OET Exam For Nurses: Everything You Need to Know

Jul 4, 2023 | OET

The Occupational English Test, is a globally recognized English language examination designed specifically for healthcare professionals. It evaluates the communication skills of healthcare practitioners intending to register and work in an English-speaking setting.

In today’s globalized healthcare industry, effective communication plays a crucial role in delivering quality patient care. For nurses aspiring to work or further their careers in English-speaking countries, demonstrating proficiency in the English language is paramount.

Understanding the OET

The Occupational English Test (OET) is specifically designed for healthcare professionals, including nurses, to assess their language skills in a professional healthcare context.

It focuses on the four language skills essential for effective communication in a medical setting: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The test format mirrors real-life healthcare scenarios, ensuring candidates can effectively communicate with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals.

The OET examination comprises four sections, namely listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each sub-test has a specific time limit, and it is essential to pass each sub-test individually.

In the OET exam for nurses, an overall grade is not provided. Instead, candidates receive separate grades for each sub-test on a scale of 0-500 with a ten-point increment.

These numerical scores are then converted into letter grades, ranging from A (highest) to E (lowest) for each sub-test. To successfully pass the OET exam, candidates must achieve a minimum score of 350 out of 500.

OET Exam Syllabus for Nurses

Listening Sub-test

The listening portion of the exam gauges a candidate’s capacity to understand spoken English in a healthcare environment. It consists of two parts:

Part A: Consultation Extracts (approx. 5 minutes)

Part B: Short Workplace Extracts (approx. 20-30 minutes)

Reading Sub-test

The reading sub-test assesses the candidate’s ability to comprehend written English texts commonly encountered in healthcare settings. It consists of three to four parts, including different formats like multiple-choice questions, summary completion, and matching information.

Writing Sub-test

The writing sub-test evaluates the candidate’s written communication skills in a healthcare context. Candidates are required to write a letter based on a given case notes or case history, ensuring clarity, coherence, and accuracy in their writing.

Speaking sub-test

The speaking sub-test assesses the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in a healthcare context. It consists of two role-plays that simulate real-life healthcare scenarios. Candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to gather information, provide advice, and effectively interact with patients or colleagues.

Preparation Materials for OET Exam

To prepare for the OET exam, a variety of resources are available, including OET books specifically designed for nurses, online materials, and mock tests. The official OET website offers a range of preparatory materials, including the Official OET Preparation Nursing book, sample tests, free master classes, and preparation articles. These resources provide valuable guidance, practice exercises, and familiarize candidates with the exam format and content.

Eligibility for OET exams

The OET exam does not have any specific academic or age criteria set by the OET authorities for nurses. Candidates who are interested in working in the healthcare sector are eligible to take the OET exam, irrespective of their academic background or age.

Importance of OET for Nurses

Career Advancement:

OET is widely recognized and accepted by regulatory bodies, healthcare institutions, and employers in English-speaking countries. Achieving a high score in the OET opens up numerous opportunities for nurses, enabling them to pursue their careers abroad or access better job prospects locally.

Quality Patient Care:

Effective communication is vital for nurses to understand patients’ needs, provide accurate instructions, and effectively collaborate with the healthcare team. OET equips nurses with the necessary language skills to ensure clear and precise communication, resulting in improved patient outcomes and enhanced patient satisfaction.

Professional Confidence:

 OET provides nurses with a standardized evaluation of their language proficiency. By successfully completing the test, nurses gain a sense of accomplishment, boosting their confidence and validating their ability to communicate effectively in a professional healthcare environment.

Excelling in OET

Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format: Understanding the structure, content, and assessment criteria of each component is crucial. Familiarize yourself with sample materials and practice tests to gain a comprehensive understanding of the test’s requirements.

Develop Language Skills

Enhance your English language skills by consistently reading medical journals, listening to healthcare podcasts or lectures, and practicing medical writing. This helps you become familiar with medical terminology, improves your vocabulary, and enhances your overall language fluency.

Seek Professional Guidance

Enroll in OET preparation courses or work with experienced OET tutors who can provide valuable insights, guidance, and tailored feedback to help you identify and improve your areas of weakness.

Practice Under Test Conditions

Regularly practice under timed conditions to simulate the test environment. This will improve your time management skills and help you become comfortable with the pressure of completing tasks within the allocated time frame.

Utilize Available Resources

Take advantage of the wide range of OET preparation materials available, such as practice books, online resources, and sample tests. These resources can assist you in understanding the test structure, refining your skills, and identifying areas for improvement.

Countries That Accept OET Exam for Nurses

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. Egypt
  4. Ireland
  5. Maldives
  6. Malta
  7. Namibia
  8. New Zealand
  9. Philippines
  10. Qatar
  11. Singapore
  12. Spain
  13. Ukraine
  14. United Kingdom
  15. United Arab Emirates, and
  16. United States of America


The Occupational English Test (OET) offers nurses a pathway to demonstrate their English language proficiency and opens up exciting career opportunities in English-speaking countries.

By investing time and effort in preparing for the test, nurses can enhance their communication skills, provide quality patient care, and expand their professional horizons.

Through adequate preparation, practice, and utilizing available resources, nurses can excel in the OET and embark on a successful nursing career in an English-speaking Country.