How to Understand the Oet Speaking Criteria A Comprehensive Guide

Understand the Oet Speaking Criteria: In today's globalized healthcare landscape, where medical professionals often migrate to English-speaking countries for career opportunities, the Occupational English Test (OET) has emerged as a critical benchmark for assessing language proficiency. Among the four components of the OET, the Speaking sub-test takes center stage, evaluating the ability of healthcare practitioners to communicate effectively in a clinical setting. 


This comprehensive guide explores the intricacies of the OET Speaking criteria, shedding light on what makes a healthcare professional excel in this demanding test. The OET Speaking sub-test consists of two parts: Role-Play and Discussion, each designed to simulate real-life interactions with patients or colleagues. To perform well, candidates must effectively navigate intelligibility, appropriateness of language, grammar, and strategic communication. 


Mastering the OET Speaking sub-test involves consistent practice, meticulous attention to detail, and a commitment to expanding one's medical vocabulary. This blog has unraveled the nuances of the OET Speaking assessment, providing valuable insights and practical tips to help healthcare professionals succeed in this essential component of their OET journey. With these tools, aspiring healthcare practitioners can confidently embark on their path to working in English-speaking healthcare environments where effective communication is paramount.



If you are a healthcare professional aspiring to work in an English-speaking country, you are likely familiar with the Occupational English Test (OET). One of the four main components of the OET is the Speaking sub-test, which assesses your ability to communicate effectively in a healthcare setting. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the OET Speaking criteria, offering valuable insights to help you prepare and succeed in this crucial aspect of the exam.


Overview of the OET Speaking Sub-Test 

The OET Speaking sub-test evaluates your speaking skills in a simulated healthcare environment. You will converse with a trained interlocutor, patient, or relative during the test. This interaction aims to mimic real-life situations that healthcare professionals encounter regularly.


The Speaking sub-test is divided into two parts:

  • Role Play: In this section, you will play the role of the healthcare professional while the interlocutor takes on the role of a patient or a patient's relative. You will be provided with a scenario card that contains information about the patient, their condition, and the reason for the consultation. Your task is to gather relevant information, provide advice, and demonstrate practical communication skills.

  • Discussion: The second part involves a discussion on a healthcare-related topic. You will receive a topic card with three bullet points that outline different aspects of the topic. You are expected to discuss each point in a structured and coherent manner.

To perform well in the OET Speaking sub-test, it is essential to understand the assessment criteria thoroughly.

OET Speaking Criteria

The OET Speaking sub-test is scored based on the following criteria:

1. Intelligibility and Fluency

This criterion evaluates your pronunciation, clarity, and fluency in English. It is vital that the interlocutor can understand your speech without difficulty. While a strong accent is not a problem, it should not hinder comprehension. To excel in this area:

  • Practice Pronunciation: Work on your pronunciation by listening to native speakers and practicing complex sounds.

  • Speak Clearly: Ensure your speech is clear and articulate.

  • Maintain a Smooth Flow: Strive for a natural and smooth flow of speech. Avoid unnecessary pauses or hesitations.

2. Appropriateness of Language

In this aspect, your use of language in a healthcare context is assessed. It would help if you used appropriate medical terminology and expressions. To meet this criterion:

  • Expand Medical Vocabulary: Familiarize yourself with medical vocabulary relevant to your profession. This includes standard medical terms, abbreviations, and expressions.

  • Maintain Professionalism: Use a professional tone and language. Avoid slang or colloquialisms.

  • Tailor Language to the Patient: Adjust your language and explanations according to the patient's level of understanding.

3. Resources of Grammar and Expression

Your ability to use correct grammar and sentence structures is essential. In this criterion, the examiners assess your grammatical accuracy and ability to express ideas clearly. To perform well:

  • Brush Up on Grammar: Review and practice English grammar, paying attention to common errors.

  • Structure Your Responses: Organize your responses logically, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Avoid Repetition: Use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures to avoid repetition.

4. Strategies for Handling the Role Play

In the Role Play section, the examiners assess your ability to gather information, provide advice, and maintain the conversation. To excel:

  • Listen Actively: Pay close attention to the patient's concerns and questions. Show empathy and understanding.

  • Ask Relevant Questions: Pose questions about the patient's condition and situation.

  • Provide Clear Information: Offer clear and concise explanations and advice tailored to the patient's needs.

5. Strategies for Handling the Discussion

Your ability to engage in a meaningful discussion on a healthcare topic is evaluated in the Discussion section. To succeed:

  • Structure Your Discussion: Address each point on the topic card systematically. Provide relevant examples and explanations.

  • Express Opinions: Share your views and opinions on the topic, supporting them with evidence or personal experiences.

  • Engage in Active Listening: Respond appropriately to the interlocutor's questions and comments.

Tips for Excelling in the OET Speaking Sub-Test

Now that we have a clear understanding of the OET Speaking criteria let's explore some tips to help you excel in this sub-test:

  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is critical to improving your speaking skills. Engage in mock role plays and discussions to become more comfortable with the format.

  • Record Yourself: Record your practice sessions and listen to them critically. This will help you identify pronunciation issues and areas where you can enhance your fluency.

  • Expand Your Vocabulary: Try to learn and use various medical vocabulary and expressions. This will demonstrate your expertise in healthcare communication.

  • Simulate Real-Life Scenarios: When practicing, try to recreate real-life scenarios as closely as possible. This will prepare you for the interactions you may encounter in your future healthcare career.

  • Time Management: Be mindful of the time allocated for each section. Manage your time effectively to ensure you address all the points and complete the tasks within the given time limits.

  • Stay Balmy and Optimistic: Restlessness can influence your performance. Practice relaxation techniques to stay calm and confident during the test.


The OET Speaking sub-test is a crucial component of the OET examination for healthcare professionals. To succeed, it is essential to understand and meet the assessment criteria, which focus on intelligibility, appropriateness of language, grammar, and effective communication strategies. With consistent practice, targeted improvement, and a clear understanding of what is expected, you can confidently approach the OET Speaking sub-test and take a significant step toward your goal of working in an English-speaking healthcare environment. Remember, effective communication is a test requirement and a vital skill in your future healthcare career. Good luck with your preparation!


Q1: What is the OET Speaking sub-test?

The OET Speaking sub-test is one of the four components of the Occupational English Test (OET), designed for healthcare professionals. It assesses your ability to communicate effectively in English within a healthcare context, simulating real-world patient interactions.

Q2: How is the OET Speaking sub-test scored?

The OET Speaking sub-test is scored on a scale of 0 to 450 points, with a separate score for each of the five criteria: intelligibility, fluency, appropriateness, resourcefulness, and pronunciation. The maximum score for each criterion is 90 points.

Q3: What is intelligibility in the OET Speaking sub-test?

Intelligibility refers to how clearly you can convey your message and how easily the interlocutor (the person you speak with during the test) can understand you. It includes factors like pronunciation, stress, and intonation.

Q4: What does fluency mean in the OET Speaking sub-test?

Fluency assesses your speaking ability without hesitation, pauses, or excessive repetition. It measures how smoothly and naturally you can communicate in English.

Q5: What is appropriateness in OET Speaking?

Appropriateness evaluates whether your responses are appropriate for the given context. It assesses whether you use language suitable for the healthcare setting and the specific role-play scenario.

Q6: What is resourcefulness in the OET Speaking sub-test?

Resourcefulness examines your ability to use appropriate language to convey your message when faced with unfamiliar terms or concepts during the role-play scenarios. It assesses your adaptability and ability to express yourself effectively.

Q7: What is pronunciation in OET Speaking?

Pronunciation evaluates your ability to articulate English sounds accurately. It considers factors like stress patterns, word and sentence stress, and the clarity of your speech.

Q8: How can I prepare for the OET Speaking sub-test?

To prepare for the OET Speaking sub-test, practice speaking in English regularly, especially in healthcare. Familiarize yourself with common healthcare scenarios and vocabulary. Take advantage of OET preparation materials, including sample role-plays and mock tests.

Q9: Are there any specific strategies for improving my OET Speaking scores?

Yes, there are several strategies you can employ, such as recording your practice sessions and reviewing them to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, seek feedback from teachers or OET preparation courses, as they can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Q10: Can I retake the OET Speaking sub-test if I don't achieve the desired score?

Yes, you can retake the OET Speaking sub-test if you are unsatisfied with your score. However, you must wait for a specified period between attempts, and you will need to pay the exam fee each time you take the test.

Q11: Can the OET Speaking sub-test score be appealed if I believe it was unfairly assessed?

Yes, you can request a re-mark (reassessment) of your OET Speaking sub-test if you believe there was an error in the scoring process or disagree with the assigned score. Follow the official procedure and pay the associated fee for a re-mark.

Q12: What resources are available for practicing OET Speaking scenarios and role-plays?

Various resources are available, including OET preparation books, online courses, and OET forums where you can find sample role-plays and practice scenarios. Additionally, you can consider working with a qualified OET tutor who can provide personalized feedback and guidance.

  • Remember that the OET Speaking sub-test is about language proficiency and effective communication in a healthcare setting. Practice, feedback, and a thorough understanding of the criteria will help you perform your best in this critical component of the OET.

Know How to Prepare for OET-Speaking Medicine