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OET Speaking Section: Core Preparation Guide

OET Test Preparation Specialists

Preparing for the OET’s Speaking Section can be done in one of two ways: practising speaking to someone else, or recording yourself speaking and reviewing the audio. We strongly recommend that you utilise both techniques to make the most of your time.

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.

Improve your General English Speaking Ability

This is the first stage of your preparation. Before you can feel confident in the role play scenarios, you will need to be confident in your general ability in spoken English. This will ideally already be of a high standard, meaning that this phase can quickly lead into the next. If you are looking to improve your own general ability in English speaking, you will typically need someone to practise with.

Improvements here will require dedication and time. It is vital that you do not sign up for the OET before you are confident in your ability in spoken English. Remember that the exam is a stressful situation, and you must therefore feel well-prepared.

Ask people you know who are fluent in English to conduct regular conversations with you in English, and probe your ability in different scenarios. Note that a benefit of the OET is that you will not need advanced vocabulary across different domains – but you will need smooth and fluent vocabulary covering general conversations and topics that could arise as part of a scenario. To put in obvious terms – you are unlikely to need to know how to discuss nuclear power in detail, but you will need to be able to easily change a conversation topic, express empathy, and discuss thoughts, feelings, emotions and plans.

Focusing on Speaking in Healthcare

Ideally, you should find others at your place of work that are willing and able to help you begin your practice sessions focusing on healthcare. This should be seen as an interim step between dedicated OET scenario practice, and general English consolidation. Some other possibilities to strengthen your general healthcare spoken ability include:
– Trying to find roles or tasks at work that might involve speaking English
– Recording yourself giving talks or presentations on different topics in healthcare and reviewing these
– Recording yourself and having others that are excellent at English review your pronunciation and word choices
– Signing up to courses or seminars that are conducted in English and participating as much as possible
– Maintaining a list of vocabulary or phrases that you have struggled with
– Maintaining a list of vocabulary and phrases that you find particularly useful

This phase will take some months and should be mixed with both learning general spoken English, and beginning to focus on specific scenarios as seen in the OET.

OET Test Resources & Tutoring

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

OET Specific Preparation

If you are to excel in the Speaking component, you must show confidence in performing history-taking, providing explanations, or otherwise conducting the every-day scenarios that will make up the test. Remember that this part of the test, like the Written component, is specific to your career. That means that nurses will take a nursing test, medics a medical test, etc.

Your preparation should therefore focus on your own career path. BlackStone Tutors has a number of OET Speaking scenarios aimed at doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

Consider throughout whether you were able to communicate fluently and at an effective speed. Consider whether the content you delivered was clear and easily understood. You should ensure that you prepare with scenarios that have a detailed mark scheme which will allow you to highlight any areas in which you were weaker and could therefore have improved.

You should work to develop particular methods of communicating for particular situations. As examples, ensure that you can:
– communicate empathy
– politely interject if a patient is talkative or angry
– reassure a worried patient
– explain technical terms and jargon in plain English


You should practice scenarios with different roleplayers, as they will likely provide you with slightly different prompts or responses. Ensure that you practice with roleplayers who have excellent English, who will be able to judge your grammar and wording throughout. The best option here would be another person in your field who has excellent English, as they will be able to judge you based on both basic language criteria and on the clinical criteria that makeup part of the OET Speaking section’s scoring.

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