How your nursing background helps with OET Speaking

Mar 2023 How your nursing background helps with OET Speaking

Kate Pinault, Specialist OET tutor at Klik2learn offers advice on how you can draw on your background as a healthcare professional to pass the OET Speaking sub-test.

Nursing is a caring profession. Being able to communicate fluently means listening and responding, as well as speaking.  

The importance placed on the Clinical Communication Criteria in the Speaking section shows that an appropriate exchange of information is necessary to demonstrate your skills. 

To get the information you need from the patient, you should learn to:

  • ask the right questions – open-ended questions, which allow the patient to communicate
  • listen carefully, encouraging the patient to talk more if needed
  • show empathy when listening, and show understanding of the patient’s situation
  • gently dig deeper if you feel the patient is being shy or is not keen to share

Reading the patient notes on your role play card will give key information as to how the patient will be feeling during your encounter. 

Be prepared to adapt your tone and language to their emotional state. 

Taking control of the conversation

As the healthcare professional in the exchange, you are in the driving seat. So, you will need to move the conversation forward, to make sure all of the information is communicated in the 5-minute time limit you have for each question. 

There is information that you will need to communicate to the patient, and information you will need to get from the patient. Make sure you have a good balance of both, as you would in a real-life situation. 

Showing empathy

Clinical communication is about having difficult conversations and delivering information in a clear and structured manner, respecting the patient’s dignity and often, their vulnerability. 

Just as you would in your everyday work, the speaking task requires you to talk with patients, their carers or relatives, encouraging an exchange of feelings and active contribution. 

Destination OET will show you how to 

  • ask open-ended questions in English
  • gently check understanding 
  • invite further information

This will allow you to communicate as if you were speaking to a patient in your everyday job. 

Thinking critically

Nursing requires critical thinking skills to assess patients, make diagnoses, and develop care plans. We know that you have developed excellent critical thinking skills in your career so far, and you should have confidence that these skills are also necessary to successfully pass the OET! 

The preparation materials we have developed in Destination OET will give you the language and test knowledge you need to get closer to your dreams of a healthcare career in a new country. Your nursing skills will give you the discipline and confidence to excel in the exam, and in the workplace beyond!


Improve your skills through video stories and games based on real-life situations.

Click here to discover Destination OET