Occupational English Test

The Occupational English Test (OET) is designed to meet the specific English language needs of the healthcare sector. It assesses the language proficiency of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practice in an English-speaking environment. OET is owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust (CBLA), a venture between Cambridge English and Box Hill Institute. Cambridge English Language Assessment is a not-for-profit department of the University of Cambridge with over 100 years of experience in assessing the English language. Box Hill Institute is a leading Australian vocational and higher education provider, active both in Australia and overseas.

OET tests international health practitioners from the following 12 professions:

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

Components of OET:

The four components of OET

  • Listening is the same test material for all professions as the topics are related to general healthcare.
  • Reading is also the same test material for all professions,
  • Writing is profession-specific, so each profession has different test materials, based on the demands of the profession.
  • Speaking is also profession-specific and takes the format of two role-plays.

As a test specifically for healthcare, OET puts a lot of emphasis on developing materials and tasks to reflect authentic workplace communication.

Listening Test

50 minutes

About the Listening sub-test

The Listening sub-test consists of two parts, with approximately 20-28 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest, accessible to candidates across all professions. Each part consists of about 15 minutes of recorded speech, containing pauses to allow you time to write your answers. You will hear each recording once and are expected to write your answers while listening.

The Listening sub-test structure

Part A – consultation (20-25 minutes)
Part A assesses your ability to follow facts during a consultation. You will listen to a recorded health professional-patient consultation and complete a note taking task, guided by relevant headings. Part B – presentation (20-25 minutes)
Part B assesses your ability to understand a short talk on a health-related topic that might realistically occur in the workplace. You’ll listen to a recorded talk or lecture (monologue) by a healthcare professional and complete a range of open-ended and fixed choice tasks.

Reading Test

60 minutes

About the Reading sub-test

The Reading sub-test consists of two parts and takes 60 minutes to complete. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and are therefore accessible to candidates across all professions.

The Reading sub-test structure

Part A – summary task (15 minutes)
Part A assesses your ability to source information from multiple texts, to synthesise information in a meaningful way and to ‘skim’ and ‘scan’ material to retrieve information quickly. You are required to read 3-4 short texts (a total of approximately 650 words) related to a single topic, and complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words (25-35 gaps in total).
Part B – multiple-choice questions (45 minutes)
Part B assesses your ability to read and understand comprehensive texts on health-related topics similar to those in academic or professional journals. You are required to read two passages (600-800 words each) and answer a set of multiple-choice questions (16-20 in total).


The candidate writes a letter based on clinical case notes. The letter could be for referral, transfer or discharge.
Reading time: 5 minutes
Writing time: 40 minutes


Each profession has different test materials based on the type of consultations that would occur in the workplace. The candidate plays the healthcare professional in each role play and the interlocutor plays the role of the patient, relative or carer.

Who recognises OET

  • The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection accepts OET for majority of visa types, including study and migration
  • Health regulators, including Medical and Allied Health boards and councils in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore
  • Healthcare educators including Monash University and Canberra University (Australia) – note, OET is most suitable for postgraduate and bridging courses
  • Hospitals and employers trust that OET tests English language specific to the workplace