The speaking part of the OET exam tests your ability to speak with patients. Your results will be marked according to nine parts covering your language and communication skills. These are:
- Intelligibility – pronunciation and accent
- Fluency – speed and smoothness of speech
- Appropriateness of language – using simple language the patient can understand
- Resources of grammar and expression – using correct grammar
- Relationship building – how you open the conversation and show empathy
- Understanding the patient’s point of view
- Providing structure – opening and closing the conversation
- Information gathering – asking appropriate questions
- Information giving – how you provide information
The speaking portion of the OET exam takes 20 minutes and includes three five-minute role plays. You will play the role of a healthcare worker and the OET examiner will be the patient.
Read on to find out how preparing for the OET exam will help you improve how you speak with patients in English.
The OET Exam Recreates Real-Life Situations
The OET exam is perfect for healthcare workers because it recreates real-life moments that you could find yourself in at work. For example, if you are a doctor, the OET exam could be a role-play patient appointment.
OET exam preparation is similar to preparing for day-to-day work in healthcare because it is like real life. You will not know what the topic matter is until a few minutes before the exam and then you will have three minutes to prepare. You will not be tested on your ability to memorise sentences, and you are more likely to get better marks if you act as if it was a real-life situation.
As well as this, the OET person might ask unusual or difficult questions in the exam. This is to judge your ability to respond to the unexpected. In your career as a healthcare professional, there will be lots of unexpected moments. After taking the OET exam, you will be more prepared to respond to these in English.
It’s good to remember that the OET exam isn’t testing your professional knowledge, it is actually just testing your English language skills. Therefore your OET preparation should focus on your language skills rather than your medical knowledge.
Lead the Conversation in the Exam
In the OET exam, you will be expected to lead the conversation. This is because in a real-life setting as the nurse or doctor, you will have to take control.
You should begin by introducing yourself and asking questions about the patient’s problem. It’s important to ask open-ended questions that give the patient the opportunity to speak, rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. For example, ask ‘can you describe the pain to me?’ instead of ‘are you in pain?’
Listening is an important part of communication, so make sure that you are listening carefully to the patient. Their answers should affect your questions and this will help you to score better marks in the exam.
Use Simple Language to Speak with Patients in OET Preparation
The OET exam will mark you on your ability to speak with patients in a way that they understand. As a healthcare professional, you will need to know technical medical language as well as how to explain it simply to patients who may not have medical training.
For example, if you want to talk about an ‘abdominoplasty’ with a patient, it would be better to say ‘stomach surgery’. This will mean that the patient is more likely to understand and will improve your communication skills as a doctor or nurse.
Do you want to find out more about the Occupational English Test UK?
Contact UK College of English for more information!