What is the Occupational English Test?
Occupational English Test is an international English language test that assesses speaking, reading, listening and writing skills of healthcare professionals. The key benefit over IELTS is that it is contextualised around communication skills that are relevant to work in healthcare. So, test-takers are able to use skills that they have developed in the course of their work.
When you apply for OET, test-takers can choose from the following professions – dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, OT, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology and veterinary science.
Who recognises it in New Zealand?
Currently it’s recognised by the following bodies:
- Nursing Council of New Zealand
- Pharmacy Council of New Zealand
- Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand
- Veterinary Council of New Zealand
- Dental Council of New Zealand
- Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (Australia and New Zealand)
- Australia and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council (ANZPAC)
- Medical Council New Zealand (since Feb 2014)
Cambridge English Language Assessment has recently become a major stakeholder in the test and is putting their efforts into building further recognition and driving test development. They are focusing on overseeing accreditation of test centres and standardising delivery. We are the Auckland test centre for OET and are running a test in November. It’s the first time it has been available for a while so we will be really interested to see the demand.
How does the test work?
It’s a genuine skills tests so there are tests of listening (50 minutes), reading (60 minutes), writing (45 minutes) and speaking (20 minutes). It’s delivered in one day – traditionally a Saturday. All the tasks are relevant to healthcare. For example in the speaking test, you do two face-to-face role-plays that are specific to your profession. The candidate is the practitioner. The interviewer is a patient or relative…. or the owner (for veterinary science)!
How do you apply?
Applications are centralised so you apply on line. http://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/
How much does it cost?
It’s more expensive than IELTS at $A580 but test-takers actually rate it quite highly for “value for money” because of its relevance to their work and their aspirations. We’ve seen overseas registered RNs repeatedly taking IELTS and being frustrated by the fact that they are unable to write a 250 word discursive essay. And with OET, even if they need to spend time improving their writing skills, at least what they are doing is helping them work towards their professional goals.