You might think something as small as whether you should write your answers to the OET test in pen or pencil is not worth thinking about as part of your test preparation. I would say think again.
The OET test regulations give clear instructions about which items of stationery can or can’t be taken into the test. This makes looking through your pencil case to check your writing things an important step in getting ready for test day.
Make your decision early
Actually, I would suggest making a decision about your stationery needs to happen as soon as you start preparing for the test. It’s a really good idea to get comfortable with the pen or pencil you are going to use. That way you won’t have any problems with a new pen which doesn’t work or a pencil which doesn’t feel comfortable to hold on the day. You also don’t want to get into bad habits of using something in your preparation such as a highlighter or correction fluid which you are not allowed to use during the test. You will feel slightly lost in the writing test, for example, if you have become used to highlighting all the case notes you think are relevant to write about if you cannot do this on test day.
A 2B pencil
The regulations state you can use pen or pencil for any part of the test APART from Reading parts B and C and Listening Parts B and C which are marked by a computer and MUST be completed with a 2B pencil. Not sure what a ‘2B’ pencil is? ‘B’ is the measurement of blackness of the pencil lead. Any stationery shop selling a range of pencils will have the ‘B’ measurements written on the pencil somewhere. For everything else it’s your choice whether you want to use pencil which you can erase with a rubber or a pen which you can’t.
Things to consider
Mechanical pens or pencils (anything you have to click to reveal the lead or the pen tip), highlighters, correction fluid or tape are all banned so, get rid of them from your pencil case now until after the test.
Before making your final choice think over these points:
- You don’t have a lot of time to erase writing with a rubber in any of the tests so perhaps a line clearly drawn through any mistakes with pen is quicker.
- If you are using pencils, bringing a handful of ready sharpened ones is going to be useful. Blunt pencils are harder for the assessor to read so you will need to replace or sharpen your pencil regularly in the test.
Finally, your favourite pencil case might be something which makes you feel confident or was a gift from a special person but in the test you will only be allowed to carry your stationery items in a clear plastic bag. If you know all of these things in advance, it makes for a much more relaxed test day experience.