The OET speaking sub-test causes a great deal of anxiety because many of the candidates who take it don’t really know what they have to do in order to succeed. The exam is really not a great mystery as information about it is publically available. You just have to make yourself aware of them before sitting for the exam so that you can be in a good position to get a good score.
In this article, I will show you some things that you can do in order to increase your chances of getting a high score.
Understand the Test Criteria
Every English test has a set of criteria that the examiners will look at when judging the performance of the candidates, and of course the OET is no different. Although many candidates sit for the test without knowing what these criteria are, they are in fact easily found online. Make an effort. You can go to the OET website and find out exactly what you will be assessed for.
This is really important, in fact, because once you know what the examiner expects from you, you can begin to prepare more effectively. You can look at each part of the marking criteria to see what is required of you and then make sure that you are ready to do well in that regard.
It is worth noting that the OET sometimes changes in terms of how it is marked, and so you should keep up to date with the marking criteria by checking for the latest edition directly from the official OET website.
Listen to Yourself Speaking
Most people don’t sound like they think they do, whether that is in their native language or a foreign one. This isn’t a problem in their native language, but when speaking a new language, it is very useful to hear yourself so that you can stand a chance of fixing errors in your pronunciation.
To do this, you can record yourself speaking with your mobile phone and then listen back to what you recorded. This can also help you to figure out whether you speak too quickly or too slowly, or whether you are making too many hesitations in your speech. (A clue is if you say “uh” too much on the recording.)
Sometimes we tend to think of something in our head and then not actually say it aloud. When training for OET speaking, you should listen to your recording while reading the role play card. This can remind you whether or not you actually addressed all the necessary points on the card. It is easy to skip something, even if it is important. By practicing and being critical with yourself, you can reduce the likelihood of that happening.
It is especially useful if you can find a speaking partner or a friend to help you assess your speaking performance during these recordings. Obviously, another person can probably hear or see something
Build a Collection of Practical Expressions
The OET speaking sub-test is a test of English ability but it is also a test of how well you understand a healthcare situation. That means that you are not just required to know some words or to be able to provide correct grammar, but instead you must demonstrate superior ability in terms of actually conversing with another person.
This requires so many different skills, but one thing that you can do is to learn expressions related to the likely scenarios you may find in your healthcare field. These phrases will help you to communicate quickly and naturally with the examiner during the test and cut out the need to think of the perfect grammar for each and every situation that arises. Instead, you can fall back on expressions which you have prepared beforehand. If these are general enough, and you know enough of them, then they will be able to assist you in many exam situations.
Just remember that you should understand each expression fully in an idiomatic sense so that you do not misuse it. Learning these through repetition is useful, but you also need to be able to adapt them according to the scenario given.
Plan Wisely and Effectively
The best performers in OET speaking are the ones who use their preparation time the best. At the beginning of the sub-test, you will be given three minutes to think about what you want to say. You should plan carefully because you will then have to speak for five minutes during the actual role play.
Pay attention to the instructions and details provided to you on the role play card and visualize the conversation that will follow. Make sure you know how to start, so that you can launch straight into the dialog without nervousness. Once you have begun, it gets much easier. If you have a basic structure in your head and ideas about how to carry and finish the conversation, you will be more confident and your performance will be better overall.
You don’t have to think of the whole speaking test as one long statement by you because in fact it should be a two-way conversation in which you both speak and listen. Your side of the conversation should involve questions but also listening and follow-up questions. In other words, if the examiner says something that you didn’t expect, you should respond appropriately, and that might mean asking another question for clarity or for further details. You can also ask questions to find out whether or not you have been understood.
In real life, people don’t speak at lightning speed. Most people speak at a leisurely pace, with occasional pauses when they are thinking of a word or idea. As such, it is reasonable in the OET speaking sub-test to speak at a realistic pace and to pause occasionally. It is better to stop for a moment and search for the right word than to say the wrong thing. This is completely fine as long as you do not hesitate too much or too often, which can be distracting.
This is again something that can be developed through practice. If you speak aloud (and record yourself) you will get better at judging the right speed at which to speak. Of course, people get nervous in exams and speak too quickly, but that is ok. Just try to keep it under control and keep the hesitation noises (“uh” and “er”, or sometimes even “ok” and “yeah”) to a minimum. Above all, preparation will fill you with a self confidence that will naturally translate into a reasonable pace of speech.
Preparing for the OET speaking sub-test requires a lot of work, but it is achievable if you approach it sensibly. You should aim to understand the exam first and then practice regularly in the wisest and most effective ways. When the actual exam comes around, stay calm and use your preparation time reasonably. Don’t rush anything and don’t panic. If you have prepared well, you will do fine.
There is no mystery to this exam, even though it does have a strong element of randomness in what topic may appear. You can prepare yourself in many different ways even though you cannot guess what you will specifically have to talk about. But preparation is the key, and if you work hard and follow the advice above, you will surely be on the right track.