OET Speaking Practice And Clear English Pronunciation


So, you’ve got your OET exam coming up soon and you’re worried about the clarity of your English. 

What if the patient / examiners doesn’t understand your English easily during the test? 

This is a valid concern. Speaking clearly is extremely important for getting a good score in your OET speaking exam. 

As the speaking exam is a role-play situation, you need to be confident that you’ll have an easy flow of communication with your interlocutor (the interlocutor will play the role of the patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer) and that communication breakdown won’t occur.  A recording of your exam will then be assessed by a minimum of 2 other assessors. 

Today, we’ll cover:

– Why is clarity so important for a good OET score?
– Start improving your English pronunciation today for a better OET speaking score.
– 4 top tips for speaking clearly in your OET exam

– 4 ways to ensure a good OET Speaking score

Before we do that, let’s quickly revise the Linguistic Criteria Speaking Sub Test for the OET as described on OET Facebook Site

The test goes for 20 minutes and you’ll be graded on the following Linguistic Criteria:


  • Intelligibility: The impact of your pronunciation, intonation and accent on how clearly your listener can hear and understand what you’re saying
  • Fluency: The impact of the speed and smoothness of your speech on your listener’s understanding
  • Appropriateness of Language: The impact of your language, tone and professionalism on your listener’s understanding and comfort
  • Resources of Grammar and Expression: The impact of your level of grammatical accuracy and vocabulary choices on your listener’s understanding.

Is English Pronunciation Important For Your OET Speaking Exam?

I’ve worked with many doctors, nurses and other health professionals who didn’t pass their OET test because of unclear English.

The OET Speaking test is meant to be as much like a real life consult as possible. As a result, how you (as the medical professional) speaks and what you say will make or break the session. 

You will be marked according to how effectively you communicate with your patient and other health professionals. If your pronunciation is sometimes unclear to others, then you need to improve it, so your patient in the OET exam and the patient in the OET can understand you easily. If your English pronunciation is sometimes unclear, it could cause communication breakdown with your patient/ examiner.

In summary, being easily understood by your listeners is extremely important for a good speaking score in the OET test. 

Start Improving Your English Pronunciation Today

Here are some things you can do today, to start working towards a better OET Speaking Score.

Join This Free English Pronunciation Short Course.
5 Day Free English Pronunciation Course. This short course will give you a better idea of the key areas of English pronunciation that need to improve for clearer, better spoken English for your OET exam. 

Over 5 days you will receive great videos on how to improve your English pronunciation of vowel sounds, consonant sounds, word stress, and correct many commonly mispronounced words and more. 

For a more structured, systematic full course – please see our full 6 month English Pronunciation Course list

Improve Your Pronunciation Of Commonly Mispronounced Medical Terminology. 

Words such as ‘hygiene’, ‘obesity’ and ‘diabetic’ are often mispronounced by ESL non-native English speakers. Pronouncing words like this clearly is essential for a good OET speaking score. 

If you mispronounce words like this with patients, communication can break down and this can negatively affect your score.  Correct more Commonly Mispronounced Medical Words.

Start Paying Attention To Word Stress.

Did you know that word stress or the emphasis we use in multi-syllable words is
extremely important for clear English. 

Are you sometimes using flat word stress or putting the stress on the incorrect syllable in multi-syllable words? Using flat or incorrect stress negatively affects how clear your English will be to the examiners.

One aspect of ‘intelligibility’ as scored in your OET speaking test is word stress and emphasis and how this affects your clarity. 

 Watch this video to start to become more aware of word stress. Between now and your OET speaking test start to listen more carefully to word stress in your own speech and other people’s. 

Improve Your Pronunciation Of English Vowel Sounds. 

Are you differentiating between long vowels, short vowels and double/ diphthong vowels? Do words like – not, note and nought sound similar when you say them?

Becoming more aware of double vowels can improve your clarity. For example, improving the /ei/ sound in words so ‘pain’ doesn’t sound like ‘pen’ or ‘pan’ and ‘brain’ doesn’t sound like ‘bren’ or ‘bran’. 

Record and practice all your English vowel sounds

4 Top Tips For Speaking Clearly In Your OET Exam

Control Your Rate Of Speaking.

In other words, this means, don’t go too fast! Some people speak English very fast and this makes it more unclear to listeners. Some people do this out of habit, some do it because they are nervous and some feel it makes them sound more fluent. 

Either way, if your English is sometimes unclear to listeners, you really need to make sure you don’t go too fast. 

You will be assessed on how ‘fluently’ you speak for your OET speaking score. Many people make the mistake of thinking that speaking quickly will make them sound more fluent. WRONG! They run the risk of being unclear and this has more serious consequences. 

If you have some incorrect pronunciation of English, when you speed up, you’re more likely to make pronunciation errors such as dropping end sounds, shortening vowels and using flat stress. Basically, it makes it more challenging for your listener.   

Move Your Mouth – Don’t Mumble.

English has a lot of vowel sounds that require quite an open mouth position. For example, the /ou/ in ‘cope’, the /ai/ in ‘eye’, the ‘er’ in ‘hurt’ and others. 

If you aren’t opening your mouth and jaw for these sounds in English, these vowels will sound unclear. 

English has quite a lot of mouth and jaw movement compared to many other languages. When people don’t open and move their mouths and jaw when they speak in English it’s called mumbling. Mumbling makes your English quite unclear. 

Improve Your Emphasis, Rhythm & Word Stress. 

As I’ve already mentioned, using good word stress is very important. This means, not using flat stress or incorrect word stress. 

Don’t underestimate how much incorrect and flat stress can negatively affect how clear you are to others. It can be a particular problem in noisy environments such as hospitals wards or if your listeners is stressed or in pain – which is a common situation for medical professionals. 

Improve Your Fluency At Home

Part of your score is how fluently you speak. Many people make the mistake of thinking that speaking quickly will make them sound more fluent. No – you want to aim for steady, clear and appropriate. This is what patients will understand easily.

To improve your fluency, speak as much English as you can at home. You don’t need other people to do this with! You should aim to do it everyday for at least 15 minutes. 

I recommend you subscribe to a Medical podcast. Listen for 15 minutes and then stop the podcast and describe what you have heard in as much detail as possible. This is a very powerful way to develop your fluency on a variety of topics. 

Podcasts are also excellent for getting to know common expressions and broadening vocabulary and listening skills. 

These are all good ways to improve your OET speaking score. 

4 Ways To Ensure A Good OET Speaking Score

Use the Free OET Preparation materials on the web. 

There are so many excellent videos, sample tests and scripts that you can use to prepare for your OET speaking exam to help you get a better score.  Check out the OET Preparation Portal for hours of free preparation materials. 

Check every so often that the patient has understood and encourage the patient to contribute.

To check with your patient you could say: 

Is that clear for you?

Let me know if any of that is unclear to you. 

I know it’s a lot to take in. Would you like me to describe that again?

Does that sound Ok? 

Is there anything else I can help you with? 

Is there anything else you’ve noticed?  

Avoid Medical Jargon. 

Make sure you’re not using technical or medical terminology. For example, children will not understand that the word stool means ‘poo’. You will need to use alternative words for medical terms or uncommonly used words such as this. 

Keep The Conversation Flowing. 

Remember, you are the leader of conversation in the OET speaking exam. It’s up to you to ‘get the ball’ rolling – this means – to start and steer the conversation. 

Practice introducing yourself. 

Hi, my name’s Kim and I’m one of the Occupational Therapists here at Epworth Hospital. May I ask your name please? 

Hi, my name is Cris, I am one of the nurses from xxxxx. I’m visiting you today because the doctor has requested that you start insulin.

Practice phrases to say if there is a misunderstanding and to get back on track and keep the flow of the interaction. 

If the patient misunderstands you, try explaining it in an alternative way and check their understanding. 

You could say ‘Sorry, yes, I’ll explain it in a different way’. ‘Yes, no problem, I’ll explain it in more detail.’. 

If you misunderstand the patient:

I’m sorry, I missed that last part. Could you please explain that to me again?

Could you please tell me more about …….

Sorry, please can you explain what you meant by ……

It can help to re-cap to check you have understood the patient correctly. To do this, you could say:

Thanks. I just want to check that I’ve understood all of that correctly. You’ve told me that……

Ok, so, I’ll just re-cap what you have told me to check I understand.

I Need More Help With English Pronunciation For My OET Speaking Test.

So, you’ve learnt about some ways to get a better OET speaking score with clearer English, but you’d like more help, more specific instruction and practice. Speech Active has assisted many health professionals with improving their English pronunciation for a better OET speaking score. 

Our award winning tailored courses will help you develop English that is clear and easy for all listeners to understand, so you can speak with confidence in your OET exam. 

Watch our tour video to understand how our courses will help you correct your pronunciation problems for clearer, more confident spoken English and also improve your listening skills and vocab and fluency also. 

 Find a Speech Active Course designed specifically for speakers of your first language here: English Pronunciation Course List. 

Get Started Today

You can enrol in your course and get started right now.

Do you have any questions? Email us at info @ speechactive.com or contact us using our chat widget. 

Thanks for reading this info on how to improve clarity and pronunciation for an OET exam. 

Improving your pronunciation will be valuable for your important work as a health professional in the years to come. 

All the best and thank you for the important work you do to help keep people healthy. 




OET Speaking Practice And Clear English Pronunciation


Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPathand CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.  

Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.

If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence. 

Email: georgie@speechactive.com
Linkedin: Georgie Harding 
Facebook: Speech Active 

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free Pronunciation Starter Course

5 emails – start today


Key areas of difficulty for speakers of your first language


Record a clear and professional voicemail greeting


How problems with your pronunciation affect clarity


Improve your word stress, emphasis & rhythm in English


Improve some key vowel sounds that are important for clear English


Correct many commonly mispronounced words


Tips on how to improve your pronunciation and fluency in your day to day life


And lots more...

Your step-by-step path to clear and confident English

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner