The Occupational English Test (also known as OET) is the English language test for healthcare professionals. It assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practise in an English-speaking environment. The OET is available for the following medical professions:
- occupational therapy
- speech pathology
- veterinary science
Description of Ability
450 – 500
Test-taker can effectively and fluently communicate with patients and health professionals, using appropriate register, tone and lexis. Shows complete understanding of any kind of written or spoken language.
350 – 440
Test-taker can effectively communicate with patients and health professionals, using appropriate register, tone and lexis, with only occasional inaccuracies and hesitations. Shows good understanding in a range of clinical contexts.
300 – 340
200 – 290
Test-taker can maintain the interaction in a relevant healthcare environment despite occasional errors and lapses and follow standard spoken language normally encountered in his or her field of specialisation.
100 – 190
Test-taker can maintain some interaction and understand straightforward factual information in his or her field of specialisation, but may ask for clarification. Frequent errors, inaccuracies, misuse or overuse of technical language can cause strain in communication.
0 – 90
Test-taker can manage simple interaction on familiar topics and understand the main point in short, simple messages, provided he or she can ask for clarification. High-density of errors, inaccuracies, misuse or overuse of technical language can cause significant strain and breakdowns in communication.
Test-takers are required to demonstrate that they can follow and understand a range of health-related spoken materials such as patient consultations and lectures.
- Part A – Consultation Extracts (about 5 minutes each) – this assesses test-taker’s ability to identify specific information during a consultation. They are required to listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and complete the health professional’s notes using the information they hear.
- Part B – Short Workplace Extracts (about 1 minute each) – this assesses test-taker’s aptitude to identify the detail, gist, opinion or purpose of short extracts from the healthcare workplace. They are required to 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 Extracts (about 5 minutes each) – this assesses test-taker’s ability to follow a recorded presentation or interview on a range of accessible healthcare topics. They are required to listen to two different extracts and answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract.
Test-takers are required to demonstrate that they can read and understand different types of text on health-related subjects.
- Part A – Expeditious Reading Task (15 minutes) – this assesses test-takers’ ability to locate specific information from four short texts in a quick and efficient manner. The four short texts relate to a single healthcare topic, and they must answer 20 questions in the allocated time period. The 20 questions consist of matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.
- Parts B and Part C – careful reading tasks (45 minutes) – Part B assesses test-takers’ ability to identify the detail, gist or main point of six short texts sourced from the healthcare workplace (100-150 words each). The texts might consist of extracts from policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos. For each text, there is one three-option multiple-choice question. Part C, on the other hand, assesses test-takers’ ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion in two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals (800 words each). For each text, test-takers must answer eight four-option multiple choice questions.
Here, the task is to write a letter, usually a referral letter. Sometimes, especially for some professions, a different type of letter is required like a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise or to inform a patient, carer, or group.
This is delivered individually and the test-taker takes part in two role-plays. In each role-play, the test-taker takes his or her professional role (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist), while the interlocutor plays a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interlocutor is the owner or carer of the animal.
14 times per year