr Jones detailing your findings and suggested treatment plan.

In task 1 the doctor already knows the patient. In task 2 the doctor does not know the patient.

How do you think your selection of case notes will change if the doctor knows or does not know the patient?

The answer to this is significantly. For instance, if the doctor already knows the patient, do you need to include much information from the medical history? No. But if the doctor has never met the patient before? Yes!

Whether read knows or does not know the patient will influence which case notes you choose and why.

Who are you writing to?

Consider these two tasks:

Task 1:

Using the information in the notes, write a letter of referral to Dr Jane Smith at Cicil Dermatology Clinic.

Task 2:

Using the information in the notes, write a letter of referral to Dr Jane Smith at Cicil Neurology Clinic.

The person you are writing to – or what their job is – will almost completely change the way you write your letter. For example, which person would want to know about acne – the dermatologist or the neurologist? Who would want to know about visual perception issues – the dermatologist or the neurologist?

Take-home message

The OET examiners purposefully put in case notes to distract you from the Task. Make sure that you understand the task – who you are writing to and why. If you understand the Task your chances of completing the task successfully will increase dramatically.

Read the sample writing sub-test letters to see how they are constructed according to the Task.

The E2-OET Writing Tips and Method

Male doctor taking notes

E2Language.com has created a powerful method to help you to write your OET letter successfully. The method works for nurses, doctors, dentists – all professions.

The method is simple and has three steps:

  • OET Writing Tips 1 – Selecting case notes
  • OET Writing Tips 2 – Organising case notes
  • OET Writing Tips 3 – Transforming case notes

Let’s look at each of these steps in more depth.

OET Writing Tips 1 – Selecting case notes

We’ve already talked about the importance of understanding the Task in order to select relevant case notes. That is a big part of it.

After you have understood the Task you then need to be able to look at the case notes and understand WHICH ONES ARE IMPORTANT, and WHICH ONES ARE UNIMPORTANT.

The OET examiners purposefully put in UNIMPORTANT case notes to distract you. Be sure not to include these case notes. For example, if you are writing to a doctor about a patient’s diabetes don’t include that they broke their wrist twelve years ago. It’s completely irrelevant.

OET Writing Tips 2 – Organising case notes

You need to organise your case notes into neat paragraphs. This is a very common mistake made by OET candidates. They just mix all of their case notes into what looks like a paragraph, put a space under it and start another mixed paragraphs. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have a CLEAR STRUCTURE.

The way you structure your OET writing should be according to:

  1. Introductory sentence
  2. The main issue
  3. The secondary issue
  4. Any other details
  5. The request

The issue will most likely be medical but it might be social. The secondary issue might be medical or social. Any other details may include medication of something else of relevance that did not fit into 1. and 2. Finally, your letter should end with the request to the medical professional or whomever you’re writing to, and this often takes into account the discharge plan or management plan.

Let’s look at this structure in more detail:

The introductory sentence

In the case notes there will be one particular medical issue that will stick out. It is usually found in the ‘admission diagnosis’ section of the case notes. For example it may be “recurring headaches”. And in the Task, Discharge Plan or Management Plan you may be asked to refer the patient to a neurologist for assessment.

Therefore you need to include two pieces of information in your introductory sentence. (Let’s say that the neurologist knows this patient.)

I am referring Tim back into your care for full assessment of his recurring headaches.

You can see here that there are two pieces of information:

  1. The request
  2. The main medical issue – the headaches

In a single sentence we have summarised what is happening is what we want the reader to do. This is a great way to start your letters.

The main medical issue

Following on from the introductory sentence we then need to specify in more detail the main medical issue – in this case the recurring headaches. So we should scan the case notes for ANY information relating to Tim’s headaches. We can then write this up into a single paragraph that encapsulates all the relevant information that the neurologist needs.

The secondary issue

You will notice when you are scanning the case notes that there will be a secondary issue emerging. This will be less important than the main medical issue but it will warrant its own paragraph. For example, following on from our example of headaches, let’s say that Tim is also getting dizzy. There will be several (3-4 case notes) explaining something about Tim’s dizziness. We then outline this secondary issue in the second paragraph.

It’s important to understand that we want to keep our paragraphs single-themed. That is, paragraph one should be about headaches and headaches ONLY. It should not include any other information. The second paragraph – though related to headaches – should only include information related to dizziness.

MIXING IDEAS IN YOUR PARAGRAPHS WILL RESULT IN A LOW GRADE

Any other details

There may be a few odds and ends in the case notes that are worth mentioning to the neurologist. For example, let’s say that Tim has been on a new diet, been drinking more and doing less exercise. Are these directly related to headaches or dizziness? No! Therefore, we do not include them in Paragraph 1 or 2. Instead, we can create a third paragraph for related information that the neurologist may want to know.

The request

We have mentioned the Request in the introductory sentence but we should make it more explicit in the final paragraph. Here we should loudly say to the neurologist (or whomever) what it is that we want them to do. Remember, this information will be in the Task, Discharge plan or Management plan.

For example,

I am referring Tim back to your for assessment of his recurring headaches.

It may sound repetitive but it’s okay. You need to say the request twice: once at the beginning of the letter and once at the end of the letter.

OET Writing Tips 3 – Transforming case notes

The final step after you have selected and organised the case notes is to TRANSFORM the case notes for you MUST NOT copy the case notes directly into your letter. Of course, some allowance is given for transferring and some case notes you simply cannot change but most of the case notes are short and ungrammatical. Your job is to tell a story to the ready. You are taking the case notes and re-working them so that they make sense and fulfill the task.

To conclude our OET Writing tips

You need a good approach to writing these types of letters. Without a good approach the case notes can be overwhelming. There is often a lot of information and for physiotherapists, dentists and doctors, there is often more than there is for nurses…

Remember, you need to be able to:

  1. Select,
  2. Organise, and
  3. Transform the case notes into a letter of between 180-200 words.

It’s no easy task, but it is possible with practice, feedback and guidance.

Written by Jay Merlo

 

Why OET may be right for YOU!

The Occupational English Test or OET is an international English language test that assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in Australia, New Zealand or Singapore. It covers all four language skills with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment.

Research shows that this test is advocated by past test takers as the most suitable test for registration, employment and visa purposes because the test focuses on medical English (note: the test does not quiz you on your medical knowledge).

As a healthcare professional you know how important communication is in your job. OET is designed for you, simulating real workplace tasks and testing relevant language skills. For example, for the writing section of this test you must write a referral letter or a discharge letter ­ a task that you must learn how to do in your job anyway.

OET is recognised and trusted by healthcare boards and councils in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Many organisations, including hospitals, universities and colleges, are using OET as proof of a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in a demanding healthcare environment.

Why you should take the OET:

● The test materials reflect real workplace scenarios.

●  You will use the test skills you learn immediately, and for the rest of your career.