I had no idea about OET or what it was about 45-50 days prior to my exam. A friend of mine told me about OET and that it was accepted as a proof of proficiency of English language in many countries. So, I started digging around the internet about it. After a couple of days of research i found out that many people in the medicine field including doctors/nurses preferred OET over IELTS as many of them said that it was comparatively much easier. I joined a couple of OET FB pages and subscribed to the E2 OET youtube channel. Meanwhile, I also searched for coaching centers in my city where they provided coaching and training for students who wished to appear in the exam.
I watched a couple of Jay’s video and thought to myself that OET was indeed do-able. I also found out that the coaching institutes teaching OET charged a hefty sum for a month long course (40 hours to be precise). As i had taken the IELTS examination about 10 years ago (2009) and had nailed it back then, I thought to myself that i’d try to attempt OET without taking any classes, practicing on my own. So, the journey began.
It was about a month’s preparation time before i took the exam. I started watching Jay’s videos on youtube and downloaded any OET related files i could find on the web (including OET official sample tests, OET materials on FB pages, and free materials at E2 language) and started practicing them. After practicing them for about a week, just to make sure that i didn’t loose my focus, i applied for the exam which was in about 3 weeks. Since the exam fee itself is expensive, i thought to myself that if i paid for it then i would have some kind of pressure to study.
With about 3 weeks time remaining before the test day, i watched all the youtube videos of Jay on E2 OET and honestly, that helped me a lot. I practiced for about 4 hours daily on an average taking breaks in between. Initially, i used to practice reading/listening/writing….. one module each day, and about 10 days prior to my examination day, i started practicing 1 set each day.
Listening part was kind of easy for me from the beginning after practicing about 2-3 sets once i got used to how to approach the task. Since i watch a lot of english movies and TV series, I think that helped me a lot with the listening sub-tests. The main idea on approaching the task in Listening part A is to write as much as you can… if u run out of blanks, use / / / to include more answers.
For listening part B, don’t leave any blanks, if u miss it, guess it. At the end of part B when you have 2 minutes time to recheck, check to see if your answer matches the blanks in terms of grammar.
For the reading part A which is quite tough since you have only 15minutes to fill up around 30 blanks, i decided to make it a little tougher while practicing. I didn’t print out any materials and practiced reading part A using my phone and my iPad, sometimes using my phone and my computer. One would have the texts and the other would have the summary with the blanks. This way it was much more difficult, when you have to scroll the pages to search for answers and even the blanks in the summary, than when it’s on a paper.
For reading part B, its all about understanding the passage. Some questions are straight forward while others are kind of tricky and for these eliminating the options works better, trying to find the perfect match. Some questions will ask for synonyms or the word “xxx” in paragraph 2 can be best replaced by…… for such questions you need to have a very good vocabulary, if u have no idea about which one fits, try replacing the word in the paragraph with the options and see which one fits better.
For writing, i practiced writing a lot of letters. I wrote referrals, discharge letters, transfer letters. Basically, i wrote letters for whatever kind of case notes that i came across, be it for doctors, nurses or physiotherapists. It’s all the same. What changes in different letters is the introduction sentence and the choice of relevant case notes.
TIPS : 1.To select relevant case notes, just put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of the letter and think about what information would i need if i were the recipient of the letter. For case notes that says, non-smoker, doesn’t drink…… exclude them even when you think they are relevant for cases of pneumonia/COPD or liver disease. They would be relevant if the patient was continuing to smoke or drink. Practice…..
2. Length of the letter does matter but only to some extent. On the exam day, I wrote 208 words in the body of my letter and scored A while a friend of mine wrote 250+ words and still managed to score B. Try to write in the 180-200 words range but don’t stress yourself if you write more than 200 words.
3. Be careful about the grammar including articles(a, an, the), and punctuation (commas, full stops).
4. At the start of every paragraph… in the first sentence…. write the name of the patient like for example, Mr. Smith presented to me……. or…… Regarding the medical history of Mr. Smith…… or…… Last week, Mr. Smith visited my clinic…… Then use pronoun (he/she/the patient) in the sentences that follow up in the paragraph.
5. While practicing writing, try to complete the task within 35 minutes including the the time you get to read the case notes. That way, you will have enough time to proof-read your letter in the end and check for grammar mistakes or any way you could re-structure the sentence to minimize word count or check to see if u have missed any relevant information you needed to include.
6. If you missed to include any relevant information, and you do not have enough time to erase the whole damn letter and re-write it….. include it at the end. Start the new paragraph or continue the last paragraph with….. Please note, that Mr. Smith is allergic to….. or ….. Please note, that Mr. Smith has been taking the following medications…… or ….. Please note, that Mr. Smith has received a shot of Morphine at 10am today…..
7. Have your letters checked from someone and get feed-backs. It will help you identify your mistakes and on how to improve.
Since, my wife Christina was also preparing for the exam, i didn’t have to look for a speaking partner. Her spoken english is way better than mine in terms of clarity, fluency. She helped me a lot to prepare for my speaking sub-test. We used to practice 4/4 role play cards each night. I also used to practice reading out loud from any book that i was reading which i recommend to those appearing for the exam, as it helps improve your fluency and clarity. We used to record our speaking role-plays and would listen to it after each session and discuss about the mistakes that we made. Sometimes, it would be grammar, sometimes fluency (since we are not native speakers). Its all about practice.
A week before my test day, i took a mock test at a local coaching center where they conducted classes for OET and used to give mock tests for those who wished to take the exam. The mock exam was quite similar to the real exam and the tasks were from the materials that we could find online. However, luckily for me, it were the tasks which i had not practiced yet due to time constraints. I managed to get B in all the modules and this helped me boost my confidence for the real exam.
I swear it was the easiest exam i have given so far. May be I was lucky to get the easy questions. Except for the speaking module, I’m sure that I should have got all A. I am not trying to be arrogant or egoistic but the questions were too easy. If OET didn’t charge for the re-marking, i would definitely go for re-check in the listening and reading module. ;p Here’s why:
For Part A – i didn’t leave any blanks and filled up most of the answer blanks using / / to include more answers than what was required and honestly speaking, i’m sure i included the relevant information what was asked in the question
For Part B – I had 2 blanks in the whole part B which i filled up taking a guess (certainly were wrong) but at the 2 minute time given to recheck, i checked for grammar mistakes and spelling mistakes (including “s” or “es” for plurals). The topic was on coronary bypass surgery i think.
Part A: I was too damn lucky in this part. The topic was on Gout and it had only 23 blanks…….. I was confused in the beginning and even turned the paper checking every page to look for questions. I had completed this part very early and had time to go through it twice even before they announced that 5 minutes were remaining. I checked for grammar, plural/singular, tense of the words/phrases i was putting in the blanks and reading the whole summary to check if the words/phrases i put in made sense.
Part B: This part was not so different form that which i had been practicing. It wasn’t easy, but neither was it very difficult. There were 19 blanks all together and since we have enough time to process the paragraph and understand the question, i don’t think i could have made so many mistakes to get a B.
Once again God was very generous upon me. The case note was on Acute Cholecystitis and I had to write a letter of referral to a General Surgeon. Since, I am a General Surgeon myself and have been practicing surgery for about 3 years now, it was very easy for me to select relevant case notes and know which information to include and which to discard. I wrote the letter and ended up with 208 words. I tried to decrease the word count to 200 but i found that changing few sentences decreased the sweetness of the letter (hope u know what i mean) and then i decided to go with the 208 word count letter in the end. I guess my judgement not to decrease the word count was correct.
This part of the test worried me. Since I am not a native speaker, I have a problem with fluency……… i include a lot of fillers while speaking (ummm….aahhh). I tried to minimize them as much as i could. I tried to speak slowly so as to take time utilizing the full 5 minutes but my interlocutor was speaking very fast. She had a good command over the language and spoke very fast, fluently and with clarity. This made me a little nervous as i was trying to catch up with her speed. What happens when you are trying to communicate with someone in English(given you r not a native speaker), if their english is poor….. you tend to speak broken english, similarly if their spoken english is good, you try to speak in a good tone, keeping in mind about the grammar and if they speak fast then you try to catch up with their speed. This happened to me and while trying to catch up with her speed and fluency, i had to correct myself 2-3times….. correcting my grammar.
For the 1st roleplay…. i had to talk to a mother of a 8 year old suffering from sun-burn. Task were to reassure the mother, inform about the condition and future precautionary measures.
For the 2nd role-play……. The setting was in a hospital Emergency department…… a carpenter’s apprentice had cut his finger while at work…… task were to talk about suturing as the patient didn’t want suture, convince the patient to get the suture, patient had never taken tetanus injection and is unwilling, so had to convince the patient to take the tetanus shot, talk about the recovery time and the possibility of infection and precautionary measures.
Overall it was a good experience and I’m glad that i’m done with it and now can move on to better things. If you have any queries, please drop them in the comment section and i’ll try to answer them all.
For those who ask, how much preparation time is needed…… my answer is simple….. it all depends on you. For me, it took a month, some might get it done in 2 weeks, for others it might take longer. It all depends on your level of English.
Congratulations to all those who cleared the OET exam this time and wish everyone a very good luck who are preparing for the upcoming exams.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Sent in by someone who wants to remain anonymous