Decoding the OET Listening Test: How It's Marked

OET Listening Test Practice: The Occupational English Test (OET) is a language proficiency examination designed for healthcare professionals aspiring to work in English-speaking countries. It evaluates the language skills required for effective communication in a medical setting. In this blog, we'll explore the OET Listening test and how it is marked. Understanding the marking criteria can help test-takers better prepare for this critical component of the OET.

 I. Overview of the OET Listening Test

Before we dive into the specifics of how the OET Listening test is marked, let's first gain a clear understanding of what the test entails:

  • Format:

The OET Listening test consists of three parts, each with its unique set of tasks.

- Part A: Consultation Extract (approximately 5 minutes)
- Part B: Presentation Extract (approximately 5 minutes)
- Part C: Discussion Extract (approximately 5 minutes)

  • Objective:

This test's primary aim is to assess a candidate's ability to understand spoken English in a healthcare context.

Test-takers will hear various accents, dialects, and speech rates, reflecting real-world scenarios they might encounter in their profession.

II. How the OET Listening Test is Marked

Now, let's get to the heart of the matter – how the OET Listening test is marked. The test is assessed based on specific criteria to ensure fairness and accuracy.

  • Scoring Criteria:

Each part of the OET Listening test is marked out of 42 marks, resulting in a total possible score of 126. The scoring is divided into five bands, with Band 1 being the lowest and Band 5 the highest.

  • Marking Process:

The test is machine-scored, ensuring objectivity and consistency in the evaluation. An automated scoring system assesses various aspects of the test-taker's performance, such as comprehension, identification of critical information, and overall understanding of the dialogue.

  • Assessment Parameters:

The OET Listening test is marked based on the following critical criteria:

a. Understanding Main Ideas: Test-takers are evaluated on their ability to grasp the central concepts and main ideas presented in the listening extracts.

b. Supporting Details: Examiners assess how healthy candidates can identify and comprehend specific conversation details.

c. Inference: The ability to make reasonable inferences or predictions based on the information provided in the extracts is also considered.

d. Attitude and Opinion: Understanding the speakers' attitudes, opinions, or emotional states is crucial for effective communication in healthcare settings.

e. Function and Purpose: Test-takers must demonstrate an understanding of the purpose and function of the dialogue within the context of a healthcare situation.

f. Contextual Understanding: The marking process considers whether candidates can comprehend the overall context in which the conversation takes place.

  • Error Penalty:

Errors in spelling and grammar are not penalized in the OET Listening test. Instead, the focus is on assessing comprehension and understanding.

Therefore, test-takers can still score well if they make minor linguistic errors, as long as their overall understanding of the dialogue is accurate.

III. Strategies for Success in the OET Listening Test

Now that we understand how the OET Listening test is marked let's explore some strategies to help you perform at your best:

  • Active Listening:

Engage in active listening during practice to improve your comprehension skills. Pay attention to the conversations' main ideas, supporting details, and nuances.

  • Familiarize Yourself with Medical Vocabulary:

Healthcare professionals must be comfortable with medical terminology. Practice listening to and understanding medical vocabulary in context.

  • Practice with Different Accents:

The OET Listening test features various accents and dialects. Listen to recordings from different English-speaking regions to become more accustomed to different accents.

  • Note-taking:

Take notes during the test to help you remember critical information. Focus on jotting down main ideas, names, dates, and other essential details.

  • Stay Calm and Manage Time:

Stay calm during the test and manage your time wisely. Avoid getting stuck on a challenging question; move on and return to it later if needed.

  • Mock Tests:

Take mock OET Listening tests to simulate exam conditions. Review your performance and identify areas for improvement.

IV. Common Mistakes to Avoid

While preparing for the OET Listening test, be mindful of these common mistakes that test-takers often make:

  • Neglecting Medical Context:

Understanding the medical context of the listening extracts can lead to misinterpretations. Ensure you are familiar with common healthcare scenarios and terminology.

  • Overemphasizing Linguistic Accuracy:

Remember that the focus is on comprehension, not perfect grammar or pronunciation. Don't let minor language errors distract you from understanding the content.

  • Ignoring Listening Skills:

Some candidates focus solely on reading and writing skills, assuming they can quickly transfer them to listening. Devote adequate time to hone your listening skills precisely.

  • Rushing Through the Test:

Avoid the temptation to rush through questions; maintain a steady pace.

V. Conclusion

The OET Listening test is vital in assessing the language proficiency of healthcare professionals who aim to work in English-speaking countries. Understanding how this test is marked and the criteria used for evaluation can significantly improve your chances of success.

By actively practicing your listening skills, familiarizing yourself with medical vocabulary, and becoming accustomed to different accents, you can enhance your performance in the OET Listening test. Remember that linguistic accuracy is essential but should not overshadow your ability to comprehend spoken English in a healthcare context.

So, gear up, practice diligently, and approach the OET Listening test confidently – you're one step closer to achieving your professional goals in the healthcare field.


Q1. What is the OET Listening test, and why is it important for healthcare professionals?
The OET Listening test is a component of the Occupational English Test (OET), designed to assess the listening skills of healthcare professionals who wish to work in English-speaking countries. It is essential as effective communication is crucial in healthcare, and the test ensures candidates can understand spoken English in medical contexts.

 Q2. How is the OET Listening test different from regular listening comprehension tests?
The OET Listening test is tailored specifically for healthcare professionals. It includes accents, dialects, and situations commonly found in healthcare settings, making it highly relevant to the test-taker's future profession.

Q3. What are the scoring bands in the OET Listening test, and what do they represent?
The OET Listening test is scored on a scale of Bands 1 to 5, with Band 5 being the highest. Each band corresponds to a different level of proficiency. Band 5 indicates a high level of competence, while Band 1 suggests limited proficiency. 

Q4. Are there any penalties for spelling or grammar mistakes in the OET Listening test?
No, there are no penalties for spelling or grammar errors in the OET Listening test. The primary focus is assessing comprehension and understanding of spoken English in a healthcare context.

Q5. How can I improve my performance in the OET Listening test?
To improve your performance, engage in active listening during practice, familiarize yourself with medical vocabulary, practice with different accents, take notes during the test, and manage your time effectively. Mock tests can also help simulate exam conditions. 

Q6. What kind of accents and dialects can I expect in the OET Listening test?
The OET Listening test includes a variety of accents and dialects commonly encountered in English-speaking healthcare settings. These may include British, American, Australian, and others. 

 Q7. Can I request a re-evaluation of my OET Listening test if I am unsatisfied with my score?
OET offers an Enquiry on Results (EOR) service, which allows you to request a re-evaluation of your test if you believe there has been an error in the scoring. However, it's important to note that the EOR service may result in a score increase, decrease, or no change. 

Q8. Is there a specific passing score for the OET Listening test, and how does it affect my overall OET score?
There is no fixed passing score for the OET Listening test. Each institution or regulatory body may have its requirements. Your overall OET score is a combination of your scores in all four sub-tests (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking), and it's essential to check the specific requirements of the organization you are applying to.

 Q9. Are there any resources available for OET Listening test practice?
Many resources are available for OET Listening test practice, including official OET practice materials, sample test papers, and online courses. You can also find OET preparation books and practice tests from various publishers. 

Q10. Can I retake the OET Listening test if I am unsatisfied with my initial score?
Yes, you can retake the OET Listening test if you are unsatisfied with your score. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake the test, but you must wait for the next available test date and pay the associated fees.


These FAQs should help you better understand the OET Listening test, its importance, and how it is marked. If you have further questions or concerns, it's advisable to refer to the official OET website or contact their customer support for more specific information.

Before taking OET Exam, it is important to understand OET Passing Scores