How does OET Differ from a Standard English Test?

OET Test Preparation Specialists

The OET, or Occupational English Test, is designed specifically for healthcare workers. It has specific subtests for each of 12 healthcare professions, including a range of allied health professions, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Medicine. It is therefore very different to a traditional English test like IELTS.

OET Medicine Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Medicine Question bank features questions from UK doctors, as well as tutorials and techniques.

OET Nursing Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Nursing Question bank features questions from doctors and admissions specialists, with a range of tutorials.

OET Pharmacy Online Course & Question Bank

Our OET Pharmacy Question bank features questions from UK doctors and pharmacists, with tutorials and tips.

Reading & Listening

This is apparent in both the Reading and Listening sections. You will be presented with texts or recordings that would commonly be encountered in a healthcare setting, rather than the more diverse range of topics you might find in a different test. For example, in the reading section you might find yourself reading a hospital safety guide or patient information leaflet. In the listening section, you might have to listen to a recording of a handover, or a patient speaking to their healthcare provider. You should feel confident with the kind of information that you will encounter here.


The writing section involves healthcare-specific information as well, most notably in Part C. Here, you will need to read a patient’s case notes and write either a discharge or referral letter. Whilst no medical knowledge is tested, you will feel more confident in writing in this format than you might in writing an essay on a topic that you know little about.

OET Test Resources & Tutoring

Find our 1-1 tutoring for OET Medicine and Nursing here. We also offer 1-1 tutoring for Pharmacy.


In the speaking section, you will take on two role plays. In each, you play a member of your own profession. You will likely take on a consultation with a patient. For example, if you are a doctor, expect to take on two patient consultations, or one patient consultation and one discussion with a relative. You will be used to this format and likely able to draw some confidence from that fact. Additionally, the mark scheme itself takes into account the fact that you are a healthcare worker. We can see that from the ‘Clinical Communication Criteria,’ which are as follows:

  • Relationship-building: Are you able to show empathy and respect for your interlocutor?
  • Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective: Are you able to involve the patient in the conversation and show that you are actively considering them?
  • Providing structure: Are you able to clearly organise your speech and provide information in a logical way?
  • Information-gathering: Do you ask appropriate questions and show that you understand the responses?
  • Information-giving: Do you provide information appropriately and check that it is being understood?
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