Unless you’re from a majority English-speaking country on the exempt list, overseas healthcare professionals need to pass one of two English language tests in order to work for the NHS in the UK.
You can either choose to study for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Qualification or the Occupational English Test (OET).
Both of these will test your level of English and give you a score that is internationally recognised.
The IELTS and OET exams are both accepted by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing Medical Council (NMC).They test four basic English language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
In this blog, we’ve researched and compared the two tests for overseas healthcare workers who are planning to start studying.
If you’re taking the IELTS exam, you’ll need an overall score of at least 7. For the writing section, you’ll need at least 6.5 as well as 7 in the reading, listening and speaking sections.
If you take the OET exam, you’ll need at least a grade C+ in the writing section, and at least a grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections.
As of 2021, the OET will cost you approximately £322. You can pay for it on the OET website when you apply.
The IELTS Academic and General Training exam costs between £170 to £195 depending on location.
You’ll receive a confirmation email five to ten days before the test date. It will tell you the start time of your test and the venue address.
The OET may cost more than the IELTS exam but, as most of the test is made up of medical language and terminology, it’s often easier for healthcare professionals to pass than it is for them to achieve the required IELTS grades.
The OET is becoming an increasingly popular test for healthcare professionals to take rather than IELTS. The OET is a professional-specific test that examines your English language skills related to your profession, so you can make use of your healthcare knowledge, vocabulary and experiences. It may be considered easier as it you’ll be more used to the situations provided.
IELTS is often considered to be a better standard as it is a broader test of the English language, not just workplace specific. However, it can also be argued that the IELTS focuses on subjects and language that would be irrelevant to healthcare professionals.
Healthcare professionals who gained their experience in speaking English within a workplace setting rather than a more general environment may find it useful to choose the OET exam.
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