Do you dread exams? (Who doesn’t?!)
The OET is a very popular exam as there are so many medical professionals moving around the world for work today. Thousands of people will be taking the OET each time there is an exam day. Thousands of people feeling anxious and excited, just like you. We all have experience of exams from when we were children in school, to exams as students and professionals. And it can seem like the feelings we experience don’t seem to change that much along the way.
Some of us perform better in exams than others, some of us get more nervous than others but ultimately, we are all in the same boat. Taking exams is tough and anything we can do to make things easier on ourselves is certainly welcome. So, whether you are a first, second or even third timer taking the OET, we’ll do our best to help you get through it!
Are you a first-timer?
The tricky bit…
There are up and down sides to taking the OET exam for the first time. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first…You will likely be pretty nervous as you are not sure what to expect. By the time you take the exam, you will have completed plenty of practice tests and have months of revision under your belt, but you will probably be worried about whether the practice tests will be the same as the real thing and whether your predicted scores will hold up.
The good news…
The good news is you can see it as a potential trial run. If you don’t succeed the first time around then by your second time, you will know what to expect. Also, rest assured that there are not likely to be any nasty surprises! The tests will be no different to your practice tests; the only difference is your nerves about being in an exam situation. Imagine you are at home at your computer, coffee in hand, calmly completing a practice test and if anything does throw you, just give it your best shot and move on to the next section.
Focus purely on the questions and answers rather than thinking about whether you will pass or not, something you have forgotten etc. and then you know you will not have wasted any brain-energy on needlessly worrying! It will be over before you know it and if for whatever reason, it doesn’t go as planned, you will be much better placed to succeed second time around.
Are you a second timer?
The good news…
If you’re taking the OET for the second time, or maybe you have had more attempts, you will doubtlessly have different feelings and thoughts when going into the exam than when you completed your first exam. As we talked about before, the plus side of being an ‘OET veteran’ is that you will know exactly what to expect. As well as practice papers, you will have experience of the real thing under your belt and adapting your practice sessions to an exam situation.
Additionally, you will have worked on the areas in which you fell short in the last exam. This is really important as you have had the opportunity to improve in your weaker areas in preparation for round two which should give you a lot of confidence.
The tricky bit…
However, it can feel hard to get away from the feeling that you did not quite make it last time and anxiety about whether the same thing will happen again. You need to get this thought right out of your head as soon as it pops up! You are much more likely to pass the second time around. A good comparison would be a driving test. So many drivers pass on attempt number 2. They may not necessarily be a much better driver than on their first attempt, but they have had a trial run and got over the initial nerves.
Rather than comparing your last test paper and test experience with this one, see it as a completely separate occasion, and once again, maintain focus on the task at hand, rather than letting your thoughts take you to difficulties you had in exam number one.
Calm and confidence are the key
Whether you are taking the OET for the first, second or even third time, you will be experiencing many different emotions and concerns. You can’t stop yourself from feeling anxious or nervous, but you can try and minimize these sensations during the exam. Worries may be about a particular section of the text that you are expecting to find hard, a mistake you have made in the past, whether you will have to take the test again in the future. Of course, these are all legitimate concerns but there is no way for you to solve them during the exam! Ironically, they will only make your performance worse if you focus on them as you will not be fully concentrating on the tasks.
Make a deal with yourself that for the few hours you are there, you will leave these worries at home. Stay calm, have confidence in yourself and all the hard work you have put in and you WILL get there!