Though the format remains the same, OET Speaking is profession-specific. On test day, it is the final module.
Part 1: Warm-up
This section of the test is not graded. It is intended for you to become acquainted with the interlocuter’s voice and to attempt to relax. They’ll ask broad questions.
Part 2: Role-playing
You will receive two role-plays. In each, you’ll have 3 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to speak. You’ll be given a role-card with instructions and information on it. You play the healthcare professional, while the interlocuter plays the patient.
Two independent assessors will grade you. A third assessor evaluates borderline differences to ensure that you receive a fair and valid grade.
Assessment of OET Speaking
Each role-play is assessed against:
- Linguistic Criteria – scored out of 6
- Intelligibility: Pronunciation, intonation and accent
- Fluency: Speed and smoothness of your speech
- Appropriateness: Language, tone and professionalism
- Resources of grammar and expression: Grammatical accuracy and vocabulary choices
- Clinical Communication Criteria – scored out of 3
- Relationship-building: Choice of opening to the conversation, demonstration of empathy and respect
- Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective
- Providing structure: How you organise the information you provide, how you introduce new topics for discussion
- Information-gathering: Type of questions you ask, how you respond to the listener
- Information-giving: Type of information you give, language you use
Tips for Preparation
Each role-play involves a different patient and healthcare situation, so communication must be tailored. Use of memorised phrases is discouraged.
Make communication decisions using the role-card:
- Check the setting – where is the conversation taking place, is it an emergency situation or not. This will help you decide how to start speaking.
- Check the condition and purpose of the role-play – this will tell you what you do and don’t know, so that you can accordingly get more information from the patient.
- Check your tasks i.e. points to cover – you may not be able to complete all, but you must try to cover as many as possible.
- Imagine a Real Patient
Imagine that the interlocuter is a real patient.
- Decide your communication based on the type of patient – a patient in an emergency situation, one with pre-existing knowledge about their condition, an older or younger patient, or a very emotional one, such as a frustrated or anxious patient.
- Sometimes, the interlocuter may not play a patient, but a patient’s family-member or care-giver.
- In the role-card, adjectives can indicate how the patient is feeling. This will help you make choices about how to start speaking, and what info to provide.
- Put yourself in patient’s shoes, and ask yourself what would they want to hear. This may differ from what you would think they need to know.
Plan Your Communication
The stages of effective communication are as follows:
Understand your patient’s point of view.
Empathy should be used to validate their point of view.
Explain information in a clear and concise manner. Give them the information they require. Avoid using unnecessary medical terminology unless they already know it.
Check to see if your patient has comprehended. Inquire if they have any questions or need clarification.
How to Deal with Test-Day Stress During Preparation Time:
Ask the interlocuteur any questions you have, or for definitions or pronunciations of unfamiliar words.
Plan out how much time you’ll spend on each task so that you can get as much done as possible.
Consider how the patient feels and choose appropriate language.
Decide how you’ll begin so that you’re ready when the interlocuter says so.