The Occupational English Test (better known as OET), is a testing system designed to measure the English language competency of healthcare professionals who intend to move to and register in English-speaking countries.
The test looks at the abilities of candidates in four areas – speaking, writing, reading, and listening – to assess their overall English ability, although it is of course tailored for candidates who work in the various fields of healthcare.
Until August 2018, OET candidates were assigned grades ranging from E-A; however, a new scoring system has been implemented that assigns candidates a numerical grade, ranging from 0 to 500.
Since September 2018, the OET has been graded on a scale of 0–500 for each of the four sections, which are known as “subtests.” The highest possible score is 500, and the lowest is 0, as can be seen from the following table:
|OET||IELTS BAND EQUIVALENT||LEVEL OF ENGLISH|
|450-500||A||9||High level of proficiency in the language. Able to communicate fluently and accurately. Can understand written or verbal discourse with ease.|
|350-440||B||7.5||Able to communicate effectively although some inaccuracies or hesitations may occur which do not impede communication.|
|300-340||C+||6.5||Able to communicate adequately despite occasional errors.|
|200-290||C||6||Able to understand standard input but may require clarification on higher level language.|
|100-190||D||5||Able to interact and understand simple and routine tasks but may require clarification. Errors frequently occur, causing strain in communication.|
|0-90||E||0-4||Able to understand familiar and basic phrases. Can interact only if the other person is prepared to clarify information.|
|OET Module||Your Score||Grade||Comment|
This grading system allows for healthcare programs around the world to ensure the English levels of prospective employees. As can be seen from this table, a score of 350 or higher indicates the sort of ability that would be desired by most healthcare systems.
Use the calculator to find out how many correct answers you would need to get a B grade in reading and listening modules. As per the OET website (here and here), one typically needs 30 marks from 42 questions to get a B grade.
All you need to do is type in a number out of 42 to calculate the equivalent OET score and grade you would get in the reading and listening modules.
|Module||Correct Answers||Estimated Score||Estimated Grade|
Use the calculator to find out how many correct answers you might have got for the scores (out of 500) in the real exam. As per the OET website (here and here), one typically needs 30 marks from 42 questions to get a B grade.
All you need to do is type in a number out of 500 to calculate the correct number of answers in OET reading and listening modules.
|Module||Real Exam Score||Correct Answers (Out OF 42)|
|OET Sub-Tests||1st Sitting Score||2nd Sitting Score|
|Listening||Invalid score||Invalid score|
|Reading||Invalid score||Invalid score|
|Writing||Invalid score||Invalid score|
|Speaking||Invalid score||Invalid score|
OET is 3 hours long approximately. The structure of the test looks like this:
|Listening||40 minutes||2 parts||Candidates must understand a range of spoken materials, including patient consultations and lectures.|
|Reading||60 minutes||2 parts||Candidates must read and understand different types of written healthcare-related materials.|
|Writing||45 minutes||1 part||Candidates must write a letter clearly and accurately for a reader. *This is specific to the candidate’s field of occupation.|
|Speaking||20 minutes||2 parts||Candidates must communicate effectively in a role-play situation. *This is specific to the candidate’s field of occupation.|
OET examines candidates’ abilities in speaking, writing, listening, and reading. As such, there are four separate subtests, one for each of these areas. The two receptive skills – reading and listening – are intended to determine how well a candidate can understand written and spoken English in a medical capacity. These two tests are the same regardless of a candidate’s occupation. This is different for the writing and speaking tests, which are specific to each of the occupations covered by the OET.
OET now comes with two different formats
The listening and reading subtests are marked by OET examiners at the testing center. They will be randomly and anonymously assigned in order to prevent any sort of cheating. The examiners are required to strictly follow a guide that tells them how to mark your answers and calculate your score.
Part B and C of the reading test are handled differently: It is marked by a machine, which reads data from the paper after it is scanned. The whole system is closely monitored to ensure fairness and accuracy.
The audio files from the speaking test and the written papers from the writing test will be collected and randomly assigned to examiners for grading. These will be re-checked to ensure that a fair grade has been assigned. A particularly strict examiner may have their grading system altered to bring it more in line with OET standards. A consensus is required from the two (or more) examiners who look at a speaking or writing test in order for the grade to be accepted and published by the OET center.
You may well ask how the speaking and writing tests are assessed. In other words, what are the examiners looking to hear or read from the candidates? The criteria are somewhat similar, with a few differences. They are listed in this table:
|1.||Task has been completed.||Communication was effective.|
|2.||Appropriate language used.||Speech was intelligible.|
|3.||Understood the material.||Spoke fluently.|
|5.||Spelling, punctuation, etc.||Grammar and other resources used well.|
There is no passing or failing grade for OET, but most boards and councils require a score of at least 350 in order to consider a candidate for employment. To achieve this, candidates would need to perform well in all five of the criteria for each subtest. The standards are very high, but adequate preparation can allow students a good chance of scoring highly in these parts of the exam.