Specialist Language Courses

OET – What happens if I don’t pass OET in August?

Many of you know that the OET is being updated in September, 2018. This means that the last ‘old’ OET will be held in August, 2018. But what if you don’t pass the August OET or think you may not pass the August 2018 OET?


In the past, candidates were able to book a further test in the following month or following months, if they suspected they may not reach a B score. It is still possible to do this, but obviously from September, 2018, candidates will be booking the new test.

How does this affect your preparation for the OET?

Firstly, check out the changes in the new OET:

Reading – a few format changes (3 parts instead of 2, a focus on gist and attitude, different assessment types, a new Part B section)

Listening – a few format changes (3 parts instead of 2, a focus on attitude and patient viewpoint, different assessment types, a new Part B section)

Speaking – no change in format. More emphasis on demonstrating rapport with patient and appreciating patient’s viewpoint.

Writing – no changes at all.


In summary, 

  • significant changes to Reading and Listening with new ‘workplace’ text sections (Part B in both)
  • need to ensure patient is the focus of your attention in the speaking role plays. This should have always been the case, but it is now a clear assessment focus (rather than the ‘overall task fulfilment’ criterion
  • you still need to be able to write a referral, discharge or informational letter using prompts from the Case Notes. It is still 180-200 words.


Do a quick self-assessment. Look at past results, if appropriate.

1. Are there one or more sub-tests you have difficulty with?

2. Do you have a clear understanding of the skills you need to demonstrate in the ‘old’ OET and those you will need to demonstrate in the updated OET? In other words, do you know how the sub-tests will differ?


If your answer to question 1, is:

I have problems with the Reading sub-test –

Is this because you have difficulty skimming texts for information with a short time limit? If yes, this will still be an issue with the updated OET. You need to practise these skills for Reading Part A in particular.

Is it because you find long texts difficult to understand? If yes, this will still be an issue. There are long texts in the new OET.

Is it because you have a limited medical English vocabulary? – if so, this will still be a problem, although the updated OET is not as ‘heavy’ on medical facts as the old OET. There is more of an emphasis on understanding attitude and opinion.


I have problems with the Listening sub-test –

I find it difficult to understand English conversations at normal speaking speed. If so, you will find the updated OET as challenging. It is worth noting that the updated OET will have a variety of English accents, not just Australian accents.


I have difficulty with the Speaking sub-test –

I am shy and find it difficult to speak during a role play – this will still be an issue, as the format has not changed.


I have difficulty with the Writing sub-test –

I find it hard to organise relevant information into a short letter. This will still be an issue, as there have been no changes to the writing sub-test. You can get support on writing from SLC here.


What to do?

If you suspect that you may need to repeat the test after August, my advice would be to start a preparation course for the updated OET in July or August in preparation for the September OET and perhaps consider skipping September and doing a resit in October.


IMPORTANT: The advice for doctors will differ from advice for nurses, as doctors must repeat the whole OET each time. Candidates for OET Medicine cannot merely resit sub-tests under a C+ score.


For Doctors:

If you are relatively strong in the Reading and Listening sub-tests, it may not be too high a hurdle to become familiar with the updated Reading and Listening formats, so a resit in September after proper preparation in the updated OET may work for you.


However, if you have difficulties with the old Speaking or Writing sub-tests, I would strongly suggest giving yourself enough time to get up to speed with these sub-tests, while learning about the updated Reading and Listening sub-tests.

You can organise one-to-one lessons for OET Medicine here.


For Nurses:

Because you are able to resit only the sub-tests you have not gained a C (in Australia) or a C+ (in the UK) in, you may like to consider which areas you have difficulties in. If you think you may only have to resit the Speaking and/or Writing sub-tests, you may feel you could do this in September. This is because you will not be sitting the updated Reading and Listening sub-tests, as these were passed. I would, of course, still recommend continuing to prepare the areas you need to resit.


If you think you may have to resit the Reading or Listening, I would highly recommend that you prepare for the updated sub-tests ahead of September and possibly consider sitting the OET in October, if you are quite weak in these areas.

The UK score C+ is quite useful in giving candidates an idea of how close they are to a B.


In summary:

  • No preparation done for the OET up to September, 2018 will be wasted
  • the main changes are in the Reading and Listening sub-tests, however, the ‘basics’ of reading and listening are still tested as before.
  • it is very important to understand the new format of the Reading and Listening sub-tests, before sitting the OET after September, 2018

SLC will launch courses for OET in August. If you wish to study for the current exam and are sitting in July or August then you can get support from SLC by using the OET Reach B courses for Nurses and Doctors.

During July you can also get 10% off of any SLC course using the code SLCPROMO10