Remember OET is a test of your English not your healthcare knowledge.
Candidates often get anxious about how familiar they will be with the topic of their roleplays. The speaking test is profession specific but can cover any part of your profession ‘from cradle to grave’. This means the topic of the roleplay may not be something you commonly discuss in your work.
There are a couple of things you can do to have more confidence on test day:
- Do some general research on areas of your profession you are not so familiar with. For example, if you are a cardiac nurse or doctor, spend some time researching cancer, diabetes etc. What will be most useful in your research is familiarising yourself with some of the key words associated with these other departments of healthcare e.g. palliative care, insulin injection etc. A good resource which covers many topics in lay language is Patient Education by Dr John Murtagh. It includes something for everyone, no matter your profession.
- In the test, you can invent details about the roleplay situation or treatment without penalty. For example, if you are discussing treatment for conjunctivitis with the parent of a child with the condition and one of the tasks is:
- explain how the parent can avoid the infection spreading.
You could mention: preventing the child touching the eye area, washing hands before and after bathing the eye/ applying ointment. However, you could also tell the parent that the child should wear swimming goggles to prevent the infection spreading to the other eye. Ludicrous? Yes, it might be from a healthcare point of view, but if it’s said in perfect English it will be good for your score.
The key is to remember that you are trying to demonstrate your communication skills in English. Good preparation is always recommended but once you are in the test, focus on communication rather than healthcare accuracy.