OET Speaking – A complete guide

Cracking the OET test is one of the biggest short term goals of most healthcare professionals. Their level of performance during the Speaking sub-test has a great role in making this dream a reality.

The OET Speaking subtest is the only module which is conducted individually in the Occupational English test. The candidate is assigned two roleplay tasks, which are required to be completed within 20 minutes. During the test, the examinee can take the role associated with their profession and the examiner also known as an interlocutor plays the role of the patient or the caretaker.

OET speaking

The OET Speaking subtest is mainly organized to test the candidate’s ability to communicate with the patients and their caretakers effectively in their workplace environment. The candidate can easily relate to the topic of the test as they confront the same situations in their real-life as well.


The speaking test generally commences with a warm-up session, during which the candidate will have to give a short introduction regarding his or her identity and occupational background. The candidate can expect two roleplay tasks for the speaking subtests, in which both the candidate and the examiner will participate. The whole session will be recorded for the assessors to evaluate after the completion of the test.

The total duration of the speaking test usually lasts 20 minutes. Before enacting each roleplay, the candidate can take three minutes time for preparation. The candidate can take up to 5 minutes to present each roleplay.

The examiner provides a roleplay card in which the candidate will be able to find the entire information related to the task. The candidate is allowed to take down notes during the preparation time. The candidate should get a proper understanding of the nature and context of the role play after analyzing the role play card. The candidates can clear their doubts regarding the task during this time. Once the roleplay begins, the candidate will not be given a chance to discuss their queries. 

What is the passing score of OET Speaking?

As in the case of the other three subtests, the speaking test also demands 350 out of 500 to get a B grade, which is considered the desired score by most of the medical boards or councils for clearing the speaking subtest in the OET.  The candidate who gets the highest scores for each assessment criteria will be able to gain a B grade for the test.

When it comes to the case of  NMBIOpens in a new tab., the required score for the speaking subtest is 300, if the candidate has gained 350 or above for the other modules in the test. Through constant practice, the candidates can easily get a passing score. 

The test takers’ fluency, intelligibility, grammatical and lexical resources and appropriate use of language are very well assessed by more than one assessor for giving an impartial judgment about the candidate’s performance. None of the assessors would have an idea about the score given by the co-assessor. Moreover, the assessors are well-trained professionals, who focus on your use of language in the health sector rather than your medical knowledge.

Knowing the assessment criteria and handling the task with efficiency is the key for succeeding in the speaking test. The candidate must know the tips and techniques for cracking the test in the first attempt itself.

You can check your oet score using our oet score calculator


Acquiring better speaking skills will be beneficial for the OET aspirants to enhance their score in the test. Those who wish to attend the test must definitely know the following tips beforehand:

  1. Know your level of speaking and understand your weak areas and take measurements to overcome your limitations.
  2. Try to communicate in English with your friends and family so that it would be easier for you to communicate with ease during the exam.
  3. Practice with sample roleplay cards and analyze various medical situations. Here, you need to focus on the various emotions of the patient that you may have to encounter and need to learn how to tackle different problems with effective solutions.
  4. Make proper use of your preparation time for assembling all the key ideas given in the roleplay card so that you won’t miss any during the presentation. 
  5. Try to find a speaking partner who can help you while practising the roleplay.
  6. Getting training from an expert trainer will help in increasing your confidence level.
  7. Learn to frame sentences abruptly using proper grammar and sentence structure.
  8. Make the assessor feel that you are empathetic towards the patient and have clearly understood the condition or anxiety of the patient.
  9. Try to remember that there is no penalty for missing the points in the roleplay card. Yet, try to cover as many points as possible to create a good impression.
  10.  Mock videos of the OET speaking test are available online. Referring to those videos can help you in tackling the problems in the task given.

What do you say in the OET speaking?

The most important factor one needs to be cautious about while preparing for the OET speaking is what you can say during the test and what to avoid. Always have an idea about the necessary points you will have to focus on while expressing your ideas. 

Here we have included the major aspects to be aware of during the speaking test.

  • Be optimistic and polite: Your primary concern should be your tone and style of language while speaking. You should sound really polite and optimistic during the entire session. This will have a positive impact when it comes to your score. It is advisable to make a list of terms and phrases which can be generally used while exchanging conversations with the patient. The assessors would give more prominence to the level of assurance that you provide to the interlocutor. In addition, you can use terms such as sorry, kindly, thank you and so on for indicating gratitude and apology during the roleplay.
  • Give proper explanation: The examiner expects you to give an accurate and detailed explanation of the medical procedures which you discuss in the task. Apart from gestures and actions, you need to explain things very well for the assessors to evaluate your potential. Keep in mind that you are explaining to a common man. Hence make it simple and clear for the patient and the bystanders to understand and thus you may gain their trust. Also, try not to make it too complex so that the patient would not get confused.
  • Be a patient listener: Listening is another important quality a healthcare professional is expected to possess. You will be able to gather information from the patients only if you are ready to hear them. Therefore, after posing a query, learn to give enough time for the interlocutor to explain his or her worries and anxieties.
  • Give proper suggestions and advice: You are not supposed to give orders and commands. Instead, you can provide instructions in the form of advice or suggestion so that the patient would not feel offended. Learn the usages such as ‘it would be better, ‘it is advisable’, ‘I would like to recommend and so on for making recommendations. 
  • Sum up the details before finishing off the conversation: This is a better way to wind up your conversation by once again recalling the points you want the patient to be aware of. 

Is OET speaking difficult?

Well, the OET Speaking subtest measures your skill to express ideas spontaneously after listening to the patient and to tackle their problems with effective measures. Henceforth, the candidate will have to use his listening and speaking skills in the most efficient manner for clearing the test. This makes the speaking test difficult for the OET aspirant who does not have a good command of the English language.

The test experience can be made easier by following the various tips that we have included in the article. Taking proper training can be really helpful for overcoming the hurdles that you face while practising the speaking module. 

Tips to improve OET SPEAKING SCORE.

Here are some of the main tips to improve OET speaking score:

  • Begin the roleplay by wishing the patient.
  • It is advisable to introduce yourself( name and profession) and let the patient know the reason for your visit.
  • Maintain a positive attitude until the end of the conversation.
  • Do not forget to explain the details.
  • Ensure the patient that you are always there to help him or her out.
  • Give priority to the patient’s point of view and understand their needs before responding.
  • Maintain the tone of compassion and empathy in your speech.
  • Give sensible advice and avoid sharing false information with the patient.
  • Do not make the patient panic by exaggerating the 

Can I take OET speaking online?

You can take the OET speaking subtest online when you are opting for a computer-based test or OET at home. The candidates are required to check whether the medical board accept Computer-based OET result.

For the Computer-based OET test, and OET at home categories you are allowed to take the test online using a computer at your home using the zoom platform.

The tasks, scoring and time duration of the speaking test do not vary. The only difference is that you will be using the computer as your medium for attending the test instead of having a direct face to face interaction with the interlocutor.

Why do people fail in OET Speaking?

It is obvious that not everyone who attends the test gets a golden opportunity to clear the Speaking test effortlessly. Even though the test taker is dealing with the tasks which are highly connected with his or her work-life scenario, some of them fail miserably. Let’s try to know why this happens:

  1. Lack of practice and confidence have been the reason for the failure of a good number of examinees in the speaking test.
  2. Not fulfilling the requirements proposed by the assessment board is another major reason for losing the score.
  3. Lack of understanding about the scoring pattern and assessment criteria involved in the test.
  4. Candidates who fail to construct sentences spontaneously would fail to gain information on the patient side, which can be a reason for the candidate to run out of points to discuss while presenting the roleplay.
  5. Constant grammatical mistakes can reduce your scores.
  6. Failure in utilizing the preparation time for pointing out the key points in the task.
  7. Beating around the bush is another negative point which creates a bad impression. Candidates who do not focus on the main topics to be discussed have a greater probability to lose B grade.
  8. Candidates who cannot understand the emotion that the patient wants to convey will also be not able to present the roleplay in a proper way.


The OET Speaking subtest has been cleared by hundreds of healthcare professionals with great scores and you can also be one among them. For this, you need to make an effort, especially if you are not good at dealing with the English language with confidence. We have tried to incorporate all the essential information and ideas that you need to familiarize yourself and understand in order to prepare for the speaking test. Read the whole article carefully to make a better plan that will help you to win the game!

Abroad Skill

Abroad skill gives an overall idea about all the essential information and language skills one needs to acquire while planning to fly abroad. We provide useful resources on IELTS, OET, competitive exams and lot more

Recent Posts