As I have been reiterating again and again in my past few blogs, OET tests the real communication scenarios that candidates normally face in the general healthcare workplace, whereas all general or academic tests assess English language skills using everyday or academic scenarios.
Let us consider a few examples of what OET has been testing and what has changed in OET 2: (Courtesy OET official site)
- For writing, most healthcare professionals are required to prepare referral letters based on case notes as part of their regular practice; – this is the task that is tested in OET.
- For speaking, OET uses role-plays which test the healthcare professional is ability to proficiently conduct a healthcare consultation with a patient or health-care giver/provider.
Now, with changing healthcare scenarios, as discussed in previous articles, the following changes need to be addressed in any English proficiency test directed towards individuals in health care.
- Increased need for improvement in gathering information to understand the needs, concerns , fears and problems of patients.
- An exposure to or an understanding of a wide variety of languages and accents because today, healthcare professionals as well as patients are travelling throughout the world to provide or receive care,
- A pressing need to keep abreast with advancing technologies and hence an inherent need to learn to communicate with peers and patients not only in the workplace but also in places unrelated to the work place and maybe even in remote far off places.
As mentioned earlier, OET is being updated to meet these new expectations. All the changes have been well researched, including running trials with all candidates and taking their feedback on board.
So, what will stay the same?
Most of the tasks in the OET test, its original format and the focus of each sub-test/module (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) are going to remain the same, according to the official OET site. OET will still enable one to prove know-how of the right level of English whilst learning the kind of language one needs every day at work, in a healthcare scenario.
What will be updated in the Writing sub-test from September?
There will be no updates to the Writing sub-test.
What will be updated in the Speaking sub-test from September?
There will be no updates to the format of the Speaking sub-test.
However, clinical communication skills will now also be assessed because these are skills that will be needed to be successful in a health care scenario, such as:
- relationship building
- understanding the patient’s perspective
- providing structure to the conversation
- gathering information from the patient
- establishing what the patient already knows.
How are the OET results being updated, concurrently?
From September 2018, results for the four sub-tests that make up OET (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) will be reported on a scale from 0 to 500, alongside the usual OET grades (A to E). The score reporting is being updated in OET-2 so that the scores provide more detail. So, ultimately, both the answering student and the organizations that recognize OET (healthcare regulatory boards, immigration departments and so on) get what they want. By including a numerical score alongside with the A to E grades, one will be given a more clear and in-depth view of how one performed in each sub-test.