One of the most common questions I am asked in any OET lesson is ‘How can I improve my listening skills?’

The key to any OET listening test is to not only practice one skill, but many. Listening, understanding, and writing – all done simultaneously is no easy feat. But you can certainly practise it.

To know what to write and when to write it is the answer. This is obviously related to the heading (part A) or the question type (part B). Here, understanding word stress is of the utmost importance.

Let’s focus on how word stress is essential. In any sentence, the speaker can alter the meaning of that sentence by moving the stress from word to word. Let me give you an example.

Ask your friend this question:  ‘What do you do for work?’

Now on which word did you place the stress? ‘Work?’ Correct!
Now let your friend ask the very same question in response to yours.
Where is the stress on the second voicing of the sentence?
To make sense, it can only be on the word ‘you’ as you are now the subject.
Now place the stress on ‘what‘ and see how it changes the meaning. You now sound as though you are making sure, checking if what you heard is correct. Place the stress on the first ‘do’ and suddenly you sound frustrated as though the person is lazy and doesn’t DO anything at all!
This ability to differentiate between the important, essential words in any sentence allows you to truly understand the meaning behind the sentence. This in turn will, more often than not, lead you to the correct response in the OET listening test. In addition to this it will also improve your speaking ability ten-fold as long as you apply it!