The OET Centre is supported by its partnership with The University of Melbourne, which originally developed the test under contract to the Australian Federal Government. The University of Melbourne is an internationally renowned research and teaching institution with particular strengths in its Language Testing Research Centre, which has been the technical advisor for the OET since its inception.
The OET Centre is supported in these ways:
- Expert advice on materials and assessment practices
- Development of new test materials
- Analysis of test results and the setting of benchmarks and cut-scores
- Monitoring of rater severity and adjustment of results using multifaceted Rasch analysis
- Training of assessors in relation to new test materials
- Research and development
The University’s Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics in the School of Languages provides advice directly to the OET Centre and also through representation on the OET Stakeholders Group.
OET Overview and format
There is a separate sub-test for each skill area assessed by the OET: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
Listening sub-test in brief
The Listening sub-test consists of two parts:
Part A: Part A consists of an audio-recorded, simulated professional-patient consultation with note-taking questions.
Part B: Part B consists of a recorded talk or lecture on a health-related topic with short-answer/note-taking questions.
Each section consists of about 15 minutes of recorded speech. A set of questions is attached to each section and test takers write their answers while listening. The original recording is edited with pauses to allow test takers time to write their answers.
The format for Part A (the consultation) requires test takers to produce case notes under relevant headings and to write as much relevant information as possible. Most questions in Part B (the lecture) include indications on the number of points a test taker is expected to include.
Reading sub-test in brief
The Reading sub-test consists of two parts:
Part A is a summary reading task. This requires test takers to skim and scan 3-4 short texts (a total of about 650 words) related to a single health-related topic and to complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words. Test takers are required to write responses for 25-35 gaps in total, within a (strictly monitored) time limit of 15 minutes. Part A is designed to test the test taker’s ability to source information from multiple texts, to synthesise information in a meaningful way and to assess skimming and scanning ability under a time limit.
In Part B test takers are required to read two passages (600-800 words each) on general health topics and answer 8-10 multiple choice questions for each text (a total of 16-20 questions) within a time limit of 45 minutes. Part B is designed to assess test takers’ ability to read, in greater detail, general and specific information for comprehension.
Writing sub-test in brief
The Writing sub-test involves a task in which test takers, via interaction with a set of clinical case notes, produce a letter (usually of referral) to another professional. The letter must record treatment offered to date and the issues to be addressed by the other professional following instructions given within the test. The letter must take account of the stimulus material presented in the case notes.
The body of the letter must consist of approximately 180-200 words and be set out in an appropriate format (duration - 45 minutes). For certain professions, other professional writing tasks of equivalent difficulty may also be set (e.g., responding in writing to a complaint, or providing written information to a specified audience in the form of a letter).
Speaking sub-test in brief
The OET Speaking sub-test is a test of the test taker’s oral use of English language to communicate in a simulated health-related consultation.
The consultation is between a patient and a health practitioner, with the test taker taking the role of the practitioner and the interviewer taking the role of patient or patient’s relative or carer (for veterinary science the interviewer is the owner or carer of the animal). The test taker and the interviewer interact face-to-face. It consists of two simulated consultations in the form of two role-plays (duration - 20 minutes).
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