So should I choose OET or IELTS?

Let me ask you a couple of questions first. Are you a qualified healthcare professional in your own country? Do you want to work as a healthcare professional in an English-speaking country?

If you answered 'no' to either question, then IELTS is likely to be the right choice for you. If you answered 'yes' to both of these questions, then you'll know that you need certification to prove your English language level and that you have a choice between IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) and OET(the Occupational English Test).

Same same...

  1. IELTS and OET both test your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
  2. IELTS and OET tests take place on one day, rather than taking four skills tests across a number of days, or even weeks.
  3. There is no pass/fail for IELTS or OET but rather a graded score. Different institutions require candidates to achieve different scores. For example, the GMC (General Medical Council) in the UK requires an IELTS score of 7 in each of the four skills tests and an overall score of 7.5. This equates to a 'B' at OET - which is an OET point score of 350 or above.
  4. The required scores in both OET and IELTS are of an equivalent C1 or advanced level when measured on the Common European Framework of Reference.
  5. Both tests require test-specific preparation support.
  6. IELTS and OET scores are valid for two years.
  7. Both tests are part-owned by Cambridge Assessment English. IELTS is co-owned by IDP Australia and the British Council, OET is co-owned by Boxhill Assessment, Australia.

...but different.

  1. OET tests healthcare English. This includes skills such as the ability to write a referral letter on a medical matter, listen to healthcare professionals take a medical history from a patient and read workplace-based policy documents.
    IELTS tests academic English. This includes skills such as the ability to write essays, follow university-style lectures, read articles on a wide range of topics such as the environment, lifestyle, education and social trends.
  2. IELTS has two versions of its test. IELTS offers IELTS Academic (the version required as certification evidence for the healthcare workplace), which is more appropriate for Higher Education and IELTS General Training, which is considered more appropriate for immigration or vocational purposes.
    OET has 12 versions of its test. The Listening and Reading sections are the same for all versions of the test but the Speaking and Writing sections are tailored for different healthcare professions; dentists, dieticians, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, opticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, radiographers, speech pathologists and vets.
  3. OET requires healthcare-related content as test preparation. Candidates must be able to follow and participate in clinical scenarios, specialist healthcare settings and community-based health contexts and understand medical texts and talks. In the Writing section, your ability to communicate effectively when writing in a healthcare context is assessed.
    Do you remember that I asked if you are a qualified healthcare professional - the reason is the test preparation content. While broad in terms of healthcare contexts, the content is exclusively healthcare focussed.
    IELTS requires test-takers to learn a huge amount of vocabulary on a wide range of academic topics as test preparation. One of the Reading sections could be about the discovery of the colour purple and the next could look at the role of cycling for transportation and health. In the Writing section, your ability to produce a piece of academic writing that would be expected at university is assessed.
  4. OET is recognised by healthcare regulatory bodies. It is an English language test for healthcare professionals.
    IELTS is recognised by healthcare regulatory bodies and also universities, immigration authorities and large corporations. It tests your overall ability to communicate in English and is most often used for entry to university.

And a last piece of advice...

Ignore all the information out there about "which test is the easiest IELTS OR OET?". The healthcare regulatory bodies require equivalent scores in IELTS or OET. Your test-taking strategies will be targeted towards a particular test. You can't take an IELTS preparation course and then sit the OET test.

I hope this helps you choose your test preparation path.

It's over to you now 🤞(but contact us if you have any questions!)

Jayne ☺