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The 9 OET speaking criteria explained

oet speaking Mar 16, 2020

There are 9 criteria OET uses to decide your score when you do the speaking test. Knowing the criteria can help with your preparation. A study partner is an excellent way to prepare or with an expert OET speaking practice coach who can give you honest feedback, strategies and an estimated OET grade. 


OET SPEAKING CRITERIA 

  1. Intelligibility (6 points)
  2. Fluency (6 points)
  3. Appropriateness of language (6 points)
  4. Grammar and expression (6 points)
  5. Relationship building (3 points)
  6. Incorporating patient perspective (3 points)
  7. Providing structure (3 points)
  8. Information gathering (3 points)
  9. Information giving (3 points)

1 Intelligibility (6 points)

It is expected that you will have an accent. However, your pronunciation, word
stress and rhythm should still be clear and easy to understand.

  • Many words in English sound similar but not exactly the same (e.g. share, chair) Your pronunciation should not cause a strain to understand your word choice. e.g. ‘today’ should NOT sound like ‘tidy’.
  • Your tone should match the function of what you are saying e.g. your tone should rise at the end when asking a question, and drop at the end when making a statement.
  • You should not speak so quickly or so slowly that it is a strain to understand or stay focused on what you are saying.


 2 Fluency (6 points)

It is normal to hesitate occasionally when speaking. However, your speech should flow overall at a normal pace, without excessive hesitations that cause a strain on the listener.

  • Use vocabulary that your patient/interviewee will understand; that is, do not overuse technical jargon. However, do not talk down to them.
  • If you are not sure if they understand a term, ask; then explain in simpler terms, if needed. Explain more technical terms in simpler language


3 Appropriateness of language (6 points)

While you should be approachable, you should always be professional. Additionally, your language should be such that the patient, a layman, can understand.

  • Use vocabulary that your patient/interviewee will understand; that is, do not overuse technical jargon. However, do not talk down to them.
  • If you are not sure if they understand a term, ask; then explain in simpler terms, if needed. Explain more technical terms in simpler language


4  Grammar and expression (6 points)

Beware of fixed phrases you learn by heart – they might not be the most appropriate to the situation you are tackling. You may make occasional errors but be able to adjust to changes in patient responses.

  • Have a wide range of grammar and vocabulary.
  • Use that language correctly and accurately.
  • Be confident with idiomatic speech e.g. “It’s really taking a lot out of me.” (= “It’s exhausting.”)


 5 Relationship building (3 points)

You should initiate the interview with an appropriate greeting, being
professional but approachable.

  • Be respectful
  • Be empathetic and non-judgmental
  • Be attentive when patient is speaking


6 Incorporating patient perspective (3 points)

The patient’s concerns might be different from your professional concerns. You should demonstrate that you have heard their worries.

  • Incorporate the patient’s worries, putting them in perspective if needed.
  • The patient might have inaccurate information about a condition or its treatment. You should confirm the information which is right, and correct the information that is inaccurate, but do this professionally and non-judgmentally.


7 Providing structure (3 points) 

You get the role play scenario and points to cover in the interview. You should guide the conversation through these points.

  • Guide the patient through the points while allowing them to speak freely.
  • Use organization techniques (e.g. outlining steps) and signposting language (e.g. use a recent point to introduce a new point) to move conversation forward without cutting the patient off rudely.
  • Covering all the points is ideal but you do not have to cover all. Aim for as many as possible.
  • You do not have to cover the points in the exact order they appear on the role play card. 


8 Information gathering (3 points)

You should use the points in the scenario to help structure the conversation.

  • Use organization and signposting techniques (e.g. outlining steps or using a recent point to introduce a new point) to move conversation forward without cutting the patient off rudely.
  • Start with open-ended questions so they can answer freely, then move to yes/no questions
  • You do not have to cover all the points, but aim for as many as possible
  • You do not have to cover the points in the exact order as on the role play card


9 Information giving (3 points) 

The questions you ask should include finding out what the patient already knows so you can build on this as well as correct any wrong information.

  • Use open-ended questions to find out what the patient knows; then use this cue to give correct information before moving to the next point.
  • Determine the patient’s opinions and attitudes and incorporate them when giving information and advice.
  • Summarise important points and confirm that the patient understands.
  • Enquire if the patient has all the information they need and offer resources where they can find out more, if relevant. 

Reflect on your own level of English for OET.

Can I use appropriate language and be understood by patients?

Can I build a relationship with different patients and situations?

Can I provide structure in the interview and successful gather information and give information? 

If you are not sure an OET Speaking Coach can help you by using the OET criteria as a reference to improve your performance.  Sign up and get that practice and honest feedback to feel ready for OET.

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