Phrasal Verbs Essential for OET Speaking Roleplay

What are phrasal verbs?


Phrasal verbs are combinations of two or more words, usually a verb and a preposition or adverb, that have a different meaning from the individual words. For example, “to look after someone” means to care for them, not to see them later.


Phrasal verbs are very frequent in English, especially in informal situations. They are also used in medical communications. Some examples of phrasal verbs that you may see in OET are,


Using phrasal verbs in OET speaking subtest 


You can use some common phrasal verbs when you talk to the interviewer. This is advisable. 


During your role-play, you need to explain to the patient (the interviewer who will pretend to be your patient or client) in simple English. You can use some simple verb phrases. And remember, the interviewer may also ask you questions with phrasal verbs. So, it is good to learn and prepare.  


Using phrasal verbs in OET writing subtest 


You can improve your letter with common verb phrases. Do not use complex structures. Be as simple as possible. Choose only the best phrasal verbs that are widely used in medical communications. 


Remember, you should avoid phrasal verbs that are slang or too informal. Such informal phrasal verbs can reduce your score.


Here’s the list of phrasal verbs:


  1. Block up – To completely block or obstruct

   Example: The patient’s arteries were blocked up, causing restricted blood flow.


  1. Break out – To develop a rash or infection on the skin

   Example: After taking the new medication, the patient broke out with a severe skin rash.


  1. Bring up – To vomit or raise a topic for discussion

   Example: The patient brought up blood after coughing vigorously.


  1. Bringing up – Coughing up material, such as mucus

   Example: The child was constantly bringing up mucus from his throat due to a respiratory infection.


  1. Carry on – To continue with an activity or treatment

   Example: The doctor advised the patient to carry on with their medication for another week.


  1. Check up on – To visit or contact someone to see how they are doing

   Example: The nurse checked up on the post-surgery patient to monitor their recovery progress.


  1. Clog up – To block or obstruct

   Example: High-fat foods can clog up arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease.


  1. Come down with – To become sick

   Example: Several residents in the nursing home came down with the flu.


  1. Come round – To regain consciousness

   Example: The patient finally came around after receiving a strong dose of medication.


  1. Come to – To become conscious

    Example: When the patient came to, they couldn’t recall the events leading up to their accident.


  1. Cough up – To bring up blood or phlegm by coughing

    Example: The patient coughed up blood after a severe bout of coughing.


  1. Cut down – To reduce

    Example: The doctor advised the patient to cut down on their sugar intake to manage their diabetes.


  1. Cut out – To remove or stop doing something

    Example: The cardiologist advised the patient to cut out salt from their diet to improve their blood pressure.


  1. Dose up – To take a dose of medication

    Example: The doctor dosed up on pain medication before the surgery.


  1. Drop off – To fall asleep

    Example: The elderly patient easily dropped off to sleep during the night.


  1. Fight off – To resist an illness

    Example: The patient’s strong immune system helped them fight off the infection successfully.


  1. Fill in – To complete a form or substitute for someone

    Example: The nurse filled in the patient’s medical history form before the doctor’s appointment.


  1. Flare up – To recur or become painful again

    Example: The patient’s arthritis flared up, causing intense joint pain.


  1. Get over – To recover from an illness or problem

    Example: With proper treatment and rest, the patient managed to get over their severe cold.


  1. Getting around – Moving around

    Example: The patient was getting around with the help of crutches after the leg injury.


  1. Getting over – Becoming better or returning to good health

    Example: The child is slowly getting over their bout of bronchitis.


  1. Give up – To stop doing something

    Example: The doctor advised the patient to give up smoking to improve their lung health.


  1. Go down – To become smaller

    Example: The swelling in the patient’s knee started to go down after applying ice.


  1. Go down with – To begin to feel ill or show signs of illness

    Example: The student went down with a stomach virus after returning from their school trip.


  1. Hold back – To restrain or suppress something, such as emotions or symptoms

    Example: The patient tried to hold back their tears during the therapy session.


  1. Keel over – To fall over due to illness

    Example: The man keeled over with a sudden heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital.


  1. Knock out – To hit someone hard, causing loss of consciousness

    Example: The boxer was knocked out by a powerful punch to the head.


  1. Lay low – To be incapacitated or bedridden

    Example: The patient had to lay low for a few weeks after the surgery to recover properly.


  1. Lay up – To be confined due to illness or injury

    Example: Both parents were laid up with a high fever, unable to take care of their children.


  1. Let up – To diminish or stop

    Example: The intensity of the patient’s chronic pain let up after they started taking stronger medication.


  1. Look after – To take care of a person

    Example: The nurse looked after the elderly patient, ensuring their daily needs were met.


  1. Look up – To search for information or consult a reference source

    Example: The nurse looked up the medication’s side effects in the medical database.


  1. Pass away – To die

    Example: Unfortunately, the patient passed away peacefully in their sleep.


  1. Pass out – To faint or lose consciousness

    Example: The heat exhaustion caused the hiker to pass out on the trail.


  1. Pick up – To catch, especially a disease

    Example: The traveler picked up a severe respiratory infection during their international trip.


  1. Prop up – To support, usually with a pillow or cushion

    Example: The nurse propped up the patient with pillows to alleviate their breathing difficulty.


  1. Puff up – To swell or become enlarged

    Example: The patient’s face puffed up as an allergic reaction to the medication.


  1. Pull through – To recover from an injury or serious illness

    Example: Despite the severe accident, the patient managed to pull through and make a full recovery.


  1. Run over – To be hit by a vehicle

    Example: The pedestrian was tragically run over by a speeding car.


  1. Settle down – To become calm or stable, usually after a period of agitation

    Example: The patient’s heart rate gradually settled down after receiving medication to reduce anxiety.


  1. Swell up – To enlarge or become swollen

    Example: The child’s wrist swelled up after getting stung by a bee.


  1. Take after – To resemble a parent

    Example: The child takes after their parents with their exceptional musical talent.


  1. Take off – To remove, especially clothes

    Example: The doctor instructed the patient to take off their shirt for a thorough examination.


  1. Take something up – To begin doing something or show interest in it

    Example: The patient decided to take up jogging as a form of exercise to improve their cardiovascular health.


  1. Throw up – To vomit

    Example: The patient felt nauseous and eventually threw up in the hospital restroom.


  1. Warm-up – To prepare the body for exercise

    Example: The physical therapist guided the patient through warm-up exercises before starting the rehabilitation session.


  1. Wear out – To feel tired or weak

    Example: The patient was completely worn out after undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy.


  1. Work out – To exercise or engage in physical activity

    Example: The doctor recommended the patient work out regularly to maintain a healthy weight and strengthen their muscles.


These are just some of the many phrasal verbs that you can use in OET. You can learn more by reading and listening to authentic medical texts and conversations and noticing how phrasal verbs are used in different contexts and situations. You can also practice using them in your own writing and speaking tasks and get feedback from a teacher or a native speaker.

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