While Parts B and C of the OET listening test are multiple choice and do not require you, the test taker, to worry about spelling or grammar, Part A does bring up questions about the importance of these areas. In Part A of the OET listening test, there are two 4-5 minute recordings of consultations between a patient and a healthcare professional, such as a general practitioner or a doctor in the A&E, and the test taker needs to fill out notes about the consultation, such as symptoms, laboratory tests, treatment options, and next steps in treatment.
As we mentioned in a previous article, spelling is not generally penalized on Part A of the OET listening test as long as it is clear to the assessors what word you were intending to write. This means that your answer should not be easily confused with an incorrect answer and that it should be close enough to either the pronunciation or spelling of the correct answer.
A related piece of advice is the use of abbreviations, which are also accepted as long as they are widely used in the medical community, such as is the case for BP (blood pressure) or ECG (electrocardiogram). An important note here is that the abbreviations should be recognized by many professions and institutions in medicine and not just used by the doctors and nurses in your hospital or clinic. Using abbreviations can be helpful as it means that you need to write less so you can focus more on listening for the next answer.
When it comes to grammar, the rule is generally the same as it is for spelling. For example, if the doctor in the recording refers to the patient experiencing several seizures, it is perfectly acceptable to write the singular form ´seizure´ as an answer.
On another note, you can definitely use your knowledge of grammar can definitely help you on the OET Listening paper, particularly Part A. This is because knowing how language comes together will help you to make predictions. For example, if you see the following point on Part A of the Listening paper, ´pain located in 1)__________________´, you know that ´in´ is a preposition and that prepositions are used before nouns. Also, you can use your knowledge of medicine with the rest of the information on the page to make some predictions about what noun might answer that item.
As you do practice tests and samples of the OET Listening Test, particularly Part A, practice using the time you have to read through the notes to make predictions about the types of words that will go in each place, such as the part of speech, and then perhaps think of one or two possible examples. Then as you listen, you can listen for similar specific information, which is the key skill for Part A of the OET listening exam.
Computer-based OET Listening
Finally, as new formats of the OET are rolled out, such as the computer-based option available for test venues and the home-based OET at home via remote proctoring, it is recommended that you take the time to become familiar with the rules, regulations and instructions as well as how you will enter your answers before you book your test. You should take the format of the exam with which you feel the most comfortable.
If you need practice test papers, you can get the Benchmark OET Listening Practice Tests here.