A Guide to the Occupational English Test

Nurse taking OET exam

Are you a healthcare professional who is looking for an English language exam that tests the language skills you need in your job?

Find out more about OET with our helpful guide:

OET Frequently Asked Questions 

What is OET?

  • The Occupational English Test (OET) is an English language test for healthcare professionals – it is not a test of your medical knowledge. OET assesses your ability to communicate effectively in English in a healthcare context.
  • Owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment (a joint venture between Cambridge Assessment English and Box Hill Institute in Melbourne), it assesses a healthcare professional’s English language skills in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
  • Unlike other English language tests, OET assesses a healthcare professional’s ability to use the skills they will be required to use on-the-job.

Who is the OET  exam for?

The exam is designed for 12 different healthcare professions. The Listening and Reading subtests can be on any profession (remember, it’s an English language test, not a test of your medical knowledge, so don’t worry if there is a part of the exam that is not on your profession!) The Speaking and Writing subtests are specific to your profession.

How long is the OET valid for?

In order to find out how long your OET qualification is valid for,  we recommend you check with your employer, healthcare council or government where you will be using your OET result (information can be updated by Regulatory Authorities so we recommend you contact them directly to check you have the most up-to-date information).

Who accepts OET?

The OET is recognised by healthcare councils, governments and universities in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Singapore, Namibia and Ukraine.

Is OET recognised in the UK?

In the UK, you can use your OET result when applying to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the General Medical Council (GMC). Recognition for OET continues to grow around the world – read more about who recognises OET.

Can I study an OET course online?

If you need to prepare for your OET exam but don’t have time to attend face-to-face classes, British Study Centres has online OET preparation courses available. Choose the number of lessons you need and focus on the areas you wish to practise and improve for your examination. Find out more about studying OET online here.

What’s the difference between OET and the IELTS?

Both exams are accepted by the GMC and the NMC, however, OET tests your ability to communicate in English in a healthcare setting whereas the IELTs tests your overall ability to communicate in the English language. Please visit our OET course page for a full comparison of the two courses and to find out more about the difference between OET and IELTS.

Is OET easier than IELTS?

No. There are a few rumours that OET is easier to pass than IELTS Academic. This is not true. The level required from each examination by Regulatory Authorities in the UK is the same. This rumour seems to have appeared because many healthcare professionals who sat OET passed first-time (see the data from OET). This was not because the test is easier. It was because it assessed the skills that they were more familiar with.

For example, let’s look at the writing paper: when was the last time you wrote an essay in English (like you need for IELTS) and when was the last time you wrote a letter of referral (OET writing)? OET assesses the skills you already use in the healthcare profession but focuses on how well these skills are communicated in English.

Where can I study the OET course in the UK?

You can prepare for your OET course at British Study Centres Manchester. The school also recently became an OET test venue, you can find out how to book your OET exam here.

What are the benefits of studying an OET course in Manchester?

British Study Centres Manchester began running OET courses in 2018. Our 1-week intensive course has helped students build the skills and strategies they need to pass their OET exam led by highly experienced and qualified teachers. All of our OET teachers have completed training with OET and the course materials and course design have all been verified for use on our OET preparation course by OET.

What level of English do I need to do an OET course in the UK?

To join the course, you must complete the pre-course test. The minimum requirement for the course is B2 (note: if you are borderline, we recommend joining a general English class to build your language skills before joining the OET preparation course). BSC can support all learners with their English language skills on our general English courses, which are available year-round in our Manchester English school.


Contact BSC to find out more about taking your OET exams at BSC Manchester.

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