What is OET and why you need it

The Occupational English Test (OET) was developed to test healthcare professionals’ English communication abilities. OET tests English language ability in four areas: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Test-takers will need to demonstrate their ability to understand and answer questions about:

  • Understanding OET
  • How and Where OET is administered
  • An Overview of OET
  • Filling Out the Answer Sheet
  • General healthcare consultations and presentations
  • Texts in a general healthcare setting.

Test-takers are required to write accurate, professional letters with the aid of prompts and use speaking prompts to carry out appropriate and effective conversations with patients, relating to specific healthcare professions.

OET preparation focuses on what you must to do to get the overall B grade you need, broken down into getting B grade in the Reading, Listening and Speaking papers and a C+ grade in the Writing paper. You quickly learn the strategies, techniques, and language you need to perform at your best and to enable you to enter the exam centre with confidence. Lessons with UniHaven’s OET tutors are online so you can access great OET preparation content wherever you live.

Why is it needed?

Most English-speaking countries need healthcare workers to have an OET Test grade B to qualify for work visas.

The OET Test

The OET test is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long and consists of 42 Listening questions, 42 Reading questions, 2 Speaking role-plays and 1 Writing task. O

OET Test Timing

OET is a timed test. This means that your score depends on being able to complete the questions within the time allowed. In the Listening Test, you will not need to time yourself, as you will be advised when to answer questions while you listen to the recording, but you will still need to keep up with the pace of the recording. When you first start to learn how to succeed at your OET test, you may not feel you have enough time to answer the OET Test questions or to complete the tasks effectively. However, by practising the strategies provided by your OET tutor, you will be able to get through all the test questions in the time provided. Remember that even if you are not able to complete a whole section within the time limit, you should still include an answer – even if it is a guess – on your answer sheet. You may choose the correct answer by chance and gain an additional point. If you leave those questions unanswered, you will receive no points.


Tip 1: Get to know what OET is about

Firstly, you need to get to know the exam – what it is all about.

One of the first actions you should take is to familiarise yourself with the structure and overview of the test. It is important to learn about the layout and other information before you book your OET Test. You should know how the test is structured and how much time it takes to complete each sub-test.

Tip 2: Learn how you are assessed

You need to understand the assessment criteria in each sub-test because it is important to know what you are graded on. Be aware of the dos and don’ts for each sub-test. For example, in the writing sub-test, there are things that might not be important to include in your letter. Knowing the assessment criteria can make a significant difference to your final score. Learn about the different bands and criteria for each sub-test on OET’s results and assessment page to give you an idea of what to aim for. This will be given to you in the classes by the OET tutor.

Tip 3: Create and use a study plan

You need to create a concrete study plan and you should make sure to stick to it. Your study plan should be something that suits your preferences and schedule. Your study timetable is important.

Tip 4: Do not be afraid to seek study help

Ask for help if you think you need a more focused guide on your OET journey.

Even if English is your mother tongue, you do not just pass OET so easily. There is a specific structure. You need to review. You need to really invest your time into it.

Tip 5: Practice, Practice, Practice!

Like many things, you need to practice your English skills to be successful.

You need to manage your time, to widen your vocabulary, and read a lot of articles. Additionally, taking mock tests under testing conditions to replicate the OET Test conditions is a wonderful way to practice and understand how well you are doing.

Bonus Tip 1: Practice specifically for your test type

Be sure to practice and revise specifically for your test type. When you are ready to take the Practice Test, be sure to time yourself very carefully, give yourself the most realistic test experience possible, and to show you exactly where you need improvement. Your tutor will help you with this preparation. If you are taking OET on the computer, you really need to make use of your computer. Do not write, only type.

Bonus Tip 2: Do not lose focus!

Throughout your OET journey, you might discover that your performance in one sub-test is lacking and requires more attention. It is important to still allocate study time to all sub-tests, even if you are only weak in one sub-test.

Want to know more? Join our UniHaven International Nurse and Midwifery Preparation Course by contacting us now at nursing@unihaven.ie

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