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OET Listening: Enhancing your skills for multiple-choice questions

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Listening and Reading Parts B and C in the OET Listening sub-test require you to answer multiple-choice questions. To perform well in these tasks and feel confident on test day, it is essential to improve these skills.

This blog post will provide you with strategies and tips to help you effectively answer multiple-choice questions in Listening Parts B and C.

Overview of OET Listening Parts B and C

In OET Listening Part B, you hear six short audios from the healthcare workplace, and each one has a 3-option multiple-choice question. In Listening Part C, you hear two audios (two presentations or two interviews or one of each). Each audio has six multiple-choice questions.

If taking OET on paper, you need to fill in the circle using a 2B pencil:

 

If taking OET on Computer or OET@Home, you select the correct answer with a left click of your mouse. You can also eliminate answer options by right clicking. Click again to de-select. Watch this video for more information on taking OET Listening on computer: OET Listening Test on Computer – Guide.

 

The simplicity and challenge of multiple-choice questions

Multiple-choice questions have the advantage of providing answer options. However, identifying the correct answer is not always easy. While it is possible to consistently select the correct answer with practice and strategies, it requires effort. Let’s explore strategies for success with multiple-choice questions in OET Listening.

 

Strategy 1 – Get to know the different question types

Each question contains important information to help you choose the correct answer. It is crucial to read the question carefully. OET uses two types of questions in Listening Part B and C:

  1. Short answer questions: For example, "What is being described in this section of the guidelines?"
  2. Sentence completion questions: For example, "If vaccines have been stored incorrectly..."

Sentence completion questions may seem more challenging because they are not phrased as direct questions. However, you can easily transform these stems into questions. For question 2 above, you could re-imagine this as the question: "What is the result of incorrect storage of vaccines?"

 

Strategy 2 – Focus on the question

In OET Listening Part B and C, it is vital that you understand the question and focus on that while you listen. 

This is because you will often hear elements of each answer option (A, B or C) in the audio. You should not choose an answer simply because the speakers mention it. You must choose the option which answers the question.

 

Look at this question from Sample Test Two as an example:

 

28. You hear two radiologists talking about the type of scan to be given to a patient.

They agree to choose the method which will

 

allow them to see the whole of the appendix.

probably give the most accurate results.

have the fewest risks for the patient.

 

 

As you listen to the audio, you may hear the speakers mention the appendix (mentioned in A), accuracy of results (mentioned in B) and risks to the patient (mentioned in C). However, the question asks you about what they agree to do. And there will be only one answer.

 

Strategy 3 – Listen to answer the question, not to match vocabulary

In Parts B and C, you usually need to comprehend more than just one sentence. To do this, you need to understand the meaning of the answer options and not get distracted by vocabulary. In other words, just because you may hear the word ‘appendix’ in the audio for Question 28, it does not automatically mean that Option A is correct.

 

Now, listen and choose the correct answer. You can check the transcript and correct answer below.

 

28. You hear two radiologists talking about the type of scan to be given to a patient.

They agree to choose the method which will

 

allow them to see the whole of the appendix.

probably give the most accurate results.

have the fewest risks for the patient.

 

 


Transcript:

______________________________________

Answer: C

 

Strategy 4 – Maintain concentration

Staying focused during your test, especially in the Listening section, can be challenging. Even native English speakers sometimes find their minds wandering. Therefore, it is essential to stay attentive and avoid distractions.

We recommend not using headphones for practice since most test venues do not provide them on the actual test day. If you are used to listening with headphones, you may become easily distracted by surrounding noises. By refraining from using headphones, you can also better prepare for real-life situations where you listen to patients and colleagues.

Here are some tips to work on your concentration before test day and on test day.

 

Before test day

Build your stamina. Practise listening to extended audios with podcasts or YouTube videos, for instance. If you find it difficult to concentrate, start with just one minute. Add an extra minute each time.

Practise active listening. When practising, engage deeply with the audio. Take notes, visualise the speakers and their activities, think of follow-up questions you might ask them, or imagine you’re part of the conversation with them. These techniques will help you stay alert and attentive.

Practise summarising. After you listen to a few minutes of an audio, pause and challenge yourself to write a one-sentence summary of what you hear. This technique helps you to listen for overall meaning or gist and not get lost in the detail.

 

On test day

Predict and anticipate. Use the time before the audio plays to read ahead. Use the context statements to think about the type of language you are about to hear. Focus on the questions. While you won’t be able to guess the answers, reading ahead will help you be ready to listen actively.

Use signal words.  Listen for words that indicate a change in ideas, transitions or highlighting of important information. Language such as ‘However’, ‘First’, ‘On the other hand’, and ‘For example’ can give you clues about what information is coming up and will help you keep up with the audio.

Breathe! Taking a few deep breaths in between sections will help keep you alert and engaged. It can also help you shake off the previous section and let go of any doubts. Take a breath, clear your mind and get ready for the next set of questions.

 

Strategy 5 – Keep moving forward

Remember that all multiple-choice questions are independent, meaning you do not need to answer the previous question correctly to answer the next one accurately. If you miss an answer in the Listening section, don’t waste time worrying about it. Make an educated guess based on your understanding of the audio or text, and then move on. Remember that you won’t lose marks for an incorrect answer, so it’s always better to choose something rather than skip a question.

 

Now that you know the best strategies for success in OET Listening Parts B and C, be sure to try our free Listening sample tests. You can also try a practice test with Rebecca in this video: Guided Practice: New OET Listening Sample Test 4.