OET gets job for Indian healthcare professionals

PUBLISH DATE 18th September 2018

David Wiltshire decodes Occupational English Test, which assesses English language proficiency of professionals.

Healthcare professionals from India can get job through OET (Occupational English Test) exams in countries like UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Singapore, Ukraine and Ireland. The test is also recognised in Australia and New Zealand for visa and immigration purposes. "Limited language proficiency is an obstacle to effective communication affecting the quality of care.

Therefore, healthcare boards and councils in English-speaking countries require internationally trained healthcare professionals to prove their English language proficiency as part of the registration-to-practice process. Through the exam, healthcare professionals are tested for their language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) using real communication scenarios they are likely to encounter in the healthcare workplace," says David Wiltshire, education manager, OET.

David adds further, "Ever since the recognition by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council in the UK, we have seen a significant uptake in the number of candidates in India who are appearing for the test. There is no pass mark for OET. The grades required are set by the various recognising organisations so candidates need to check with the individual healthcare board with which they wish to register."

The test held every month in more than 110 locations in 40 countries is owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, a venture between Cambridge Assessment English and Box Hill Institute, Australia. It is aimed at practitioners in 12 medical professions including dentistry, dietetic, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology and veterinary science.

Preparation process

Having a good command over English and thorough test preparation are key to success. "Preparation materials on the OET website ( is free of cost for most modules. A good place to start is the online OET Masterclass with expert advice on all four sub-tests (reading, writing, listening and speaking). Then there are sample practice tests, practice books and more. Students may sign up for online or offline coaching, and OET endorses a number of preparation providers who provide this type of coaching," says David.

OET versus IELTS

Distinguishing between the two language proficiency tests, David says, "OET and IELTS are both valid and reliable tests of English language proficiency; both test all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). Where they differ is in the type of communication scenarios that are tested. For example, in the IELTS or indeed in any other academic/general English writing test, the candidate may be asked to write an essay on a general topic like global warming, while OET writing test is profession-specific. For OET Medicine, the candidate may be required to write a referral letter based on a set of case notes referring their patient to a specialist or emergency department of a hospital," he explains.

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