OET: some suggestions

Apart from the obvious step of doing the CAE's OET preparation course, candidates should be reading professional literature and possibly some popular science.  I assume the listening would be of a diagnosis, but again practice makes perfect. I think sample practice tests from OET website might not enough for you. And recently, many students ask me to provide some OET materials. However, I only have the official OET practice materials and due to copyright issue, I cannot provide it on public domain – my blog.

With speaking, my advice would be that you should know how to put medical jargon in every day English – that's very important.  With writing, read the task very carefully, noting who exactly you are writing to and why. Apart from that it's a case of 'less is more' – ie don't just write out the material you've been given.

IELTS Writing: examine and consider an IELTS question

When you write an IELTS essay during your exam, you need to read the question(s) very carefully. IELTS Writing questions are always a bit different from one to another. Look at the following question:

In many countries, the proportion of older people is steadily increasing. What are the advantages or disadvantages of this trend?

If you treat this question as “what are the positive and negatives effects that old people bring to us?”, then it would be hard for you to fully respond the task.

Do you notice the difference?

Here are some ideas about negatives effects of increasing number of older people:

 • More senior citizens means that governments have to arrange more money for their pensions.
 • Local governments have to support them, for example, by giving them discounts for electricity bills, water bills and transportation.
 • This assistance comes in the form of welfare payments, which are collected from tax payers.
 • An increasing number of older people will mean more tax must be collected in order to support .
 • Health authorities could face serious challenges if the number of old aged people increases in the future.
 • Hospital admissions might be higher and waiting lists could be longer for some treatments and operations.

IELTS Speaking: Chingish and English

A lot of Chinese students in my class try to express their ideas in English, but somehow they end up with Chinglish (Chinese-English) and it’s really hard for me to understand. Sometimes I have to guess the meaning.

In order to speak like natives, you just need to pay a bit more attention to the way, particularly collocations, that native speakers use, when you talk to them or watching some English movies. Here are some typical Chinglish examples. Please avoid those expressions and talk like native speakers. (Examples are given by John – an native English tutor, working in China at the moment.)

Chinglish: You’re laughing point is very low!
Native English: You’ve got a strange sense of humour!

Chinglish: My ten years birthday
Native English: My tenth birthday
Example: My parents gave it to me for my tenth birthday.

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IELTS Listening: a section 3 practice

Here is an IELTS Listening section 3 practice.

Questions 1 - 4
Complete the table showing the prices and types of coffee sold in each Common Room.
I = Instant
R = Real
E = Espresso
ielts listening section 3.1

Questions 5 – 12
Complete the table showing the number of points 1, 2 or 3 awarded to the food offered by each Common Room.
ielts listening section 3.2


1. R
2. 25P / twenty five pence
3. 23P / twenty three pence
4. R
5. 2
6. 2
7. 1
8. 2
9. 3
10. 2
11. 3
12. 2


In this section, you will hear a discussion between three students: Matthew, Alice, and Jenny. In the first part of the discussion, they are talking about coffee and food in the different Common Rooms of their university.

Matthew: Well Alice, what do you think of the lecture?
Alice: Interesting. Quite interesting, Matthew. Oh, by the way, have you met Jenny?
Jenny: Hello, Matthew.
Matthew: Hi there, Jenny. Alice and I are flat mates. Are you studying Sociology too?
Jenny: Yes, with Psychology.
Matthew: Oh. What's the coffee like here in the European Studies Common Room, Alice? I haven't been here before.
Alice: That's not bad. It's instant. 20p a cup.
Matthew: Oh. 20 p a cup of instant coffee. Isn't there anywhere you can get real coffee?
Jenny: Yes. The Common Room in the Development Studies Building has a real coffee machine. It costs 25p a cup.
Matthew: Oh yes, I've seen that. But you have to have the correct change.
Jenny: I think you can get Espresso coffee in the Arts "C" Building, in the second floor Common Room. It's a bit cheaper. 23p a cup there.
Matthew: What about the American Studies Common Room? Has either of you tried the coffee there?
Alice: Yes Matthew, I have. They have real coffee too. Let me see, now I think … No, I'm pretty sure it costs 25p in the American Studies Common Room too.
Matthew: Well, I suppose an extra 3 or 5 pence for real coffee is probably worth it.

As you listen to the discussion, complete the table showing the number of points 1, 2 or 3 awarded to the food offered by each Common Room. One has been done as an example. 

Jenny: Perhaps we should write a student guide to eating and drinking on campus.
Alice: Brilliant, Jenny. We could use it as the basis for the survey we have to produce for our first term project. You know, we could compare prices, availability of hot food or sandwich, and comment on the quality and value for money
Jenny: O.K. Let's start with ourselves on the food as a sort of trial run. We could award points. For instance, if the food is adequate, we could award one point; two points if it's of good quality; and three points if it's of good quality and we also think it's good value for money. For instance, if the portion is generous, and if it's not too expensive. Let's try it and see. You start, Alice. You are the one who knows about sandwiches.
Alice: Right. Here in the Euro Common Room, the sandwich is possible, maybe worth 1 point, no more than that. But in Arts "C", that well, they're better. Quite good really, but not particularly cheap. I don't know about sandwiches anywhere else.
Matthew: Well that's fine. That's a start. Jenny, have you any opinion about the food?
Jenny: Well, I agree with Alice about the sandwiches. The Arts "C" ones are better than the one you get here in Euro. Just 1 point for Euro. But they are quite expensive, so I'll give them 2 points. That's what you're suggesting, wasn't it, Alice?
Alice: That's right.
Matthew: I agree with what you said early about fish and chips in the Refectory. They are good, but certainly not cheap. 2 points from me for them.
Alice: Oh! Come on Matthew! It gets huge portions and not greasy. I think that deserves 3 points!
Jenny: I agree with Matthew.
Matthew: It doesn't matter. We can make a subjective questionnaire to get opinions, and provided we get enough students to fill them in to make them statistically valid, we can find out what the majority of students prefer. Everyone is allowed to give them their opinion. It's not a matter for argument.
Alice: O.K. Well. Then I give 3 points to the pizza in the American Studies Common Room. You wrote this down, Matthew?
Matthew: Yes, I think we should form our questionnaire as we have done ourselves. One hot dish from each eating place to gather opinions about, unless there are only sandwiches. Let's keep things fairly simple for the moment.
Jenny: I was thinking about the pizza. I thought it was quite expensive really. I wouldn't give it more than 2 points. I'm gonna have to dash. Could we meet up tonight to sort out our questionnaire to see whether the format is based on our views of work.
Matthew: That's fine by me. Let's say half past seven at our place? Is it O.K. by you, Alice?
Alice: No problem. Can you manage that, Jenny?
Jenny: Yes, that's fine. I'll see you late, bye.
Matthew: Great. Well, I think I'm going to enjoy this part of the consumer and society course.