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TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Effective preparation for the OET writing test is essential to help you achieve your
highest possible score. Knowing how to approach the test, including essential test
strategies and the appropriate background knowledge, will reduce your anxiety and
increase your chances of success.

Try to speak English as often as you can...its the only way you can progress and improve
on grammar and sentence structure. Reverting to your mother tongue whenever there are
fellow countries mates can serve to derail your efforts. This is especially true when it
comes to speaking...the last test. Confidence in structuring a complete sentence can only
come through practice

Learn to search out information by gleaning through information packs. One of the OET
test is a 15 minute reading test which technically does not allow you sufficient time to read
all the paragraphs of information provided. The technique to ace this is to find key words
in the questions and quickly scroll through the information text and identify the key word.
Once you do, you will find the answer there...do not waste time wondering if this is the
correct one or not...FILL IN THE BLANKS. Example - The success and survival rate for
patients undergoing balloon angioplasty during a myocardial infarct is ____%. The key
word is "balloon angioplasty"...go to the information/text and search for this word and you
should find the data to fill in the blank. DO NOT READ THE WHOLE
information/TEXT...you will have NO time after reading to do your questions!!

Oetmaterial.com.au, Maiva Corporation Pty Ltd and our practice material is not connected with, affiliated
with or endorsed by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, Cambridge English Language Assessment
or Box Hill Institute. Our practice material has been prepared by our expert teachers to
assist candidates in preparing for the OET exam

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You have 1 minute before each section of a test starts...USE IT to read all the questions
ahead of you. This IS doubly important for LISTENING. If you try to listen and look at the
question at the same time, you will fall behind because there is only one chance to hear
it...The tape of the conversation or speech is never repeated.

The OET Writing test requires you to write a letter in a professional context within a 45
minute time period. Your letter is then assessed against five criteria, which mainly
look at whether you have written enough words, used appropriate vocabulary,
understood the situation, provided the right information and your overall ability to
communicate effectively in English.

Follow these tips to improve your performance:-

1. Take the time to understand the situation and the requirements of the task.
2. Try to write between 180-200 words and avoid copying parts of the question or notes.
3. Write in a formal style and avoid using slang language or abbreviations.
4. Remember why you are writing and who you are writing it for.
5. Include important information that the reader needs to know and leave out information that
is not important or not relevant.
6. Write as neatly as possible. The examiner must be able to clearly read your writing.
7. Try to use complex sentences where it is appropriate. If your sentence is too long or
complicated, break it down into more simple sentences.
8. Organize the information clearly. Use paragraphs where appropriate. Remember, each
idea should have its own paragraph.
9. Check your writing for spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammar errors.
10. Do some practice tests before you sit your exam.
So follow these tips to prepare for the OET test and with practice you will improve your
results.

General Advice:

1. Before you begin writing, underline all the information in the notes that you think is
relevant to the specialist you are referring to. Imagine you were that specialist;
what information would you like to accompany a new patient whom you have never
seen before?

2. Give each idea its own paragraph. Each paragraph should be no longer than 4 or 5
lines. If you want to save space on your answer sheet, indent the beginning of the
first line of each paragraph. Some students think that they have broken up their
answer into paragraphs, but if the examiner can't see the beginning of each
paragraph, you will lose marks for Control of Presentation Features.

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1. Practice writing neatly. There is no marking criteria for handwriting, but if the
examiner is unable to read your handwriting, you have failed to communicate
effectively and your Overall Task Fulfilment and Control of Presentation Features
criteria may suffer as a result.

Common mistakes with medical Collocations (words that should go together)

Right Wrong
I am writing in regards to + [noun]
I am writing in regards of + [noun]
I am writing regarding + [noun]

admitted to hospital admitted in hospital


due to + [noun] e.g. due to + [sentence] e.g.
"due to his illness" "due to he is still not well."

diagnosed with + [name of disease] diagnosed of + [name of disease]

Writing skills -- Your letter is assessed against five criteria:

Overall task fulfillment including whether the response is of the required length

Appropriateness of language including the use of appropriate vocabulary and


tone in the response, and whether it is organized appropriately

Comprehension of stimulus including whether the response shows you have


understood the situation and provide relevant rather than unnecessary information to
your reader

Control of linguistic features (grammar and cohesion) how effectively you


communicate using the grammatical structures and cohesive devices of English

Control of presentation features (spelling, punctuation and layout) how these


areas affect the message you want to communicate
How to improve on each criterion?

Write enough so the assessors have a sufficient sample of your writing the task
requires approximately 180-200 words in the body of the letter

Dont write too much you may need to select content carefully to keep to the
required word count

Use your own words as much as possible dont simply copy sections from the case
notes

Avoid using a formulaic response if you include elements that do not fit the task, it
indicates a lack of flexibility in your writing

Dont include information that the intended reader clearly knows already (e.g., if you
are replying to a colleague who has referred a patient to you)

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Appropriateness of language

* Organize the information clearly the sequence of information in the case notes may not
be the most appropriate sequence of information for your letter

* Highlight the main purpose of your letter at the start this provides the context for the
information you include

* Be clear about the level of urgency for the communication

* Always keep in mind the reason for writing dont just summarize the case notes provided

* Focus on important information and minimize incidental detail

* If it will help, be explicit about the organization of your letter: e.g., First I will outline the
problems the patient has, then I will make some suggestions for his treatment.

* Consider using dates and other time references (e.g., three months later, last week, a year
ago) to give a clear sequence of events where necessary

* Remember that all professional letters are written in a relatively formal style

* Avoid informal language, slang, colloquialisms and spoken idiom unless you are sure this
is appropriate (e.g., use Thank you rather than Thanks a lot)

* Avoid SMS texting abbreviations in a formal letter (e.g., use you not u)

* Give the correct salutation: if you are told the recipients name and title, use them

* Show awareness of your audience by choosing appropriate words and phrases: if you are
writing to another professional, you may use technical terms and, possibly, abbreviations; if
you are writing to a parent or a group of lay people, use non-technical terms and explain
carefully

Comprehension of stimulus

* Demonstrate in your response that you have understood the case notes fully

* Be clear what the most relevant issues for the reader are

* Dont let the main issue become hidden by including too much supporting detail

* Show clearly the connections between information in the case notes if these are made;
however, do not add information that is not given in the notes (e.g., a suggested diagnosis),
particularly if the reason for the letter is to get an expert opinion

* Take relevant information from the case notes and transform it to fit the task set

* If the stimulus material includes questions that require an answer in your response, be
explicit about this dont hide the relevant information in a general summary of the notes
provided

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Control of linguistic features (grammar and cohesion)

Show that you can use language accurately and flexibly in your writing
Make sure you demonstrate a range of language structures use complex sentences as
well as simple ones
Split a long sentence into two or three sentences if you feel you are losing control of it
Review areas of grammar to ensure you convey your intended meaning accurately:
particular areas to focus on might include
articles a/an, the (e.g., She had an operation., on the internet)
countable and uncountable nouns (e.g., some evidence, an opinion, an asthma)
verb forms used to indicate past time and the relationship between events in the past
and now (past simple, present perfect, past perfect)
adverbs that give time references (e.g., two months previously is different from two
months ago)
prepositions following other words (e.g., Thank y ou very much to see for seeing ,
sensitivity of to pressure, my examination on of the patient, diagnosed with cancer)
passive forms (e.g., The patient should advised to relax, He involved in an accident.
for He was involved in an accident.)
Use connecting words and phrases (connectives) to link ideas together clearly (e.g.,
however, therefore, subsequently)
Create a mental checklist of problems that you have with grammar and go through this when
you review your response towards the end of the test: particular areas to focus on might
include
number agreement, e.g. The test result show s that , There is no evidence , He
lives , one of the side effect s
complete sentences, i.e., the main clause includes subject and verb, e.g., On
examination showed that should be Examination showed that or On
examination it was found that
gender agreement, e.g. Mr Jones and her daughter
tense agreement, e.g., Examination on 15 May 2006 revealed she is overweight.
[creating confusion over whether she is still overweight at the time of writing]

Control of presentation features (spelling, punctuation and layout)

* Take care with the placement of commas and full stops


* Make sure there are enough separating ideas into sentences
* Make sure there are not too many keeping elements of the text meaningfully
connected together
* Leave a blank line between paragraphs to show clearly the overall structure of the
letter
* Dont write on every other line this does not assist the reader particularly
* Check for spelling mistakes and for spelling consistency through your writing (e.g.,
with a patients name)

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* Remember that many of the words you write are also in the case notes check that
the spelling you use is the same
* Be consistent in your spelling: alternative spelling conventions (e.g., American or
British English) are acceptable as long as your use is consistent
* Dont use symbols as abbreviations in formal letters
* Avoid creating any negative impact on your reader through the presentation of the
letter
* Use a clear layout to avoid any miscommunication
* Make sure poor handwriting does not confuse the reader over spelling and meaning
* Write legibly so the assessor can grade your response fairly using the set criteria

What type of Reading skills are tested?


The types of question in Part A of the Reading sub-test are to allow you to demonstrate that,
for example, you can:
locate specific information in a range of short texts
understand the relationship between different types of information
understand the conventions of different text types
identify underlying concepts
draw logical inferences
synthesis information from different sources
differentiate main ideas from supporting information
identify, distinguish and compare facts from a variety of text types
understand the presentation of textual and numerical data
summarize information for a non-medical audience
use contextual clues to determine text meaning and to supply missing information
recognize paraphrase
use appropriate spelling and word forms

The types of question in Part B of the Reading sub-test are to allow you to demonstrate that,
for example, you can:
understand main ideas
locate specific information
differentiate main ideas from supporting information
identify underlying concepts
draw logical inferences
understand a range of general and medical vocabulary
work out the meaning of a word or phrase from the context it is used in
identify the underlying theme of a paragraph or text
recognize paraphrase
understand cohesion between parts of a text through lexical and grammatical
cohesion devices
follow a complicated argument that is made over several paragraphs
distinguish between what is stated and what is not stated
recognize the connections between ideas (e.g., causes and effect)

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You need to understand how the writer constructs the text to communicate his/her message.
This may involve using words and phrases to show, for example,
the order of events (e.g., firstly, secondly; initially, subsequently, in the end)
consequences (e.g., due to, therefore, as a result)
contrasting or alternative ideas (e.g., however, on the other hand, despite)
the extension of an idea (e.g., in addition, furthermore)
It may involve understanding how an academic or professional text works (is built and holds
together) using, for example,
text references (e.g., this, the other study, as noted above)
normalization (choosing nouns rather than verbs or adjectives, e.g., explanation [from
explain], detoxification, assessment)
complicated comparative structures (e.g., The study found that women over 60
benefited from the therapy almost twice as much as those aged between 20 and 35
did.)
long noun phrases (e.g., The four-year study into the uptake and continuing use of the
drug-based treatment administered with appropriate medical supervision discovered
that )
groups of words with shades of meaning (e.g., states, con cludes, implies, suggests,
proposes, assumes, supposes, believes, considers, presumes)

Do s and dont s

Do answer every question


Dont get stuck on one question keep going and come back to it at the end
Do take a sample test under test conditions beforehand so you know what it feels like
Do bring and use a soft (2B) pencil
Do record your answers accurately on the answer sheet before the 60 minutes is over
Do follow the instructions on the answer sheet about how to fill in your answers
Dont give more than one answer for a question this gets no marks

How to help during the Reading sub-test?


General
Have a spare pen/pencil ready just in case
Fill in the booklet cover pages correctly
Fill in your personal information on the answer sheets correctly
Make sure you give your family name and candidate number correctly in letters and
numbers and fill in the corresponding circles accurately
Part B

Start by getting an overview of the two texts and the number of questions for each
Divide the 45 minutes appropriately between the two texts and focus on one text at a time
First read the title and the whole text through quickly to get a sense of what it is about overall
Note how the text is organized (e.g., with sub-headings, including a table/diagram)

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Take each question in turn and make sure you look in the right place for the answer (e.g.,
according to paragraph 2 means the question refers to information given in paragraph 2)
Read each question carefully, looking out for key words, e.g., which statement is TRUE,
which statement is FALSE, which of the following is NOT appropriate
Consider the options in turn and try to explain to yourself exactly what makes each one right
or wrong
Write on the text and questions if it helps you (e.g., underlining key words and phrases) but
dont make it more difficult for you to read by adding too many marks

Checking at the end

Make sure you have one answer marked on the answer sheet for each of the questions
Check you have put your answer against the correct question number
Follow the instructions on the answer sheet about changing an answer: use an eraser to
delete the original answer and re-mark the new answer clearly
Dont make any last -minute changes unless you are sure
Dont leave any blanks

Passing the Writing Test

Communicate clearly, concisely yet comprehensively

Need to have good grammar, spelling and punctuation

Be objective identify the most important facts

A good format to follow is

Short introduction

Patients past medical history


Patient s past medications
Patients current medical history
Patients current medications (in detail)
Perhaps some social particulars (lives alone)

Perhaps some physical particulars (needs walking frame)

What you want done now with the patient

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Passing the Listening Test

Need to be an anticipatory listener - anticipate what is coming

Be objective identify the most important facts you have heard

Recognize red herrings - pieces of information that have little or not impact on the
patients current situation

Passing the Speaking Test

Communicate clearly, open your mouth to help make well rounded sounds Finish the endings
of words; get the stress syllable right; add s to plurals Be objective focus on the cogent
points Dont waffle - padding your responses with irrelevant material Take the lead in the
Test remember in the Test itself, YOU are the main player (the doctor, dentist, nurse,
pharmacist, physio) - the other person sitting opposite you is the quasi-patient

Passing the Reading Test


Learn how to skim over a document, scanning it for key words

If you cant find the answer to a question, move on and come back to the missed question at the
end - dont waste time

---------------------------------------------ALL THE BEST-------------------------------------------------

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