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OET Insights: Speaking Criteria – What Does the Occupation English Test (OET) Require from You During the Speaking Module.

At OETprep, it is not uncommon for us to have clients reaching us struggling to pass the speaking subsets of the OET exam. And usually from our first mock speaking lesson with them while observing all the OET speaking subset exam rules, thus warm up conversation, 2-3 minutes time to review the speaking material and starting the speaking role-play, it is clear that some student even though may possess an advanced level of English, however might not have an in depth knowledge of the OET speaking marking criteria and hence does not apply the speaking skills required from the OET. Regarding the assessment criteria published on the official OET website, the speaking subset is divided into two criteria, thus the linguistic criteria graded from 0-6 bands and communicative criteria scaled from 0-3. The speaking criteria is divided into four main sections namely, intelligibility, fluency, appropriateness of language and resources of grammar and expression. To achieve a band B in your speaking as required by medical councils as GMC and ECFMG, it is necessary to achieve a band of at least 5 and above in all the sections of  the linguistic criteria. A score of 5 and above under the intelligibility criteria implies that your speech is easily understood, communication is not impeded by a few pronunciation or prosodic errors and your accent having no effect on you being understood and observing proper intonations especially when asking questions. 

Fluency Fluency refers to the speed at which one communicates verbally. Being fluent doesn’t mean you have to talk quickly. In fact it is encouraged in clinical communication skills to talk calmly to be understood by your patient. A perfect fluency will be avoiding talking too quickly or too slowly. At OETprep we pay particular attention to our clients fluency of language and help them pick the right communication pace during the OET speaking role-play. A high band under fluency will mean having a fluent speech at an appropriate speed. It is okay to make only occasional repetition or self correction. A little hesitation, thus looking for words should be fine under the fluency criteria. 


Appropriateness of LanguageWhat does the appropriateness of language subset mean? This is how well you are able to use the words you choose to use in your speech. To achieve at least a band 5 or 6 in this subset, you are expected to use the correct register, tone and lexis. Selecting the correct register could mean using the appropriate words talking to a child or their parents. The language you will use when talking to an adult will certainly be different from the language you will use talking to a child. Another important aspect of the appropriateness of language subset is the ability to use lay terms when explaining technical things to your patients. This is not just important for the OET exam but also in your PLAB 2 exams and in real clinical practice it is encouraged to avoid the use of too many medical terms without explaining it to your patient. Resources of Grammar and Expression 

And finally, the last area which is assessed in your OET speaking subset is the resources of grammar and expression. This assesses your ability to use grammar during the conversation with your patients. To achieve a band of 5 or 6, you are expected to use a wide range of grammar, expression and vocabulary appropriately. A rich grammatical speech will entail use of different tenses and conditional tenses where applicable.  Don’t worry too much on 100% accuracy in this subset, that is not even natural in native users. A confident use of idiomatic speech also helps boost your score in this section. 

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