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It does not matter if you are taking the OET Nurses, OET Doctors or other profession-specific versions of the OET. Our test prep strategy will help you work towards achieving an OET A score.

To get that high OET score, you need to understand how the test format and the different OET question types will influence how to prepare most effectively.

In this article, we focus on OET test preparation planning and strategies. First, let’s look at how the OET test structure and the level of your English skills will determine your personal OET exam preparation strategy.

What Is the OET Exam?

The OET is specifically designed for healthcare professionals to prove your English level so you can study or work in healthcare in English-speaking countries. The test uses real healthcare situations so that you will not only demonstrate your use of English, but also practice medical vocabulary, phrases and tasks that will prepare you for your career in the real world. 

For a helpful lesson and overview of the OET exam, take some time to watch our comprehensive OET overview video lesson:

What is on the OET Exam and How to Prepare?

The OET test has four sections known as sub-tests: 

  • Listening Sub-test
  • Reading Sub-test
  • Writing Sub-test
  • Speaking Sub-test

A good place to start thinking about the best way of preparing for the OET exam is by looking at how you will be scored. An official OET Statement of Results, which you will receive after you complete the test, looks like this:

OET Statement of Results showing Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading Scores and Skills Breakdown.

There are several differences between the OET score report and other tests such as IELTS and PTE. The IELTS score report, for example, gives an overall score, a CEFR level score and four separate scores for your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skill performance. However, for the OET exam, you will only be given you scores for your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills – no overall score.

OET Statement of Results showing Skills Scores of 450 for Listening, 420 for Reading, 450 for Speaking and 450 for Writing.

Your OET score is calculated using a 0 to 500 scale, with a perfect score being 500. Your numerical score will be mapped to a band score – given as A, B, C+, C, D and E. The report above shows that the candidate did well, with numerical scores by skill in the 420 to 450 range, with three skills in the A band and one skill, reading, in the B band range. 

OET will provide you with an explanatory table that describes your level of English proficiency for each skills score when you receive your statement of results after completing the OET exam.

OET Results Table showing band descriptors for each grade.

Knowing the difference in your skill strengths and weaknesses will impact on your personal exam preparation strategy, which we will discuss further below.

OET Preparation Tip 1: Know your Skill Levels Before you Begin Preparing

It is important to know your skill levels BEFORE you begin preparing for the OET exam. This information will give you the core of your exam preparation strategy. Knowing your strong and weak skills is essential information. The big problem here is that you won’t receive your OET results until after you have taken the OET exam. 
The good news is that you can get an estimate of your OET skill levels before you begin your OET Preparation. Just sign up to E2 Test Prep and use our free OET score calculator to test and measure your skill levels. An example of your free pre-test prep score report will look like this:

E2 Test Prep Skills Score Report showing indicative OET range for each skill.

Preparation for the OET Exam Tip 2: Learn the OET Question Types and their Difficulty

Knowing your strong and weak skills is just a first step. It gives you an indication of which skill you should focus on improving first and most. But, the OET exam is divided into four sections of 10 question types. Some question types are harder than others. So, not only do you need to focus on improving your weak skills, but you need to master the hardest question types.

Here is our assessment of question type difficulty, based on our research and experience, student feedback and our score calculator scores (this is a useful guide only, and individual opinions may vary). 

OET Listening is 40 minutes long and contains 2 task types with 42 questions.

Part A – Consultation Extracts: Note completion – 24 questionsEasier
Part B – Short Workplace Extracts: Multiple choice – 6 questionsModerate
Part C – Presentation Extracts: Multiple choice – 12 questionsChallenging

OET Reading is 60 minutes long and contains 3 tasks types with 42 questions

Part A – Expeditious Reading: Matching, sentence completion and short answer questionsModerate
Part B – Careful Reading – Main Idea: 3-option multiple choice questionsEasier
Part C – Careful Reading – Detail: 4 option multiple choice questionsChallenging

OET Writing is 45 minutes long and contains 1 question.

Write Referral, Transfer or Discharge Letter: 180–200 wordsChallenging

OET Speaking is a live interview, takes 20 minutes and contains 2 task types

Part 1: Speaking
Introduction: Warm UpNot Assessed
Roleplay: Task 1Moderate
Roleplay: Task 2Moderate

OET Preparation Tip 3: Prioritizing Weakest Skills and Hardest Questions

By now, you should be able to see the basis of your study plan for the OET exam begin to take shape. The question is how to easily combine this information in a way you can use it to learn and practice effectively.

If you use E2’s free OET score calculator, it generates a study pathway that is personalized just for you. You can see what your study pathway looks like in the image below. The study pathway ranks your skill levels from weakest to strongest. Within each skill level, it also ranks the hardest to easiest question types and gives you video lessons and practice activities in an optimized learning sequence designed to lift your OET score in the most efficient way.

E2 Test Prep Study Pathway showing personalised results for the order in which to complete tasks for each skill.

OET Exam Preparation Tip 4: Follow this Five-Step Prep & Study Plan 

There is no secret formula to getting a good OET score. It requires learning the test, mastering all the question types, and doing a lot of practice with high quality practice questions. Here is a five-step study plan:


Pre-Prep Skills Calculation
Use E2 Test Prep’s free OET score calculator to receive an estimate of your skill strengths and weaknesses.Sign up to E2 Test Prep for our free trial and use our OET score calculator to measure your skill levels.

Create Your Study Pathway
Use E2 Test Prep’s free OET study pathway tool to generate a study plan optimized just for your study plan.Sign up to E2 Test Prep for our free trial and use our OET score calculator to generate your personalized study plan.

Learn & Practice Each Question Type
Learn how to master each OET question type for all skills using E2’s highly successful methods lessons. Then, practice, practice, practice with our online resources.Sign up to E2 Test Prep for our free trial to access OET video lessons and high-quality practice questions.

Get Expert Feedback
If you are struggling with Speaking and Writing skills, seek expert help and feedback from a trained OET teacher. Do a writing or speaking intensive assessment or sign up for a 1 to 1 tutorial with an expert to get help and guidance.

Practice doing mini and full mock tests
Do not jump into doing full OET mock tests at the beginning of your preparation. It is best to learn about your capabilities and the format of the OET exam first.  Sign up to E2 Test Prep and take the free guided mock test.

Author Bio: 

E2 is the world’s leading test preparation provider. Our expert teachers are fully accredited English teachers with TESOL, British Council or other relevant certifications and years of OET examiner or OET teaching experience.

All Comments 1
  • Thank you for the valuable information that you have shared. This blog really helped me to know about the OET preparation course and how we can prepare for the exams. If you are a healthcare professional, proving your English level is a requirement. By pursuing OET training, we can achieve many career advantages. Keep sharing. Thank you so much.

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