The OET Centre works with the Language Testing Research Centre at the University of Melbourne to ensure the reliability of test results and analysis. Each of the four sub-tests is assessed in a specific way...
How is the final grade obtained from the score for each sub-test?
Listening and Reading: There is no fixed score-to-grade link for these sub-tests. The grades are re-set every time the test is taken because different test materials are used each time. Test elements may be removed if they are found not to contribute to the overall reliability of the sub-test.
The Listening and Reading sub-test scores rank all candidates taking a sub-test at the same time, from strongest to weakest performance. To establish where the boundaries between the grades (A-E) are, we look at the grades set for a specific Writing sub-test and Speaking sub-test. A mean average of the percentage in each grade for these two sub-tests is taken and applied to the spread of performances on the Listening and Reading sub-tests.
For example, if 8% of candidates have grade A for Writing and 10% have grade A for Speaking, the average is 9%. Then, the strongest 9% of candidates in the Listening and Reading sub-tests are also awarded a grade A for those sub-tests. This process is carried out for all five grades.
Writing and Speaking: Following established practice, the 'fair score' generated by the statistical analysis of the two sets of scores from two independent assessors of each candidate's Writing script or Speaking recording becomes the final grade through a direct conversion.
How are OET results issued?
Candidates receive a band conversion of the fair score via mail in the form of a Statement of Results. The Statement of Results shows the scores obtained at the most recent sitting, as well as scores for all sittings within the last two years. (Results for the four sub-tests that make up the OET are reported as one of five grades – A (highest) to E (lowest).
Candidates can also see an overview of their latest test grades via their online profile on the OET website, 19 business days after each test day. Official, hard copy Statements of Results are mailed within five business days of the publication of results in online profiles.
Boards and councils can access results via the OET website. Registration authorities are advised to register for secure access to the site to check individual results – access to the online verification system is controlled by OET Centre management. To gain access, managers working for health profession Assessing/Registration Authorities can apply for individual staff members to have secure access. Staff at the DIAC Skilled Processing Centre (Adelaide) and at several Australian and New Zealand Health Profession bodies are currently registered.
How are OET results reported?
There is no overall grade – candidates receive a separate grade for each sub-test they take.
Candidates receive results for the four sub-tests that make up the OET as one of five grades. A is the highest grade, and E is the lowest. Here are the descriptions for each grade that appear on the printed Statement of Results that candidates receive:
What grade do you need to pass OET?
Most recognising boards and councils require candidates to have at least a B grade in each of the four sub-tests. But to make sure you’re up-to-date with requirements, always check with the relevant boards and councils that regulates your profession. (Sorry – we cannot take any responsibility for providing or checking this information for candidates.)
Do you award the same grade in each sub-test?
No. You may receive different grades for your performances in different sub-tests. There are many aspects to being able to use and communicate in a language effectively: the OET test design separates test materials into the four macro-skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) to acknowledge that these involve different sub-skills and strategies.
How long are OET results valid for?
The length of time the results are recognised as valid is decided by the authorities that recognise OET (e.g. boards and councils, government departments). This period is usually two years,with the professional bodies but always check this with your authority. Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) recognises results for three years for the purpose of skilled migration.
Each sub-test has its own two-year validity. A set of results for the four sub-tests is valid for as long as the oldest satisfactory sub-test result remains valid.
Is it possible to combine grades from different sittings?
Most boards and councils require candidates to achieve the grades they need in one sitting. This is not OET Centre policy, however. You should always check the English Language Standard of your authority.
How is the Reading sub-test assessed?
Answer sheets for Part A are scored by trained markers in Melbourne who work with the aid of a comprehensive Marking Key. Score sheets for Part B (multiple-choice responses) are computer-scanned by the University of New South Wales.
Part A Reading scores: Each section of the new format Reading sub-test is weighted equally: Part A is worth 33.3% and each text in Part B is also worth 33.3% of the total score.
Why is the Reading sub-test weighted equally when there are more questions (items) in Part A?
When candidates sit the Reading sub-test, they will get a raw score on Part A (between 25 and 35, depending on the number of items on that particular test) and a raw score on Part B (between 16 and 20, depending on the number of items on that particular test). Scores will then be converted to a total score for the Reading sub-test in which a candidate’ score for Part A counts for 33.33% (one-third) of the total score, and the score for Part B counts for 66.66% (two-thirds) of the total score. A candidate's total score for the Reading sub-test is then turned into a grade (A – E).
This type of weighted score conversion is very common. For example, in the Listening sub-test, although one Part A might have more available marks than Part B, a candidate’s score on each part is converted so that it counts for exactly 50% of their total score for the whole Listening sub-test.
The different weightings for each part of the Reading sub-test reflect the relative importance of the skills measured in the overall estimation of a candidate's reading ability. Part A tests a relatively narrow set of reading skills (skimming and scanning), whereas Part B tests a range of different reading skills through different types of multiple-choice questions.
Do candidates need 65% for each Reading section individually?
Part A and Part B scores are converted to a percentage (reflecting relative weighting) that is then converted to a total score. Data from candidates' total score across both sections are used to calculate band-scores for each administration. The score is a combination of total weighted scores for Parts A and B, so candidates do not necessarily need to achieve the exact score that equates to a ‘B’ in both sections. It’s for a candidate to score slightly lower for one section but still maintain an overall higher level if scores for the other section are higher.
How is the Listening sub-test assessed?
The Listening sub-test is marked in Melbourne. It’s assessed against a detailed marking guide prepared by the test designers.
Before each round of tests, the test developers, OET Assessment Manager and sub-test markers meet to finalise the marking guide, test audio and test-paper and to moderate their initial marking. They use a number of ‘live’ control scripts to ensure standardised marking among the marker cohort before the start of the assessment period.
Problematic scripts are dealt with as a group by an experienced marker. All critical borderline scripts are double-marked.
How are the Speaking and Writing sub-tests assessed?
Each candidate’s writing paper and recorded speaking performance is marked by two independent raters in Melbourne.
Sets of raw scores provided by each rater are sent to the Language Testing Research Centre, where we analyse the data using the test analysis program FACETS (Linacre, 2010). FACETS relates task difficulty, test-taker ability, and rater harshness/leniency to each other. This allows it to adjust candidates’ scores for the effect of an overly harsh or lenient rater. FACETS produces a fair score that takes rater harshness and task difficulty into account. It also identifies raters who are overly harsh or lenient, or who rate inconsistently or too conservatively. These raters can then be retrained.