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OET Speaking: Ten common questions

OET is a globally recognised English language test for healthcare professionals. The Speaking sub-test is a key part of it, and understanding its structure and criteria is essential for success. In this blog post, our OET experts answer the top 10 common questions about the OET Speaking sub-test.


1) How should I use my three minutes’ preparation time?

Before each role play in the OET Speaking sub-test, you have three minutes to prepare with the role card. During this time, you should read through the role card a couple of times to understand the situation and what you need to discuss. You can also use this time to think about how the patient might feel, what they expect to discuss, whether there's any medical language you need to avoid, and how much time you need to spend on each task. You can also ask the interlocutor any questions during this time. For more details, check out this OET blog.


2) Can I see the card during my role play?

Yes, you can see the role-play card during the role play. If you are taking OET on Computer, you will see the card on your screen. If doing OET on Paper, you will have the card in front of you.


3) How does Speaking work for OET on Computer?

The OET Speaking sub-test on computer works the same way as the paper-based test. However, you will interact with the interlocutor via Zoom from your home. Learn more about the Speaking sub-test for OET on Computer or OET@Home here: Speaking Test Online – User Guide and watch a short video here: OET Speaking Test Online | Environment.


4) How should I start the role play?

The way you begin the role play is scored in the relationship building criterion. As each role play is different, there is no single ‘correct’ way to start your interaction. It depends on where you are, whether you know the patient, how urgent the situation is and other factors. Check out this blog on how to start your OET role play for more information and examples.


5) What if I don’t know about the condition in the role-play task?

If you're not familiar with the condition in the role-play task, don't worry. The role card will provide you with enough information to carry out the task. You just need to focus on communicating effectively with the patient.


6) What do the brackets on the role-play card mean?

The brackets on the role-play card usually contain additional information or suggestions for the conversation. You can use this information to guide your conversation with the patient.


7) What if I don’t finish all the tasks on my card?

Each role play is designed to elicit enough speech from you so that you can demonstrate your speaking ability in a healthcare context. The role plays will usually come to a natural end at around five minutes. The interlocutor will signal clearly when the time is up. If you don't finish all the tasks on your card, it's not the end of the world. You are only scored on the assessment criteria, and completing the tasks is not part of the criteria. So, try to complete as much of the role card as possible, but don’t panic if you miss some tasks.


8) Do I have to deal with the tasks in the same order as the role-play card?

The tasks are in an order which would form a logical conversation. You don't have to follow the order, but in general, we would recommend this as the best approach.


9) What do I need to score to get 350+?

You should aim to achieve the highest level in the descriptors for each criterion. Test-takers securing grade B will have achieved predominantly scores of 5 out of 6 on each linguistic criteria and 2 out of 3 for the clinical communication criteria.


10) What parts of my test are assessed?

OET assessors use the criteria to score your two role plays only. They do not rate your ID checks, warm-up or anything you say during your three minutes’ preparation time.



We want you to go into your test feeling confident and clear about the test structure and assessment process. You can find more information in this blog on the Speaking role play, or you can ask your own question in our regular Q and A sessions on Facebook and YouTube.

If you still have a question, get in touch with our Customer Support team via the chat function on the website or here.