If you’re a medical professional looking to advance your career, taking your skills to a foreign country (think the US, the UK, or even New Zealand) might be just the thing to spruce up your resume.
But today, before you can take your medical practice to a foreign, English-speaking country, you’ve got to do something.
We’re talking about the OET, or the Occupational English Test: a test used by the majority of the world’s English-speaking countries to assess the Medical English skills of a candidate.
This applies to doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and even dentists. If you’re writing a prescription, you need to pass the OET.
The OET ensures that medical professionals immigrating from other countries have the English speaking, writing, and listening skills required to properly communicate medical facts to patients and other medical personnel.
Taking a Deeper Look Into the Occupational English Test
What is the OET?
The OET, or the Occupational English Test, has one specific, straightforward purpose:
To test the English skills of the participating candidates in various areas and fields.
With more than 30 years of research and development behind it, the OET aims to make sure that the candidates can comfortably communicate in an English-speaking environment.
Some of the four different exams in the OET aim to assess the candidate’s proficiency in generally communicating in English.
Others still test their knowledge of medical terms, conditions, and other terminology in English for effortless, quick communication.
Which Are the OET Accepted Countries?
The Occupational English Test is recognized by medical authorities and institutions almost globally.
To be more specific, it’s accepted in the following English-speaking countries:
- The USA
- The UK
- New Zealand
- The Maldives
- United Arab Emirates
Who Needs to Take the Occupational English Test?
We said above that the OET is necessary for any medical practitioner who wants to practice in a foreign, English-speaking country.
Still, that sounds purposefully vague, doesn’t it?
For your convenience, we’ve listed out the 12 different professions that require you to pass the OET down below:
- Occupational Therapy
- Veterinary Science
- Speech Pathology
OET Formats and Passing Grade
What Format Does OET Use?
The first thing you want to know about the Occupational English Test is that there’s not just a single examination.
There’s no less than a total of four.
When you sit down for OET, you’re going to be looking at four different papers:
The Listening and Reading Exams
The first two papers, Listening and Reading, aim to assess the general quality of a candidate’s English skills.
Your ability to understand spoken and written English will be tested here through several health-related texts, topics, and tasks required by most healthcare professions.
The texts, which you should take particular notice of as they’re often an easy way to rack up points, can range from short notices to long medical texts.
You might even see complicated stuff like psychology articles.
The Speaking and Writing Exams
The last two tests, Speaking, and Writing, are connected specifically to the professions that require you to take the OET. As the tests reflect everyday tasks needed in and around your workplace, you’ll see questions related to your specific field.
For example, you might be asked to write a letter to a patient or a colleague for the Writing exam, explaining some complicated conditions.
The Speaking exam is inherently different and requires you to play a predefined role in a clinical conversation. Here, it’s your manner that counts, so be calm, relaxed, and kind.
What’s Considered A Passing Grade?
The subtests of OET are graded in ten-point increments, going from 0 to 500 at the maximum.
Like most exams, the numerical score is bound to a letter grade, ranging from A (highest) to E (lowest and failing grades).
Most healthcare institutions require at least a C+, or preferably a B, in all four papers, considered the lowest acceptable level of English needed for smooth communication.
However, what’s considered a passing grade differs in each country.
For example, the General Medical Council demands doctors to achieve a B in all four papers in the UK.
On the other hand, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has slightly more flexible terms, requiring a B in Reading, Listening, and Speaking but only a C+ in Writing.
How You Can Take OET: A Conclusion
We’re going to end this on a helpful note: to take the OET, you have to appear at one of the many test centres worldwide.
Alternatively, you also can use the CBLA’s (the authority administering OET) at-home testing service, allowing you to take the tests in the comfort of your own home.
But you should remember that the Occupational English Test is no joke, and requires several months of prep to get a passing grade. If you aren’t sure you can prepare for it by yourself, we’d advise seeking the help of a highly-rated training service to help you pass the OET in one go!