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Are you working on your stamina?
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

Have you got the stamina needed for test day?

Are you working on your stamina?

Stamina is really important for test day.

The test day format is:

  • Listening 50 minutes
  • Reading 1 hour
  • Writing 45 minutes

There are only breaks between each individual test to collect in completed papers and give out the next papers. You cannot leave the test room at this time.

This is a long time to concentrate in English and, if you are not used to it, will be a struggle to remain focused the whole time.

It’s good to practise each sub-test individually and try to improve your skills intensively.

It’s also important to practise each sub-test one after each other at least once a week.

Think of yourself as a long distance runner rather than a sprinter. You need to be able to keep going at the same performance level for the whole time.  You don’t want to reduce in performance because you are running out of energy and concentration.

Don’t take your stamina for granted, start preparing for long-distance and success right away!

By Language Tips No Comments

Articles don’t have to be something to worry about

Use articles with job roles

Always use articles with job roles:

  • nurse
  • doctor
  • physiotherapist
  • social worker

Nouns which describe the patient in some way also need articles:

Mr James is a single father of 3 small children.

Here are more examples of nouns which describe patients:

  • woman
  • man
  • smoker
  • vegetarian
  • grandmother

There are two choices of article which could be used with either of these groups:

a/an – when referring to one of many as in the main example in the image

the –  when referring to one specific person [see examples below]:

An appointment with the hospital dietitian has been arranged.

Mr James is the father of Tom, who was admitted yesterday.

Read more about articles for medical procedures.

Read more about articles for medical conditions.

Have confidence in the Speaking test
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

Do you worry about the topic of the Speaking test? Don’t!

Have confidence in the Speaking test

Remember OET is a test of your English not your healthcare knowledge.

Candidates often get anxious about how familiar they will be with the topic of their roleplays. The speaking test is profession specific but can cover any part of your profession ‘from cradle to grave’.  This means the topic of the roleplay may not be something you commonly discuss in your work.

There are a couple of things you can do to have more confidence on test day:

  1. Do some general research on areas of your profession you are not so familiar with. For example, if you are a cardiac nurse or doctor, spend some time researching cancer, diabetes etc. What will be most useful in your research is familiarising yourself with some of the key words associated with these other departments of healthcare e.g. palliative care, insulin injection etc. A good resource which covers many topics in lay language is Patient Education by Dr John Murtagh. It includes something for everyone, no matter your profession.
  2. In the test, you can invent details about the roleplay situation or treatment without penalty. For example, if you are discussing treatment for conjunctivitis with the parent of a child with the condition and one of the tasks is:
  • explain how the parent can avoid the infection spreading.

You could mention: preventing the child touching the eye area, washing hands before and after bathing the eye/ applying ointment. However, you could also tell the parent that the child should wear swimming goggles to prevent the infection spreading to the other eye. Ludicrous? Yes, it might be from a healthcare point of view, but if it’s said in perfect English it will be good for your score.

The key is to remember that you are trying to demonstrate your communication skills in English. Good preparation is always recommended but once you are in the test, focus on communication rather than healthcare accuracy.

By Language Tips No Comments

Would you know how to react in this situation?


Deteriorating is one of the words hospitals tell us oversea nurses often make mistakes with.

That is, they understand the word but not the critical meaning it has. Hospital staff tell us that overseas nurses are likely to respond with ‘Oh dear’ on hearing the sentence above.

What the hospital staff want the nurses to do is act. The phrase is used a bit like a warning alarm. On hearing it, those treating the patient should prepare for emergency measures to counteract the deterioration.

A better response on hearing the phrase would be ‘What can I do?’

New Zealand
By Inspiration No Comments

Are you interested in New Zealand?

New Zealand

New Zealand

Recently, New Zealanders celebrated Waitangi Day, their National holiday. Let’s turn the focus on the country for this week’s blog post. Find out:

  • how long OET has been accepted here
  • a summary of the healthcare system
  • the requirements you will need for registration

How OET can help you

New Zealand accepted OET for registration purposes in 2013. Immigration New Zealand also accept OET results for all categories of visa which have an English requirement attached to them. On top of this, your OET results will gain you entry into a number of courses by leading Universities and education providers. This makes OET a great option for starting your new life in New Zealand.

The New Zealand healthcare system

The Ministry of Health, a government department, funds the healthcare system in New Zealand. The Ministry is responsible for 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) who in turn are responsible for 46 Primary Health Organisations (PHOs). New Zealanders register with their local PHO through the GP of their choice.

Healthcare is free for all New Zealanders and those on eligible visas provided a GP makes a referral for the treatment. A small minority of citizens pay for private health insurance but the government funds the vast majority of treatment through the collection of taxes.

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) covers all injuries caused by accidents. The ACC provides free treatment to anyone legally in New Zealand, including tourists, who sustain injuries as a result of an accident whether self-caused or not. There are however, charges for using an ambulance in medical emergencies not caused by accidents. A Supporter Scheme is available which entitles free ambulance services for a small annual fee.

New Zealand’s Health and Disability system

Working in New Zealand

To work as a healthcare professional in New Zealand, you need to register with the appropriate healthcare board.

Using Nurses as an example, the Nursing Council of New Zealand require the following OET scores:

  • 4 B grades in each of the 4 skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening) achieved within the last 3 years.
  • The 4 B grades can be achieved from multiple sittings with only the skills below a B being sat on successive attempts.
  • The 4 B grades must be achieved within 1 year of the first sitting of the test.

OET strongly encourages individuals wishing to register for work in New Zealand to contact the relevant board directly to check the requirements for their individual profession and situation.

If you are interested in finding out more about the registration requirements in other countries who accept OET, follow the links for your profession: Who accepts OET?




Common punctuation concerns
By Language Tips No Comments

Do you have these punctuation concerns?

Common punctuation concerns

Common concerns with using punctuation

Students often ask questions about the use of punctuation in the address and greeting of the letter in the writing task:

  • Should I put a comma at the end of each line of the address?
  • Is it correct to put a comma at the end of the greeting? [as in example 1 above]
  • Should I put a full stop after a person’s title? [as in example 1 above]

The answer is that putting a comma or a full stop in each of these situations is acceptable. Not putting a comma or a full stop is also acceptable. Time has changed the way we use punctuation. In effect, we have become lazier: omitting punctuation which was standard in the past.

This means, if you add the punctuation in the situations given above, or if you don’t, you will have used equally acceptable English.

It’s understandable why students become very concerned about little things like correct punctuation. It’s good to remember though that it forms only 1 of 5 assessment criteria. Therefore, it shouldn’t be given more weight in your preparation than more important things such as the structure and content of the letter.