Acing the OET Speaking Subtest: Tips and Strategies

OET Speaking Subtest Tips and Strategies

Acing the OET Speaking Subtest: Tips and Strategies

The Occupational English Test (OET) is a language test for healthcare professionals who want to work or study in an English-speaking environment. The test assesses four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Here, we will focus on the speaking subtest and how to ace it with some tips and strategies.

What is the OET speaking subtest?

The OET speaking subtest is a one-to-one interaction between a candidate and an interlocutor, who plays the role of a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. The subtest lasts for about 20 minutes and consists of two role-plays that are specific to the profession. For example, if you are a nurse, you might have to explain a procedure, give advice, or reassure a patient. The role-plays are based on typical workplace scenarios that one might encounter in their field.
The Interlocutor will give the candidate a card (cue card) with some information about the role-play, such as the setting, the purpose, and some points to cover. Candidates will have three minutes to prepare for each role-play. Making notes on the card is allowed, but you cannot use any other materials. The candidate will then start the conversation with the interlocutor and try to achieve the purpose of the role-play. The interlocutor will follow a script and respond accordingly. Each role-play lasts for about five to six minutes.

How is the OET speaking subtest assessed?

The OET speaking subtest is assessed by two trained examiners who listen to a recording of the performance. They use a set of criteria to rate performance on nine aspects: overall communicative effectiveness, intelligibility, fluency, appropriateness of language, resources of grammar and expression, relationship-building, understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective, providing structure, and information-gathering.
Each aspect is scored, and the scores for each aspect are then averaged to give an overall score for each role-play. The overall score for the subtest is the average of the two role-play scores.

What are some tips to ace the OET speaking subtest?

Here are some tips to help prepare for and perform well in the OET speaking subtest:

Get yourself familiarized with the format and expectations of the subtest. Practice with sample materials and videos.

* Practice:
Practice your speaking skills regularly with a partner or a tutor who can give you feedback and suggestions. You can use role-plays from past tests or create your own based on your profession and common situations.

* Language skills over medical knowledge:
Focus on your communication skills rather than your medical knowledge. The purpose of the subtest is to assess how well you can communicate with patients or clients in English, not how much you know about your field. Use simple and clear language that is appropriate for the context and the level of understanding of the interlocutor.
Rapport building:

Build rapport with the interlocutor by using polite forms of address, showing empathy and respect, using non-verbal cues such as eye contact and nodding, and using small talk when appropriate.
* Comprehending:
Listen carefully to what the interlocutor says and respond accordingly. Try to understand their perspective, feelings, and needs and incorporate them into your responses. Ask relevant questions to clarify or confirm information, and check their understanding of what you say.

* Proper structuring:
Provide structure to your conversation by using signposting language such as “firstly,” “secondly”, “finally”, etc., summarizing key points, and giving clear instructions or recommendations. This will help you organize your thoughts and make your message easier to follow for the interlocutor.

* Tone and posture:
Be confident and calm during the subtest. If you make a mistake or don’t understand something, don’t panic or apologize excessively. Just correct yourself, ask for repetition or clarification politely, and move on.
* Use task points in cue card:
For effective communication, make sure to use the task points in the cue card correctly and in order. Make sure not to deviate from the topic in the task points. The interlocutor will only answer with respect to points from the cue card, and deviating further is not encouraged.

OET Speaking subtest

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