What is the best way to prepare for OET?
1. Start early.
Of course it depends on your current level of English but even candidates whose language level is test ready still need to take time to prepare properly. OET is a high-stakes English test. This means that your results are used by organisations who require the highest levels of security and validity from them. After all, successful candidates will be responsible for the health and safety of patients.
Perhaps it’s helpful to think of it like your driving test. Do you remember the feeling of learning to drive? Somewhere between excitement and fear? You wouldn’t have considered booking your driving test until you felt confident that you could perform all the required manoeuvres, start and stop the car safely and drive in a variety of weather conditions.
OET is the same. You need to give yourself time to prepare for the different parts of the test. Even though you will find the context of the test familiar, you shouldn’t assume you can apply for the test and ace it the first time around if you haven’t taken the time to prepare. To return to the car analogy, imagine you are taking a second driving test in a car with the controls on the other side to those you are used to. The country where you are taking the second test drives on the other side of the road. Although you are a good driver in your own country, you would still want to take time to prepare and familiarise yourself with how the car operates from the other side and the road rules of the second country. It makes sense.
2. Be realistic with yourself.
This relates to the previous point. We know OET is life-changing. Achieving successful OET grades has the potential to take you and your family to a new country changing the way you live and work. We want to help you get there as soon as possible BUT you need to be realistic about how long this will take.
Take one of the sample tests available on our website and mark your answers for Listening and Reading using the answer key. If you have access to an English teacher or a friend with native-standard English, ask for feedback on your Writing and Speaking.
What were the results? How close are they to where they need to be?
3. Know your weaknesses
Don’t just focus on how many questions you got right or what you did well in Speaking and Writing. It’s good to know your strengths but it’s much more important to know your weaknesses.
As you look again at your wrong answers or mistakes, ask yourself these questions:
- Why did I make this mistake? Was it from not reading the question carefully, rushing, lack of knowledge about grammar, vocabulary etc.
- How can I avoid making this mistake next time? The answer to this question is likely to relate to your answer to the previous question.
4. Understand the assessment criteria
As well as understanding why you made mistakes, you also need to be clear with what the assessor is expecting you to demonstrate in the test.
For each part of the test there is information about assessment. For Writing and Speaking particularly there are level descriptors of each criterion which help you understand the way OET assessors grade you.
5. Improve your skills
Now you have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, spend time working to improve them.
This doesn’t mean taking practice test after practice test. All this will do is make you very familiar with the test format. You won’t come across the same topics and questions on test day so rather than focusing on the format, focus on your language skills.
Watch the OET Masterclasses. Even if you’ve already watched them once, watch them again. With your new knowledge of what you need to improve, you will have a clearer understanding about how to apply the strategies they include.
Join a Facebook Live Q+A session. These are held twice a month and are an opportunity for you to ask an OET expert your preparation questions.
Enrol in a Preparation Course. It’s not easy studying alone. Our Premium Preparation course providers offer courses which will make a significant difference to your language level and give you a better chance of success on test day. If there isn’t one local to you, choose one of the providers offering online courses.
Self-study. Use the materials available to you on the OET website and @OfficialOET Facebook page. We update these regularly with tips, language articles, blog posts etc. Also consider purchasing preparation material from the shop including practice test books, coursebooks etc.
6. Apply when you are ready.
Don’t rush into applying until you feel confident you have the language skills you need for the grade you want. I know you are planning your new life already but you’ll get there a lot quicker if you go cautiously now. With the right preparation, you can take the test and get the results you want without the need for resits or repeated study. It will pay off in the long run.