About the OET 2.0 Speaking Sub-Test

The Speaking sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. This part of OET uses materials specifically designed for your profession. In each role-play, you take your professional role (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist) while the interlocutor plays a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interlocutor is the owner or carer of the animal.


Reading the cards [Preparation]:Three minutes
Role-Play time:Five minutes

The Speaking sub-test structure

In each Speaking test, your identity and profession are checked by the interlocutor and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced one by one and you have three minutes to prepare for each. The role-plays take about five minutes each.

Role-plays

You receive information for each role-play on a card that you keep while you do the role-play. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. You may write notes on the card if you want. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you can ask them during the preparation time.

The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on a health professional in those situations. The interlocutor follows a script so that the Speaking test structure is similar for each candidate. The interlocutor also has detailed information to use in each role-play. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration.

How is speaking assessed in OET?


The whole Speaking sub-test is recorded and it is this audio recording that is assessed.

  • The Speaking sub-test is marked independently by a minimum of two trained OET Assessors.
  • Neither Assessor knows what scores the other has given you, or what scores you have achieved on any of the other sub-tests.
  • Your test day interlocutor plays no role in the assessment of your performance.
  • OET Assessors’ judgements are targeted and specific, not a general evaluation of candidates’ ability in spoken English.
  • OET Assessors are trained to focus on how a candidate responds to the particular task on the day. They apply specific assessment criteria that reflect the demands of communication in the health professional workplace. Remember that OET is a test of English-language skills, not a test of professional knowledge

Candidates who are familiar with the assessment criteria and pay attention to the details of the specific role-play task have a better chance of demonstrating their ability in the key areas. Candidates who use memorised material or merely rely on techniques that worked in other circumstances tend not to perform to their full potential in the test.

Your performance on each of the two Speaking role-plays is scored against nine criteria and receives a band score for each criterion. The nine criteria are seperated into two different segments: Linguistic and Clinical Communicative.

Linguistic Criteria:

  • Intelligibility: The impact of your pronunciation, intonation and accent on how clearly your listener can hear and understand what you’re saying
  • Fluency: The impact of the speed and smoothness of your speech on your listener’s understanding
  • Appropriateness of Language: The impact of your language, tone and professionalism on your listener’s understanding and comfort
  • Resources of Grammar and Expression: The impact of your level of grammatical accuracy and vocabulary choices on your listener’s understanding.

Clinical Communication Criteria:

  • Relationship-building: The impact of your choice of opening to the conversation and demonstration of empathy and respect on your listener’s comfort
  • Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective: The impact of how fully you involve the patient in the conversation on your listener’s understanding and comfort
  • Providing structure: The impact of how you organise the information you provide and introduce new topics for discussion on your listener’s understanding
  • Information-gathering: The impact of the type of questions you ask and how you listen to the responses on your listener’s understanding
  • Information-giving: The impact of how you provide information and check this information is being understood on your listener’s comfort and understanding.

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