Inadequate language proficiency is known to be a barrier to effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients which, in turn, may impact the quality of care.

The Occupational English Test (OET) is aimed at assessing the English language proficiency of people in the field of healthcare. The test is approved by many countries for visas, study, migration, among others.

OET evaluates language proficiency in four areas: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The tests will assess a candidate’s ability to understand and respond to questions about general healthcare consultations and presentations, as also texts in a general healthcare setting. Test-takers are required to write accurate, professional letters with the help of prompts. Additionally, a candidate will use speaking prompts to carry out suitable and effective conversations with patients, with regard to specific healthcare professions.

Which countries recognise OET?

OET is accepted for work or study in healthcare in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Dubai, Singapore or Namibia.

Who should take OET?

OET can be taken by healthcare professionals in any of the following 12 professions: Dentistry, Dietetics, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography, Speech Pathology, and Veterinary Science.

Who produces OET?

OET was developed by Tim McNamara at the University of Melbourne. OET has been owned and produced by Cambridge Box Hill Language Assessment Trust – a venture between Cambridge English and Box Hill Institute – since 2013.

Why opt for OET?

  • The practice of OET’s real healthcare scenarios lends more confidence to healthcare professionals in language proficiency tests.
  • OET is widely accepted as proof of English proficiency for registration, study and work in the healthcare sector, besides being recognised for visas in some countries.
  • OET helps develop language skills for success in your career.


( Approximately 50 Minutes )


(60 Minutes)


(45 Minutes)


( Approximately 20 Minutes).


The writing paper asks candidates to write a letter, usually a letter of referral. For some professions a different type of letter is required, e.g. a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise a patient, carer or group. Candidates are given case notes which must be included in their letter.


The listening test consists of two parts. In Part A, candidates listen to a simulated consultation (dialogue) between a professional and a patient and are required to take notes under headings. In Part B, candidates listen to a health professional giving a short talk on a health-related topic and are required to complete a range of open-ended and fixed-choice questions.


The speaking test is in the form of one-to-one conversations with an interlocutor. It starts with a short warm-up interview about the candidate’s professional background. This is followed by two role plays. Candidates have 2–3 minutes to prepare for each role play. Role plays last about five minutes and are based on typical interactions between a health professional and a patient. The candidate adopts their usual professional role (e.g. as a nurse) and the interviewer plays a patient or sometimes a relative or carer. For veterinary science the interviewer is the owner or carer of the animal.


The reading test consists of two parts. In Part A, lasting 15 minutes, candidates are asked to skim read 3 or 4 short texts and complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words. It is designed to test the reader’s ability to scan texts within a time limit, source information from multiple texts, and synthesise information. In Part B, lasting 45 minutes, candidates are asked to read two passages on a general healthcare topic and answer 8–10 multiple choice questions for each text. It is designed to test the reader’s ability to read and comprehend longer texts.

Key HURRAY Offerings in OET

Assessment tests (with counseling on areas of improvement)

Strategies and Tips/Techniques

Practice Tests


Mock Tests

Review and Feedback


Each of the four sub-tests that make up OET are graded A to E, where A is the highest grade and E is the lowest. There is no overall grade.

OET gradeDescription of ability
A Very high level of performance
B High level of performance, i.e. able to use English with fluency and accuracy adequate for professional needs
C Good level of performance; however, not acceptable to a range of health and medical councils
D Moderate level of performance; requires improvement
E Low level of performance; requires considerable improvement

Listening and reading

There is no fixed score-to-grade link for the listening and reading tests. Grade boundaries are continually reset because different test materials are used at each administration. A mean average of the percentage of candidates in each grade for the writing and speaking tests is applied to the spread of performances on the listening and reading tests to establish the grade boundaries.

Writing and speaking

In writing and speaking, the score is generated through statistical analysis of the two sets of scores from two independent assessors. This is converted, following established practice, to the final grade.

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