OET Exam Complete Guide

Healthcare professionals who want to practice overseas or even study abroad must take an English proficiency test. It is to prove their expertise in the language, especially if they will apply to an English-speaking institution.  

The OET (Occupational English Test) is a highly recommended language assessment test for healthcare professionals. This exam is well-known to Healthcare Professional aspirants. The OET measures healthcare workers’ ability to effectively communicate with their colleagues and, most of all, with their patients. 

In this article, you will learn the OET Exam, the exam format, how the scoring works, and information on exam dates and locations. Finally, you will also learn some practical exam preparation tips for the OET.

What is OET?

OET (Occupational English Test) is an English language test especially for those professionals in the healthcare industry. The Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust (CBLA) has been conducting and owning the OET exam since 2013. In the late 1980s, the OET was created by Professor Tim McNamara.

This English language test is established to cover over 12 healthcare careers:

  • Nursing
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Physiotherapy
  • Veterinary Science
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Pathology
  • Podiatry
  • Radiography
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Dietetics

This exam evaluates one’s English language skills using test materials based on a real-time healthcare workplace setting. It means that the test is grounded on regular communications used and actual scenarios in a healthcare facility. 

That is why the OET is the best and exclusive English language test for health care professionals since it is much more suitable for their type of career. It is honored in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, and others worldwide. 

How Much Does the OET Test Cost?

The OET (Occupational English Test) costs around AUD 587AUD or USD 455. 

In the UK, this test costs about EUR 360 or GBP 315. 

Take note that the OET Test is a lot more expensive compared to other English proficiency tests available in the market.

Why Take the OET?

One of the many reasons people choose OET over the other English proficiency test is that it is widely recognized by many health institutions worldwide. 

It includes various organizations, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities that prefer OET to prove the candidate’s level of English proficiency and the ability to communicate effectively in a demanding healthcare work setting. 

Moreover, the OET is the best assessment for evaluating the English skills of healthcare professionals, especially in communicating with their patients during consultations and other work-related scenarios.

Also, it is accepted by some countries for visa applications, such as the Australian Department of Home Affairs and Immigration New Zealand

It is also highly acknowledged by the regulatory healthcare boards and councils in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Ireland 
  • Dubai
  • Singapore
  • Namibia
  • Ukraine

Who Accepts the OET Exam Results?

Here is a list of universities, colleges, healthcare councils, and other institutions worldwide that accept and acknowledge the OET results.

Universities in the United Kingdom that accept OET Results

  1. University of Chester — OET Paper-based
  2. University of Highlands and Islands — OET Paper-based
  3. University of Leicester — OET Paper-based
  4. The University of West of Scotland — OET Paper-based
  5. Brunel University — OET Paper-based
  6. Imperial College London — OET Paper-based
  7. King’s College London — OET Paper-based
  8. Teesside university — OET Paper-based
  9. UK Foundation Programme — OET Paper-based
  10. Ulster University — All OET Test Mode of Delivery

Universities in Australia that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. University of Canberra
  2. University of New Castle
  3. University of New England
  4. University of Notre Dame Australia
  5. University of Queensland 
  6. University of South Australia
  7. University of Southern Queensland
  8. University of Technology Sydney
  9. University of the Sunshine Coast
  10. University of Wollongong
  11. Griffith University 
  12. Deakin University
  13. Edith Cowan University
  14. Flinders University
  15. Federation University
  16. James Cook University
  17. RMIT University
  18. Southern Cross University
  19. Macquarie University
  20. Murdoch University
  21. Australian Catholic University
  22. Western Sydney University
  23. Queensland University of Technology 
  24. Swinburne University of Technology
  25. The University of Adelaide

TAFE (Technical and Further Education) and Higher Education Institutions in Australia that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Box Hill Institute
  2. Homesglen Institute
  3. Lonsdale Institute
  4. Chisholm Institute
  5. Rhodes College
  6. Curtin College
  7. Edith Cowen College
  8. Lawson College Australia
  9. Australian College of Nursing
  10. Australian Health College, Australia
  11.  UOW College Australia
  12. TAFE SA
  13. TAFE NSW
  14. TAFE Queensland
  15. TAFE International WA

Universities in New Zealand that accepts OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. University of Auckland
  2. University of Otago Language Center 
  3. Universal College of Learning
  4. New Zealand Tertiary College
  5. Ignite LonColleges
  6. Southern Insititute of Technology
  7. Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology
  8. Unitec Institute of Technology
  9. Nelson Malborough Institute of Technology
  10. Ara Institute of Canterbury
  11. Otago Polytechnic
  12. ATMCNew Zealand
  13. AGI Education Ltd
  14. Aspire2 International
  15. Whitireia New Zealand 

Colleges in Canada that accept OET Results

  1. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  2. College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  3. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  4. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador – OET Paper-based
  5. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan – OET Paper-based and OET Computer-based at a venue

Universities in the Philippines that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Ateneo de Davao University
  2. Jose Rizal Memorial State University
  3. Lyceum of the Philippines University – Laguna
  4. ATS Learning Center

Healthcare Boards and Councils in the United States of America that accept OET Results

  1. Florida Board of Nursing  – OET Paper-based and OET Computer at a venue
  2. Oregon State Board of Nursing – OET Paper-based
  3. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  4. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical GraduatesFoundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (ECFMG/FAIMER) – All OET Test Mode of Delivery

Healthcare Boards and Councils in Australia that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
  2. Dental Board of Australia
  3. Medical Board of Australia
  4. Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
  5. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  6. Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
  7. Optometry Board of Australia
  8. Paramedicine Board of Australia
  9. Pharmacy Board of Australia
  10. Physiotherapy Board of Australia
  11. Podiatry Board of Australia
  12. Australian Dental Council
  13. Dietitians Associations of Australia
  14. Australian Pharmacy Council
  15. Speech Pathology Australia
  16. South Australian Medical Education and Training
  17. Occupational Therapy Council of Australia
  18. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
  19. Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (AIMS)
  20. Sino-Australia Association of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine

Healthcare Boards and Councils in the United Kingdom that accept OET Results

  1. General Medical Council – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  2. General Pharmaceutical Council – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  3. Nursing and Midwifery Council – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  4. Royal College of Anaesthetists – OET Paper-based
  5. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – OET Paper-based
  6. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  7. Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – OET Paper-based
  8. Royal College of Physicians of London – OET Paper-based
  9. Royal College of Psychiatrists – OET Paper-based
  10. Royal College of Surgeons of England – OET Paper-based
  11. Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – OET Paper-based
  12. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – OET Paper-based
  13. ENT UK – OET Paper-based
  14. The Royal College of Pathologists – OET Paper-based
  15. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine – OET Paper-based
  16. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh – OET Paper-based
  17. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists – OET Paper-based

Healthcare Boards and Councils in New Zealand that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Dental Council of New Zealand
  2. Dietitians Board of New Zealand
  3. Medical Council of New Zealand
  4. Midwifery Council of New Zealand
  5. New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)
  6. Nursing Council of New Zealand
  7. Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand
  8. Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board of New Zealand
  9. Pharmacy Council of New Zealand
  10. Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand
  11. Podiatrists Board of New Zealand 
  12. Veterinary Council of New Zealand

Healthcare Boards and Councils in Singapore that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Singapore Dental Council
  2. Singapore Medical Council
  3. Singapore Pharmacy Council
  4. Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC)
  5. AHPC – Occupational Therapy
  6. AHPC – Physiotherapy
  7. AHPC – Speech-language Theory
  8. AHPC – Diagnostic Radiography and Radiation Therapy

Healthcare Boards and Councils in Ireland that accept OET Results (OET Paper-based only)

  1. Medical Council 
  2. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland
  3. Dental Council of Ireland
  4. Institute of Technology Tralee
  5. CORU (Health and Social Care Professionals Council) 
  6. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland
  7. Royal College of Physicians of Ireland 

Healthcare Boards and Councils in Other Countries that accept OET Results

  1. Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (Canada) 
  2. Practice Ready Assessment British Columbia (Canada) – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  3. Maldives Medical and Dental Council (Maldives)- All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  4. Maldives Nursing and Midwifery Council (Maldives) – All OET Test Mode of Delivery
  5. Health Professions Councils of Namibia (Namibia) – OET Paper-based
  6. Hamad Medical Corporation (Qatar) – OET Paper-based
  7. The Council of Nurses and Midwives (Malta)
  8. Malta Medical Council (Malta)
  9. CRUE – The Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (Spain)
  10. Universidad de La Rioja (Spain)
  11. Dubai Healthcare City Authority – DHCA (UAE) – OET Paper-based
  12. Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority – KHDA (UAE) – OET Paper-based 
  13. Ukrainian Council of Nursing and Midwifery (Ukraine) – OET Paper-based
  14. Ukrainian Medical Council (Ukraine) – OET Paper-based
  15. Ukrainian Professional Council of Public Health Services (Ukraine) – OET Paper-based

For an up-to-date listing of universities and institutions, check out the official listing on the OET website.

OET Test Exam Format

The OET has now recently offered its three test delivery modes to reach and cater to more healthcare professionals worldwide. In this way, you can choose what type of OET delivery modes they like depending on their availability and convenience. 

All these three tests contain the same level of difficulty, set of questions, format, and the pricing is still the same. Below are the three test delivery modes of OET. 

1. OET Paper-Based

Generally, the venue for the OET paper-based is at the respective testing centers available in your location. All the test subparts, which include listening, reading, writing, and speaking, must be taken at the testing centers. 

However, there is a difference in the testing manner of the OET paper-based compared to the other two test delivery modes. The speaking subtest for the OET paper-based is done face-to-face with an examiner at the testing center. 

In addition to that, the audio material for the listening test is played through loudspeakers inside the testing centers. 

2. OET Computer-Based at a Venue

On the other hand, the OET newly launched their computer-based test at a venue last 2020. The OET computer-based is available at over 270 testing centers in 49 countries. It aims to reach more healthcare professionals throughout different locations.

One of the key features of the OET is their writing test that is solely based on the healthcare industry and is still available in this mode. In this test, all your answers will be typed on the computer. The speaking subtest will also be available and supervised by the examiner using a video conferencing software or application.

However, the OET computer-based test is only applicable for OET Medicine and OET Nursing. Meanwhile, those other healthcare professions that need to take the OET, for instance, the OET Optometry, OET Dentistry, and the likes, must take the OET paper-based test instead. 

3. OET@Home

The OET@Home is only for healthcare professional test-takers whose official OET testing centers are not available in their location or country. This exam is specifically for OET Medicine. 

It is a remotely proctored computer-based test that can be taken from the comfort of one’s home. An online examiner manages the test following the specific OET testing guide for OET@Home. The examiner also checks your identity whether or not they are what they claim to be — also, checking of documents and ID’s are needed to support one’s identity. 

It is done as an additional security requirement before taking the OET@Home. Another security feature of the OET@Home test is that it disables your computer from using the internet and takes screenshots while the test is ongoing. 

In addition to that, the test proctors also monitor your behavior while taking the OET@Home, making sure one does not commit infringement and violation with the exam’s rules and regulations. The examiner also conducts a room search before starting the test. Finally, take note that the test is not accessible using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). 

The OET@Home follows the same questions and test format as the two other previously mentioned OET modes of test delivery. In addition, this English language test for healthcare professionals also contains four subtests. And you need to take the Speaking OET subtest via the Zoom app that needs to be installed on the computer.  

A system requirement is needed before one can proceed to take this test. It includes installing the following: ProProctor and Zoom application into one’s computer. You also need to set the computer screen resolution to the maximum. 

OET Test Modules

1. Listening

The listening section of the OET exam is subdivided into two parts. Also, this test assesses a range of listening skills by letting you identify specific information, the gist of the conversation, and other audio details presented in this subtest. The listening section lasts for about 50 minutes.

  • Part A

In this part, you are given a task to listen to a recorded conversation between a healthcare professional and a patient. Then you will be asked to use the provided headings for suitable note-taking. 

  • Part B

Meanwhile, this second part of the listening section contains a monologue or a lecture by one person. You are tasked to listen to the audio of the monologue then afterward answer the related questions about the audio. 

The type of questions in this section may range from multiple choices to short answers to sentences or table completion. 

2. Writing

The writing subtest of OET evaluates one’s ability to use the English written skills by making drafts of letters and other formal materials used in the work setting. 

The test is usually about writing referral letters, a letter of discharge, and the likes. A duration of 45 minutes is given to complete this whole section. 

3. Reading

The OET reading section is divided into three parts, and you are given 60 minutes to complete this test. A total of 42 questions is available for this test which are all about generic healthcare topics. 

  • Part A

This reading task evaluates how fast one can read and identify specific information from a given context. Part A consists of four short texts for you to read quickly and efficiently. You are also required to answer the follow-up questions within the time limit of 15 minutes.

  • Part B

Part B of the reading section is about careful reading tasks. It contains six short passages that talk about the healthcare workplace, and it may present hospital guidelines, manuals, policy documents, and the like. 

A duration of 45 minutes is given to complete this section, including Part C, wherein you are tasked to get the gist or main idea of the passages provided.

  • Part C

In this last part which is a continuation of Part B, you are given two passages about healthcare professions. This part of the OET aims to assess the taker’s ability to identify details, meaning, and opinions in the given context. 

4. Speaking

A duration of 20 minutes is given for this part. The speaking subtest of the OET is about role-playing, wherein you are given a situation based on the healthcare workplace setting that one needs to portray. 

During this test, an interviewer is present, and you are given three minutes to prepare for each role-play scene.

OET Exam Scoring

The following sub-tests of the OET, including the listening, writing, speaking, reading test parts, are all scored numerically from 0 – 500 in 10 point increments. 

These numerical scores correspond to a letter grading from A, the highest, and E, the lowest OET. Below is a table showing the OET Scoring Grade. 

Letter GradeNumeric ScoreWhat Does this Grade or Score Denote?
A450 to 500
  • You can effectively and fluently interact among patients and other health professionals using the English language. One can also use an appropriate register, tone, and lexis. 
  • You can also show an absolute understanding of the English language, may it be written or spoken.
B350 to 440 
  • You can communicate effectively with patients and health professionals in the workplace. One is also able to use an appropriate register, tone, and lexis. 
  • However, it also comes with random faults and hesitations when using the language. You also show an adequate conception of clinical contexts in a wide range. 
C+300 to 340 
  • You can maintain interaction between colleagues in a relevant healthcare environment, despite some random mistakes and lapses. 
C200 to 290
  • You can also follow the standard spoken language, which is usually used in their field of specialization. 
D100 to 190
  • You can maintain some interaction among their colleagues in the healthcare work environment. 
  • You can also understand and comprehend specific factual information that’s regularly used in their field of specialization. But confusion may arise and may need clarification. 
  • Frequent problems usually occur while using the language. Such as constant errors, inaccuracies, misuse of technical terms, and or exhausted language usage can lead to miscommunication. 
E0 to 90 
  • You can simply interact with your colleagues in a familiar situation or conversation. You can understand the main point of the topic or in short and simple messages. 
  • Clarification is also frequent and inevitable at this level of English proficiency. But, unfortunately, there is also a high frequency of mistakes with the use of the language and terms. 
  • And in general cases, misusage or overuse of English technical terms is always present, which can cause significant strain and breakdowns in the communication within the healthcare work setting. 

There is no passing or failing grade for the OET exam alone. However, the universities and other healthcare facilities require their cut-off scores for you to be accepted. Therefore, it is best to know ahead the cut-off or grade needed for the institution you are applying for. 

A higher grade result in the OET exam equals a high chance of being accepted by the institution of your choice. The validity of the OET results and certification is valid for two years. 

OET Exam Dates and Locations

The OET exam is available in almost 40 countries with over 120 dispersed locations. The test is conducted 14 times per year across the designated testing centers worldwide. 

For a detailed listing of test dates and locations, check the official listing on the OET website.

Moreover, the OET has a computer-based test, so everyone can access it without going to test centers. One can also take the test in their respective testing centers available in your location. 

Computer-based OET testing is also accepted by the healthcare industries in the UK and Australia. The registration for OET is through their official website, and one is required to create an account to continue the application for the test. 

The OET test results are available within 14 business days after taking the test. You may also check their website and log in to your account to view and download your test results. However, keep in mind that the OET will not send out the results to you via email, fax, or phone. 

If you fail the OET for the first time, you can retake it as soon as possible, and there is no limit as to how many retakes for the test. In addition to that, you can also reschedule your test if you cannot attend the original schedule given and book it for another date. It costs around AUD 120 to  AUD 200 for rescheduling. 

How to Prepare for the OET?

Just like any other test, taking the OET needs crucial preparation. Remember that your results in this test determine the future of your career in the healthcare industry. We have already presented some relevant information regarding the OET, which can help you in some ways to ace the test. 

However, knowing only the test background, like the structure, the types of tests are not enough for you to pass it with flying colors. Extensive preparation is needed because the OET is anchored in real-time healthcare settings, unlike any other test that generally tests your English proficiency. 

The OET uses medical terms and actual communication scenarios that you may usually encounter in the healthcare industry. That is why it is needed to ramp up your review and build an effective study plan. 

Below are some tips that can help you gear up for the incoming test.

1. Improve Your Knowledge in Medical Terms and Vocabularies

Since the OET is the perfect English language assessment for healthcare professionals, it is also good to improve your medical vocabulary as additional preparation for the OET. It is well-known that the OET uses real situations in the healthcare industry for the basis of their test context. 

To fully prepare yourself for this kind of test, it is necessary to refresh and update your stock knowledge regarding these medical terms. And also, those typical English words that are usually used in the healthcare setting. In this way, you can quickly grasp the context of the test questions in OET. 

There are many available resources that you can check online to improve your knowledge of medical terminologies. Aside from it, you can also start by building up your Latin and Greek vocabulary since most of the medical terms root words, suffixes, and prefixes are derived from these languages. 

Another thing you can try is to make use of acronyms, think outside the box, and bring on your creativity with words. It is not necessarily to follow the common acronyms for every medical term. Instead, you can create your acronyms accordingly, which you can easily recall. 

2. Answer Practice Tests

Many online practice tests are readily available for you. Do your research and look for the ones that suit you best and your profession as well. 

The OET also provides free sample tests for their test-takers, and the good thing here is that they have samples for every subtest that you can try. And if you want extensive practice test materials, you can also buy their official preparation package for the test. 

The OET test preparation materials are designed explicitly per profession, which means they have different test preparation materials for Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, and the likes. It includes practice books, videos, lessons, sample answers, test guidelines, and many more. All of these are designed to help you ace the OET test. 

3. Enroll in OET Courses in Schools, Colleges, or English Language Centers

Aside from doing a personal review for the OET, you can also enroll in OET preparation courses offered by English Schools or Colleges in your location, or you may also check out online courses. 

OET also has a list of test preparation providers that you can enroll to. They have two types of providers: 

Premium Preparation Providers

These providers have completed an OET teaching skills program. They also have high levels of quality materials that are integrated into their curriculum. 

Moreover, the OET has introduced these premium preparation providers to their test-takers. It aims to give you are recommended language level and skills to achieve their targeted OET scores. These providers display the official Premium Preparation Provider Logo. 

Provider NameCountryTraining Provided
Acumen (English for Healthcare Professionals)India
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Medicine
ALL STARS CELT Centre for English Language Testing – United KingdomUnited Kingdom
  • OET Medicine 
  • OET Nursing
ALL STARS Banfield’s Professional Medical EnglishGermany
  • OET Dentistry
  • OET Medicine 
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Pharmacy
  • OET Occupational Therapy
  • OET Physiotherapy
  • OET Veterinary Science
British Study Centres ManchesterUnited Kingdom
  • OET Dentistry
  • OET Medicine 
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Physiotherapy
  • OET Veterinary Science
  • OET Medicine
Melbourne Language CenterAustralia
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Dentistry
  • OET Medicine
  • OET Occupational Therapy
  • OET Pharmacy
  • OET Physiotherapy
  • OET Radiography
  • OET Veterinary Science

Non-premium Preparation Providers

These providers have completed only preliminary OET training programs. And even if they have not completed the entire premium program, they have stipulated to OET that they can deliver and meet specific criteria to offer a reputable English language course to the test-takers of OET.  

Provider NameCountryTraining Provided
UKCBC DubaiUnited Arab Emirates
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Medicine
UKEC AcademyUnited Kingdom
  • OET Medicine 
  • OET Nursing
NEO School of EnglishNew Zealand
  • OET Nursing
Pan Learning InstituteIndia
  • OET Medicine
  • OET Nursing
Language UKUnited Kingdom
  • OET Medicine
  • OET Nursing
International Institute of Health ScienceSri Lanka
  • OET Medicine
  • OET Nursing
Canadian Smart Learning InstituteCanada
  • OET Medicine
  • OET Nursing
  • OET Optometry

4. Know Your Strength and Weaknesses in the English Language

It is also essential to know where you stand in your skills in the English language. Are you good at writing? Or are you struggling with your speaking skills? All of these are important in preparing for the OET. 

By pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses, you know what to focus on and what areas you need to improve. Remember that the OET evaluates the four language skills, including writing, speaking, reading, and listening. In this way, you can devise an effective study plan for your OET review. 

Do not be anxious in dealing with the skill that you are struggling with. Instead, be confident that you can improve it by taking more practice tests related to that skill. Do more and keep in mind that practice makes perfect. 

And lastly, do not forget that it is also essential to rest and clear your mind before the scheduled test day. Do not overwork yourself, which can lead to anxiety and panic during the exam, and it may sabotage your preparation. Instead, take a breather, and relax. Be confident and believe in yourself that you can ace this test. 

Additional Reading