OET is an English language proficiency test specifically for healthcare professionals who would like to register and practice in an English speaking environment. It is not a test of medical knowledge.

OET provides a valid and reliable assessment of all four language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. It has been developed for 12 specific healthcare professions: Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology and Veterinary Science. Each part of the test assesses your understanding of English language and communication in a professional healthcare context. The speaking and writing sub-tests are specific to your profession, for example nursing, and are based on real-life work place situations.

OET is trusted by regulators, hospitals and universities in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Singapore, Namibia and many other countries.

The OET writing sub-test consists of one writing task. You have to write a letter in a workplace context (for example, a referral letter to a care home), based on case notes. The OET writing lasts for 45 minutes in total. You have 5 minutes to read the case notes, and then 40 minutes to write your letter.

Time management is a crucial part of OET writing. You can manage your time as follows:

  • Reading time = 5 minutes
  • Selection of case notes = 5 minutes
  • Planning = 5 minutes
  • Writing = 25 minutes
  • Proof reading = 5 minutes

The Reading sub-test for OET consists of three parts. There are 42 questions, and you have 60 minutes to complete all three parts.

  • Part A
    • Consists of four short texts on a single healthcare topic with 20 questions.
    • you have to locate specific information in the texts, Sentence completion and Short answer questions as quickly as possible.
    • You have 15 minutes to complete this part.
  • Part B
    • You have to identify the detail, gist and purpose of six short texts that you might find in a healthcare workplace.
    • You will have MCQs with 3 answer options
  • Part C
    • You have to answer questions about two longer texts on a topic of interest to healthcare workers.
    • You will have 14 MCQs with 4 answer options
    • Part B and Part C need to complete in 45 minutes.

The listening sub-test consists of 3 parts, and a total of 42 questions. You will hear the recording once only and are expected to write your answers while listening. The test takes 45 minutes in total.

Part A

  • 2 consultations between a medical professional and a patient/care taker will be played.
  • You have to complete notes about the conversations.
  • You need to use a word or a phrase to answer.
  • This part assesses your ability to identify specific information during a consultation.

Part B

  • You will listen to 6 one-minute extracts from healthcare workplace situations.
  • Answer 6 multiple-choice questions with three answer options.
  • 15 seconds to read each question before you listen and 5 seconds to shade your answers.

Part C

  • You will listen to extracts from two presentations or interviews on a range of healthcare topics,
  • Answer 6 multiple-choice questions with three answer options.
  • 90 seconds to read each extract, understand the question before you listen.

In the OET speaking sub-test, the candidate takes part in two five-minute role plays. The role plays are profession-specific, so if you are taking the OET nursing exam, for example, each role play will be between a nurse(Candidate) and a patient, client or carer(interlocutor). You have 3 minutes to prepare each role play from a role card, and then the role play lasts for five minutes. You will undertake the role play with a trained interlocutor, who will play the other role.

In the OET speaking sub-test you are assessed on both your linguistic ability (such as your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation), and your communicative ability (such as your ability to listen, empathise with the patient, and so on).

OET speaking guide