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FAQs for OET

 

  • How are OET results reported?

    You receive results for the four sub-tests that make up the OET as one of five grades – A to E. A is the highest grade, E is the lowest.

    There are descriptions for each grade on the printed Statement of Results you receive:

      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



      There is no overall grade; you receive a separate grade for each sub-test you take.

      Most boards and councils that recognize the OET require you to have at least a B grade in each of the four sub-tests. However, you should check with the boards and councils that regulate your profession to confirm what is currently required in your situation.  The OET Centre cannot take any responsibility for providing or checking this information for you.

      You may receive different grades for your performances in different sub-tests. There are many aspects to being able to use and communicate in a language effectively and the OET tests many of these across the four sub-tests. Test design separates test materials into the four macro-skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) for practical reasons and to acknowledge that these involve different sub-skills and strategies.


  • How long is OET results valid?

    The length of time the results are recognized as valid is decided by the authorities (boards and councils; government departments) that recognize the OET. This period is usually two years, but you should check with the boards and councils that regulate your profession to confirm.

    Each sub-test has its own two-year validity. A set of results for the four sub-tests is valid for as long as the oldest satisfactory sub-test result remains valid.


  • How is the final grade obtained from the score for each sub-test?
    Writing and Speaking
    The 'fair score' generated by the statistical analysis of the two sets of scores from two independent assessors of each candidate's Writing script or Speaking recording becomes the final grade through a direct conversion following established practice.

    Listening and Reading
    There is no fixed score-to-grade link for these sub-tests.  The grades are re-set for each administration.  This is because different test materials are used at each administration and, as explained on the sub-test information page for Reading, one or more items may be deleted if found not to contribute to the overall reliability of the sub-test.

    The Listening and Reading sub-test scores allow all candidates taking each sub-test at the same administration to be listed from strongest performance to weakest performance. The next step is to establish where the boundaries between the grades (A-E) are. This is done by taking the grades set for the Writing sub-test and the Speaking sub-test for the same administration of the OET. A mean average of the percentage in each grade for these two sub-tests is taken and applied to the spread of performances on the Listening and Reading sub-tests.

    For example, if 8% of candidates have grade A for Writing and 10% have grade A for Speaking, the average is 9%.  Then, the strongest 9% of candidates in the Listening and Reading sub-tests are also awarded a grade A for those sub-tests.  This process is carried out for all five grades.

    Qualitative Feedback
    You may apply for qualitative feedback on your performance in the Writing or Speaking sub-test. However, OET Centre policy does not provide for re-marking on request. Test procedures are rigorous and results are accurate.

  • How is the OET developed?

    The topics of the Reading and Listening sub-tests are chosen carefully to be accessible to all candidates of the OET. They are of general medical interest and cover a wide variety of issues. The OET is a test of English, not of medical knowledge, and the test developers are careful in the test design to minimize areas where candidates may use prior knowledge rather than language skills to respond.

    All OET profession-specific test materials for Speaking and Writing have been reviewed by experts in the field. It is vital to maintain the direct link between the content of the OET and workplace practice.


  • What is the Listening sub-test?

    The Listening sub-test takes around 50 minutes. The exact length depends on the length of the audio recording. It has two parts and is the same for all OET candidates.

    In Part A you listen to a recording of a consultation between a health professional and a patient (dialogue). You take notes under the headings provided while you listen. This part of the test usually lasts around 20 minutes.

    In Part B you listen to a recording of a talk or lecture on a health-related issue (monologue). There is a variety of tasks for you to complete while you listen. This part of the test usually lasts around 30 minutes.

    You hear the recordings for the two parts once only, just as you would in real life. However, there are pauses during the recordings to allow you time to write your answers and to read the next heading or question. At the start of each part, there is some time for you to look through the headings and questions; at the end of the test, there is time for you to check your answers.

    You are given a printed answer booklet to write your responses in. You may write in pen or pencil.

    Rationale
    Note-taking is a real-life skill for the workplace: medical professionals take notes during consultations with patients to record relevant details (Part A). Medical professionals are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date perhaps by attending conferences. Noting useful information from a seminar is a necesary skill for professional development (Part B).

    The audio recordings are designed to be authentic, using natural language (including hesitations and repetition common in unscripted speech), different accents and a variety of speeds of delivery.


  • What is the Reading sub-test?

    The Reading sub-test takes 60 minutes. It is made up of two texts with accompanying multiple-choice questions. The content is suitable for all the medical and health professions using the OET.

    The two texts are on health-related topics and are similar to texts found in academic or professional journals. After each of the texts you will find 10-14 questions or unfinished statements about the text, each with four suggested answers or ways of finishing (multiple-choice questions). You must choose the one response which you think fits best.

    You are given a printed booklet with the text and questions and a separate answer sheet to complete. You must indicate your chosen response (A, B, C or D) to each question by shading the appropriate oval on the answer sheet. You must do this with a soft (2B) pencil.

    You should answer all questions. You don’t lose marks for incorrect answers.

    You must complete the answer sheet within the 60 minutes allowed for the test. If your responses are not on the answer sheet, you will receive a score of zero.

    Rationale
    Information on new developments in medical science is often published in journals written in English. High-level reading skills in English are therefore important to maintain professional standards and ensure knowledge and skills are up to date.


  • What is the Writing sub-test?

    The Writing sub-test takes 45 minutes. It is profession specific. You take this part of the OET using materials specifically for your profession – a nurse does the task for nursing, a dentist does the task for dentistry, and so on. In each test, there is one task set for each profession based on a typical workplace situation and the demands of the profession.

    The task is to write a letter, usually a letter of referral. Sometimes, and particularly for some professions, a different type of letter is required: e.g., a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise or inform a patient, career, or group.

    With the task instructions, you receive stimulus material (case notes and/or other related documentation) which includes information to use in your response.

    The first five minutes of the test is reading time. During this time, you may study the task and notes but may not write, underline or make any notes.

    For the remaining 40 minutes you may write your response to the task. You receive a printed answer booklet in which you must write your response. This also has space for rough work. You may write in pen or pencil.

    Rationale

    Although the work is now mainly done on computer, most medical professionals continue to prepare letters as part of regular practice. The writing task, taken directly from the workplace context, requires the selection and organization of relevant information and its presentation in a clear, accurate form that is appropriate for the intended reader.

    Preparing such a letter with only limited time is a reality for practicing professionals.


  • What is the Speaking sub-test?

    The Speaking sub-test is an individual interview that takes around 20 minutes. It is profession specific. You take this part of the OET using materials specifically for your profession – a nurse does role-plays for nursing, a dentist does role-plays for dentistry, and so on.

    In each interview, your identity and profession are checked by the interviewer and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced, one by one, and you have 2-3 minutes to prepare for each. The two role-plays take about five minutes each.

    You receive information for each role-play on a card, which you keep while you do the role-play. You may write notes on the card if you want. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you may ask for clarification before starting.

    You are assessed on your performance in the two role-plays only. The whole interview is recorded and it is this audio recording that is assessed; the interviewer is not assessing you.

    The interviewer follows a script so that the interview structure is similar for each candidate. He/she also has detailed information to use in each role-play.

    The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on the professional in those situations. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration.

    In each role-play, you take your professional role (e.g., as a nurse) while the interviewer plays a patient/client or sometimes a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science the interviewer is the owner or carer for the animal.

    Remember that the OET is a test of English-language skills not a test of professional knowledge.

    Rationale

    An important part of a health professional’s role is the ability to communicate effectively in speech with his/her patients or clients. The role-plays allow the candidate to take his/her professional role and demonstrate the ability to deal with common workplace situations. These situations may include elements of tension which are a normal part of the real-life context: for example, anxious or angry patients, patients who misunderstand their situation, limited time in which to explain instructions.

    Having two role-plays provides two separate opportunities to demonstrate spoken proficiency: the two scenarios provide a chance to use different kinds of language, therefore giving a broader view of the candidate’s spoken skills.


  • What Speaking skills are tested?

    Your performance in the two role-plays is assessed against five criteria:

    Overall communicative effectiveness – including how well you are able to maintain meaningful interaction

    Intelligibility – including pronunciation, intonation, stress, rhythm and accent

    Fluency – including the rate (speed) and natural flow of your speech

    Appropriateness – including the use of suitable professional language and the ability to explain in simple terms as necessary; also, how appropriately you use language to communicate with the patient given the scenario of each role-play

    Resources of grammar and expression – including the accuracy and range of the language you use; how effectively and naturally you communicate