Taking the OET Listening Test

Duration: 50 minutes

About the OET Listening sub-test

The OET Listening sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions. The total length of the Listening audio is about 40 minutes, including recorded speech and pauses to allow you time to write your answers. You will hear each recording once and are expected to write your answers while listening.

The OET Listening sub-test structure

Part A – consultation extracts (about 5 minutes each)

Part A assesses your ability to identify specific information during a consultation. You will listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and you will complete the health professional’s notes using the information you hear. Note: the health professionals may be any one of the 12 professions who can take OET.

Part B – short workplace extracts (about 1 minute each)

Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist, opinion or purpose of short extracts from the healthcare workplace. You will listen to six recorded extracts (e.g. team briefings, handovers, or health professional-patient dialogues) and you will answer one multiple-choice question for each extract.

Part C – presentation extracts (about 5 minutes each)

Part C assesses your ability to follow a recorded presentation or interview on a range of accessible healthcare topics. You will listen to two different extracts and you will answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract. You may expect two presentations or two interviews, or one of each.

How is listening ability assessed in OET?

The OET Listening sub-test is designed to assess a range of listening skills, such as identifying specific information, detail, gist, opinion or the speaker’s purpose. These skills are assessed through note-completion tasks and multiple-choice questions.

Assessors who mark the Listening sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior assessors for guidance and all papers are double-marked to ensure fairness and consistency.

How is the Listening sub-test scored?

Your answers for OET Listening Part A are double-marked by trained OET assessors.

These answers are randomly assigned to assessors to avoid any conflict of interest.

Your answers for Part B and Part C are computer scanned and automatically scored.

For Part A, Listening assessors use a detailed marking guide which sets out which answers receive marks. Assessors use this guide to decide whether you have provided enough correct information to be given the mark. Assessors are monitored for accuracy and consistency.

Listening FAQs

How are marks for the Listening sub-test distributed?

There are a total of 42 marks available in the Listening sub-test. Part A accounts for 24 marks, Part B accounts for 6 marks, and Part C accounts for 12 marks.

Why are various accents used in the audio recordings for OET Listening?

Across all three parts, a range of accents are used to reflect the global nature of the healthcare workforce. The main accents are: Australian, British, American, and other varieties such as New Zealand, Irish, Canadian, South Africa, etc.

Where do I write my answers for the Listening sub-test?

For Part A, you must write your answers in the space provided in the question booklet.

For Part B and Part C, you must shade the lozenge next to the appropriate answer. Answers written elsewhere in your booklet will not be marked.

It is a good idea to use the sample tests to familiarise yourself with the different task formats you will find in the test.

Do I have time to check my answers for the Listening sub-test?

If you take OET on paper, you will have two minutes at the end of the Listening sub-test to check your answers for all three parts of the sub-test.

If you take OET on computer or [email protected], there will be a short pause at the end of each question to check your answers.

You will listen to each part of the test once only, so you must write your answers in the question booklet as you listen.

Do I need to write down exactly what I hear?

In Part A (the consultation), you must complete the notes using the same words you hear on the recording. You should not paraphrase the information and you should not change the information.

Can I use abbreviations in the Listening sub-test?

You can use abbreviations that are commonly accepted in your profession and which are clear to other professionals, for example “BP” for blood pressure. However, you should avoid abbreviations that are specific to a particular workplace or specialism, because these might not be commonly understood. OET assessors are trained to accept a reasonable range of abbreviations, but OET does not refer to any specific dictionaries or lists.

Do I lose marks if I give incorrect or extra information in the Listening sub-test?

In Part A, you must complete the notes using the same word or short phrase that you hear in the recording. You will lose marks if you repeat the words from the notes, add information that is not in the recording, or if you contradict yourself or make your meaning unclear.

Do I lose marks for spelling mistakes in the Listening sub-test?

In the Listening sub-test, you will not be penalised for misspelling, provided the meaning is clear to other healthcare professionals. Any reasonable attempt at spelling the correct answer has a good chance of being accepted.

Names for conditions and medications are often difficult to spell, and we try to ensure that candidates are not disadvantaged by this. Where possible, reference is made in the audio recording to both the generic and brand names for medications, and to both medical and lay terms discussed during the consultations. The marking guide gives assessors extensive guidance on the range of misspellings which are to be accepted.

Please note that the Listening sub-test is different from the Reading and Writing sub-tests in the way misspellings are treated.

How many questions do I need to get correct for the Listening sub-test?

New listening tests are written for each test session incorporating new material and the grade boundaries are adjusted slightly for each test to allow for minor differences in the difficulty of items included in that particular version.  The number of marks needed to secure grade B will therefore vary. However, test-takers awarded grade B (a scale score of 350) will typically have a score of at least 30 marks.

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