OET (occupational English test)

OET (occupational English test) is the English language proficiency test for healthcare professionals. It assesses the communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to work or study in English speaking nations. OET is owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust (CBLA), a venture between Cambridge Assessment English and Box Hill Institute. It is recognised by regulatory healthcare boards and councils in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Dubai, Singapore, Namibia, and Ukraine.

OET Modules

OET test is available for 12 professions: Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech pathology, and Veterinary science. It involves assessment of all four language skills: Listening (45 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (45minutes) and Speaking (approximately 20 minutes). Currently, OET is a paper based test which will be completed in a day and usually held during weekends.

For each of the four sub-tests that make up OET, candidates receive a numerical score from 0-500 in 10-point increments e.g. 350,360, 370. The numeric score is mapped to a separate letter grade, ranging from A (highest) to E (lowest). There is no overall grade for OET

Letter grade Numeric score Description of ability
A 450-500 Can communicate very fluently and effectively with patients and health professionals, using appropriate register, tone and lexis. Shows complete understanding of any kind of written or spoken language.
B 350-440 Can communicate effectively with patients and health professionals, using appropriate register, tone and lexis, with only occasional inaccuracies and hesitations. Shows good understanding in a range of clinical contexts.
C+

C

300-340

200-290

Can maintain the interaction in a relevant healthcare environment despite occasional errors and lapses and follow standard spoken language normally encountered in his/her field of specialisation.
D 100-190 Can maintain some interaction and understand straightforward factual information in his/her field of specialisation, but may ask for clarification. Frequent errors, inaccuracies and mis- or overuse of technical language can cause strain in communication.
E 0-90 Can manage simple interaction on familiar topics and understand the main point in short, simple messages, provided he/she can ask for clarification. High-density of errors and mis- or overuse of technical language can cause significant strain and breakdowns in communication.

OET is available 14 times per year and can be taken at test venues around the world. A full list is available on the official website.

Results are published online approximately 16 business days after the test. Official statements of results are sent out in the post following the release of online results. There is no overall grade – candidates receive separate grades for each sub-test.

Most recognising organisations require candidates to have at least a B grade in each of the four sub-tests and recognize results as valid for up to two years. Most recognising organisations also require that candidates achieve the requisite grades for each sub-test in one sitting. However, candidates should check with the organisation that regulates their profession to confirm current requirements.