Top Tips in OET Speaking for Physiotherapy


Seeking to travel abroad to study or work as a physiotherapist? Aiming to ace the OET exam?

Well – you’ve come to the right place!

Here at Hurray, we offer the best online OET coaching in Bangalore – and we can help you achieve your best scores! 

Individual-oriented and flexible, and supported by our 8 years of experience, you will find our OET online course to be well-suited to your needs – with the benefit of accessing it from wherever you are.

In this blog post, we will break down the OET speaking test for you – along with a few tips and strategies suggested by our experienced and expert trainers, spearheading our OET online training programme.

About the Speaking test

The test is designed to evaluate your English language proficiency i.e. how well you are able to communicate via speaking, in professional circumstances.

  1. Structure and Duration

The speaking test takes a total of about 20 minutes. It is conducted in person with an interlocutor; in case you are taking OET@Home, it will be conducted via video conference.

The test consists of two role plays – i.e. you will take on the role of a health professional i.e. for you, a physiotherapist, and will play out a scene with the interlocutor, who will be playing the role of a patient, relative or carer.

How does the test unfold?

  • In the first 3 minutes you will engage in introductory conversation with the interlocutor, discussing your medical background.

  • Then you will be given a card containing the details of the role-play. You will have 3 minutes to prepare.  

  • The role-play will begin. It will be of 5 minutes’ duration. 

What can I expect?

  • To remind you, in this test, it is your speaking skills that matter – it is not a test of medical knowledge, and the topics will reflect this i.e. they will not be very technical or difficult. 

  • You may be given role-plays reflecting real professional circumstances that are more difficult – such as dealing with an angry patient or grieving relative.

  1. Rules

  • You may take notes on the card to help you prepare

  • The role play should be completed within 5 minutes – if done properly, this should be possible with ease. The interlocutor will signal to you when the 5 minutes are almost up.

  • Try to cover all the points on the card 

  1. Scoring

Your test will be recorded and scored independently by two external examiners. Your test will not be scored by the interlocutor.

Each role-play will be scored on the basis of 9 criteria, with a band score for each one. There are two categories of criteria: Linguistic Criteria i.e. related to your language skills, and Clinical Communication Criteria i.e. related to your ability to communicate in professional circumstances.

Prepping for the Test

We’re breaking down and addressing each of the 9 criteria – in order to equip you with all the strategies you need to earn top band scores.

  1. Linguistic Criteria

How am I scored?

What can I do (before the test)?

  1. Intelligibility – is your speech clear, allowing your listener to hear and understand you?


  1. Fluency – does the speed and smoothness of your speech make it easy for your listener to understand you?


  1. Appropriateness of Language – does your language and tone reflect an appropriate professionalism?


  1. Resources of Grammar and Expression – do you use vocabulary and grammar appropriately to ensure the listener understands you?

  • Familiarise yourself with language in use: listen to television/radio programmes, online podcasts and so on – learn how to pace your speech, learn how to speak in formal/professional settings, familiarise yourself with pronunciation of common words etc.  


  • Build your vocabulary: you must be well-versed with conversational language as well as medical language. Read widely – books, magazines, medical journals etc.


  • Improve your grammar: pay attention to the appropriate use of tenses, punctuation and other elements of grammar.


  1. Clinical Communication Criteria 

How am I scored?

What can I do (during the test)?

  1. Relationship-building – do you demonstrate respect and empathy, setting your listener (patient) at ease?


  1. Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective – have you ensured that the listener (patient) feels heard and understood?


  1. Providing structure – are you able to organise known and new information in a way that gives your listener (patient) clarity?


  1. Information-gathering – have you asked the right questions and responded appropriately?


  1. Information-giving – have you delivered the information well and kept a check on your listener’s (patient) responses?

  • During the test, utilise your 3 minutes’ prep time well – mark on the card or note down the points you want to address and questions you want to ask. Ensure that you order these points, to give yourself a framework within which to speak.


  • Ignore or put out of your head that this is a test situation – imagine that you are actually in a clinic, and be natural. Imagine that the interlocutor is actually a patient, and behave respectfully and empathetically.


  • Do not be so focused on what you have to say, that you fail to pay attention to or understand what your listener (patient) is saying – use their responses as a starting point to frame your questions, or shape the information. Do not hesitate to modify your initial framework accordingly.


  • Do not try to script your words beforehand. You will do much better in the test if you are able to be in the moment – even if it means you use less complex words or grammar than you might have prepared for. The key is clarity of communication – not showing off your English!


But most important of all – you must PRACTICE!

Nothing helps you ace a language test like practice can.

How do I practice?

  • Use the practice/sample tests provided by OET to begin.

  • Get a trusted friend, parent or trainer to play the role of the patient.

  • Ask them to provide structured feedback based on the above criteria.

  • You can also record yourself, and listen to it later – keep a track of your own mistakes and areas of improvement.

How will this help me?

  • You will get used to the structure of the test.

  • You will be able to put all that you have learned into use, and practice the strategies we have given you.

  • You will gain confidence speaking.

  • You will expose yourself to a range of possible topics.

If you are able to practice in this way with at least 2-3 sample tests, you will be well prepared before the exam arrives!


To help get you started, we’re going to look at a sample role-play, right here! 

The example used reflects genuine OET material.

To get a look at the detailed role-play cards – check out this link (


Prompt: You are speaking to the adult son (Mr X) of an elderly woman (Mrs Y) i.e. your patient. She has general muscle weakness and debilitation following three weeks of bed-rest for gastro-intestinal problems. Her son is anxious to help her regain her strength before she is discharged from the hospital.


Doctor: Good morning Mr X! How are you doing today?

X: Good morning, Doctor. I’m doing well.

Doctor: How is your mother doing? I understand that you have some concerns regarding her recovery.

X: She’s doing better, thankfully. But yes, I am worried about her – she seems so weak and frail now. I’m worried she won’t be able to walk on her own, once she’s out of the hospital, and I’m not sure what is to be done. How can we get her stronger?

Doctor: Yes, as your mother is elderly, three weeks of bed-rest would have weakened her muscles. But you don’t have to worry – we will put her on a programme to help her regain strength. We can start with a few gentle exercises to strengthen the leg muscles – a few stretches for example. I will work out a regimen in detail, for you. Mainly, our aim is to get her to move around more and more – the more she uses her muscles, the stronger she will get. 

X: Yes Doctor, I get it. That sounds good.

Doctor: Is there anything you want to ask or clarify?

X: Um… oh, would she need anything, need me to bring anything for her? Equipment, clothing, anything like that?

Doctor: There’s no equipment to be used per se, but if there is, we will provide it for her here at the hospital. But she will require good shoes – with a flexible sole and good traction. A regular pair of walking shoes would do well, so long as they are not too worn out.

X: Okay, I can do that.

Doctor: Also, once Mrs Y is discharged, I would like her to continue working her muscles, with plenty of exercise – walking, swimming, aqua aerobics…these would work well. Would you be able to arrange for this?

X: We do have access to a pool…but Doctor, I’m worried that too much exercise would be hard for her, would wear her out. She’s old and now she’s weaker than she was. I don’t want to push her too much.

Doctor: I completely understand your concerns, of course. But no need to worry. She will only do mild exercises and in limited amounts every day. We won’t push her to do more than she can. And I can assure you that with even a little exercise, she is bound to get stronger. I will give you my recommendations for what she can do, and you can let me know if it is working for her. How does that sound?

X: That sounds like a good plan. Thanks a lot, Doctor.

Doctor: Of course, it’s my pleasure.


In this example, you can see that:

  • all the talking points have been covered

  • the doctor is making sure the Mr X is involved in the conversation – he keeps going back to Mr X, to ensure that everything is clear and to answer any questions he has

  • the doctor is not dismissive of Mr X’s concerns, but speaks to him with respect and empathy

Of course, this is merely one way of performing the role-play – there’s no fixed structure to be followed. So long as you follow the guidelines, you will do fine!

Once you enrol in our OET Online course, you will benefit first-hand from tips like these, and several more, from our expert and experienced trainers! All you need to do is fill out the registration form featured at the top of this page.

You can also reach out to us via email: or call us on: 8971357938, for any queries you might have about our OET Online Courses in Bangalore.

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