What is the OET?
The Occupational English Test (OET) is an English proficiency test for health professionals who are looking to register with several different health boards. The OET is an accredited test that can be used in support of your registration with the General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing Medical Council (NMC) here in the UK!
The OET, unlike other English proficiency tests, is more focused towards medical professionals and replicates the critical tasks of healthcare workplace settings.
What can I expect from the OET?
Each sub-section of the OET will be tested individually, broken down into the four following sub-sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Below we have gone into more detail about what you can expect from each segment on the day!
Where can I book my OET? Do I have to travel to the UK?
The OET is available in 46 different countries, with over 120 tests centres to choose from. There is only 14 test dates per year so make sure to go online and book in advance. The applications close one month before the test date.
What scores do I need to pass?
You will need to score a minimum of a B in each of the four sub-sections, with an overall score of B or more.
Listening Part A, B & C
- Overall Duration - 21 minutes
Part A - Consultation Extracts
- Duration - approximately 5 minutes
- In this section you will listen to two professional-patient consultations and you will be assessed on your ability to indentify specific information by completing the health professionals notes.
- The health profession will be picked at random and can vary from any of the 12 professions who can take OE
Part B - Short Workplace Extracts
- Duration - approximately 1 minute per extract (6 minutes total)
- In this section you will be assessed on your ability to identify details, substance, opinion or purpose of the short workplace extracts.
- You will listen to six clips in total and be asked to answer one multiple choice question per clip. The clips could include topics such as clinical handovers, team briefings and further professional-patient consultations.
Part C - Presentation Extracts
- Duration - 5 minutes each (10 minutes total)
- In this section you will be assessed on your ability to listen to a recorded presentation on a range of general healthcare topics.
- It will include two different clips and each clip will be followed by six multiple-choice questions.
Reading - Part A & B
- Overall Duration - 60 minutes
Part A - Expeditious Reading Task
- Duration - 15 minutes
- In this section you will be assessed on your ability to identify specificy information in four bodies of text.
- It will require you to be quick and efficient as you will have 20 questions to answer during the allocated time. Each question will vary from matching, sentence completion to short answers.
Part B & C - Careful Reading Task
- Duration - 45 minutes overall
- In Part B you will be presented with six short texts sourced from a range of healthcare workplaces. You will have to answer one three-option multiple-choice question for each text and you will be assessed on your ability to identify main points, gist and specific detail.
- In Part C you will be presented with a further two texts, where you will be required to identify detailed meaning and opinions on different interests to healthcare professionals e.g. texts about medicine and practice that you may read in your spare time to keep your understanding current. You will have eight four-option multiple choice questions to answer for each text
Writing - Single Task
- Duration - 45 minutes
- In this section you will be tested upon your ability to communicate through the form of a letter in relation to a healthcare setting.
- Task - you will be asked to write a letter; commonly a letter of referral/professional advice. The subject will be to advise a patient, carer or group on a particular topic - one example would be offering advice to a patient who has expressed concern about their glucose control.
- You will be provided with stimulus material such as case notes and other related documentation. This information can be used to provide context to your letter.
How will writing be assessed?
Your performance in the writing sub-test is reviewed and marked by TWO independent assessors. Both assessors will have a fresh perspective and are unaware of each other’s mark, or the mark of your previous sub-tests.
The way in which they do this is by scoring against each of the following six criteria:
• Purpose – is the topic of the letter immediately identifiable?
• Content – have you included the necessary and accurate information?
• Conciseness & Clarity – make sure you are making clear points and try not drift off topic
• Genre & Style – think about your tone and use of abbreviations
• Organisation & Layout – is it organize like a letter?
• Language – think about the accuracy of your vocabulary, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
- Duration - approx. 20 minutes
- This subsection of the OET exam will be focused on your chosen profession.It will involve two role plays and you will have 5 minutes for each one. You will begin with a warm up conversation with your interlocutor, where you'll discuss your profession and background.
- Duration - 3 minutes prep and 5 minutes per role-play
- You will be given a series of role play cards. Each card details a different scenario that reflects the demands on health professionals in your field, and what is required during the role play. You will then have 3 minutes to prepare - in this time you can make notes on the back of the a card and you may ask your interluctor any questions if you are unsure.
- During the role plays, the interluctor will follow a script so that they can stick to a similar format for each test. They will also have a detailed information sheet related to the topic that they can use during the role play.
How is the speaking sub-test assessed?
Two role-plays are scored against nine criteria, and again the two external assessors will give you a band score. The criteria is split into two different segments: Linguistic and Clinical Communicative.
• Appropriateness of Language
• Resources of Grammar and Expression
Clinical Communication Criteria:
• Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective
• Providing structure
Where can I find more resources to help me prepare?
We recommend visiting the OET website, where you can find example questions, role-plays and reading material.
Also, feel free to contact your recruitment consultant or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about a tutor.
What happens if I fail the OET?
Don’t worry, you can take the test again. For your second attempt, take some more time to prepare in the areas in which you didn’t achieve a B grade.
We highly recommend looking at more online resources, example scenarios & questions and also speaking with a tutor to discuss your problem areas.