OET or IELTS: Everything you need to know to make it easy

Jul 10, 2023 | OET

Difference Between OET and IELTS

When it comes to proving your English language proficiency for academic or professional purposes, two popular options are the Occupational English Test (OET) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Both tests assess your English language skills, but they differ in terms of their focus, format, and suitability for specific professions.

In this blog, we will delve into the details of each test and help you determine which one may be better suited to your needs.

  • IELTS enjoys global recognition from universities, regulatory bodies, immigration authorities, and companies in numerous countries worldwide. This includes universities in non-English speaking nations that offer courses delivered in English. With a presence in over 140 countries, IELTS boasts more than 1,100 test centers.
  • OET, on the other hand, is acknowledged by healthcare regulatory bodies and Higher Education healthcare educators in several countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai, Ukraine, and Namibia. It has established itself in 40 countries, operating in over 115 test centers.

Understanding OET:

The Occupational English Test (OET) is designed specifically for healthcare professionals who plan to work or study in an English-speaking country. It assesses the language skills necessary for effective communication in healthcare settings.

The test comprises four sub-tests: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each sub-test is tailored to the healthcare profession, making it highly relevant to medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

Exploring IELTS:

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognized English language test accepted by universities, employers, and immigration authorities worldwide. It measures the proficiency of non-native English speakers across four language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Unlike OET, IELTS does not focus on a specific professional field but aims to assess general English language skills applicable to various academic and non-academic contexts.

Where are these tests accepted?

  • OET is primarily recognized and accepted by healthcare authorities and immigration authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries consider OET scores as a valid measure of English language proficiency for healthcare professionals.
  • On the other hand, IELTS enjoys widespread acceptance across the globe. It is recognized by universities, employers, immigration authorities, and various organizations in numerous countries. IELTS is accepted in countries where English language proficiency testing is required for academic admissions, employment purposes, immigration processes, and more.

While OET’s acceptance is more focused on the healthcare sector and limited to specific countries, IELTS has a broader recognition and is widely accepted almost everywhere in the world where an English language test is required.

Focus and Relevance:

The primary factor in deciding between OET and IELTS is the specific purpose for which you require an English language test. If you work or aspire to work in the healthcare industry, OET would be the better choice due to its tailored content and relevance to medical professionals.

However, if your goals involve studying abroad, applying for general employment, or immigration purposes unrelated to healthcare, IELTS may be more suitable.

Test Format:

Both OET and IELTS have distinct test formats. OET’s content is directly related to healthcare scenarios, ensuring that candidates are assessed on industry-specific language skills. The Writing and Speaking sections of OET, for instance, may require candidates to write referral letters or simulate patient consultations.

On the other hand, IELTS has a more general focus, covering a broader range of topics and contexts. The IELTS Speaking section typically involves discussing everyday topics or expressing opinions on abstract issues.

Scoring System:

Both OET and IELTS employ different scoring systems. OET uses a grading scale from A to E, with A being the highest level of proficiency.

The results are marked by healthcare professionals who are familiar with the challenges faced in the field. IELTS, on the other hand, uses a band scale ranging from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest score. The IELTS score is determined by trained examiners who assess candidates based on established criteria.

Availability and Recognition:

OET is gaining recognition among healthcare institutions, licensing bodies, and regulatory authorities in various English-speaking countries, including the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

However, its recognition outside the healthcare sector may be limited. In contrast, IELTS is accepted by a wide range of academic institutions, employers, and immigration authorities globally, making it a more versatile choice for individuals in different fields.


Determining which English language test, OET or IELTS, is better depends on your specific goals and professional field. If you work or intend to work in the healthcare industry, OET is tailored to your needs and will likely be the preferred choice.

On the other hand, if your objectives involve studying abroad or seeking employment opportunities in general fields, IELTS offers broader recognition and flexibility. It is crucial to assess your requirements