A common question that candidates ask about Part A of the OET Listening paper is if spelling mistakes are acceptable. The answer to this question is that spelling and grammar do not need to be accurate on the OET Listening paper. The general rule is that if the assessor can understand the word you intended to write and that you wrote the correct answer, then you will get the mark. This applies to all formats of the OET, computer-based, paper-based and the latest version, the OET@home.
It is worth noting that the way spelling errors are treated on the OET Listening paper is different on the Reading and Writing papers.
Here are a few examples of acceptable spelling and grammar errors on Listening Part A, which requires you to complete notes about a doctor/patient interaction.
Some answers in Part A will likely deal with the names of medications. Let´s say the answer is ´ibuprofen´ and you write ´aibaprofin´. You will receive the mark because you have written the word the way that it sounds and also the answer is correct.
There may also be parts of Part A on the OET Listening Paper where the answer is in a particular grammatical form, such as the plural in the case of a noun. Let´s say the answer is ´tablets´ and you write ´tablet´. You will receive the mark because even though the plural ´s´ is missing, it is clear that you understand the audio and that your answer is correct.
When you do sample tests of the OET Listening Paper at home, you should compare your answers to the answer key. If you find that you have spelled a word incorrectly, look at how close what you wrote is to the correct word. If you aren´t sure if it would be accepted, ask a fellow healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse, to read your answer and to say what they think the word is based on your spelling. This will help you to judge how closely your spelling is to the original word.
Another piece of advice is to keep a list of difficult to spell words so that you can review them regularly. This may include words from your own specialty, but it should also include words from other specialties of health care, such as nursing, as part of your preparation for the OET should include becoming familiar with other specialties. It is recommended that you keep this type of list because even though the assessors on the OET are lenient when it comes to spelling, the more accurate your spelling is, the more confident you will feel on test day. Also, becoming more familiar with how words are spelled and pronounced will help to develop your listening skills.
Finally, it is important to use the time available after Listening Part A on the OET Listening Paper to check over your answers. If you take the OET on a computer, you are more likely to make typographical errors that you don´t notice at the moment. These errors may mean that the spelling is not close enough to the original word to earn the mark.
If you need more practice, you can get the Benchmark OET Listening Practice Tests here.