Tips for Learning Medical Vocabulary for the Occupational English Test

Occupational English Test

The Occupational English Test (OET) is an English language test designed for healthcare workers who want to work in English-speaking countries. It is accepted by the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK as evidence of the English requirement.

The test is divided into four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It’s important that you understand medical vocabulary so that you can do well in each of these parts.

Here are some top tips for learning and remembering new medical words.

Write Down New Words As Soon As You Hear Them

There is nothing worse than learning a new word, only to forget it a few days later. This is why it’s a good idea to write down any new words as soon as you hear them. Using this trick will help you remember new vocabulary words later during your Occupational English Test preparation.

You could buy an empty A-Z address book to keep new words in alphabetical order. This will make it easy to find the words again when you want to learn them.

Occupational English Test Preparation
Write down any new words so that you can revise later

Don’t try to write down every new word you hear. Try and be selective and only write down words that you actually think you would use every day in your medical profession. You don’t need to start learning London slang quite yet!

Writing new words down and keeping them in a book isn’t enough to remember them. According to the British Council, you need to use a new word ten times before you remember it. It’s a good idea to make flashcards or use online sites like Quizlet to practise new medical words you have written down.

To Prepare for the Occupational English Test, Practice Using New Words in Conversations

It’s said that the best way to learn is by doing, and this is true for language learning. If you start using new words in conversation, you will be more likely to remember them when taking the Occupational English Test.

As soon as you learn a new word, repeat it a few times to make sure you have the pronunciation right, and then practice it in a sentence. You can try explaining it to a friend, or use it when speaking about your profession.

Memorize New Words Using Association

Another technique for language learning is association. You are more likely to remember a new word if you remember it in context. You could learn it as part of a sentence or a pair. For example, you could memorize ‘the surgeon performs a routine surgery’ or ‘cardiologists specialize in cardiology, which means the study of the heart’.

If you work in healthcare, you will know that you use different vocabulary to speak to colleagues than you do with patients and their families. When speaking with colleagues, you will use technical, medical terms. However, patients may not understand these words, so when communicating with them, you should adapt your language so it can be easily understood by people who do not have a medical background.

oet exam requirements
Doctors and nurses will use different language with patients

As part of the OET exam, you will be marked on your ability to use the correct language for the setting. This means that you’ll need to learn both the simpler words as well as more complex ones. Learning these as pairs will help you to remember both.

Do you want to learn more about the OET exam requirements?
Contact UK College of English to find out more!