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OET Listening Section: Core Preparation Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

To best prepare for the OET Listening component, you will need to develop your ability in listening to English both in healthcare settings and in more general settings. This preparation guide should provide you with an overview of how to prepare over an extended period of time – it is not designed for short-term preparation immediately before the exam. Rather, it should form the basis of months of preparation that will see you becoming 100% confident in listening to both general English and English specific to healthcare and healthcare scenarios.

OET Medicine Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Medicine Question bank features questions from UK doctors, as well as tutorials and techniques.

OET Nursing Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Nursing Question bank features questions from doctors and admissions specialists, with a range of tutorials.

OET Pharmacy Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Pharmacy Question bank features questions from UK doctors and pharmacists, with tutorials and tips.

Improving your General Ability

The OET includes a range of different audio extracts, which will involve different professionals, different settings, and different countries & accents. You must therefore acknowledge this with your preparation plan. We recommend that you initially focus on improving your general listening ability, rather than focusing on the OET or even on healthcare-specific listening.

Much as you should focus on reading an array of newspapers and magazines for the Reading component, so you should find a range of podcasts or audio formats that will help you revise. Unlike the reading section, there perhaps is not as much need to focus on more ‘formal’ or intellectual sources – the key is that you become acquainted with a variety of speech patterns and deliveries.

As an overview of where you might consider looking for general English listening resources, consider:
– podcasts on topics that you are interested in or passionate about (try Spotify or Apple Podcasts)
– English language radio stations (in the UK, you might consider Radio 4, or Radio 5 Live)
– YouTube. Note that it is vital that you do not rely on video. Instead, you can put YouTube shows on in the background whilst you are working or focusing on something else, and treat them like a podcast. Indeed, many podcasts are available on YouTube.

In order to improve across the board, ensure that you use resources featuring speakers with different accents. Use our dedicated Listening Resources guide for more help here.

You can also adjust the speed of playback when using YouTube. You should try speeding up shows from time-to-time, to improve your confidence with fast spoken English in different accents or dialects.

Improving your Healthcare Listening Skills

After you have made progress in your general listening preparation, begin to introduce healthcare specific topics. You might want to transition to listening to interviews with specialists in your field exclusively in English, or find English language podcasts on health. As before, YouTube could be a great asset here. A simple strategy for finding content in a range of accents is searching:
Topic + country + detail

As an example, we might search ‘asthma UK guidelines.’ We could then listen to a lecture on asthma guidelines in the UK (remember to avoid watching the video. Next, we might repeat this exercise with Australia and Canada, for example. We could then search ‘dermatology UK career’ and begin a new topic.

You should also look for interviews with specialists in particular fields. Ensure that you listen to different healthcare workers, from a range of different countries. Do not allow yourself to only listen to specialists from your field, or from one country. This could lead to a misplaced confidence.

Try to listen to consultations between healthcare workers and patients as well, and to practice common abbreviations or phrases. As an example, expect to hear SOB rather than shortness of breath; BP rather than blood pressure; or resus rather than resuscitation. You should be aware of informal phrases that are regularly used in a healthcare setting.

OET Test Resources & Tutoring

Find our 1-1 tutoring for OET Medicine and Nursing here. We also offer 1-1 tutoring for Pharmacy.

OET-Specific Practice

This is the final step of your preparation, that should be embarked on as you become more confident across both general listening and healthcare listening, and feel that you are ready to polish your ability in the months before the exam itself.

You should work to understand the exam format, how many questions are in the listening section, and which sections you find to be easier or more difficult.

You should mix practice sessions with continued listening to English language broadcasts and podcasts. You should ensure that you keep track of areas in which you seem to struggle, and areas in which you are performing well. You should give yourself adequate time that you can revise these areas thoroughly, in order to make significant improvements in your practice tests.

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