With the increasing desire to move out of your own country in search of better education and employment opportunities, people in different professions are looking for various exams to make this move smooth enough. These exams are primarily designed to assess the language skills, so that once they migrate they will not face any difficulty while communicating with the natives. So, if you are preparing for such a situation, you will be aware of tests like IELTS, PTE, GRE, etc.


But, do you know there is a language test specially designed for medical professionals?


Well, yes, you have read it right! It is known as the Occupational Eligibility Test, or in short, OET. As a result, most healthcare workers who are planning to move to an English-speaking country like the U.K, Canada, Australia, New Zealand are taking this test instead of IELTS or PTE.


So, in this article, you will find an overview on the exam, some important information that you should know before taking the test and recommendations for OET training.


Facts about OET


First let us revise some of the basic features of the exam.

  • The OET was initiated in 1980 and was administered by the Australian National Office for Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR).
  • Later, in the year 2013, a joint venture between Cambridge Assessment English and Boxhill Institute, called Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, took over the ownership of this test and since then, it has been administered by the association.
  • It is a popular language proficiency exam which evaluates professionals from 12 medical fields such as Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology and Veterinary Science.
  • As healthcare is one of the fundamental infrastructure of a country, this exam checks if the medical professional or student will be able to handle day-to-day conversation in a proper healthcare setting with dexterity. Through the various types of tests, it also looks into the fact if the candidate is capable of averting complicated scenarios where the language barrier becomes an issue.
  • Various medical councils and universities across countries throughout the world accept the OET exam, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Maldives, Malta, Namibia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
  • Keeping in mind the convenience of the candidates, three formats of this test are available. The first one is on a paper at a test venue, which is the oldest test format ever, the second option is to attempt the test on a computer at a test venue, and the third test is to attempt the test in the comfort of one’s home on a computer. You may choose any one of the options and can sit for the exam as per your suitability.


Things to remember before taking the OET


It is highly recommended for an examinee to know certain details about the test they are taking. So, in this section, you have some important data that you should be aware of before preparing and taking the test.


  • Know about the format and grading system of the OET


The first thing you should do is to be well informed about the format of the test and the criteria based on which the exams are judged. It will help you to understand the grounds you work on and also give you an idea on your strengths and weaknesses which you can power up.


The OET exam, just like the IELTS, is divided into four subtests based on the major language skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Each of these tests scrutinizes your ability to communicate proficiently and professionally. More details are given below:


Section Duration No. of Questions
Listening Approx. 50 minutes 42
Reading 60 minutes 42
Writing 45 minutes 1 Letter-writing
Speaking Approx. 20 minutes 2 Role plays



Unlike IELTS, OET is not marked with scores or band scores. Here, it is graded based on a statistical analysis of the scores of candidates, so while grade A signifies the most proficient, E means you are not proficient enough.


  • Get details on the exam dates and test centres


The OET is conducted every year multiple times for all the 12 medical professionals that it evaluates. It is very critical to know about the OET exam dates beforehand so that you book according to your convenience and begin the preparation on time. In certain cases, you might need to cancel or reschedule the dates and there are provisions for that as well. So, if you are acquainted with the upcoming dates, it will be easier for you. The same goes with the test centres. When you know the closest test centres, it will reduce some of your exam stress. To know more on the updated dates and exam centres, you can follow the OET pages of IELTSMaterial.


  • Set a goal for yourself


For every sincere test-taker, setting a goal is the most vital step to achieve success. So, after checking out all requirements and evaluation criteria of OET, set a goal you need to achieve. It will help you to work on the areas you need to work on and be conscious of the ways to improve them.

  • Prepare a plan for yourself


The duration which you require for preparation completely depends on you. Although it is recommended that you start at least one month prior to your exam date, you can take one year to six months to master the skills for the exam. It will depend on the current language skills and the amount of time you can wholeheartedly allot for practising and preparation.

There is no need to force yourself to study for the whole day. Take out one to two hours and follow the routine consistently as consistency is the key to success. During this time, keep yourself updated on any news, focus on your shortcomings and keep tabs on your progress.

  • Improve Vocabulary and knowledge of medical terms


Although vocabulary is not one of the language skills that is mentioned for these tests, it is part and parcel of all of them. To answer any of these sections or communicate on a daily basis, be it as a medical representative or a common worker, you need to upgrade your vocabulary as per the requirement of the country. But, remember that only mugging up difficult words won’t help you. Whenever you learn a new word, also focus on its usage and words with the same meaning. It will not only help you to enrich your vocabulary, but also enable you to articulate your thoughts effectively.

One more important thing to consider is that even though the OET is not a professional test for all healthcare experts and focuses on evaluating your language skills, you should be aware of basic medical terms and their usage which are required to interact with patients regularly as the test will be based on real-life situations.

  • Practise as much as you can using mock tests or practice tests


We all know that practise makes us perfect, whether it is a song, a game or for an exam. So, make use of the practice tests and mock tests available on the official OET website to determine your areas of strengths and weaknesses. As you are undertaking a timed test, always practise within the exact time frame which is followed in the actual exam. It will aid you to improve your time management skills as well. You can also get practise tests from various websites, but always make sure to check if they are valid or not.


To Conclude

While the above mentioned points mainly focus on the preparation phase, it is essential to note that just before taking the exam do not panic. Keep yourself well rested and be confident. Exams tend to bring out a lot of anxiety in us, but make sure to focus on the good parts, which is to achieve a good score and move to your desired country for your dream job.



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