BULATS, BEC, FCE, IELTS, ILEC, PTE and TOEFL. All of these are acronyms for well known English language exams. But if we asked you about OET, would you know what it was?
We spoke to Renata Havrillova, Examinations Officer at the London Exam Centre to learn more about OET.
What is OET?
OET stands for Occupation English Test and it is a healthcare-specific English language test. It is designed for practitioners that need to test their English language proficiency in a healthcare-specific context.
Why should someone take OET?
OET is recognised in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand so anyone moving to these countries and looking to work in healthcare should consider taking this exam. IELTS is also recognised but OET is much more relevant to their profession and they may find it easier to pass this exam as it uses near real-life scenarios.
What is the structure of the exam?
There are 4 parts to OET
- Listening, 50 min
- Reading 60 min
- Writing 45 min
- Speaking 20 min
How specific is the content?
OET focuses on 12 different professions; these are Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology and Veterinary Science. The speaking test and writing tests are profession specific so they will focus on relevant language and familiar situations.
Do you have any exam tips for OET?
Like any exam I would say lots of practice, especially for the listening test as it’s quite long. Candidates need to write their answers while listening to the recording and the answers are more detailed that just choosing A, B or C – it’s usually words and phrases. Candidates should always check their answers thoroughly; the spelling of medical conditions can often let people down
How many OET exams does the London Exam Centre run each year?
There are 12 sessions available every year, that’s every month. Provided the exam falls on a Saturday, we open a session. So far we have run every single session we have offered.
What type of candidate enrols for this exam?
We’ve had all kinds of healthcare professionals take the OET with us but the majority are nurses. Apart from that, we’ve had GPs, dentists, speech pathologists, vets and pharmacists.
Where are the candidates from?
Since there are only a few centres in the Europe that offer OET, we have candidates flying in especially to take the exam. Unlike some other English language exams, candidates do everything in one day so they can fly in and fly out the same day. I can remember candidates from Sweden, Israel, Portugal and Hungary to name a few.
Is OET recognised in the UK?
Not yet but Cambridge University is involved with OET so we’re hoping that they will lobby for this exam to be accepted in the UK too. In my opinion, healthcare professionals – especially nurses - should be taking this exam and not IELTS because it is much more relevant to their profession. OET was actually designed by the same people who founded IELTS so the structure is quite similar.
Are there any preparation courses in the UK?
At the moment, none of the language schools are offering OET preparation courses but there are some resources online to help prepare for the exam. Wimbledon School of English runs a Medical English course and while it is not geared towards OET preparation there is definitely some crossover. The Medical English course at Wimbledon School of English is designed for healthcare professionals and medical students looking to improve their English language skills in a context relevant to their career. There is a real need for this kind of course in the UK.