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Use prepositions correctly
By Language Tips No Comments

Are you a confident preposition user?

Use prepositions correctly

Problem prepositions

Using the correct preposition can make the difference between the meaning you intended and a meaning which is quite different, and possibly inappropriate.

Problem 1

The same preposition can have a very different meaning when attached to a different word e.g.

Please come in [here ‘in’ means movement from outside the room into the room]

Come back in 2 weeks (here ‘in’ means time. Return after two weeks have past]

Problem 2

Combining a different preposition with the same verb or noun can also create a very different meaning e.g.

You should take up an exercise class [here the combination of ‘take up’ means start]

I realise this is a lot of information to take in [here the combination of ‘take in’ means process or understand].

Problem 3

Sometimes, as in the image example, the preposition is incorrect with the noun, verb or adjective it’s combined with.

Miles was admitted to hospital 3 days ago. 

There are some rules to learn about use of prepositions especially for time and place but many other combinations need to be learnt, remembered and then used.

By Inspiration No Comments

Planning for the UK to be your next career destination?

Moving to the UK?

Focus on the UK

Monday 23rd April is St. George’s Day, the National Day of England. This also makes it a good opportunity to find out more about the country and its healthcare system. Although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have independent national days, they all come under the UK umbrella for registration purposes for nurses, midwives and doctors.

OET recognition in the UK

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) started accepting OET results on November 9th 2017 and the General Medical Council (GMC) on February 8th this year. Since then there has been a lot of interest from candidates keen to start a new health career in the UK.

The UK healthcare system

The healthcare system in the UK is popularly known as the NHS (National Health Service). This year it is 70 years old. The NHS opened in 1948 with the ideals of providing comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery care to residents of the UK. This remains true today with all UK residents able to visit a GP for free and receive hospital treatment for free. Many residents pay towards the cost of prescriptions and dental treatment but there are exemptions for those under 18 years old or on low income.

As the population in the UK has grown, providing free healthcare to all residents has become more costly and difficult to provide in a timely fashion. Waiting times for hospital treatment and treatment from allied health professionals have increased. This has led to an increase in the purchase of private health insurance for individuals who want to ensure immediate treatment at the hospital and with the consultant of their choice.

Each country in the UK leads its own public health service: NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. Each service reports to the relevant government of that country while funding comes directly from taxation.

Registering as a healthcare professional

To work as a healthcare professional in the UK, you will need to register with your appropriate healthcare board. Currently only Nurses, Midwives and Doctors can use OET results for registration purposes. It is hoped that this will extend to the other OET professions in the near future.

For Nurses, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland require the following OET scores:

  • B grades in Speaking and Writing.
  • C+ grades in Reading and Listening.
  • The results must be achieved within the last 2 years and from the same test sitting.

For Doctors, the Medical Council of Ireland require the following OET scores:

  • 4 B grades (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening)
  • The results must be achieved within the last 2 years and from the same test sitting.

Further information

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?

Sources:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/about/

https://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx

 

Capital letters rule #1
By Language Tips No Comments

Don’t make silly mistakes with capital letters

Capital letters rule #1

Everyone understands how to use capital letters, right?

Well, not always in OET.

We all know the rule about starting a new sentence with a capital letter and for the names of patients.

Using capital letters correctly for names of medical conditions is something students seem less clear about.

As a rule, medical conditions which are named after the person who ‘discovered’ it or is associated with its treatment are capitalised (but not the word which comes after it). For example:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chron’s disease
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Down syndrome

Other medical conditions are not capitalised:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • arthritis
  • anorexia

If in doubt, copy it from where you can see it written down: the case notes in the test or from an Internet search.

How to use 'history'
By Language Tips No Comments

Are you confused by ‘history’? We can explain.

How to use 'history'

The meaning of history

A patient’s medical history includes both events in the past but also their current and future health. It is a cause of confusion for many students who, understandably, believe history can only have a past meaning.

A better way of thinking about history is that it’s the patient’s life ‘story’. It includes things we know about but has room to include things that will happen in the future too.

When teaching students about tenses, teachers will often show life as a line. The start point, when we are born is fixed. The current date is fixed but when the line will end is not. A patient’s history is the same as this line.

Using history in your writing

This means, if the patient has been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as cluster headaches, we need to refer to this with present tenses:

                             Mrs Rodrigues has a history of cluster headaches.

The use of the present tense in this example, allows us to show this is an ongoing problem for the patient rather than something that has been treated, which is the implication of using the past tense.

Relax for Listening with these top tips
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

Relaxing is critical for success in Listening.

Relax for Listening with these top tips

Listening is the first test on test day.

You are likely to feel your most nervous before the Listening test starts. It’s really important you are aware of this and take steps to reduce this. You don’t want your nerves affecting your performance.

These tips will help you relax as much as possible and be ready to listen.

  1. Have everything you need on your table in front of you. Take more than one pen or pencil so you can easily swap what you are writing with, if you need to, during the test. Don’t waste time sharpening pencils, take a bunch of them, ready-sharpened.
  2. When the audio starts, the voice will read out the instructions printed on the front of answer booklet. Read this information as it is said. It is a really effective way to focus your concentration on what you’re about to do. Plus, this information includes the context to the audio which will also help you to focus on what you are about to hear.
  3. During the 1 minute you have to read the questions, skim quickly through all of the sections to get a general overview of the test. Then, return to the front and read section 2 and 3 in detail (Section 1 is completed as an example). You can underline key words if you wish but most importantly, you should read the information you are given carefully so you know what to expect.
  4. When the audio for section 1 starts, read the heading and the answer as you hear them. This will help familiarise you to the speakers’ voices.
  5. Repeat for Part B.
  6. At the end of Part B, during the 2 minutes you have to check your answers, check both Parts A and B. Don’t take this as an opportunity to have a break and a drink of water. Keep checking until told to stop. Look for incomplete answers, messy answers which you can make clearer to the assessor and any blank spaces. A guess is better than nothing, so always try to write something down for each question.

Following these tips should help you perform your best on test day.

Are you ever vague?
By Language Tips No Comments

Are your patients ever vague?

Are you ever vague?

Vague – pronounced /veɪg/

Vagueness is a common condition among the elderly. It can appear as forgetting appointments or not remembering whether lunch has been eaten or not. It can be an early sign of dementia.

Vagueness can also be intentionally used by people of all ages. For example, when someone doesn’t wish to disclose full details of something such as the extent of a bad habit e.g.

How many units of alcohol do you drink per week?

Oh, it’s hard to say, not that many.

Sometimes, the difficulty for the health profession, is deciding whether the vagueness is intentional or not.

To learn vocabulary, use it!
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

If you really want to learn new words, use them NOW!

To learn vocabulary, use it!

How to learn vocabulary

When getting ready for the test, you will be spending hours studying. In these hours, you are likely to record lots of new vocabulary.

If you really want to learn this vocabulary you need to follow these 3 important tips:

  1. Organise the way you write down vocabulary. One idea is to buy a small, cheap A-Z address book. You can then add new vocabulary to the relevant page. Soon you will have created your very own dictionary!
  2. Regularly revise vocabulary. Studies suggest you need to see/ use a word between 10-17 times before you can consider that you ‘know’ it. Take your list or book with you and look at it frequently: as you commute, while in a queue, while washing up etc.

And, most importantly

  1. Include new vocabulary in your communication straight away. To really learn a word, nothing beats using it. Start including new vocabulary in your spoken and written communication. You might make mistakes and someone may correct you but this is helpful correction. It will make the process of learning it even quicker as nobody likes making the same mistake twice!
Had is a boring verb
By Language Tips No Comments

Why ‘had’ is a boring verb and how you can switch it

Had is a boring verb

‘Had’ can be a really boring verb.

It’s also a verb that can be used in many different situations e.g. have a party, have a baby, have an idea etc.

It is overused and so becomes less descriptive.

The healthcare profession have access to a range of vocabulary which other professions don’t.

One great example is swapping ‘had’, in the example above, for ‘underwent’. This is a verb that can be used with surgery and operations (but not with events like heart attack or stroke).

Sarah underwent knee surgery two days ago.

You can use it just like the verb ‘go’ e.g. undergo, underwent, undergone.

If it’s not part of your regular vocabulary, start using it today!

Listening Part A questions answered
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

Gain confidence in Listening Part A with these tips

Listening Part A questions answered

Listening to you

At the OET Centre, we get a lot of questions from concerned students preparing for the test about their answers to the Listening test. Listening Part A in particular.

To soothe some of the stress from these and other students, this week’s post is going to cover the following FAQs:

  1. What to write
  2. How assessors grade spelling and grammar errors and use of abbreviations
  3. Which answers will be considered correct.

What a Listening Part A answer booklet looks like

Each section includes a Heading (and sometimes sub-headings as you can see in this example) and a bulleted line for each mark available. In the example left, the sub-heading ‘Specialist’s view’ has 2 marks available (seen in the box on the right hand side) and so there are 2 bulleted lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing your answers

  • To get the marks for the 2 answers in our example, you must have your answer on or around those two lines. If, for some reason, you wrote your answers under the next sub-heading ‘Patient’s view’, they would not be marked.
  • It doesn’t matter if you write both answers on the same line or the individual lines given. As long as the answers are on one or other line, this is acceptable.
  • If you write part of your answer to the left of the bulleted lines or next to the sub-heading, this is also acceptable.

Look at this image for the answers to the subheading ‘Specialist’s view’. All the space highlighted yellow is included as part of your answer by the assessors. All the space highlighted in red is not included as part of your answer to this sub-heading by the assessors.

How assessors grade your answers

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes are accepted by the assessors as long as the meaning of what you have written is clear. E.g. if you wrote ‘pewmonea’ for pneumonia, this would be accepted as correct. Alternatively,  if your wrote ‘visit sister house every week’ (missing off the ‘s’ from ‘visit’ and ‘s from ‘sister’) this would be accepted as correct.
  • As a note-taking task, abbreviations and symbols are recommended as mentioned in a recent test tip post. There isn’t a standard list of abbreviations and symbols which the assessors accept but they are familiar with all common abbreviations.

Which answers will be considered correct

The answers for the 2 marks in the sub-heading ‘Specialist’s view’ are:

(being) pregnant not an issue/no problem

think about whether to breastfeed OR breastfeeding takes calcium from bones/ may cause fractures

  • Your answer must be complete. For example if you missed the word ‘not’ or ‘no’ out of the first answer, you would not get the mark.
  • The second answer is even more critical. If you only write ‘whether to breastfeed’ or ‘think about breastfeed’ this would not get the mark as there are two parts to this answer. 1) thinking about a decision to be made AND 2) breastfeeding.
  • If you write something extra between those two answers for example: ‘follow a healthy diet’, this answer is incorrect and is ignored. It doesn’t stop you from getting 2 marks for the other 2 answers you have written down. The assessors would see both correct answers and, even though there was an incorrect answer between them, give you 2 marks.

One final point

Your handwriting does not have to be beautiful but it must be legible. Remember that someone is trying to find as many marks as possible for you. To do this they must be able to read and understand what you have written. When you’ve completed a pratice test, give your answers to someone unfamiliar with your handwriting and ask if they can read what you’ve written. If they can, then your handwriting will be fine for the OET assessors.

Funny doesn't always mean laughter
By Language Tips No Comments

Did you know ‘funny’ can have a serious meaning?

Funny doesn't always mean laughter

Have you ever heard a patient say they feel funny?

If you have, did you notice that they are not smiling as they say it?

Funnily enough, this is because funny can be used in this way to mean strange or ‘not quite right’.

If your patient is saying this to you, it’s because they are concerned about their symptoms and are looking for some empathy from you.

A good response would be:

That’s not good. Can you describe how you’re feeling to me?

Match these phrasal verbs with their formal equivalents
By Language Tips No Comments

Think you can match up these formal and informal expressions?

Match these phrasal verbs with their formal equivalents

When speaking with patients, phrasal verbs are great to keep your English quite informal.

When writing, however, phrasal verbs should be swapped for their more formal equivalents.

Can you match the phrasal verb to its matching formal verb?

Give up (smoking)                           start

Go back (home)                                stop

Take up (swimming)                       remove

Put on (pressure)                             return

Take out (sutures)                           apply

Abbreviations can help you write better notes
By Test Tips & Study skills No Comments

Abbreviations will help you write more as you listen

Abbreviations can help you write better notes

Abbreviations and symbols are a useful way of helping you to write down relevant information while you listen.

They are also something you will use in the workplace.

While there isn’t a standard list of abbreviations and symbols which OET assessors accept, they are trained to be flexible. The best place to look for commonly used abbreviations in English is on the Internet. You can compare the most popular results and check that the abbreviations appear in more than one list.

Examples of abbreviations include:

BP                          blood pressure

N+V                       nausea and vomiting

info.                       information

gen.                       generally, in general

Examples of symbols include:

↑                           increase, high, up

↓                           decrease, low, down

→                         led to, result, consequence

<                          less than

It takes practice to be able to use abbreviations and symbols effectively, so you should start including them as part of your preparation now. Once you are familiar with their meaning and use, you should notice that they will increase your speed at writing while you listen.

Ireland
By Inspiration No Comments

Interested in a healthcare career in Ireland?

Ireland

Focus on Ireland

St. Patrick’s day is the National Day of the Republic and Northern Ireland. As one of the newest members in the OET recognition family, it’s a good chance to find out more about the country and its healthcare system.

OET recognition in Ireland

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland share the same island and a difficult history, which is thankfully in the past now. Northern Ireland remains part of the UK so, for OET recognition purposes the requirements come from the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) and the General Medical Council (GMC)

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) started accepting OET results on January 2nd and the Irish Medical Board (IMB) on February 8th this year and since then there has been a lot of interest from candidates keen to start a new health career in the country.

The Irish healthcare system

In 2005, a new healthcare system in Ireland called the Health Service Executive launched. HSE oversees hospitals and health centres within the country. Access to healthcare services is generally via a patient’s chosen GP.

The public health system provides services for free or at a subsidy from the government. Those who have a Medical card, which includes those on a low income wage, pregnant women and children under 6, all receive free healthcare services while everyone else will pay between €40-70 for a visit to the doctor.

Some residents purchase private healthcare insurance to ensure they receive immediate medical treatment at the hospital and with the consultant of their choice.

Registering as a healthcare professional

To work as a healthcare professional in Ireland, you will need to register with your appropriate healthcare board. Currently only Nurses, Midwives and Doctors can use OET results for registration purposes. Hopefully this will extend to the other OET professions in the near future.

For Nurses, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland require the following OET scores:

  • B grades in Speaking and Writing.
  • C+ grades in Reading and Listening.
  • The results must be achieved within the last 2 years and from the same test sitting.

For Doctors, the Medical Council of Ireland require the following OET scores:

  • 4 B grades (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening)
  • The results must be achieved within the last 2 years and from the same test sitting.

Further information

If you would like to find out more about the registration requirements in other countries who accept OET, follow the links for your profession: Who accepts OET?

Sources:

http://relocatingtoireland.com/irish-essentials/healthcare-in-ireland/

http://www.livinginireland.ie/en/health/

What age did you make your career decision?
By Inspiration No Comments

Did you always want to be a healthcare professional?

What age did you make your career decision?

How old were you when you made your career decision to become a healthcare professional?

  • I always knew from a very young age I wanted to treat sick people.
  • I decided to become a healthcare professional when someone in my family was sick and I saw the value in the profession.
  • After I was sick, I realised this was also what I wanted to do: make people feel better.
No article for therapies
By Language Tips No Comments

Learn how to use articles like a native speaker

No article for therapies

Some nouns don’t need an article.

This includes all types of therapy:

  • physiotherapy (in the example above)
  • occupational therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • cognitive behavioural therapy

Medications are also written without an article e.g.

Mr Khan is prescribed Mylanta and Warfarin.

The only exception to this rule for medication is when a patient is making a specific request for one dose of something, usually a painkiller e.g.

Can I have a Panadol?

Read more about articles for:

Second time better
By Inspiration No Comments

Be relaxed and calm on test day

Second time better

How do you feel on test day?

Around 5,000 candidates around the world will be arriving to sit OET today. That’s a lot of adrenalin that’s going to be created from all the nervous energy felt before the test starts!

When you arrive at the test venue, look around. You will see all sorts of people waiting to take the test with you: some will look confident, some will look petrified and many will be somewhere on the spectrum in between.

Are you taking the test today for the first time?

The vast majority will be taking the test for the first time. If this is you, then you will have the fear of the unknown to deal with. You will feel anxious about whether the preparation you have completed will be sufficient to help you achieve the grade you want. You will know the theory of how the test will go: the order of the papers, the types of questions you will find but you haven’t tried it out for real yet.

If today is your first day then this article should help you to breathe more deeply and relax: don’t let your nerves spoil your chances of success.

What if it’s your second time?

Some will be returning to the test for a second or maybe third attempt. If this is you, then you will have a different type of anxiety. The fear of having been unsuccessful at the grade you wanted the first time around and the wish to avoid this today. You will feel anxious about whether the efforts you have made to improve your skills since the last test will be sufficient to be successful today.

Advice to be second time better

If this is not the first time you have taken the test then I have some different advice for you. Of course you can apply the same advice from the article above but what’s going to be more important is to put your previous experiences out of your mind. They will not help you today.

Take each paper as it comes. Don’t compare it with the one you did before. Don’t compare how you feel about it once it is complete with the way that other candidates nearby look like they found it. Definitely don’t let your feelings about one part of the test impact another section of the test.

All too often, candidates report that they felt they hadn’t done very well in one section of the test and, after this, they hadn’t felt able to concentrate so well on the other parts of the test. However, when they received their results, they found that they had achieved the grade they wanted in the part of the test they hadn’t felt confident about but not in the other parts. Their feelings from the one had unnecessarily affected their performance in the other.

Believe in yourself

Everyone in the test room with you will have their own strengths and weaknesses so ignore them. Their opinions about what the test is like are of no importance to you. In the time between each part of the test while papers are collected and distributed, calm your thoughts. Let the previous test go and remind yourself of key preparation points which you have been working on for the part which is coming next.

Believe in yourself and the preparation you have done. Don’t give up. Ever. Keep that belief strong right until the end of your Speaking test and you walk out the test venue door and go home.

Do your best!