OET Speaking Test – Subtest Pattern, Structure and Assessment Criteria
- 0.1 What kind of roles do the examinees have to take part in the OET Speaking?
- 0.2 The assessment criteria for OET speaking
- 0.3 Linguistic criteria
- 0.4 Clinical Communication Criteria
- 1 How to improve OET Speaking?
OET speaking task is around 20 minutes long and is derived from a clinical arena. The major task that is covered under the OET exam is role-play. There are two role-plays that the examinees have to perform and participate in and check for their dexterity in evincing their ideas out in a medical setting. Each role-plays are specifically designed for the medical professionals in relevance to their professions.
For instance, a Podiatrist would have to participate in the role-plays where the contextual conversation is of Podiatry and likewise across all the specializations.
The Speaking task checks for the eloquence, grammatical subtlety and efficacious usage of words of the examinees in a medical setting. This test is particularly designed for different professions in the OET, namely, Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology and Veterinary Science. Therefore, medical professionals must be well-equipped and proficient in their respective fields of specialization.
What kind of roles do the examinees have to take part in the OET Speaking?
First of all, the interlocutor ensures the identity and specialization/profession of the examinees. For this, there is a quick introductory conversation between the interlocutor and the examiner regarding professional background. Post that, the roleplays are introduced and assigned to the examinees and three minutes are allocated to the examinees to prepare for each role-play.
The information about each roleplay is provided to the examinees on a card that includes everything about the role including the context of the conversation, situation, requirements, and so forth. Both the roleplays are derived from a typical workplace situation.
Examinees may write the cues and information on the cards to help with their conversation in the role-play. The interlocutor follows a uniform script and has a detailed gist and information about each roleplay to maintain uniformity. The examinees have to ensure that they can maintain the conversation as per the situational demand that emerged in a medical scenario.
Each roleplay is marked for 5 minutes and if the examinees couldn’t wrap the conversation in the allocated bracket of time, they are signalled by the interlocutor to conclude the conversation. It may not cover all the pointers given on the card, however one has to conclude the discussion upon the signal.
The assessment criteria for OET speaking
The entire Speaking task is monitored and recorded. The OET speaking task is assessed by two trained OET assessors independent of each other. The evaluators assess the candidate in a very specific and targeted manner and assess them based on their response and reaction to the situational questions and incidents. Therefore, candidates should focus on improving their performance by knowing the details of a conversation and the role-play assigned to them and should not lay their foundation entirely on the technical jargon and a particular way that might have worked in the past.
Two specific criteria are kept in mind while the assessment goes on.
- Linguistic Criteria
- Clinical Communication Criteria
The linguistic criteria focus on eloquence, articulation, intelligence, intonation, clarity, diction, the words/terms that are used in the conversation and most importantly, the grammatical sense and construction of the language. This criterion is majorly dedicated to the command and hold over the English language. The examiners make sure that the candidate is able to pronounce their ideas and thoughts in relevance to the spontaneous communication.
Clinical Communication Criteria
Medical professionals are expected to be generous, empathetic and good communicators. Therefore, the clinical communication criteria gauge the qualities like an empathetic nature, rapport-building qualities, harmonizing with the patients, sensitivity, etc. In addition to that, how well and subtly the information is retrieved from the patients, understanding their problems and providing a solution to that is a prime requirement expected to be present in a clinical professional.
At times, a patient may come across as irritable, agitated, nervous or capricious. Keeping that in mind, the evaluators assess the patience and understanding nature of the health professionals. Hence, clinical communication makes important criteria in assessing the examinees in OET speaking.
One must be well versed with the patterns and criteria of the OET exam and should pay attention to the details of its criteria. The one who understands the road well travels well. Hence, a diligent preparation with ample practice and a good number of mocks may prove to be substantial for such a demanding examination. This test not only marks you on the basis of your English language prowess but also examines your persona as a healthcare professional.
How to improve OET Speaking?
Moving ahead, let’s find out how you can improve your OET Speaking. Jotted down below are some quick tips to follow:
Play Your Role
In the Speaking session, you would have to come across an interlocutor playing the role of a patient or a relative. Thus, you must ensure that you’re playing your part confidently. Your role will be based on your area of expertise; for example, if you are a nurse, you will roleplay as a nurse. Your task here would be to be calm and professional while dealing with a real patient. If you lack confidence in speaking, your scores can decrease tremendously.
Discuss all the task pointers
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you must include all of the given 3-5 pointers under the Task section in the conversation. It is imperative to discuss all of them, or it might lead to stagnant discussion and less markings if not followed thoroughly. So, make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
Maintaining a Professional Stance
As it is a professional space, you have to use formal language and maintain approved body language. In certain scenarios, patients can be rude or agitated, but you have to remain polite and point out the needful actions. Thus, it would be best to keep in mind that you should act professionally when answering the questions or speaking to patients. Even building informal bonds should be avoided.
Know How to Keep the Conversation Going On
Moving ahead, the responsibility of maintaining the conversation depends upon you as you will begin the conversation. So, if at a specific point, the silence creeps in, you must have the ability to keep it going. For instance, you can ask them more about their situation. Or, you can even ask if they’d like to add anything additional. Make sure you keep the flow natural and on-point. This is why you must learn how to break the ice. It could be as simple as introducing yourself and then going ahead with the flow.
Uncomplicated Vocab and Pace of Speech
Another significant strategy to adopt is to use the necessary words for the conversation. You have to remember that you are speaking to a person who is unaware of critical medical terms. So, use the language in a way that is comprehensive to a depressed girl or a 70 year-old-man and they can communicate accordingly. Also, it would help if you did not speak too fast when talking to patients. Keep calm and stay polite as much as you can.
All the best!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the OET Speaking task all about?
What is the total time for the OET Speaking task?
Is there any preparatory time allotted?
What is the script that the interlocutor would be following? Do I have to prepare with him in these three minutes?
Am I allowed to make notes of what I am going to say in the role-plays?
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