was successfully added to your cart.

Free sample material

Prepare and practice by downloading free sample materials for your profession.


Visit the OET Shop

Buy the official OET online course, practice books and feedback voucher for your profession.


Watch a free OET Masterclass

Watch an online masterclass for expert advice on all four subtests.

Watch Now

Find an OET preparation course provider

Do additional preparation through English schools or colleges offering OET preparation.

Find A Course Near You

Subscribe to free healthcare communication bulletins

Get tips and advice from OET – delivered straight to your inbox

Subscribe Now

Preparation and English Advice

Pauses in the Listening test
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

The pauses in the Listening test have an important function

Pauses in the Listening test

Both parts of the Listening test include set pauses in the audio.

At the start of Part A and again at the start of Part B, there is a 1-minute pause to allow you to skim through the headings and questions for that part. At the end of Part B, there is a 2-minute pause for you to check and finalise your answers in either part.

In addition, between each question section within Part A and Part B there is a 30-second pause. At the end of the question section the voice or voices will stop and there will be a 20-second pause before the voice on the recording tells you to read the next question followed by a 10-second pause.

Make the most of these pauses.

  • Spend the first pause finishing the notes or answers you were writing and to add any other details you didn’t have time to write or finish while the recording was playing.
  • Use the second pause to read the instructions for the next question and make sure you understand what is expected of you. It’s particularly good in Part B to have carefully read the first 2 questions within the next question section. This way you ready for both the first answer you are going to hear but also the second in case you miss the answer to the first.
By Language Tips No Comments

I have lots of freckles. Do you?


Freckles are the little brown spots that appear on the skin.

Some people are naturally freckly while others develop freckles after sun exposure. They are rarely a sign of skin cancer.

Of course, being exposed to the sun without protection, which is what is likely to cause freckles to develop, is not particularly safe.

Active listening
By Language Tips No Comments

Active listening makes your patient feel important.

Active listening

Non-patient-centred communication

As I discussed in a recent post on showing empathy to your patients, listening to the patient may equally be something unfamiliar in healthcare practices in some cultures. In these cultures, patients may be asked closed questions such as:

‘have you had these symptoms before?’

‘did you take any medication to stop the pain?’

to which the patient is expected to respond with short answers which confirm the diagnosis the healthcare professional has already decided.

Patient-centred communication

In countries where healthcare is patient-centred, healthcare professionals ask open questions which allow the patient to explain the situation in their own words and sometimes at length. Open questions include things like:

‘Can you tell me more about your symptoms?’

‘Is there anything you think might have caused your current condition?’

The healthcare professional might already have an opinion about the cause but is prepared to have this confirmed or denied by listening to the patient’s explanation.

How to actively listen to your patient

If this is unfamiliar to you, you may be unsure how to actively listen to your patient. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Give them your full attention. Look them in the eye. Turn your body towards them and away from your computer screen or notes.
  • While the patient is talking, show them you are listening by using appropriate gestures or ‘noises’: mmhmm, OK, I see, nodding or shaking your head etc.
  • Don’t interrupt the patient. Allow them to finish so you don’t cut them off from including anything important.
  • When they have finished, demonstrate you have been listening by asking a follow-up question or making an appropriate response:

Did you talk to your family about how you were feeling?


‘I’m sorry to hear that’

Your patient knows if you’re not listening

It will be really obvious to your patient if you weren’t listening while they are talking because you will likely say something inappropriate when they stop e.g.

Patient: I haven’t slept properly since my bag was stolen as I walked home from work 2 weeks ago.
Healthcare professional: Can you think of any reason why you’re not sleeping properly?

The result of this type of exchange between patient and professional will make the patient feel confused and unimportant.

Assessors want to hear you demonstrate active listening

Active listening is something the assessor will be listening out for in the speaking test. Candidates often struggle to listen actively to the patient in the role-play because they are re-reading their role-card or planning what they want to say next. That they haven’t been listening is then really noticeable to both their patient (interlocutor) and the assessor and this will affect their score.

Make sure you don’t fall into this trap.

Listen actively and show the patient that what they say is important to you.

Benefits of preparation providers
By Inspiration No Comments

Want to know the benefits of preparation courses?

Benefits of preparation providers

OET as a test has similarities and differences to other English tests.

OET has 4 parts, all of the parts are completed on the same test day and it is accepted by a number of organisations for entry into a career, study or a country itself. On the other hand it is an English test for healthcare professionals on the topic of healthcare and both speaking and writing are profession specific. Read More

both speakers are important in Listening Part A
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

How to avoid losing marks in Listening Part A

both speakers are important in Listening Part A

In Listening Part A, make sure you listen carefully to both speakers: the patient AND the healthcare professional.

Sometimes, students mistakenly believe that they only need to write down what the patient says to get the points available. This means they don’t listen so intently when the professional is talking.

In several cases, the point actually comes from the patient’s response to what the professional has said. For example, in a conversation between a physio and a patient, the physio says:

Do you feel the pain when you first wake up?

Read More

Showing empathy
By Language Tips No Comments

Empathy. Can you get it right?

Showing empathy

Cultural differences in talking to patients

Having taught OET for a number of years to students from many different countries, I have learnt that different cultures give information to patients in different ways. In some countries I understand, it is normal for bad news about a patient’s health to be delivered to their family to pass onto the patient. In other countries, healthcare professionals talk and tell while patients simply listen and do what they are told. Read More