The OET Speaking Subtest is a task that is divided into two separate role plays. The role-plays will take place between you (playing a healthcare professional) and an interlocutor (playing a patient or caregiver). These role-plays will focus on the actual interactions you might have in your specific health
area. You will also have a warm-up conversation with the interlocutor before starting the role-plays, but this conversation will not be evaluated. The entire subtest will take approximately 15 minutes.
How does the OET Speaking subtest work?
The speaking subtest consists of 3 parts and will last a total of 20 minutes. You will first have a “warm-up” conversation with the interlocutor. The contact person is the person who will be your contact for this section of the test, but they do not assess your performance. The warm -up conversation will not be evaluated and is aimed at relaxing and making you feel comfortable with the other person.
They will most likely explain how the speaking section works and then ask you questions about your previous work, future plans, and interests. Again, this conversation won’t count towards your grade, so all you have to do is relax and make yourself comfortable.
After warming up, you will receive a role-playing card with a storyline on it. The scenario will be similar to an actual situation that you might encounter in your particular profession. For example, if you are a doctor, the scenario will most often involve a patient or their caregiver asking for information, advice, and insurance.
Once you receive the role play card, you will have 3 minutes to read it and prepare to begin. This is the time when you are allowed to ask the other person to clarify anything that you do not understand. You are allowed to ask questions about how the role play works and any content you see on the role play map. You can also write anything you want on the card before you start.
Finally, you will participate in the role play for about 5 minutes. Once you are done, you will be given another role play card and you will repeat the reading process, asking any questions you have and playing it with your interlocutor.
It is important to note that you will not be evaluated during the live conversation you have with the other person. Instead, your two scenarios will be saved and evaluated later. Again, the warm-up conversation will not be recorded.
Example of an OET oral role-play scenario
* Please note, this role play is specific to nurses *
Candidate = You
Role Player = Your interlocutor
OET Speaking FAQ
Q: How is this section structured?
A. This section is entirely devoted to verbal proficiency. You will first be given the opportunity to “warm up”, which means that you will have a brief discussion with the interlocutor before starting, and this will not be evaluated.
Then you will have two scenarios that you will play with the interlocutor. In these scenarios, you will play the role of a professional consultant and the point of contact will be your patient or their caregiver. Your speech in these role plays will be recorded and evaluated.
Q. What skills are tested in the speaking section of the OET?
A. This section covers the assessment of 5 key criteria:
Overall Communicative Effectiveness: This is how you can maintain meaningful interaction with the patient throughout the role play. This means that you can:
• start the conversation
• keep the conversation going
• communicate with confidence
• use appropriate medical terms
• use role play card information
• complete the task in about 5 minutes
Intelligibility: This is your ability to be heard and understood by your patient. This includes a demonstration of skills in:
Fluency: is your ability to speak continuously and smoothly without too much hesitation or repetition.
• natural speed
• speech itself (not divided into fragments)
• a few “ums” and “ahs”
• take a break
• avoid repeating sentences
Appropriateness: This is how you use language and tone that fits the context of your situation and your patient. This means:
• appropriate professional language
• appropriate paraphrasing and rephrasing
• adaptation of tone and style to the particular situation
• appropriate responses to what the patient is saying
• deal with complicated situations
• demonstrate awareness of patient sensitivities
• Grammar and Expression Resources:
This is your level of grammar and vocabulary. This includes:
• appropriate sentence structures
• flexibility of grammar and vocabulary
• language precision
• language complexity
Q. How many times will I have to do the OET speaking task?
A. You will warm up once with the interlocutor and perform two role plays in total. The format of these role plays will be the same but they will be two different scenarios.
Q. Will this subtest be specific to my profession
A. Yes, the speaking and writing subtests will relate to your occupation. This is how your knowledge of situations and terminology that occur in your profession can also be assessed. For example, if you are a nurse, your role play will be different from that of a doctor. This will be as close as possible to a real interaction with a patient or caregiver that you might have in your specific work environment.
Start the conversation
Many candidates make the mistake of thinking that the OET online coaching in india for Speaking Subtest is an exam and not a medical condition. As such, they wait for the OET person (the patient) to speak. Imagine that you are in a professional setting and that you are the nurse, the doctor or the dentist. You are in control. The OET person is the patient – not the OET person. As such, it’s up to you to start the conversation.
Here is an example of OEM for nurses:
• “Hello, my name is Jane and I am the community nurse. Can I start with your name? “
• Don’t just sit there and start the conversation with the patient. It’s yours.
• Keep the conversation moving
It’s also up to you to keep the conversation going. If the conversation stops and silence occurs, you need to bring it back to life.
Here is an example:
“So tell me a little more about your situation.”
“Is there anything you would like to add?”
Ask questions to get the patient talking
If the patient is reluctant to speak, you should ask questions that compel them to speak. Consider the following two questions.
Which one will move the conversation forward?
You feel bad?
Can you describe the pain to me?
Question A would give you a yes or no answer.
You need to think of questions that will get the patient to talk – to open up and tell you more.
Listen to the patient
While the OET Speaking Subtest is a test of your speaking ability, it is just as much a test of your listening ability. To “respond” you need to understand what the patient is saying. Perhaps more importantly, you need to “listen” to hear what the person has to say. Don’t just focus on your performance, focus on communication. You must respond appropriately to what the patient is saying, even if you are nervous. The interesting thing is that the more you focus on listening communication, the less nervous you will be. When you focus on yourself – on your performance – the more nervous you will become. Adjust your language Depending on who you are talking to, you need to adapt your language to the scenario.
Think about it:
You talk to a depressed 87 year old man.
You are talking to an aggressive 18 year old man.
How would your language change? How would the words and intonation change?
Organize the role play
If you really want an A, you’ll need to organize the role-play into clear steps with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
In the introduction, you introduce yourself, greet the patient and summarize the scenario. In the body, you move through the tasks one by one.
In conclusion, if you have time, you should summarize the role play by saying:
“Ok, so we’ve discussed using X and while I understand your concerns, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
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