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Contact us The OET Centre GPO Box 372 Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia

Occupational English Test (OET)

The English language test for healthcare professionals

Tel: +61 3 9652 0800

The Occupational English Test (OET) is designed to meet the specific English language needs of the healthcare sector. It assesses the language proficiency of healthcare professionals who wish to practise in an English-speaking environment. OET is owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Pty Ltd. It is a joint venture between Cambridge English Language Assessment and Box Hill Institute. Cambridge English Language Assessment is a not-for-profit department of the University of Cambridge with over 100 years of experience in assessing the English language. Box Hill Institute is a leading Australian vocational and higher education provider, active both in Australia and overseas.



The Occupational English Test (OET) is an international test designed to meet the English language needs of the healthcare sector. It is aimed at healthcare professionals who seek to register or practise in an English-speaking environment. OET assesses language skills in health-related contexts, making it highly relevant to non-native speakers who need to prove that they possess the English language skills necessary to communicate effectively with patients and other health professionals. A vast majority of healthcare professionals believe that OET1 is most relevant to their occupation and that it provides a valid assessment of their English language ability. Preparing for OET presents immediate benefits:

test overview Preferred by healthcare professionals OET is an in-depth and thorough assessment, specific to the healthcare sector. In addition, OET is specially designed to assess English language skills using situational tasks that reflect the way language is used on the job, with colleagues or patients. For these reasons, healthcare professionals and test takers value the appropriateness of an OET qualification to obtain a visa, pursue employment, or register as a healthcare professional in Australia, New Zealand or Singapore, where OET is currently recognised.

• it increases candidates’ confidence that their English is functional in work contexts • it increases test takers’ workplace readiness in terms of their ability to use English in a healthcare context • the match between test content and candidates’ knowledge and expertise lowers anxiety commonly associated with taking language tests. When advising visa and job seekers in the healthcare sector, OET is a strong option to recommend. This leaflet provides an overview of the test’s features and benefits to assist you in providing your clients with information about OET.

 Vidakovic, I and Khalifa, H (2013) Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Occupational English Test (OET): An exploratory study, Research Notes 54.




Based on extensive research OET has been designed by world-leading experts in language assessment, led by the Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC) at the University of Melbourne, and practising healthcare professionals. For over 30 years it has undergone continuous research, validation and evaluation to guarantee that it is fit for purpose.

Specific and relevant OET is designed for the following 12 professions:

Designed to reflect workplace interaction OET consists of four sub-tests which provide a complete and reliable assessment of the language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. The Listening and Reading sub-tests are based on health-related topics and are common and accessible to all professions. The Writing and Speaking sub-tests are specific to each profession and reflect tasks commonly performed in the workplace.

Tasks include:



Listening (approx. 50 minutes)



• A recorded, simulated professional/patient consultation with note-taking questions.





Occupational Therapy

Speech Pathology

Reading (60 minutes)


Veterinary Science

• Three or four short texts on a single health-related topic – designed to assess the ability to process and synthesise information quickly.

The primary reason why test takers choose OET2 is the ability to use a truly specialised English language test to register as a professional (78%). This is followed by the relevance of an OET qualification in seeking employment (18%), satisfying an immigration or residency language requirement, and enrolling in university or healthcare training programmes.

• A short talk on a health-related topic with a range of comprehension questions.

• Two long passages on general health-related topics – designed to assess the ability to read longer texts carefully and in detail.

Writing (45 minutes) • A referral letter based on case notes – designed to evaluate the ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and/or patients.

Speaking (approx. 20 minutes)

 Vidakovic, I and Khalifa, H (2013) Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Occupational English Test (OET): An exploratory study, Research Notes 54.



• Two role plays simulating consultations between a healthcare professional and a patient (or a carer, in the case of veterinary science). 5

OET is recognised by major healthcare authorities

• Australasian Veterinary Boards Council Inc.

OET is recognised and trusted by over 20 healthcare regulators, boards, councils and government departments in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

• Australian Dental Council (ADC)

Many institutions, including hospitals, universities and colleges also use OET as proof of a candidate’s ability to communicate in a demanding healthcare environment. These institutions include the University of Queensland, Australian Catholic University (ACU), Deakin University and the Australian College of Nursing (ACN).


• Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR) • Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (Australia and New Zealand) • Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) • Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).

New Zealand • Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council (ANZPAC)

OET is accepted by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection for various visa categories, including skilled migration and student visas. Detailed information is available from:

• Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (Australia and New Zealand)

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the national agency responsible for the registration of 14 health professions in Australia, lists the English language requirement, and acceptable tests, for each profession. Detailed information is available from:

• Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand

The following Boards accept OET as proof of English language proficiency for registration purposes:

• Singapore Pharmacy Council.

– Dental Board of Australia – Medical Board of Australia – Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia – Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia – Occupational Therapy Board of Australia – Optometry Board of Australia – Pharmacy Board of Australia – Physiotherapy Board of Australia –  Podiatry Board of Australia. 6

• Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council (ANZPAC)

• Dental Council of New Zealand (DCNZ) • Nursing Council of New Zealand • Pharmacy Council of New Zealand • Veterinary Council of New Zealand.

Singapore • Allied Health Professions Council • Singapore Medical Council For the most up-to-date list of recognising organisations, visit:


OET is convenient, accessible and secure Registering for the test Candidates complete their registration via the OET website, wherever they are in the world. The OET website contains all the information and tools prospective candidates need to process their application online, including payment. OET is available up to 10 times a year, at over 50 testing venues worldwide.

Test scoring and reporting Candidates receive a separate grade for each sub-test they take, ranging from A (highest) to E (lowest). There is no overall grade for OET.

OET grade

Description of ability


Very high level of performance


High level of performance i.e. able to use English with fluency and accuracy adequate for professional needs


Good level of performance; however, not acceptable to a range of health and medical councils


Moderate level of performance: requires improvement


Low level of performance: requires considerable improvement

To see the current test dates and list of countries where the test is available, visit

Scores are available online approximately 15 business days after the test administration. Candidates can access their scores on the OET website, using their secure log-on. An official Statement of Results is posted following the publication of results online. A secure online results verification service is available to help authorised organisations and authorities verify candidate results for up to three years.



Why you can confidently recommend OET In summary, here are five reasons why you can confidently recommend OET:

More and more organisations, including hospitals, universities and colleges are using OET as proof of a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in a demanding healthcare environment.

• it fulfils the English language training needs and serves the career goals of healthcare professionals, resulting in a motivating and rewarding experience • it is matched to the language demands of 12 specific healthcare professions • it is advocated by past test takers as a most suitable test for registration, employment and visa purposes • it gives healthcare practitioners a recognised professional English language qualification to add to their credentials • it is frequently cited by healthcare boards and regulatory organisations as proof of English language ability for healthcare professionals.



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