OET Medicine Speaking Tips- How to score an A in OET:
OET Speaking Test Overview:
- The OET Speaking test is different for different professions
- OET Medicine test takers will get two speaking tasks each
- Each speaking task would be a role-play where the examiner would play the role of a patient and the test taker would play the role of a doctor
- You will be given a role-play card (see sample below) and you will have 3 minutes to read and prepare the task
- For one role-play you will interact with your examiner for approximately 7-10 minutes
- In most cases, the patient will be fussy, agitated, anxious, unwilling to listen. You as a doctor, will have to provide good advice, be calm the patient and explain further course of action.
- Your examiner will also have a card.As the test taker, you will never know what card your examiner will have. Therefore depend entirely on your own role-play card.
- Expect your examiner to ask you unrelated questions; repeatedly argue with your diagnosis; act difficult; be anxious—all these roles are purposely played by your examiner to test your patience and ability to answer
- Your OET Speaking scores will be based on your speaking the English language correctly and with fluency.
- Use good English vocabulary and correct grammar while speaking and asking questions.
Take this role-play for example:
SETTING: Suburban General Practice
DOCTOR This patient’s 65 year old mother was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis and is currently being treated. The patient has come for the results of his/her chest X-ray which was ordered by your colleague following a positive Mantoux test result. His/her three year old son had a negative Mantouxtest.The chest X-ray shows an old tuberculosis focus; there is no active disease present.
—Explain the result of the chest X-Ray to the patient, emphasising that he/she does not have active tuberculosis
—Explain the child’s treatment– BCG vaccination
—-Reassure the patient about the child’s situation. As the grandmother is being treated, the child is not at a great risk of contracting tuberculosis. His negative Mantoux test indicates that he has not come into contact with the tubercle bacillus.
Here are some easy steps to follow while playing your part of the role:
- Jot down notes against every task—maybe if you have, form questions to ask, some expressions for reassurance and advice.
- Take charge of the situation right from the beginning. Read the role player’s card. See how many tasks are given to you. You will score high if you speak a lot and complete all the tasks.
- In this case you have 3 tasks. Make sure you complete all of them. Many times the task may require you to check the vital signs of the patient and calm the patient if he or she is anxious, agitated or uneasy. In addition you may have to provide information on simple cures or home remedies. You may have to advise a patient on some techniques to be practiced at home or explain how to be careful and suggest future prevention methods. To do well in the test, do not forget any task however little it may seem.
- In this case, your patient is the mother of a small child. She is most likely to be agitated/worried/anxious since it concerns her small child. Always expect mother of young children to be extremely anxious.
- Always change your tone, language and attitude to suit the age and situation of the patient. You may have to be firm and calm most of the time, in order to inspire confidence in your patient.
- When addressing an anxious mother—as in this case—expect her to argue with you about the danger of contracting TB for to her child and you need to use the correct tone and a smiling face to make her comfortable.
- You are the doctor assigned to this patient. Act normal as you would in your professional
“Hello, I am Dr________, how can I help you?”
If your patient is agitated, you could address the concern immediately. Smile reassuringly:
“Hello there, you seem to be worried about something. Is it the X-ray report I see in your hand? I am Dr._______ can I help you with this? Can I explain the results to you?”
Since your task requires you explain the result of the X-Ray, you could also put your patient at ease by giving her the good news first:
“Hi! I am Dr.____________, I have just gone through your X-Ray and let me give you the good news first—you have no active tuberculosis—okay?”
- As a doctor, you need to take charge of the situation and explain your diagnosis/explain test/X-ray results. During the whole role-play process, keep talking in a calm, reassuring manner showing sympathy and empathy.
In the sample role play, you need to calm a ‘paranoid’ patient. So keep reassuring and however agitated she gets, keep using words like,”Oh…that’s fine…that’s ok. I don’t see any major problem here, ok?”
“Yes, yes, I understand your concern, but your son’s result is negative on the Mantoux test…so why should you worry?”
- Be a good listener. Listen to all the patient’s problems and symptoms of illness. Sometimes an anxious and agitated patient might exaggerate his/her symptoms and whine or cry about his /her problems. Do not interrupt the patient. Listen to the patient intently. Use words like “hmmm…” , ”ohhh…,” “ok…ok…” to show that you are listening and that you care about the patient’s condition/concern
Respond to an agitated patient calmly. Never outshout your patient or interrupt her/him.
The examiner in her/his capacity as the patient may be too agitated, not allowing you to speak at all and refusing to listen to you.
In this role play, the paranoid mother is worried because her son may be at a risk of contracting TB from his grandmother. What if the test results are wrong? What if her son gets a type of TB that is resistant to treatment?
The best way to handle this is to pose many questions like, “where does your mother live? How much is her interaction with your son? Is your son going to school? Does he play outside?Does he feel tired? Does he eat well?
Posing questions will help the patient take her/his mind off his/her anxiety and help you lead him/her into saying what he/she is worried about.
In this case, you could say, “Well if your son is active and eats well, there is absolutely no chance he has TB! You don’t need to worry. Also, since he has been immunized with the BCG vaccine, there are no chances that he will get TB”
Asking questions also ensures the patient that you are concerned, you are giving him/her attention and that you are working on a solution to her/his problems.
If you let the patient speak without posing any questions, then you will be trapped into a corner where you will be unable to speak further and thereby failing to complete your tasks.
- When your patient is complaining, reassure him/her at every point.
“Since your son sleeps with you and you have a no TB as per your chest x-ray, there is no risk of TB for your child”
“Doesn’t matter if he plays with his grandmother, he has been immunized with the BCG vaccine, so it is highly unlikely he would contract TB from your mother”
You could again show her and explain the results of the X-ray; you could explain what a BCG vaccine means; you could explain that the grandmother is being treated and so there is no risk to the child
- If a patient is nervous, give him/her confidence by suggesting that his/her problems will get better.
“I am sure as your mother gets better, you will feel less anxious”
“You can keep a watch on your son. If he eats and plays normally, then you have no need to worry”
- When taking the vital signs or examining any patient, explain the procedure patiently and also why you need to take them
“May I check if your chest is clear? You may need to lie down/sit up straight/breath hard
when I say so”
- Be careful when taking to the parent of a sick child. Usually their mothers are very agitated and worried. Treat the mothers/parents and children with a lot of patience and care.
Explain your diagnosis to the patient and explain to him/her what he/she needs to do next. For example, any special instructions on diet? Any life style changes? When should she/he get another test done? What signs should he/she watch out for regarding his/her health?
“Actually, I see no problems with your X-ray, however, you could take another X-ray in 3 months, just to be sure”
“If your son shows signs of tiredness or loss of appetite, shows any weight loss, you should immediately take him to a paediatrician and explain to him/her about family history of TB”
- Note down a number of phrases you would use under different situations. Use good vocabulary suited to your medical profession. If you are using a medical term, you can simplify it and explain in lay-man terms to the patient.
- practice different role-plays—you could take situations from different case studies—ones you have yourself taken up or from experiences of other colleagues or from case studies available online or in books. Usually the role-plays will not be too complicated—remember it is only a test of English and your professional abilities or diagnosis is not tested.