IELTS versus OET

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Occupational English Test (OET) are English Language testing systems that assess the language proficiency in English of individuals who seek to immigrate to English speaking countries such as the UK, America, Canada, among others.

Whereas IELTS assesses the language skill of people interested in general immigration, education and/or occupational purposes, OET assesses the language skills of healthcare professionals that would like to register and practise in an English-speaking environment.

Features Common to IELTS and OET

  • Each one consists of four sub-tests, one for each skill: reading, listening, writing and speaking.
  • There is no pass/fail, but a graded score – different institutions need test takers to achieve different scores and as such set their pass marks.
  • In practice, the required scores in the two tests for professions such as nurses are for similar levels of language skill when measured on the Common European Framework of Reference, specifically a C1 or advanced levels.
  • Both tests were developed in the late 1980s and are part-owned by Cambridge Language Assessment. IELTS ownership is shared with IDP and the British Council. OET ownership is shared with the Boxhill Assessment.

Features Unique to IELTS and OET
International English Language Test System (IELTS)
a. The test can be taken by any student looking for a career overseas (whose native language is not English).
b. With respect to exam dates, there are more dates globally than OET.
c. If a candidate scores less in any module in IELTS, the candidate is required to take the entire test again.
d. The purpose of taking IELTS can be for study, job or immigration.
e. Offers two versions of the test – Academic which is generally used for further educational purposes, and General Training considered more appropriate for immigration or vocational purposes.

Occupation English Test (OET)
a. It is designed for only medical professionals.
b. There is only one date per month (12 dates in a year).
c. Should a candidate score only in a particular module, that candidate can resit for that particular module and improve his/her score.
d. This test is for job purpose only.
e. Offers 12 versions of the test for different healthcare professions; nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, occupational therapists, vets, speech pathologists, dieticians, physiotherapists, and radiographers.
f. Tests healthcare English, including the ability to communicate effectively in medical scenarios, write a referral or discharge letter, understand a patient consultation, or follow a text taken from a medical journal.

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