The OET Listening paper is made up of three parts. Part A features two consultations between doctors and patients, and test takers must fill in notes about the medical encounters, and Part B consists of six short dialogues between different healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses and therapists, and requires testers to answer multiple choice questions. Part C is also made up of 12 multiple choice questions divided into two groups of six. Each set of six multiple choice questions is based on recordings that are four to five minutes in length in different formats, such as an interview, a presentation, or a training, about general topics in health care.
In this article, we will cover tips for success on Part C of the OET Listening paper. The first topic we will cover is reading.
- Reading & Listening At the Same Time
As previously mentioned, for each recording on Part C of the OET Listening paper, there are six multiple choice questions to answer. At the start of each recording on Part C, you will have 90 seconds to read through the multiple choice questions and answers. It isn’t necessary for you to read the instructions of Part C of the OET as you will already be familiar with those that are relevant to the format of the test you are taking, such as the paper-based, computer-based or the home-based OET@home, which uses remote proctoring.
You should use this reading time to underline key words in the questions and notice differences in the answer choices. This will also help you to activate your background knowledge about the topic and start to make predictions about the content of the recording.
For each multiple choice question on OET Listening Part C, there are three answer choices. You have likely noticed while doing sample tasks and practice exams that all three answer choices generally contain specific words from the recording. This is to distract and confuse you. It is important to remember that while all answer choices may contain specific words or phrases from the recording, they may have a meaning that is different from what the speaker intended. For that reason, it is important to read the answer choices closely and eliminate distractors.
English is spoken in many countries as the main language, for example the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and in many other countries as an important language in education and business. This means that there is a variety of accents in the world, some of which may be difficult to understand at first. For this reason, it is recommended that you listen to radio programs from different parts of the English speaking world as you prepare for the OET Listening test just as you are recommended to learn about different specialties, such as nursing. You can access many types of programs, lectures, and interviews on your phone or your computer.
In particular, the OET Listening Part C can contain from two to four speakers, and all of them may have a different accent, meaning you need to understand people from different countries speak for several minutes at a time. As you work through sample exams, make note of the accents that you have trouble understanding and be sure to get extra practice with these accents.
One main difference between the OET Listening Parts B and C is the length of recordings. In Part B, you will hear a short conversation or monologue, typically about a minute in length, and then you will get a break. However, in Part C, you will listen to an interview or presentation for four to five minutes with no breaks. This can be particularly difficult because the speaker or speakers will be talking at a natural speed. For this reason, it is recommended that you practice listening to radio programs or podcasts, which typically have longer dialogues or monologues, and try to follow the main idea of the conversation and the opinions of each speaker.
- Signpost Phrases
As we mentioned, in the OET Listening Part C, you will hear one or two speakers talk for several minutes on a topic and you will need to answer six multiple choice questions at the same time. It is important that you be able to recognize when the speaker or speakers change topics so that you can answer the question related to that moment in the recording. One key skill in doing that is listening for certain signpost phrases, such as those that indicate an example, a counterexample, or a change of topic.
When you listen to presentations or interviews, what phrases do people use to introduce an example? They may say for example, such as, like, or for instance. What about when people want to change the topic? For this, they may use a phrase like, “now, moving on…”.
Finally, it is important to remember that no matter what format of the Occupational English Test you take, the listening paper comes first, so feeling confident in Part C, the last part of the OET Listening paper, will help to get you off to a good, confident start as you continue with the rest of the exam.
If you need practice test papers, you can get the Benchmark OET Listening Practice Tests here.