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OET Test format

Occupational English Test is an English language proficiency test specifically designed for a range of healthcare professionals. The test is profession-specific for 12 different professions

  • General Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Dentistry
  • Dietetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Optometry
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Radiography
  • Pharmacy
  • Podiatry
  • Speech Pathology
  • Veterinary Science

OET has 4 subtests

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

It's a paper-based test with headphones provides for the listening module.The test is usually conducted in a hotel or in a hired school or college campus.

The test is conducted once a month on pre-announced dates in major cities across the world.

On the day of the test, Listening will be the first module followed by Reading and then Writing. For Speaking you are given an individual appointment on the same day or a day before or after. You will be informed of the schedule a few days before the test.


  • About 40 Mins
  • 42 questions
  • 42 marks


  • About 60 Mins
  • 42 questions
  • 42 marks

Listening and Reading papers remain the same for all professions on the day of the test, whereas Writing and Speaking modules differ from profession to profession.


  • About 40 Mins
  • One Letter of Referral / Discharge /Transfer
  • 180 to 200 words

You are given a question paper containing case notes of a patient, followed at the end by question.

You need to write a letter as directed in the question using relevant case notes. Usually, about 25% of the case notes could be irrelevant.

Score is given on five bases:
1. Overall Task Fulfilment which means that you need address all parts of the question effectively.
2. Appropriateness of Language which means you must use formal and professional language, avoiding colloquial language and organise the ideas well.
3. Comprehension of Stimulus which means that you should include the relevant case notes. Synopsising and paraphrasing the case notes where feasible is ideal.
4. Linguistic Features (grammar and cohesion) which mean that your sentence must be free from grammatical errors and you should use a variety of linguistic structures like simple, complex, compound sentences with active and passive verbs, to mention a few. Don't forget to use appropriate connectors where necessary.
5. Presentation Features which mean you must use accurate and appropriate spelling, punctuation, layout


  • About 20 Mins

As part of Speaking, the interviewer ( actually interlocutor ) plays the role of a patient or a patient-carer and asks questions, to which you need to respond as a professional that you are. You will be given a card containing the patient's background and the questions to be addressed.You will have two RolePlays each lasting about 10 mins.

An interesting thing about Speaking is that the interlocutor is not the one who gives you the score; instead your spoken performance is audio-recorded and on the basis of the audio, two other persons give you scores which are then adjusted against a "fairness" scale. So it is important that speak loudly and clearly enough for it to be recorded well.

You are given score on nine bases:
1. Intelligibility, which means, what you speak must be understandable to a listener, so you need to ensure proper pronunciation, intonation, stress, rhythm, and accent( need not be native accent, but should not carry mother-tongue influence)
2. Fluency which means speaking in a flow word after word and sentence after sentence with only natural pauses and noises. Fluency does NOT mean speaking fast.
3. Appropriateness of Language which means the language that best suits the context and the patient.
4. Resources of Grammar and Expression which mean that your sentence must be free from grammatical errors and you should use a variety of linguistic structures like simple, complex, compound sentences with active and passive verbs, to mention a few. Don't forget to use appropriate connectors where necessary.
5. Relationship-building, which includes initiating the interaction appropriately, demonstrating an attentive and respectful attitude, adopting a non-judgemental approach, and showing empathy for the patient’s predicament.
6. Understanding and incorporating the patient’s perspective which means eliciting and exploring the patient’s concerns, picking up cues from the patient about his/her needs, and relating explanations to the patient’s concerns and needs.
7. Providing structure which involves sequencing the interaction purposefully and logically, using techniques for organising explanations, and indicating shifts in topic.
8. Information-gathering which means appropriate use of open or closed questions, avoiding compound or leading questions, supporting the patient’s narrative with active listening, clarifying statements that are vague or need amplification, and summarising information to encourage correction or invite further information.
9. Information-giving which means establishing what the patient already knows, giving information in clearly in "packets", checking whether the patient has understood information, and discovering what further information the patient needs.

OET gives you score in terms of grades A, B , C+, C, D and E, as well as in terms of marks 0 to 500.

A Score of Grade B in all modules is the ideal score.

An important note for doctors is that, for you to be eligible for PLAB 1, it may not be enough to secure Grade B in all modules, but you may have to secure 400/500 marks, whereas for nurses Grade B and 350/500 marks could be sufficient.

In Listening and Reading, 35 out of 42 corrects will undoubtedly get you Grade B & 400 marks, although, depending on the difficulty level, you may get this score even for 32 correct answers.