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OET: Speaking Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

The OET Speaking Test will use content that is designed for your profession. You will take on two different role plays, and in each you will assume your own professional role – so you will be a pharmacist, doctor, etc. If you are a vet, then the interlocutor in your role play will play the animal’s owner. 

Given that there are two different role plays, you should be ready to show a range of communication skills and that you have vocabulary and ability across different domains. Be prepared for patients who are angry at you, who are sad or recently bereaved, who are confused, or who are simply unhelpful.

OET Medicine Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Medicine Question bank features questions from UK doctors, as well as tutorials and techniques.

OET Nursing Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Nursing Question bank features questions from doctors and admissions specialists, with a range of tutorials.

OET Pharmacy Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Pharmacy Question bank features questions from UK doctors and pharmacists, with tutorials and tips.

Structure of the Role Play

Before the role plays begin, you will have a conversation with the interlocutor about your professional background, and confirm who you are. You will then be informed of the first of the two role plays, and will have three minutes to prepare for it. Expect the role plays to each take five minutes. You will have three minutes between the first and second role play as well.

The role play card will explain the situation and exactly what you need to do. You can write on the card, and can ask your interlocutor any questions that you have during your preparation time. The interlocutor will be speaking from a script, meaning that you should have a very similar experience to the other candidates (although the exact content will be different). The interlocutor will be ready for your questions, as they will have prepared information beforehand that pertains to likely questions and topics of discussion. 

You will be recorded whilst speaking, and the recording will be assessed – i.e. you are not assessed by the interlocutor, but instead by OET assessors at a later date. You will be assessed by at least two different assessors. The decisions made will be based specifically on your ability and performance in the role plays themselves, rather than your general ability in spoken English. However, it is your communication ability that is being examined, rather than your medical ability – neither the interlocutor or the assessors are doctors, pharmacists, etc. You will do far better if you can talk a patient through their concerns in clear and fluent English, than if you fail to properly address that patient’s concerns but show that you have an excellent working knowledge of their condition.

Your role play will often end at around five minutes naturally, as they are designed to be of this length. However, if it looks to be going over-time, then the interlocutor will signal to you that the role play is ending. You should try to cover as many of the elements on the role play card as possible, as each element will show a different part of your communication ability, or a different domain in which you are strong.

OET Test Resources & Tutoring

Find our 1-1 tutoring for OET Medicine and Nursing here. We also offer 1-1 tutoring for Pharmacy.

How to Succeed

Do not try to memorise the content that you will deliver during this test. Different role plays will require very different approaches. You should ensure that you have a wealth of key words and phrases stored, and you may find it very useful to be able to use this bank of phrases during the test. However, ensure that you deploy these in the specific context of the role play, and that you satisfy the exact criteria of the role play. If the card specifies that you should ‘counsel Mr Smith about his alcoholism’ then you can use phrases that you have prepared for counselling patients about alcohol, smoking or diet; but you will score more highly if you are able to use specific words and phrases that relate to alcoholism.

You should be aware of the criteria that you are marked against. These are:

  • Intelligibility: How easy is it to understand the words that you are saying? Is your accent, or the way in which you pronounce words, getting in your way?
  • Fluency: Is your speech delivered at an appropriate speed, without hesitations?
  • Appropriateness of Language: Is your language professional and selected correctly for the situation?
  • Resources of Grammar and Expression: Is your range of vocabulary, and the grammar that you use, appropriate?
  • Relationship-building: Are you able to show empathy and respect for your interlocutor?
  • Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective: Are you able to involve the patient in the conversation and show that you are actively considering them?
  • Providing structure: Are you able to clearly organise your speech and provide information in a logical way?
  • Information-gathering: Do you ask appropriate questions and show that you understand the responses?
  • Information-giving: Do you provide information appropriately and check that it is being understood?
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