If you are like most OET test takers, the most important thing you want to know is how many questions you got correct. Did you score well enough to pass? If you did, that’s great! But if you didn’t, how can you be sure that the next time you take the test, you will do better, and pass?
Most students will hit the books again. Traditional study methods include reviewing long lists of vocabulary words that you may or may not remember, learning complex grammar rules, and taking all the practice tests you can find. But is this the most effective way to study?
Help! I Can’t Pass the OET Exam!
For example, let’s say you have prepared well for your first OET test, but you only score 280. You review your English language materials, maybe take an English class online, and you learn a little more. But each time you take the OET test, you can’t make the grade you need to pass. This is frustrating!
You are studying hard, but are you studying smart? Study smart by discovering what your strengths and weaknesses are, and focus on your weaknesses.
Can I pass the OET without studying?
Even though the purpose of OET is to assess your English skills, the exam format as well as structured approach to writing and speaking modules make it virtually impossible to pass the OET exam without any preparation. Since OET exam fee is A$587, you would be better off doing some OET preparation than simply taking the exam and risk failing the exam and booking the OET again. In essence, it is not easy to get B in OET, not without any planning and preparation!
What is the most difficult part in OET?
It really comes down to individual strengths and weaknesses. However, our experience suggests maximum number of candidates retake the OET exam either due to writing or reading subtests. So, it’d be safe to assume OET candidates find writing and reading modules more difficult than speaking and listening.
How long should I study for OET?
OET preparation period may vary from 1 week to a few months. It depends on your existing level of English. If you are already at IELTS band 6 level, then preparing for 1 to 2 months should suffice. However, if your level of English is weaker, then give yourself at least 3 to 6 months to ensure you can ace the OET exam in first attempt.
How Can I Discover My Strengths and Weaknesses?
Taking a computer-based or paper-based OET sample test can be a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can spend your study time improving the skills you are weak in, so you can achieve the OET score you need.
Five Ways to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Let’s look at 5 ways you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. With each one, we’ll also give you some tips about effective ways to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
First, let’s look at OET Reading and Listening.
- Try Sample Questions
Answering sample questions is a great way to practice your weak skills. Give yourself extra time to understand the format of the question, understand exactly what is asking you to do, and listen to any audio recordings more than once if you need to.
- Take a Practice Test
Answering sample questions and taking a practice test are two different things. When you do sample OET questions, you can focus on one kind of question until you are familiar with it.For your first sample test, however, you should take the whole exam in one sitting, simulating actual test conditions as much as possible, and become more comfortable with how the entire process works. This will help you pinpoint the question types you are weak in and give you a better idea of how to focus your study time.
Check out this blog post on how to get the most benefit from a practice OET exam.
Sample Questions Are Good Enough for Me. Do I Have to Take a Practice Exam?
Taking a full mock test is a good idea, because learning how to take a test is just as important as learning English skills. Each question type in the OET tests different skills. Some questions require you to listen for detail, and others require you to read or listen for overall meaning. If you find you consistently do poorly in questions relating to one of these general skills, that’s an area on which you should focus your study time.
- Understand Why You Missed a Question
There are many reasons you might miss a question. Let’s look at four of the most common.
You Ran Out of Time
It’s possible you spent too long on a difficult question and ran out of time. Remember, points are not deducted for incorrect answers. You only receive points for correct answers. Therefore, it’s to your advantage to answer every question, even if you have to guess.
One strategy you can use is to skip questions that are difficult and answer the easiest questions first. With your remaining time, go back and review the difficult questions. If you only have a little time left, just guess at the answers. The key is to make sure you answer each question.
You might have missed a question in the Reading section because you spelled your answer incorrectly. If this is the problem, spend some extra time reviewing English spelling. The best way to do this is to read! As you see the words again and again, you will be better able to remember how they are spelled.
Incorrect Vocabulary Choice
If you read or hear unfamiliar vocabulary in the questions, it could be a sign that you need to study more vocabulary. There are two ways to do this.
You are probably very familiar with the first way. When you practice any kind of English listening and reading, be sure to write down words that you don’t know. Look up the meaning and practice using the new words in sentences so you can remember the word.
The second way is to simply try to understand the context of the passage. As you encounter new words, use the context to try and determine what the new word might mean. Is it a noun, a verb, or maybe an adjective? If the word contains prefixes or suffixes, what is the root word? After you have tried to discover the meaning of the word on your own, look it up to see if you were correct. This is a great way to study vocabulary and remember it!
You Couldn’t Understand the Listening Text
Perhaps the speaker spoke very quickly, or used an accent you have difficulty understanding. Practice listening to English accents from various countries.
- Each Question Type Requires You to Use Different Skills
Be sure to understand which part of the test you may not have done well in. Each question type will test you on different skills. For example, Reading part A tests you on how well you understand specific details. Reading part B tests you on how well you understand the main idea.
If you missed more questions in part A, and only missed a few in Part C, you know that you need to practice listening or reading for detail before you take another sample test. Knowing what skills you are being tested on will make a big difference in how you approach the questions, and how much time you should spend on each one.
- Make Sure You Understand the Question
A big cause of mistakes is misreading the question, or not understanding what you need to do. Spend time outside of the test working on your English skills. It’s much better to spend time improving your weak skills than to take a lot of practice tests.
OET Speaking Role Plays
Many students of English are more confident in their reading and listening skills than they are in their speaking and writing skills. Practice is the best way to improve! If you haven’t earned a passing score in speaking or writing, try these tips to help you score better.
- Understand How You Will Be Scored
First, look at how your role play will be scored, and what you must do to earn the highest marks. If you have taken the speaking test before, look at your previous score and focus on the speaking assessment criteria you did not do well in.
Tip: For example, if you see that your score is low in organization and providing structure, you would want to spend time studying words like “first, second, and third,” and “then,” “after that,” and “finally.” Learn what these signposting words mean and use them to give structure to your role play.
- Practice Role Plays
You might want to enlist the help of a friend or fellow English learner to practice role plays with sample role play cards. Follow these guidelines:
- Start out slowly. Don’t give yourself a time limit for your first role play, but concentrate instead on the content you need to talk about.
- As you become more familiar with the format, practice speaking in the time allowed.
- Learn standard vocabulary and phrases that can be used many times. For example, learn appropriate phrases you can use to close the role play, such as, “I’d like to book an appointment for you with our dietician, would that be okay?” Standard sentences like this will help you immensely if your speaking skills are weak.
- Record your practice role plays and listen to yourself speak. Remember, the OET assessors will not be present during your role play, but will score it by listening to an audio recording at a later time.
- Practice speaking clearly and at a good volume.
- Be confident!
- Practicing role plays with a friend is a good way to start, but remember that your friend may not understand the things an OET assessor will be listening for. It is extremely helpful to book a speaking practice session with an experienced OET trainer, and find out exactly what you are doing right and where you need to improve to meet the criteria set by OET.
3. Practice your Role Play with an OET tutor
Benchmark offers affordable OET speaking mock tests, where you can practice two role plays with an experienced tutor who can offer you suggestions on how to improve your speaking, as well as how to improve the content of your conversation. This is one of the best ways to improve your speaking skills! Your tutor knows how the exam is scored, and can guide you in exactly what you need to do to score well.
OET Writing – Your Letter Writing Assignment
You’ll find sample case notes online, and you can follow the OET guidelines for how to write a practice letter. But it can be difficult to know what you did correctly and where you can improve. You need an experienced OET trainer to take a look at your letter and give you personalized tips on where to improve.
Practice writing your OET letter and submit it for checking
Here at Benchmark, we offer a writing correction service you can use to check the quality of your OET letter. You can submit your finished letter any time, and an experienced OET trainer will look at it, tell you what you did right, and suggest ways you can improve. Focus your study time on your weakest areas, and practice.
Plan Your Study Time Wisely
As a medical professional, it can be difficult to study while you are working at a very demanding and time-consuming job. It’s important to study smart!
Use our suggestions, and get feedback on your OET Writing & Speaking skills with Benchmark. Try our OET Writing Correction Service, and an OET Speaking Mock Test. Our experienced trainers will work with you and highlight all the things you are doing correctly, as well as giving you ways to improve. This will help you plan your study time wisely, focusing on your weak areas.
Knowing that you’ve improved your weak areas will give you more confidence as you take the OET exam for the first, or maybe the second, time. Stay calm and trust in all the hard work you have put in, and you will do well!