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5 OET book reviews to help you with your test preparation

OET Preparation Book reviewWe’ve got a whole library of OET preparation books created by some of the world’s leading English language specialists.

To help you better decide which book you should invest in, OET Teacher and English Education Expert Rebecca Bush has reviewed five newly endorsed OET preparation books.

Each one will help test-takers effectively study and prepare for OET. Teachers can also use these to improve their own knowledge of OET.

OET Speaking and Writing Skills Builder by Ros Wright

Ros Wright, an experienced writer of medical English textbooks [Good Practice Communication Skills in English for the Medical Practitioner], has released her first book specifically aimed at skills needed for OET: Speaking and Writing Skills Builder. The 8 units within the book focus on a different healthcare topic, for example, Cardiology, and provide a means to introduce different aspects of Speaking and Writing communication as well as related grammar and vocabulary. The medical focus section of each unit will ensure that readers are aware of common healthcare issues that could be covered in OET but also form part of their everyday practice once they are registered to work in the UK.

While the book is described as being for Nursing and Medicine, within the units, more medical writing tasks are presented and more nursing Speaking scenarios. This is balanced somewhat by the inclusion in the additional resource section at the end of the book by an annotated role-play and sample letter for each profession providing valuable insight into how the script or letter in each case has met good communicative standards. However, as an addition, or, should a teacher’s book be planned, it would be good to see suggestions given about how the tasks could be applied as a nurse when it is a medicine task or vice versa. Additionally, the focus on SBAR as a tool for structuring a healthcare letter, while familiar to many in the healthcare profession and a good starting point does have its limitations. Some content on scenarios when SBAR might not be so useful such as to communicate emergency information would strengthen the Writing sections.

Although the focus of Speaking & Writing Skills Builder is on those two skills specifically, listening and reading are also woven through the activities adding additional examples to language points and building the content out into a comprehensive book for improving English in the healthcare context. With many of the test tips, which are a feature of each page, mirroring official advice provided by OET, Speaking and Writing Skills Builder is easy to recommend to doctors and nurses preparing for OET and work in the UK.

Purchase OET Speaking and Writing Skills Builder on the OET Shop

OET Reading & Listening Skills Builder by Tom Fassnidge

Reading & Listening Skills Builder by Tom Fassnidge contains 10 units full of tips and strategies which candidates preparing for OET are going to find practical and insightful. Following an introductory unit which explains the format of each part of the Reading and Listening sub-tests, there are then 3 units dedicated to each of Part A, Part B and Part C with plenty of practice questions to put the suggested skills to immediate use. The accompanying CD reflects the range of accents candidates will be exposed to on test day.

Over the course of the units, candidates will learn how to notice clues provided in the question stems and answer options and build their knowledge of how language is used in English to become more efficient about using reading time prior to listening to audios or identifying the correct section of text which is likely to contain the answer.

One minor modification to a very comprehensive book would be to provide more scaffolding to support candidates to write their own summary of what they read so they can make the most of the strategy when attempting Reading Part B questions. This aside, Reading & Listening Skills Builder is likely to be of value to all healthcare professionals preparing for OET.

Purchase OET Reading & Listening Skills Builder via Express Publishing

Dear Doctor by Norman Whitby and Stephen Nickless

In Dear Doctor, co-writers Norman Whitby and Stephen Nickless (retired doctor) are sharing a set of materials which were originally prepared for a group of refugee doctors in the UK. Over the span of 12 units, the skills and language needed to write a coherent and concise message suited to a busy health professional are explored through the use of case notes, guided activities, ‘writing clinics’ and sample answers. The scaffolded approach makes it a very useful workbook for doctors preparing for OET.

Although some of the set tasks in the units stray outside of those which doctors will find in OET e.g. writing to the organiser of a youth camp, this is not necessarily a detractor as doctors preparing to work within an English-speaking medical environment will find that the reasons they have to write letters will be numerous and varied.

In later units, there is a nice progression of a patient’s story with tasks designed to get doctors to write multiple letters about the same patient as their condition is treated. Dear Doctor is clearly set within a British context, with reference to British and American spelling formats, so this will make the book most attractive to candidates preparing to take OET with the objective of GMC registration.

Purchase Dear Doctor on the OET Shop

OET Writing Strategy Guide by Gurleen Khaira

OET Writing Strategy Guide, the latest book from Gurleen Khaira, is a collection of nine sets of case notes aimed at nurses looking for additional practice while preparing for OET. As an experienced OET teacher and endorsed by OET as a Premium Provider, the break down of the 7 assessment criteria used to mark OET Writing and activities which accompany the case notes over the span of the 11 Lessons in the book are informative and highlight a number of the areas candidates often struggle with.

The usefulness of the book is extended by each set of case notes coming with up to 4 possible Writing tasks. While some of these tasks would not occur in an OET Writing test, this approach will certainly help candidates to understand the selection of case notes to include is dependent on the reader and the purpose of the letter. Additionally, the inclusion of sample letters after each task, and sometimes more than one sample for the same task, provides candidates with something with which to compare their own letter and reinforces the important message that there isn’t one perfect response that OET is looking for. Instead, clear communication of the case notes in a structure which allows for easy retrieval of the information will be awarded during assessment.

There are some improvements which the book would benefit from including that all the case notes fall into the word limit used by OET to ensure the task is possible to be completed within the time and word limits. Some commentary on the included sample answers and how they meet or fail to meet the assessment criteria as they have been explained at the start of the book would also strengthen this as a candidate resource. For candidates who are interested in having more materials to write practice letters from, this will be a tempting option but one which should be backed up with feedback from a trained teacher to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of what they have written.

Purchase OET Writing Strategy Guide via Amazon

Grammar Booster for OET Nursing by Beth McNally and Anne Mackenzie

Watch the Video Review on the OET YouTube Channel

Grammar Booster for OET Nursing is a title which has been available since 2018 and still remains the only such resource OET is aware of placing common grammar points within a healthcare context. Units 1-9 cover topics that candidates will find relevant for both the Speaking and Writing parts of OET including correctly forming questions, using conditional statements when providing advice, use of passive forms and articles. Each unit places the grammar point into a healthcare scenario which provides candidates with an example of this language in use followed by a ‘grammar boost’ demonstrating how the language is used. A variety of practice activities follow to allow candidates to try out the language point and answers are provided to check their accuracy after this.

Several units also come with useful reference pages including a table on common verb, noun and adjective endings and common adjective + preposition/ verb + preposition combinations. A number of the units also make use of a sample letter as one of the activities which candidates are always keen to see further examples of. Unit 10 provides a review of all the units.

Should a second edition be published, candidates would no doubt be pleased to see additions on some of their most frequently asked queries to OET including connectors/conjunctions, relative pronouns and common healthcare phrasal verb/ single verb pairs.

Overall, Grammar Booster for OET Nursing remains a relevant supplementary book for candidates who may be familiar with many of the language points from studying them as part of a General English programme but who have never seen examples of the points in use in a healthcare context.

Purchase Grammar Booster for OET Nursing via Amazon