Occupational English Test (OET) for International Doctors

An explanation into just what the OET is, how you can prepare, how much it will cost, and how it will help you on your path to becoming a doctor in the UK.
OET GMC registration

Occupational English Test (OET) is widely accepted now for all purposes of proving your English language proficiency as an international doctor lookinf forward to making your career in the UK. Starting from aplication for GMC registration to applying for foundation training by UKFPO also accepts OET as a valid test.

What is the OET?

It is an English language proficiency test which assess the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals. Which professionals, you ask?

  • Dentistry
  • Dietetics
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Radiography
  • Speech Pathology
  • Veterinary Science

We are only concerned about the Medicine version (as that’s what is required by the GMC to get registered), which we will discuss about at length.

Where can I use OET on my road to UK?

  • GMC registration
  • UKFPO Foundation Training (If eligible and interested)
  • FY2 Standalone Training (If eligible and interested)
  • Tier 2 Visa (as now it only requires you to have GMC registration)
  • Training Applications (If you are directly applying without any NHS experience)

That means pretty much everywhere.

If you are already working in the NHS in a non-training position (clinical fellow, trust grade doctor, SHO etc) and wish to apply for training, you can use your UK consultant’s testimony as a proof of English language proficiency.

Structure of the exam

taking OET as a doctor

Like IELTS, OET also judges your listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities but emphasizes a medical and healthcare aspect.

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Listening

The listening test has two parts and is about 50 minutes long. In Part A, you will have to listen to a simulated consultation between a professional and a patient. You must also take notes under appropriate headings.

In Part B, you will listen to a health professional giving a short talk on a health-related topic. You’ll then be required to complete a series of open-ended and multiple-choice questions.

Reading

The reading test also has of two parts and is an hour long. In Part A, which is 15 minutes long, candidates are asked to read 3 or 4 short texts and then complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words.

Part B is 45 minutes long. Here you must read two passages on a general healthcare topic and answer 8–10 multiple choice questions for each text.

Writing

The writing section will take you 45 minutes. What you are required to do is write a letter (usually a referral letter). You’ll be given case notes which must be included in their letter.

Speaking

The speaking test will take you about 20 minutes. What will happen is that you must conduct a one on one conversations with an interlocutor. It will start with a short warm-up interview about your professional background. After this there will be two role plays.

You will get 2–3 minutes to prepare for each role play. Role plays last about 5 minutes and are based on the usual interactions between a health professional and a patient. You will be a doctor in the situation, talking to your patient, and you must make them understand or explain to them whatever is relevant from the role play task.

If you want more information regarding each section of the exam and what more you can expect, please look here.

Required OET score for PLAB & GMC Registration

You will need to get a ‘B’ in each module of the exam in order to be considered eligible in the eyes of the GMC. What does a ‘B’ mean?

OET results table

It will take you about 16 days from the day of your exam to see your results via the online portal on the OET website. The official document will be mailed to you within 10 working days.

For further information regarding the results, look here.

How much is this exam going to set me back?

As this exam is Australian based, the cost is set in Australian dollar (AUD). As such, it will cost you $587 AUD (~ £332 GBP). The application portal allows you to see how much it will cost in your local currency. You can pay by credit card (only Visa or MasterCard) or by bank check or money order. If you opt to pay via bank check or money order, it must be in AUD and drawn from an Australian bank.

Required ID Documents

You will also need a digital passport photo along with a proper form of identification. If you are taking the exam within Australia, it must be a passport. Outside of Australia, however, you can bring your passport or an equivalent national identification card.

Another important point to understand is that the rule about national identification card will only work if you are taking the exam in your home country. If you are taking it outside of your home country, you must provide a passport. For instance, if you are an Indian citizen taking the exam in India, you may bring your Indian national identification card as proof of identity. However, if you are an Indian citizen taking the exam in Bangladesh, you must provide your passport as proof of identity.

Regardless of the form of identification you provide, it must be the original, and valid on the day of the exam. These forms of identification must include a photo.

When and where is this exam available?

The OET is taken 12 times a year in over 40 international centers. Please look here to find the dates you can book and if your country hosts the exam.

What to study for OET?

scantron sheet

There are some free materials and sample tests you can find at the main website. There is also a link provided there for materials you can purchase. When you register for the exam, you also receive six weeks’ access to a preparation package known as Start for Success.

You can also look here for more OET materials.

2.0 Materials,

Listening Materials,

Reading Materials,

Writing Materials,

Speaking Materials,

OET Corrections,

Case notes & model letters,

Past Papers,

More materials.

If you are having trouble downloading files from MEGA in your phone, I suggest you use any standalone browser like Chrome, Firefox etc and open the desktop site. Click here to see how to download from MEGA in your phone using Chrome browser.

IELTS vs OET

Let’s look at the comparison between IELTS and OET and UKNARIC below:

IELTS vs OET vs Naric

Top comparison points between IELTS and OET to note:

  • IELTS is cheaper than OET
  • IELTS takes place in more countries than OET
  • OET doesn’t take place as frequently as IELTS
  • Some might feel that preparing for OET is easier than IELTS, as it is medicine and healthcare related

Further discussion about IELTS, IELTS for UKVI & UKNARIC can be found here in English Language Proficiency for PLAB, GMC registration and Tier 2 Visa.

Frequently asked questions

Is OET mandatory to obtain GMC registration?

No. This is just another way to prove English language proficiency alongside IELTS. To obtain GMC registration, you can use any one of these two when it meets GMC criteria.

If I take OET, will I have to take IELTS?

No. OET is accepted all the way from your PLAB to GMC registration to Tier 2 visa as well.

I have been trying for IELTS, but should I take OET instead?

That’s totally up to you. But remember to not take an exam that expensive like a walk in the park. Prepare well.

Is OET accepted for training post application?

Yes, alongside IELTS, OET is now accepted for training post applications as well. But NOT for UKFPO training (as of the date of updating this article). Please note – you will only need to try for UKFPO if you have not finished any GMC-acceptable internship following your graduation.

Is OET easier than IELTS?

If you are struggling with IELTS a few times, any English language exam will seem easy to you at that point. But if you are taking OET for the first time, I would definitely suggest not to take it lightly.

I hope I have covered all the pertinent information regarding the OET exam. If you still have any questions or concerns regarding the OET and it’s usage for GMC registration, please check out our interactive session where it is further discussed.

Good luck!

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