The Occupational English Test (OET) is an important test for international medical graduates looking to work and live in an English-speaking country. I know from my experience working with students over the years just how life-changing this test can be however, passing the OET can be a challenge, and many candidates struggle to achieve the scores they need without the right approach. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common reason why candidates fail the OET, and provide strategies to help you avoid the most common mistakes and achieve success on test day.
The Most Common Reason Why Candidates Fail OET:
In my experience, the most common reason why candidates fail the OET is a lack of the right preparation. Many candidates may have been learning English for many years and as a result, underestimate the difficulty of the test, or assume that their English proficiency is already sufficient for the test. This assumption is understandable but it can lead to problems as, they may not put in the time and effort needed to fully prepare for the test, or may focus on the wrong areas of study. Many students have strengths in some English language skills and weaknesses in others that they may not be fully aware of.
Common Mistakes in OET Preparation:
One common mistake that candidates make in OET preparation is failing to focus on the specific requirements of the test. The OET is a highly specialized test, and it requires a specific set of skills and knowledge to achieve success. For example, candidates may be comfortable with their skills for everyday conversations but lack the specific language skills needed to communicate effectively during patient consultations and build positive relationships. Building the specific skills to perform in each of the subtests is essential for success.
Another common mistake is failing to adequately practice the test format. As well as developing the specific skills needed, understanding exactly what to expect on test day. OET is a test that requires not only a strong understanding of English and medical terminology but also the ability to apply these skills within the test format. Candidates who do not practice with authentic OET materials may struggle to adapt to the format and requirements of the test, leading to lower scores. Knowing the format of the test, being clear on your test strategy and using official OET materials will put you on the right path to success.
To sum up:
- Know the official test format
- Know what the assessors are expecting of you
- Have a clear test strategy
- Be clear on the specific language skills that you need to improve
Common Errors Made by OET Candidates:
In addition to preparation mistakes, there are also common errors made by OET candidates that can lead to failure. For example, candidates may misread instructions or questions, leading to incorrect or incomplete responses. They may also fail to manage their time effectively, spending too much time on one question and not enough on another.
Another common error is failing to pay close enough attention to grammar and spelling in OET writing for example. One reassuring thing to remember here is that you aren’t expected to be perfect. The occasional mistake is OK but candidates who make frequent errors in these areas may struggle to achieve the scores they need, so aim high!
Most Commonly Failed OET Subtests:
A question that I’m often asked is “Which is the hardest subtest?” or “Which subtest do students fail most often?” The answer to this question is that it truly depends on the individual. Each of my students over the years have had strengths and weaknesses in different areas so it follows that not all subtests of the OET are equally challenging for all candidates.
That being said, most of my students come to me because they are struggling most with the Writing and Speaking subtests and the solution lies not only in developing strong English language skills but also in being able to apply these skills in a way that is specific to the medical profession.
As I mentioned though, everyone is different. For you, help could be needed with Reading or Listening for example. A quick tip here is to avoid taking practice test after practice test, hoping for improvement. Instead, try to identify the specific skills that you need to improve your score. This requires analysis to find out the exact reason for the challenge you’re having. Let’s take the reading subtest for example, are you having trouble skimming and scanning effectively in Reading Part A, or are you find tricky to see the hidden meaning in an OET Reading Part C text? These are just 2 of many specific skills that would need to be developed to improve your score in OET Reading.
With the help of an OET teacher, you can analyse the reasons for your specific problems and find an effective solution. It ca be helpful to take the time to analyse the problems you’re having ad work on the solution with a certified OET teacher.
Strategies for Avoiding Common Mistakes and Achieving Success on the OET:
Now that we’ve identified the some of the most common reasons why candidates fail the OET, let’s summarise the strategy for avoiding these pitfalls and achieving success on the test.
- Be prepared
First and foremost, it’s essential to fully prepare for the test. This means not only studying English language skills and medical terminology but also practising with authentic OET materials and familiarizing yourself with the test format and requirements. It’s also important to focus on your specific weaknesses and areas of need, rather than assuming that your existing skills are sufficient.
- Pay attention to detail
In addition, paying close attention to instructions and questions, managing your time effectively, and focusing on accurate grammar and spelling can all help to avoid common errors made by OET candidates.
- Get some help and support
Finally, it’s important to seek out support and guidance as needed. Many students are B2 level when starting to prepare for OET and they will need to study a significant number of hours to reach C1 level (which is equivalent to a passing score of 350.) This is a tough journey alone so it’s essential to get some guidance along the way to make sure you’re on the right track and you’re using your precious time effectively.
Working with an experienced OET teacher or tutor can provide valuable feedback and advice on how to improve your skills and strategies for success on the OET. They can help you identify your weaknesses and provide targeted practice materials to help you improve.
To wrap up:
Passing the OET is a critical step for international medical graduates looking to work and live in an English-speaking country. However, many candidates struggle to achieve the scores they need due to a lack of preparation, common errors, and difficulty with specific subtests. By fully preparing for the test, focusing on specific weaknesses and areas of need, and seeking out support and guidance as needed, you can avoid these pitfalls and achieve success on the OET. With the right preparation and strategies, passing the OET is within reach for any motivated candidate.
As an experienced OET teacher, I am here to help you succeed with this high-stakes exam. If you are struggling with any aspect of the test or are simply looking for additional guidance and support, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer customized OET preparation services tailored to your unique needs and goals, including individual coaching, targeted practice materials, and comprehensive feedback and support. With my help, you can achieve the scores you need to advance your career and realize your dreams of working and living in an English-speaking country.
Contact me today to learn more!