Structure of the OET Listening Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The OET Listening section is divided into two separate parts. Keep reading for a description of each of these subections as well as an explanation of the grading process.

OET Listening

The Listening section of the Occupational English Test consists of a part A and a Part B, which include anywhere from 20 to 28 questions total.

Each part lasts between 20 and 25 minutes, during which time you'll be asked to listen to around 15 minutes' worth of audio recordings that cover general healthcare information, stopping occasionally to complete your responses. Keep in mind that the recordings will only be played once, and you'll have two minutes to go over your answers once the last recording has been completed.

Part A: Consultation

Part A features a mock consultation and assesses your ability to take notes in real time. You'll listen to a recording of an interaction between a healthcare professional and a patient and be expected to take notes that accurately reflect the important points covered in the dialogue.

The OET provides a series of headings that are intended to guide you in the right direction, but ultimately it's up to you to capture the gist of the conversation.

Part B: Presentation

Whereas Part A features multiple people speaking, Part B focuses on a single speaker. Possible recordings include lectures or monologues in which a healthcare professional delivers information similar to what candidates might hear in the workplace. After listening to the recording, you'll need to answer a number of questions related to the audio.

The format of these questions ranges from short-answer to multiple-choice. You may also be asked to perform sentence- and table-completion tasks, fill out lecture notes or check off lists, among other tasks.


The two parts of the Listening section are weighted evenly, with each part making up 50% of the section's overall score. Every correct answer results in the awarding of marks, with your final score being determined by the number of marks received. Unlike the Reading and Writing sections, the Listening section does not penalize misspellings.

Part A is scored by trained assessors who use a detailed marking guide to determine whether or not a given answer provides enough accurate information to be considered correct. The recording of these marks is frequently double-checked to ensure accuracy and prevent potential error. Part B is automatically scored using a computer scanning system.

Passing the Exam

Each subsection of the OET is graded on a scale of A to E. Passing scores are determined by individual boards and councils; test proctors merely administer and grade the exam. Usually, candidates will need to score at least a B in each of the four sections in order to pass the exam, but this standard is not universal.

Preparing for the OET

If you're considering taking the OET, publishes several materials that can help you get ready to sit for this exam.

This OET Study Guide & Practice course provides potential candidates with an extremely helpful review of all major test topics. This self-paced guide contains more than 50 lessons and includes interactive learning tools such as self-checking quizzes.

There are also these health vocabulary flashcards that can help candidates focus on improving their knowledge of health terminology in preparation for Part A of the Listening section.

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