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OET Score

1. Overall Communicative Effectiveness

This criterion assesses how well a candidate is able to maintain meaningful interaction during the role-play.

Assessors will use this criterion to evaluate the overall quality of the candidate’s performance.

A strong proficiency candidate will:

  • Show sufficient language skills to effectively complete the task as required by the role-play.
  • demonstrate language skills that a health professional would use to guide and advise a patient during a consultation, e.g., informing, explaining, reassuring, advising, enquiring.
  • be active in maintaining the conversation, e.g., he/she will initiate the consultation and not simply wait for the ‘patient’ to ask him/her questions or pass on information.
  • interact meaningfully with the interlocutor [as patient].
  • communicate confidently in the situation provided by the role-play.
  • use appropriate medical terms but explain these terms [e.g., conditions, treatments, etc.] in ways that a normal patient can understand.
  • demonstrate that he/she can take the information from the role-play card and information the ‘patient’ provides and use it effectively to complete all aspects of the task.
  • complete the task in the allocated time. Approximately 5 minute is allowed for each role-play.
  • successfully complete the task by using the prompts provided on the role-play cards.

2. Intelligibility

This criterion assesses how well a candidate’s speech can be heard and understood. It concerns the impact of such features of speech as pronunciation, rhythm, stress, intonation, pitch and accent on the listener.

Assessors will use this criterion to evaluate the candidate’s production of comprehensible speech.

A strong proficiency candidate will:

  • use natural flow of speech, giving stress to particular words within sentences to emphasise meaning, e.g., ‘I’m unable to do THOSE tests in THIS clinic’.
  • Use natural flow of speech, giving correct stress to syllables within words so that they are identifiable to the listener, e.g., ‘I will record your results’. This is an accurate Record of your results’.
  • Show control of intonation [voice falling or rising] and stress [appropriate force, length, emphasis or loudness] to enhance meaning and strengthen the communication he/she is wanting to provide.
  • Pronounce words clearly, for example:
  1. consonants at the end of words or syllables [e.g., ‘head’, ‘weakness’ ].
  2. consonants that distinguish different meanings of similar words [ e.g., ‘worry’, ‘worries’, ‘worried’]
  3. consonant sounds at the beginning of words [e.g., /v/ as in ‘vomit’, /b/ ‘bill’ versus /p/ ‘pill’].
  4. syllables within words [e.g., ‘dang[er]ous’, ‘a coup[le] of days’].
  5. clear initial consonant blends ‘problem’, ‘bleeding’.
  6. word stress in longer words [e.g., ‘PAINkiller’ not ‘painKILLER’, ‘HOSpital not ‘hosPltal’].
  7. vowel sounds [/au/ ‘note’ versus /a/ ‘not’].
  • Minimise any intrusive sounds, rhythm and accent which may be influenced by his/her mother tongue.
  • Show the ability to link words together naturally. For example, there are often no ’spaces’ between words in phrases like, ‘in_about _an _hour’.

3. Fluency

This criterion assesses how well a candidate’s speech is delivered in terms of rate and flow of speech.

Assessors will use this criterion to evaluate the degree to which a candidate is able to speak continuously, evenly and smoothly – without excessive hesitation, repetition, self-correction or use of ‘fillers’.

A strong proficiency candidate will:

  • maintain a natural speed to make it easier for the listener to follow the message [not too slow, not too fast].
  • use even speech [not broken up into fragments] and limit hesitations or speaking in ‘bursts’ of language.
  • avoid overusing sounds [e.g., ‘err’, ‘um’, ‘ah’] and words [e.g., ‘OK’, ‘yes’] to fill in gaps.
  • use a smoother flow of speech, stressing syllables appropriately and linking words/syllables together.
  • use pauses appropriately, for example:
  1. To make his/her meaning clear, e.g., for emphasis.
  2. To separate clearly the points he/she is making.
  3. To think about what he/she is going to say next.
  4. Avoid restarting sentences or repeating words and phrases as he/she corrects himself.

4. Appropriateness

This criterion assesses how well a candidate uses language, register and tone that are appropriate to the situation and the patient.

Assessors will use this criterion to evaluate the degree to which the individual words, grammar and style of speech the candidate selects are appropriate to the particular situation and context.

A strong proficiency candidate language will:

  • use suitable, professional language.
  • use appropriate paraphrasing and re-wording if necessary to explain, in simple terms, technical procedures or medical conditions to a patient who may have little knowledge of these.
  • adapt their style and tone to suit the particular situation of the role-play, e.g., giving bad news versus giving positive news or using language suitable for talking to an older person versus a younger person.
  • respond appropriately to what the ‘patient’ says during the role-plays, e.g., the candidate’s responses are logically linked with the patient’s questions or concerns.
  • use language that might reflect the professionalism a health practitioner might require when dealing with patients, g., not overly-familiar or informal.
  • demonstrate that he/she has the language skills to deal well with complicated situations, e.g., complaints, difficult patients, patients who need convincing, etc.
  • use appropriate phrases that are suited to common functions found in medical exchanges, e.g., to ‘reassure’, ‘encourage’, ‘be supportive’, ‘explain’, etc.
  • show awareness of the patient’s sensitivities to the condition or information the candidate gives.

5. Resources of Grammar and Expression

Tis criterion assesses the level and extent of the candidate’s grammar and vocabulary resources and their appropriate use.

Assessors will use this criterion to evaluate the range and accuracy of the language resources the candidate has applied in the performance to convey clear meaning.

A strong proficiency candidate will:

  • use appropriate structures to make what he/she is saying coherent, for example, outlining options or choices to a patient [e.g., ‘There are several options you can consider. Firstly, in the short term…’].
  • Show flexibility by using different phrases to communicate the same idea, if necessary, to make it clearer.
  • Form questions correctly, particularly those questions that are often used in health professional/patient dialogues [e.g., ‘How long have you been experiencing this?’, ‘When did the symptoms start?’].
  • Minimise grammatical inaccuracy to enhance communicative effectiveness.
  • Use more complex structures and expressions confidently [e.g., idiomatic speech, sentences with multiple clauses, etc.], i.e., not just a series of simple utterances.
  • Use a wide variety of grammatical structures and vocabulary that reflects the depth and range of their linguistic resources.
  • Show accurate control of grammatical features including, for example:
  1. correct word order [e.g., ‘She broke her tooth’ her broke’].
  2. correct use of pronouns/relative pronouns [e.g., ‘Tell her it’s ok if she [not he] waits then comes back to see me when she [not he] feels better’].
  3. correct word choice [e.g., ‘Your daughter is breathing more rapidly/regularly’ [all have different meanings].
  4. not omitting words that could affect clear meaning [e.g., ‘I recommend that you consider several options including crown, fillings and inlays’ not ‘I recommend about crown, filling, inlay’].
  5. correct use of prepositions [e.g., ‘ I can explain to you about asthma’ not ‘I can explain you about asthma’].
  6. correct use of articles [e.g., ‘A form is completed and then given to the pharmacist’ not ‘Form is completed and then given to pharmacist’].
  7. use correct word form [e.g., ‘Smoking is dangerous for your health’ not ‘Smoking is danger for your health’].
  8. correct use of countable and uncountable expressions [e.g., ‘not many side effects’ not ‘not much side effects’].
  9. use appropriate structures to convey information about time and the sequence of past or future events [e.g., ‘We have X-rayed your arm and the results will be available today/next week’ not ‘We X-ray your arm and the results available’].
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