Find out which test is right for you and your healthcare career.
If you're on the journey to work or study in an English-speaking country, it’s important you select the test that’s best suited to your needs. While both IELTS and OET are valid, reputable and widely accepted, only OET is specifically designed for healthcare professionals like you. Here’s why:
OET is specific for healthcare professionals, IELTS Academic is not
When you take OET you will be assessed on topics you have already studied when receiving your healthcare credentials. If you sit IELTS Academic you may be tested on topics you have never studied before.
IELTS Academic is designed to measure whether your language level is suitable for university or college study. Because of this, you could be tested on a wide range of topics – everything from coal mining to animal extinction, which are completely different fields to your previous healthcare studies. This means you must learn a more varied set of vocabulary, making it harder.
In contrast, OET is crafted specifically for healthcare professionals and tailored to 12 professions. Every part of the test mirrors real-world tasks and scenarios you already encounter in your day-to-day work, making it familiar, relevant, and practical for studying and applying to your future career.
Every part of OET's test content is about healthcare versus IELTS Academic tests' general content
Just like IELTS, OET covers four sections – Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. In OET Reading and Listening, the topics are of generic healthcare interest, so all professions do the same tests. OET Speaking and Writing are unique for each profession. So, if you’re a nurse, you will do the nursing tasks, and if you’re a dentist, your tasks will be related to dentistry, and so on.
Here’s how OET compares to IELTS Academic on each sub-test:
- Listening sub-test: OET will assess you on healthcare-related audio examples, such as a discussion between a doctor and patient. IELTS will assess you on audio from academic scenarios, such as a university lecture.
- Reading sub-test: OET utilises healthcare-related texts such as point-of-care scenarios and workplace communications, whereas IELTS use long-form texts from various academic topics covering everything from recycling to astronomy.
- Writing sub-test: While sitting OET you'll need to write a letter based on case notes to another healthcare professional. If you sit IELTS you’ll be required to analyse and describe graphs, charts or process diagrams for various academic topics, and write an academic essay on a topic unrelated to healthcare.
- Speaking sub-test: OET assessment is based on role plays within healthcare settings that are specific to your profession, such as a conversation between a doctor and a patient. IELTS will require you to do speaking assessment with structured conversations on a wide range of academic subjects not related to healthcare.
Go where you want to go: OET is accepted by more healthcare organisations globally
Organisations like ECFMG, for international medical graduates (IMGs) looking to work in medicine in the United States, only accept OET; other English tests like IELTS are not accepted. Many countries including the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand also accept OET for Visa purposes.
To find out where OET can take you, explore all the organisations that accept OET globally.
I started to study for OET and felt way more comfortable because I had knowledge about what the test and questions were about, which is nursing.
- Marina Miotello, a nurse from Brazil now working in the UK