If you’re an international medical graduate preparing for the OET you won’t be alone in feeling a little nervous about the Speaking subtest. One of the most challenging aspects of this high-stakes exam is the speaking component. Not only do you need to communicate effectively in English, but you also need to demonstrate your ability to interact with patients and colleagues in a professional and compassionate manner. The good news is that with the right preparation, you can and will succeed!
To help you, here are 10 top tips for improving your OET speaking skills:
- Understand the Test Format and Assessment Criteria:
Before you begin your preparation, make sure you understand the OET speaking test format. This includes the types of interactions you’ll be expected to have, the topics you’ll need to discuss.
Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the assessment criteria that will be used to evaluate your performance too. Once you truly understand what is expected of you you are halfway there to delivering it.
- Focus on Fluency: One of the most important skills you’ll need to demonstrate on the OET speaking test is fluency. To improve your fluency, practice speaking English every day, read aloud and listen to English-language media such as news broadcasts or podcasts. If you’re not using your speaking skills regularly it will, unfortunately, affect your fluency significantly. Practice makes perfect!
- Work on Pronunciation: Clear and accurate pronunciation is essential for effective communication on the OET speaking test. To improve your pronunciation, focus on the sounds that are most difficult for you, practice speaking in front of a mirror, and record yourself speaking to identify areas for improvement. Compare and contrast your pronunciation with that of native speakers to pick up the subtle differences
- Practice Active Listening: Effective communication is a two-way street, and active listening is just as important as speaking. Practice your active listening skills by engaging in conversation with English speakers, listening to English-language media, and taking notes on key points. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can actively listen in the OET speaking test and you can do this in many ways including responding with words such as “Umm”, and “I see”, by responding appropriately to what the interlocutor says to you and picking up on subtle cues.
- Use Vocabulary Effectively: Effective communication also requires a strong vocabulary. To expand your vocabulary, reading widely is the key. English-language medical journals and health-related texts in general will expose you to relevant word phrases. Don’t forget to practice using your new words in context to make sure you can use them correctly. If the opportunity doesn’t arise to use it in conversation, you can always try creating 3 new sentences of your own using your new vocabulary to consolidate your learning.
- Develop Effective Communication Strategies: The OET speaking test evaluates not just your language skills, but also your ability to communicate effectively in a medical context. To improve your communication skills, practice techniques such as clarifying questions, summarizing information, and using empathy and active listening. Think back to what you were taught at medical school during your communication skills training and consider how this can be demonstrated in English effectively.
- Practice with a Partner: One of the best ways to improve your speaking skills is to practice with a partner. This could be a fellow OET candidate or a professional tutor who specialises in OET.
- Get Feedback: Feedback is critical to improving your speaking skills. Ask your partner or ideally an expert OET tutor to provide feedback on your pronunciation, grammar, fluency, and communication strategies, and use this feedback to guide your practice.
- Prepare for a Wide Range of Topics: The OET speaking test covers a range of medical topics so to prepare effectively, review official OET practice tests to get and practice discussing common topics with your partner or tutor. Remember to build up your understanding not only of medical terminology but the lay terms needed to give explanations in a way that your patients understand.
- Relax and Be Confident: Finally, it’s important to approach the OET speaking test with confidence and a relaxed mindset. Take deep breaths, focus on the task at hand, and remind yourself that if you have prepared well you will have the skills and knowledge to succeed.
Improving your OET speaking skills is critical for success on this important exam. By focusing on understanding the test format and fulfilling the test criteria, you can master the art of OET speaking and achieve your dreams of working and living in an English-speaking country. If you’re struggling with any aspect of the OET speaking test, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for support and guidance.
Remember, practice makes perfect. With dedication and effort, you can achieve success in the OET speaking test and advance your medical career. You can do this!