OET currently cannot offer testing or receive payments (funds) from candidates residing in Sanctioned Countries.
Our test assesses the English skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in an English-speaking environment
The OET Test has versions for 12 healthcare professions:
- The Listening sub-test is approximately 40 minutes long.
- There are three parts and a total of 42 question items.
- The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to all candidates across all professions.
- Part A – Consultation extracts (about 5 minutes each): Listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and complete the health professional’s notes using the information you hear.
- Part B – short workplace extracts (about 1 minute each): Listen to six recorded extracts (e.g. team briefings, handovers, or health professional-patient dialogues) and answer one multiple-choice question for each extract.
- Part C – Presentation or interview extracts (about 5 minutes each): Listen to two different extracts and answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract.
- This sub-test is designed to evaluate a range of skills, such as identifying specific information, detail, gist, opinion or the speaker’s purpose, which are assessed through note-completion tasks and multiple-choice questions.
- Answers for OET Listening Part A are double marked by qualified assessors, against an established marking guide. Answers for Part B and Part C are computer scanned and automatically scored.
- The Reading sub-test consists of three parts, with 42 questions in total.
- This sub-test takes 60 minutes to complete.
- The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions.
- Part A – expeditious reading task (15 minutes): Read four short texts related to a single healthcare topic, and answer 20 matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.
Part B – short workplace extracts: Read six extracts (e.g., policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos) and answer one multiple-choice question for each extract
Part C – longer articles: read two articles typical of the types of texts healthcare professionals read for professional development and answer eight multiple-choice questions for each text.
Timing for Parts B and C is combined and is 45 minutes
- This sub-test is designed to evaluate a range of skills, such as skimming and scanning, identifying the detail, gist, main point explicit or implied meaning as well as the attitude or opinion of texts which are assessed through matching, sentence completion, short answer or multiple-choice questions.
- Answers for OET Reading Part A are double-marked by qualified assessors, against an established marking guide. Answers for Part B and Part C are computer scanned and automatically scored.
- The writing sub-test takes 45 minutes and is profession-specific
- There is one task set for each profession based on a typical workplace situation and the demands of the profession – a nurse does the task for nursing, a dentist does the task for dentistry, and so on
- The task is to write a letter, usually a referral letter. Some alternative letter types, and depending on profession, are a letter of transfer, a discharge letter, a letter to advise or inform a patient, carer or group, or a letter responding to a complaint.
- Five minutes reading time to read case notes and/or other related documentation, and 40 minutes writing time to complete the letter.
- The Speaking sub-test takes around 20 minutes and is profession-specific.
- There are two role-play tasks for each profession based on typical workplace situations. In each role play, the candidate takes the role of the professional (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist), while the interlocutor takes the role of a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For Veterinary Science, the interlocutor takes the role of the animal’s owner or carer.
- The task is two role plays. Before beginning the assessment, there is a short warm up conversation with the interlocutor. For each role play, there are three minutes to read the role-play card and five minutes to role-play the task points.
- The candidate and interlocutor role cards contain the same background information about the role-play scenario and prompts to maintain the conversation for five minutes.
- The Speaking sub-test is and designed to evaluate 4 linguistic criteria and 5 clinical communication criteria, which you can learn about here.
- Role plays are recorded by the interlocutor and these recordings are double-marked by qualified assessors using the assessment criteria. The interlocutor plays no role in assessment.
OET Test FAQs
How appropriate is the OET Test for health practitioners who want to work in English-speaking healthcare environments?
Research indicates that the test is appropriate in content and difficulty for the healthcare workplace.
A 2013 study by Cambridge English Language Assessment (Vidakovic & Khalifa, 2013) found that success on the OET Test is a good indicator of workplace readiness in terms of language proficiency. 93% of health professionals agreed, or strongly agreed, that their employees and colleagues who have taken the OET Test use English effectively in the health-related workplace. OET Test takers found that the relevance to their professional contexts of test topics and content helped them engage more with the test preparation process, and made them feel confident about their ability to communicate effectively with patients, carers, and colleagues.
In a 2013 study by the Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC) at the University of Melbourne (Macqueen, Pill, Elder, Knoch, 2013), OET Test takers reported that the test tasks were highly relevant to workplace communication, and that benefitted them in terms of acculturation as well as language proficiency. The research demonstrated that preparing for the test helped set the Australia-based test takers' expectations of professional life and the Australian workplace, and helped them participate more effectively when working in Australia.
CBLA, in partnership with the LTRC and Cambridge Assessment English, is engaged in continuous research and validation to ensure that the OET Test continues to reflect the demands of communication in the workplace and that the test experience has a positive impact on candidates and other stakeholders.
Why are some of the OET tests 'profession specific'?
Our test is designed to assess English language ability, not medical knowledge. That means our test developers take care to minimise areas where test takers may use prior knowledge rather than language skills to respond.
That's why we have designed the OET Listening and Reading sub-tests to not be profession specific. They are common to all candidates and focus on a variety of issues of general medical and health interest. While some topics may include content that is familiar to one particular health practitioner’s area of experience and expertise, the language tasks and questions associated with the texts are designed to test language knowledge and ability.
The OET Writing and Speaking sub-tests are profession specific, which means the test materials reflect real workplace scenarios specific to the test-takers profession. We've designed the test this way because communicating via speaking and writing provides opportunities for candidates to draw on their professional experience to demonstrate their ability to communicate in common workplace situations.
For example, all medical professionals conduct consultations with patients/clients, but they are likely to need to engage with those patients/clients about different issues in different contexts. Research (Vidakovic & Khalifa, 2013) indicates that preparing for OET helps make candidates ready for the workplace and increases their confidence in communicating with patients and colleagues.
Does OET provide a generic test?
No, OET does not provide a generic test. OET tasks are contextualised and work-related, and they target the following 12 professions: Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology, and Veterinary Science.
If your profession is not one of the 12 listed above, you may choose to sit the OET test for the profession which is closest to your own. For example, we understand that sonography registrants have taken the OET Radiography test, and that orthotics registrants have taken the OET Physiotherapy test. You may want to consider the sample tests available to get some idea of the test content for each profession. please visit the Preparation Information on the OET website for sample tests and additional support materials.
However, before you register for OET , we strongly recommend that you consult the appropriate regulatory authorities to confirm whether they will accept your OET results as proof of English language ability and to check which OET profession-specific test would be most suitable.
Will the OET Test meet my requirements?
To ensure the OET Test meets the requirements for the recognising organisation with which you'd like to share your results, please consider:
- Confirm with your Recognising Organisation:
- the minimum OET Test results they'll accept
- which OET Test delivery modes they accept
- if your OET Test results are required to be achieved in one sitting.
- Confirm the test mode, profession, country, and venue availability on our booking page prior to booking your test. Not all delivery dates and testing modes are available in all countries, and you'll have to select your preferred test date and delivery mode when booking your test.
How do I know if I’m eligible for OET?
The Sanctioned Countries where OET cannot provide a test, or receive payment (funds) for OET include:
- North Korea
- Crimea Region of Ukraine.
For candidates residing in a Sanctioned Country who need to take OET to apply for ECFMG Certification, please contact Customer Care.
Can I take the OET Test if I'm not a health professional?
If you are not a health professional working towards registration in an English-speaking context, our test may not be the most suitable test of English language for your purposes.
The OET Test is an English language test that assesses the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in an English-speaking environment. It is designed to focus on the communication needs of health professionals in the workplace and to provide a valid and reliable assessment of language skills in that setting.
Regulatory authorities who recognise the OET Test as proof of English language proficiency do so on that basis. We recommend that you consult the relevant regulatory authorities before you decide to register for a test. See who recognises OET.
How do I book the test?
Here's a few things you'll need to know when you register and book the test:
- Use a current personal email to register for OET; please do not use a university or workplace email address. (If you are applying for ECFMG certification, you must use the same email address as you used for ECFMG, personal or other email address.)
- You must provide details of a valid identification (ID) for your booking. Be sure to upload a current photo that meets our requirements (find guidelines here).
- You'll need to present the same ID on the test day for an ID verification process to ensure you are permitted to sit for the OET Test.
- Fees for the OET Test are paid at the time of booking.
- Bookings are subject to availability.
- Our Test Regulations prohibit you from having more than one booking (within the same delivery mode or multiple delivery modes) per test administration. You may not be eligible for a full refund if you hold multiple bookings within the same test administration.
What do I need to know about each test type?
OET on Paper at venue
- OET on Paper can be booked on Fridays (Americas) or Saturdays (worldwide).
- All four OET sub-tests must be taken the first time you sit OET to be able to receive your test results.
- You may book one or more additional OET sub-tests at venues outside the USA after completing your initial OET however, you should first check with the Recognising Organisation that you are applying with if they accept scores of single sub-tests.
- Bookings are open until the published test closing date. Click here to see the published test closing dates.
- After you have successfully booked your OET test, you will receive a booking confirmation email and an email from the test venue one week prior, including the venue address and a timetable.
OET on Computer at venue
- You must take the Listening, Reading and Writing together and the OET Speaking sub-test online must also be completed within the same test administration (usually 5 days before or after your Listening, Reading and Writing test). Note the following:
- the Listening sub-test start time will vary depending on the venue
- the Speaking sub-test start time may be prior to or after the Listening, Reading and Writing sub-tests; and
- the Speaking sub-test must be taken in the same test administration window (but not necessarily on the same day).
- If you do not take the OET Speaking sub-test online within this timeframe you will not have completed OET, and, you will be required to book for another test administration.
- OET on Computer at a venue can be booked on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays within a test administration window.
- OET on Computer at a venue is currently only available for Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Physiotheraphy. We will introduce OET on Computer at a venue for other professions once this test type is accepted by the relevant healthcare boards and councils.
- Bookings for each test administration close at 11.59PM GMT/UTC 7 days before the scheduled start time for the Listening, Reading and Writing sub-tests. Click here to see the published test closing dates.
- Once you have successfully booked the OET you will receive a confirmation email
- Before considering OET@Home, please ensure you meet the system requirements and the organisation you want to register with accepts this test mode.
- OET@Home can be booked on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays within a test administration window.
- OET@Home is currently only available for Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Physiotheraphy. We will introduce OET@Home for other professions once this test type is accepted by the relevant healthcare boards and councils.
- You must take the Listening, Reading and Writing sub-tests together.
- The OET Speaking sub-test online must be completed within the same test administration (usually five days before or after your Listening, Reading and Writing test).
- If you do not take the OET Speaking sub-test online within this timeframe you will not have completed OET and, you will be required to Book for another test administration.
- Bookings for each test administration close 11:59PM GMT/UTC 7 days before the scheduled start time for the Listening, Reading and Writing tests. Click here to see the published test closing dates.
- Once you have successfully booked the OET you will receive a confirmation email.