Succeeding at OET speaking requires many different skills. You need to have good overall English abilities, such as pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. However, you also need expertise in your chosen professional area, a good manner in terms of healthcare professionalism, and the ability to listen as well as speak. It can seem a bit overwhelming just trying to get prepared, but you needn’t worry so much. It is not an insurmountable challenge as long as you prepare in a reasonable way and follow some useful advice.
Today, I would like to introduce five really helpful things that you can do to improve your OET speaking score.
1. Follow the role play card
Before you actually start speaking, you will be given a role play card with information that you need to follow. It is important that you spend a few minutes thinking about how to do this effectively because you will need to complete the tasks that are assigned on the card. You also need to think carefully about the information that is given to you about the patient because this will influence how you talk to him or her.
Although it is not strictly necessary to go through the tasks in order, it is highly recommended that you do. If you skip one and intend to come back to it, you might forget, and that would be a big problem. It is also possible that you could end up conducting a really disorganized conversation that follows no logical pattern. The information on the card will correspond to the interlocutor’s card, and together these will follow a basic sequence. You should therefore strongly consider trying to go through the points in the order that they are given.
2. Ask questions
In other English exams such as IELTS, your role is to listen to the examiner and answer the questions that they give you. In OET, however, the roles are more or less reversed. Here, the examiner (who is actually an interlocutor) will play the role of the patient, and you will be the healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse. As such, you should ask questions to them instead of just answer questions.
This might seem strange to you, but it is a key aspect of the OET test and if you didn’t ask questions, you couldn’t possibly succeed. You need to pay attention to the card and try to ask appropriate questions to find out the necessary information to complete the tasks. Remember to actually listen to what is said as a reply because you may be required to use that information or even to ask further follow-up questions.
Don’t be shy about this. Think about your real life job and just transfer those skills into English. A major part of a consultation with a patient is asking questions to find out information, so you should make sure that you are comfortable with this before you book your OET test date. Here are a few sample questions:
- Do you have any known allergies?
- What operations have you had?
- Are you up to date with your vaccinations?
- How long have you had diabetes?
3. Always be prepared
Although it is not easy to predict the role play scenario that you will be given in the test, you can certainly prepare for the exam by becoming familiar with the likely scenarios that you may encounter. You can do this by looking at previous role play cards which have been released by the OET organizers as a guideline. This will help you feel more prepared for the test by becoming familiar with the topics. These will of course be common, everyday situations that are likely to arise in your chosen professional area. There should be nothing surprising or requiring any specialist knowledge.
You can also augment your OET preparation by looking at appropriate vocabulary and phrases for the role play. This will include very common language from your healthcare area as well as particular phrases for dealing with patients in a sensitive way. It is important to communicate effectively, and that means using the right language for the situation, such as avoiding being too blunt with a patient.
Here is a good way to show empathy: I know it sounds difficult at first, but with practice I am sure you will be able to take the medication by yourself.
4. Practice every day
We often say that “practice makes perfect” and this is basically true of OET. If you practice regularly in an intelligent way, you will stand a great chance of OET success.
What are the best ways to practice?
Well, there are so many different things that you can do, but perhaps one of the best things to do is to find a speaking partner and make a regular schedule with them. You can practice doing a full role play with your partner by making up or downloading role play cards with relevant information on them. It is good to be a little spontaneous so that you are challenged to respond quickly and naturally to your partner so as to increase your level of fluency. If your partner is another OET candidate, you can swap roles. This will help you understand the process from both perspectives, which is also helpful at breaking down the structure of the exam. If you cannot find a partner, using profession OET training services such Online OET Speaking Practice with Benchmark Education would be the right decision.
Daily practice can also involve running through lists of vocabulary, using flash cards to remember important phrases, and doing pronunciation drills to get over difficult words or phrases.
5. Visualize Success
Experts have determined that a major component of succeeding at something is learning to visualize it first. If you can imagine yourself making a great achievement, then you are on your way to really doing it. Often, we have mental blocks that hold us back from success, so we need to overcome them by imagining ourselves making that big accomplishment.
For the weeks before your OET speaking test, you need to practice visualizing it. Imagine yourself going into the exam and then giving a perfect performance. Imagine the feeling of success and the results that come from it. If you can see it in your mind, you can make it happen in reality. Start with these interesting sample OET speaking recordings for nurses and doctors.
All of this will help you gain the confidence that you need to do well. Once you have that confidence, you can go into the test without nerves and give a really wonderful performance that will help you to achieve a great score.