Skip to main content

Recently health-care professionals choose the OET exam over the IELTS exam. Let’s find out what the reasons are!

What is the OET Exam?

OET The Occupational English Test is the English language test for healthcare professionals. It evaluates the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who want to register and practice in English-speaking countries. OET measures all four language skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) and communication in the medical and healthcare professional field. It ensures that health care professions have enough language skills to communicate at a high level with patients and colleagues, hence, provide safe and effective care.

Exam Structure:

  • Listening (approximately 45 minutes)
  • Reading (60 minutes)
  • Writing (45 minutes)
  • Speaking (approximately 20 minutes).

What is the difference between IELTS and OET?

Both IELTS and OET are used to examine the English language of healthcare professionals. Although both exams are language exams with some similarities, however, there are some differences which make the OET exam more convenient to health-care professions such as:

1.Preparation Requirements

Preparing for IELTS mainly requires learning huge amounts of vocabulary on a wide range of academic subjects, also writing different types of reports with an advanced level of grammar and sentence structure.

Preparing for OET mainly requires learning medical terminology, and a wide range of healthcare-related and profession-specific language, so healthcare providers can follow, engage with and participate in a variety of clinical situations, as well as to understand medical texts and talks. They only need to write healthcare-related letters, such as a referral letter.


 IELTS is recognized by universities, immigration authorities and companies in many countries world-wide. This includes international universities in non-English speaking countries where a course may be provided in English.

OET is recognized by healthcare regulatory authorities and higher education healthcare educators, including those in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai, Ukraine and Namibia.


IELTS tests academic English includes the ability to write essays, follow lectures, understand academic articles and discuss a wide range of topics, from the environment to business to social trends to cultural values.

OET tests healthcare English, including the ability to communicate effectively in medical and clinical situations, write a referral or discharge letter, follow a text taken from a medical journal or understand a patient consultation.


 IELTS offers only 2 versions of the test – Academic as described, and General Test, used by corporates and companies to test the more general language considered more appropriate for immigration or business environments. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same for both. The Academic Reading and Writing is more targeted to Higher Education than the General exam.

OET offers 12 versions of the test for different healthcare professions; nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, radiographers,occupational therapists, vets, speech pathologists, dieticians, and physiotherapists. The Reading and Listening sections are the same for both. The Speaking and Writing sections are tailored to the specific scenarios in which each profession uses English.


 The IELTS grading system is out of 9, with a separate score for each paper.

OET is graded from A to E, with an equivalent numerical score to show more precisely where in the grade a candidate sits.

We hope we have provided you a thorough explanation of the main differences between the two exams.

Want to enhance your medical terminology but do not from where to start?

Visit CoatConnect to book your course now.



Leave a Reply