Making the right decision about when and where to take an OET test can sometimes feel as difficult as doing the test itself. In this latest CELT OET blog post, our OET expert and Premium Provider head, Neil, explains the who, where and what of all things OET.
The Occupational Test (OET): Who is it for? Where can I take it? What score do I need? What helpful hints can you give me?
The Occupational English Test (OET) has in recent years become one of the most popular exams for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The exam is divided into four sub-tests (listening, reading, writing and speaking) and is suitable for healthcare professionals from many different specialisms such as nurses, doctors, pharmacists and even vets (for a complete list of the 12 OET professions, check here). OET is a global exam and the number of countries where you can take OET continues to grow and more and more professional bodies now accept OET as proof of English language level. In some countries, you can also use OET as part of an application when applying for a course or for a work visa.
Why take OET?
There are many reasons for taking the OET, but most OET candidates take the exam for work or study reasons. These include:
- Registration with a professional healthcare board (in Australia, Ireland, Maldives, Malta, Namibia, Singapore, the UK, the Ukraine and the United States of America).
- Applying for a course of study (in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Spain, the UK
- Finding work in an English-speaking environment plus some hospitals and trusts in the UK, Qatar and the UAE and with the help of recruitment agencies around the world
- Applying for a work visa (currently in Australia, New Zealand, the UK
As you can see, OET really is a global exam and the list of organisations that recognise OET is growing all the time. You can keep up to date by checking this page on the OET website.
All of these reasons mean that with an OET score, you can provide evidence of your English language proficiency. OET is therefore also a great choice if you are interested in improving your CV and job prospects and want to stand out as a really good candidate.
Where can I take OET?
In order to take an OET test, you need to create an account on the OET candidate portal, where you will be asked if you want to book for the paper-based or computer-based version of the test. You will then asked to choose the country where you want to take the test and when you have chosen, you will be offered a list of locations. Some test centres offer both paper-based and computer-based; others offer just the one. It makes sense therefore to look at the test centres for both lists to find the one which is the most convenient for you. You can find out more about OET on the computer on the OET website.
OET is also planning an at home version of the test, which means you can even take OET from the comfort of your own home. This should be available in the second half of 2021 and you can keep up to date on this page.
What score do I need?
In many countries, an OET 350/OET B is the standard requirement, but this can change and it is your responsibility to know the score you need. For example, in the UK, doctors usually need 350 or higher in reading, writing, listening and speaking and the requirement is the same for application to an ECFMG pathway in the States. Nurses, however, usually need 350 or higher in reading, listening and speaking but a 300 (C+) or higher in writing. But be careful, if you are applying for a UK foundation programme, you will need 400 or higher in each part of the test.
You should also check whether you can combine scores from two different tests and if so, what are the rules for combining. The GMC for doctors in the UK requires you to get an OET 350 minimum in each area in the same test and the same is true for the ECFMG in America. However, in the UK, nurses and midwives can combine scores across two tests, subject to certain criteria.
Basically, if you are not sure of the score you need or whether you can combine scores, you should contact the organisation you are applying to direct. OET Providers may have an idea of the requirements in their own country but it is always better to check this with the organisation to which you are applying.
Other helpful hints
Make sure you have practised a complete test in timed conditions before test day. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the feel of either the computer-based or the paper-based version of the test before test day, depending on which type of test you are taking. If you are used to writing letters by hand, and your test is computer-based, make sure that you practise typing an OET letter before the day of the actual test! The OET website can help with this.
Practice tests are helpful, but they won’t help you to increase your level if you’re not ready for OET. So how can you tell? CELT offers a free consultation to candidates who are serious about preparing for OET plus a range of courses to help you to maximise your score, why not email us or phone to have a chat?
Be realistic when booking an OET date. If you have never done a test before and have the right level of English already, you should ideally still give yourself at least 28 days to find out what the test involves and become familiar with its design. So often CELT gets calls from candidates just days before the test asking if we can help them prepare for a test the following weekend. We love to help but sometimes it’s too late to make a change to someone’s reading or writing with three days to go before the test! If you are getting scores in the 200s or low 300s, you will probably need some language development too, and this all takes time. If you just don’t know, why not contact us for a chat and we can help you to plan your journey to OET success.