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OET Speaking

OET Speaking Overview

The speaking sub-test of the OET is one task divided into two separate role-plays. The role-plays will be between you (playing a health professional) and an interlocutor (playing a patient or patient carer). These role-plays will relate to real-life interactions you may have in your specific healthcare field. You will also have a warm-up conversation with the interlocutor before you begin the role-plays, however this conversation will not be assessed. The entire sub-test will take about 15 minutes.

The OET Speaking sections

The speaking sub-test consists of 3 parts and will take 20 minutes.

First, you will have a “warm-up” conversation with the interlocutor. The interlocutor is the person who will be your conversation partner for this section of the test, but they are not assessing your performance. The warm-up conversation will not be assessed, and is meant to relax you and get you comfortable with your conversation partner.

They will most likely explain to you how the speaking section works and then ask you about your previous work, future plans and interests. Again, this conversation will not count towards your mark, so all you need to do is relax and get comfortable.

After you have warmed up, you will be given a role-play card with a scenario on it. The scenario will be similar to a real-life situation you might encounter in your particular profession. For example, if you are a doctor, the scenario will most involve a patient or patient’s carer asking for information, advice and reassurance.

Once you have been given the role-play card, you will have 2-3 minutes to read it and prepare yourself to begin. This is the time in which you are allowed to ask your conversation partner to clarify anything you do not understand. You are allowed to ask questions about how the role-play will work and about any of the content you see on the role-play card. You may also write anything you want on the card before you begin.

Finally, you will participate in  the role-play for about 5 minutes. After you have completed this, you will be given another role-play card and you will repeat the process of reading it, asking any questions you have, and playing it out with your conversation partner.

It’s important to note that you will not be assessed during the live conversation you have with your conversation partner. Instead, your two scenarios will be recorded and assessed at a later time. Again, the warm up conversation will not be recorded.

OET Roleplay task breakdown with our expert Natasha

Remember, our OET Youtube channel has heaps of free content to prepare for your test; make sure to subscribe to never miss a new video!

OET Speaking FAQs

Q: How is this section structured?

This section is all about verbal competency. First you will be given the chance to “warm up”, meaning you will have a brief chat with the interlocutor before you begin, and this will not be assessed.

Next, you will be given two scenarios to play out with the interlocutor. In these scenarios, you will play the role of a professional consultant, and the interlocutor will be your patient or patient’s carer. Your speaking in these role plays will be recorded and assessed.

Q. What skills are being tested in the OET speaking section?

This section is about assessing 5 key criteria:

Overall Communicative Effectiveness: 

This is how well you can maintain a meaningful interaction with the patient throughout the role play. This means you can:

  • initiate the conversation
  • maintain the conversation
  • communicate confidently
  • use appropriate medical terms
  • use the information from the role-play card
  • wrap up the task in approximately 5 minutes


This is your ability to be heard and understood by your patient. This includes a demonstration of skill in:

  • pronunciation
  • rhythm
  • stress
  • intonation
  • pitch
  • accent


  1. This is your ability to speak continuously and smoothly without too much hesitation or repetition. This includes:
  2. a natural speed
  3. even (not broken into fragments) speech
  4. few ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’
  5. pauses
  6. avoiding re-starting sentences


Appropriateness: This is how well you use the language and tone that fits the context of your situation and your patient. This means:

  • suitable, professional language
  • appropriate paraphrasing and rewording
  • adaptation of tone and style to suit the particular situation
  • appropriate responses to what the patient says
  • dealing with complicated situations
  • showing awareness of the patient’s sensitivities

Resources of Grammar and Expression

This is your level of grammar and vocabulary. This includes:

  • appropriate sentence structures
  • flexibility of grammar and vocabulary
  • accuracy of language
  • complexity of language

Q. How many times will I have to do the OET speaking task?

A. You will warm up with the interlocutor once, and you will complete two role-plays in total. The format of these role-plays will be the same but they will be two different scenarios.

Q. Will this sub-test be specific to my profession?

A. Yes, both the speaking and writing sub-tests will relate to your profession. This is so your knowledge of situations and terminology that occur within your profession can be assessed as well. For example, if you are a nurse, your role play will be different from that of a doctor. It will be as close as possible to a real interaction with a patient or carer that you might have in your specific work environment.