OET Speaking

Taking the Speaking Test

20 minutes

About the Speaking sub-test

The Speaking sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. You take this part of OET using materials specifically for your profession. In each role-play, you take your professional role (e.g. as a nurse) while the interlocutor plays a patient/client or sometimes a patient’s relative or career. For veterinary science the interlocutor is the owner or career for the animal.

The Speaking sub-test structure

In each Speaking test, your identity and profession are checked by the interlocutor and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced, one by one, and you have 2-3 minutes to prepare for each. The two role-plays take about five minutes each.


You receive information for each role-play on a card, which you keep while you do the role-play. You may write notes on the card if you want. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you can ask them during the preparation time.

The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on the professional in those situations. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration. The interlocutor follows a script so that the Speaking test structure is similar for each candidate. The interlocutor also has detailed information to use in each role-play.

Speaking test example video:

How is speaking assessed in OET?

The whole Speaking test is recorded and it is this audio recording that is assessed.

  • The Speaking sub-test is marked independently by a minimum of two trained Assessors. Neither Assessor knows what scores the other has given you, or what scores you have achieved on any of the other sub-tests. Your test day Interlocutor plays no role in the assessment of your performance.
  • OET Assessors’ judgements are targeted and specific, not a general evaluation of candidates’ ability in spoken English.
  • Assessors are trained to focus on how a candidate responds to the particular task on the day, and to apply specific assessment criteria which reflect the demands of communication in the health professional workplace.  Remember that the OET is a test of English-language skills, not a test of professional knowledge.
  • Candidates who pay attention to the details of the specific role-play task, and who are familiar with the assessment criteria, have a better chance of demonstrating their ability in the key areas. Candidates who use pre-prepared material, or who rely on techniques which worked in other circumstances, tend not to perform to their full potential in the test.

Your performance on each of the two role-plays is scored against five criteria and receives a band score for each criterion:

  • Overall Communicative Effectiveness
  • Intelligibility
  • Fluency
  • Appropriateness
  • Resources of Grammar and Expression.