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The OET Advantage: Why Healthcare Professionals should take the OET instead of IELTS?

One of the most frequent questions we hear from our students here at Dynamic Health Staff is, “Should I take the IELTS or OET?”

If you are looking to move to the UK, then the first step in the process is demonstrating your English language abilities. For this, you’ve got two options – either take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or take the OET (Occupational English Test).

Here, in this guide, we walk you through the similarities and differences between both these tests and highlight why the OET works better for nurses and other healthcare professionals moving to the UK.

Key Differences between IELTS and OET

Features IELTS OET
What is it? The IELTS is a general English language assessment that is widely recognized and accepted across several English-speaking countries apart from the UK like Australia, New Zealand, and many others.


The OET is an international English language assessment test, but it primarily caters to healthcare professionals like nurses, physiotherapists, and others. Initially, the OET was designed for Australia and New Zealand. But, in November 2017, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) of the UK started accepting OET test scores while evaluating prospective candidates.
Scoring The IELTS is scored from 0 – 9, and you need to get a score of 7 and above in the sections Listening, Speaking and Reading, and a score of above 6.5 in Writing to pass the test. The OET is scored in grades from A to E. To pass the test, an overall score of A or B is required.
Test Time 2 hours 45 minutes Approximately 3 hours

1. Listening

Listen to 4 recordings and answer questions based on it Two parts

●       Part A – Take notes on a recorded patient consultation

●       Part B – Answer questions after listening to a healthcare lecture

2. Reading Read three passages from journals and newspapers and answer questions based on it. Two parts

●       Part A – Read four short texts and fill in the blanks to complete the summary of the text

●       Part B – Read two longer passages and answer MCQ based on it

3. Writing Two tasks

●       Task 1 – Study graphs/data provided and write about it

●       Task 2 – Write an essay on the given topic

You have to read case notes and write a follow-up letter, discharge note, or referral letter based on it.
4. Speaking Discuss general topics with the interviewer like your hobbies, family, home, etc. You will also be given a task card with a topic and speak on it. Role plays where you will play the role of the nurse, and the examiner will pose as the patient. The interaction will be based on the chosen topic card.


Now, coming to the big question,

Should I take the IELTS or OET?

If you don’t belong to the healthcare profession, then the IELTS is the only choice you have. However, if you are a healthcare professional, then the OET is a better choice as it deals with content specific to your profession.

Why is the OET the better choice for healthcare professionals?

Let’s take a look at the top three reasons why OET is the better choice for healthcare professionals:

#1: It’s suited to your Profession

As a nurse, you would have plenty of experience working in a hospital environment. Each section in the OET mirrors real-life scenarios that you are likely to face in the workplace. To give an example, the speaking section is a role-play between a healthcare professional and a patient.

By taking the OET, you prepare yourself for situations that you are likely to face in your workplace. By taking the OET for nurses, you not only demonstrate your English language ability but also get a clear idea of what to expect in your workplace in the UK. It’s similar to killing “two birds with one stone.”

#2: The OET has Familiar Vocabulary and Terminology

Additionally, the vocabulary and terminology used are similar to what you hear daily at the workplace, giving you an advantage in taking the test. On the contrary, if you take the IELTS, you have to spend time prepping for the complex vocabulary used in the test, which you are unlikely to use in real life.

If you are confident with medical terminology, then taking the OET is the smarter choice.

#3: It’s a Pen and Paper Test

The OET is a traditional pen and paper test, and for the speaking section, you have to interact with a human examiner. If you are comfortable with the traditional testing format, then the OET is the better choice.

Finally, coming to the deciding question,

Which is Easier – The OET or the IELTS?

This is like comparing apples to oranges. It all depends on your levels of proficiency and expertise. If you are well-versed in healthcare knowledge and medical vocabulary, then the OET is hands down the easier test for you. With just basic OET Training, you can ace the test, as the questions asked there are similar to what you experience in your workplace.

On the other hand, the IELTS is the broader English language assessment. It’s used by students and professionals across industries. This means the topics and content covered in the IELTS are wider and taken from several sources.

Read more: why people fail the OET test?

As mentioned above, it all depends on your purpose and your proficiency. Get in touch with our career guidance experts here at DSS, and we’ll help you decide which test is the right choice for you. Alternatively, you can take a free online practice test of the IELTS and the OET to evaluate your performance and confidence levels in both the tests and choose the right one that works for you.

For more information or any query, call us at +91-9810017608 OR email us your queries at enquiry@dynamichealthstaff.com


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About the author

Based out of the UAE , Dynamic Health Staff (www.dynamichealthstaff.com) is an industry leader in overseas recruitment since its inception in 1977. With 12 offices in 6 countries and a staff over 260 members, DHS focus on recruitment of healthcare professions into United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada and Middle East.

Each year, we give jobs to over 2500 healthcare professionals.

If you are confused which country is right for you, click here : https://dynamichealthstaff.com/countries .

To submit your resume for us and to have us reach out when the right job opens up, share your details with us at : https://dynamichealthstaff.com/applyjob

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