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OET Preparation

Tips for Teaching OET: Writing and Speaking Sub-tests

August 2022 | About OET | Profession | Speaking | Test Techniques | Writing

In this webinar, Bethan presents the most common challenges the students must cope with, shares hot tips for teachers on how they can help their students and gives examples of classroom tasks. As a part of the preparation process, she recommends implementing reflection tasks for learners to encourage them to think about what to improve and how.

The OET Writing sub-test

In the OET Writing test, a candidate reads a set of case notes and then writes a referral, discharge or transfer letter. They have 5 minutes to read the notes and then 40 minutes to write the letter. Their answer is then assessed on 6 criteria. These are purpose, content, conciseness and clarity, genre and style, organisation and layout, and language used. The letter should be about 180-200 words long.

The goal of preparation for the OET Writing test is to develop sub-skills which allow candidates to analyse, decide, plan, write and check their piece of writing. By using a guided case notes analysis, a teacher can provide students with tools to pass the test as effectively as they can.

The most common challenges include issues such as:

  • How to analyse case notes – what information is expected by the reader of the letter and therefore which information is relevant
  • How to expand the case notes
  • How to organize the letter
  • How to plan the letter

Therefore, the activities in the classroom should focus on promoting reader awareness and building language awareness. Bethan recommends a structured approach, activities to encourage overview, guided activities, and comparative activities.

Top Tips:

  • Teach students how to write for different readers
  • Analyse different ways of organising letters
  • Develop a range of grammatical structures
  • Build up a bank of useful functional phrases
The OET Speaking sub-test

The OET Speaking sub-test includes two role plays. In each one, candidates are given a task card and play a role of a healthcare professional (3 min to prepare + 5 min to perform). They are assessed on both linguistic and clinical communication criteria. The former include intelligibility, fluency, appropriateness of language, and grammar and expression, while the latter include relationship building, understanding and incorporating a patient´s perspective, providing structure, information gathering, and information giving.

The goal of preparation is to help students to deal with a heavy cognitive load. The main challenges they face are as follows: understanding the role card, demonstrating clinical communication skills, structuring the conversation, and managing a variety of topics.

The classroom activities should be oriented to the following

  • Adopt a scaffolded approach to teach sub-skills to include analysis, communication with patients, controlled practice, discussion, productive tasks
  • Develop functional language, such as that used by a healthcare professional to find out information, explain, empathise, reassure, advise, encourage, persuade, and reinforce
  • Build a strong vocabulary bank, including lots of patient-friendly language (e.g. by using patient information leaflets)

Top Tips:

  • Identify skills the students need to develop
  • Use scaffolded tasks to build those skills
  • Use repetition and variation to develop automaticity
  • Systematically build vocabulary
  • Use a topic-based approach