• November 14, 2023

Doctors looking to register with the GMC and find a job in the NHS will be required to take either the OET or IELTS exam. Here we answer some FAQs about the OET exam.

OET can be challenging and, without proper preparation, it is not uncommon for doctors to fail at their first attempt.

So, to help make sure you are as prepared as possible before sitting the exam, we have answered the most common FAQs asked by an overseas doctor: 

What is the OET? 

OET stands for Occupational English Test. The OET is an English Language Test created specifically for healthcare professionals. 

The OET exam assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practice in the UK, or other English-speaking countries. 

It tests your English levels in four subtests: Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening

How is the OET different from IELTS? 

OET is a language assessment designed for healthcare professionals, testing your English Language skills in a medical context.  

IELTS is not specific to the healthcare profession, it is taken by professionals from all industries. So, the topics covered are more general. 

Both test four areas of English Language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

What regulatory bodies accept OET? 

The good news is that if you choose the OET exam, recent changes to the rules as of the 1st October 2019, means that only one test now required for both UK registration and visa purposes. The OET exam is now accepted by both the GMC and the UK Home Office.  

What test should I take? 

Neither exam is easier than the other. Both IELTS and OET Medicine show you have an advanced level in English. It really is up to you! 

You may find OET simpler to understand as it is healthcare related and tests the language you use in daily practice. 

The same can be said about IELTS, you may find the general nature of the topics more suited to you. 

Is OET a better option than IELTS? 

There is no one option better than the other, both are recognised qualifications by the GMC. The most important thing to decide is which suits your needs the most. 

Your decision may be based on factors such as:

  • the format and content of the different tests
  • regularity with which test sessions are held
  • locations of test centres
  • test fees
  • regulatory bodies that accept the test for applications

Is the OET recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC)?

Yes, the GMC recognises OET for overseas-trained doctors for registration purposes. For the GMC to accept your OET certificate it must show that you took the medicine sub-tests.

What results do I need for GMC registration? 

For the GMC to accept your OET certificate it must show: 

  • You took the medicine version of the test. 
  • You attained at least a grade 'B' in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing) or 350 points in total. 

What is the test format? 

OET has four parts:

  • Listening (45 minutes)

  • Reading (60 minutes)
  • Writing (45 minutes) 
  • Speaking (20 minutes)

The total test time is approximately 3 hours.

How much does it cost? 

Test fees are AUD $587 (approx. £329 based on November 2023 exchange rate). 

Should I prepare for the exam? 

Yes, exam preparation is crucial to scoring highly in the test. You might feel like you already have a good level of English, good enough to pass the tests. 

But IMGs keep telling us that no matter what level of English they have, it is always better to prepare. The test consists of very specific content, so specific test skills are required. 

Should I spend money on preparing? 

Whilst not essential, we recommend that you seek further support. This could be via online tutorials, 1 - 1 teaching, or longer course-based learning. There are lots of OET tutors available online. 

That said, there are also loads of ways that you can improve your English for free, at home and in your own time. 


Where can I find online study materials?

With thousands of useful websites available, it can be tricky to decide where to start. We recommend the OET Preparation Portal. Here you will discover official resources, some for free! 

For example, you can expect to find: 

  • sample practice tests
  • masterclass videos with an OET preparation expert
  • tips to improve your test performance
  • online preparation Course
  • practice books

How do I register? 

Register online here

The OET have a portal for all applicants, called myOET. This lets you apply for tests, view your results, and create a profile.

Where can I take the test? 

OET is available at more than 115 locations in 40 countries, with 14 test dates per year.

Be sure to choose the correct date and location when you apply.

You can find a test date and venue here

Can I change my test date? 

Yes, you can change the test date any day prior to the original test date booked. Please note, no refund is available, and an administration fee will apply to book a new date. The cost of deferring depends on when you decide to defer:

  • Administration cost before application closing date is $120 (approx. £67 at the point of writing) 
  • Administration cost after applications closing date passes is $200 (approx. £110 at the point of writing) 

No refund is available for cancellations. 

Can I take a re-sit? 

Yes, you can book a new test at any time, however this will be at further personal cost. 

Consider working with an accredited tutor

As an International Brand dedicated to helping international doctors to register with the GMC and find work in the NHS - we have lots of partnerships in place with trusted companies in many areas. One of these key areas is English Language Testing and IMG Connect works closely with a company called Specialist Language Courses. You can take a look at their website here.

Specialist Language courses work very professionally and are the UK's leading provider of online courses and tutoring. They are also one of the few accredited providers of OET and have provided consultation and guidance to the GMC on English language testing. 

Success rates are 70% + for those who sign for their tutoring and you can receive a discount if introduced by IMG Connect.

Register with IMG Connect to request your discount on English Language Courses or get in touch with one of our IMG Consultants to discuss.

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Don’t hesitate to get in touch using the buttons above (and below) to discuss doctor job options in the NHS, including discussions regarding a typical doctor salary in the UK and the most suitable hospital locations for you.

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Relevant Jobs

99,532 - 131,964
Step into an exciting NHS job opportunity to become an integral part of the NHS Acute Medicine team at this Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. With the Hospital boasting 570 beds and the sister Hospital offering community beds, the trust is a cornerstone of healthcare in the region. The bustling Acute & Emergency Department caters to over 310,000 individuals annually, providing round-the-clock care to 85,000 new patients. Their facilities span a wide range of specialties, ensuring comprehensive medical services, and their recent \'Good\' rating from the CQC underscores their commitment to excellence in care. Join them in shaping the future of healthcare.

This NHS vacancy is ideal for overseas Consultants, Specialist Grades, or Specialty Doctors seeking to establish themselves in the NHS. Suitable for EEA specialists or experienced IMGs aiming for CESR completion.

What is the NHS Trust like?

The NHS Foundation Trust epitomizes compassion and innovation, dedicated to ensuring optimal patient outcomes and fostering a supportive environment for our staff. Their vision extends to excellence in patient care, community service, and staff satisfaction, making them a premier destination for healthcare, employment, and education. Their hospitals serve a combined population of over 330,000 residents, strategically positioned to meet the evolving healthcare needs of their communities.

One of the NHS Trust\'s main site serves as the epicenter of their emergency and critical care services, alongside women\'s and children\'s health, including maternity care. Their other hospital, on the other hand, specializes in elective procedures and houses an Urgent Treatment Centre, complemented by shared services across both sites and community hubs within their catchment area. Having garnered a \'good\' rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with notable \'outstanding\' attributes, they are on a trajectory toward university hospital status, having achieved teaching hospital status in 2019.

Their diverse workforce, representing over 50 nationalities and comprising nearly 5,000 individuals across both sites, underscores their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion. Recognized as a trailblazer in these areas, they strive to maintain an equitable and inclusive environment for all staff, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation.

The Acute Medicine Department and Team

The Acute Medical Unit (AMU) serves as the primary gateway for all medical admissions, with exceptions for those requiring direct admission to specialized units such as ITU, HDU, CCU, or Stroke Unit. Recently reorganized, AMU comprises an Assessment area, an ambulatory area, and short-stay beds with a maximum duration of 48 hours. The unit is staffed by three consultants, who provide flexible coverage throughout the day, gradually reducing to two consultants in the afternoon and one in the evening. A goal is to ensure all patients, barring overnight admissions, are seen by a consultant within 4 hours of arrival, with a further consultant review within 12 hours of admission.

The Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) unit, inaugurated in July 2022, aligns with national guidelines, facilitating the swift evaluation and management of patients within a single day. The unit, jointly serving surgical and medical specialties, promotes collaborative care. Plans within the initial year involve optimizing patient throughput. Consultants allocate one day per week to the unit, which also offers rapid access Acute Medicine clinics to support early discharge from the Acute Medicine department.

In terms of consultant medical on-call responsibilities, the medical team admits an average of 50 to 75 patients over a 24-hour period. Consultants conduct reviews of medical admissions in the afternoon of their on-call day, commencing with a post-take ward round around 1:30 pm. The following morning, acute physicians review admissions to AMU from the previous evening and overnight, with the on-call consultant attending the 9 am handover and completing reviews of any remaining admissions on outlying wards.

Life in the Cheshire

The area offers a blend of urban convenience and nearby rural escapes, catering to varied lifestyles for doctors. Residents enjoy scenic walks along the rivery or exploring historic landmarks. The area boasts a range of quality schools and accessibility to nearby universities such as the University of Chester. Excellent transportation links via train and bus networks connect the area to neighboring major cities like Liverpool and Manchester, as well as to airports such as Manchester Airport. Housing options range from modern apartments to traditional suburban homes, accommodating diverse preferences.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

The NHS Foundation Trust provides a myriad of career development and advancement opportunities for Acute Medicine consultants. Firstly, consultants can benefit from ongoing professional development programs tailored to their specific needs, including access to training courses, workshops, and conferences to enhance clinical skills and knowledge. Additionally, the Trust fosters a culture of innovation and research, encouraging consultants to engage in academic activities, publish papers, and contribute to advancements in the field of Acute Medicine.


EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Acute Medicine
  • Board Certified Specialist in Acute Medicine

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • MRCP
  • Experience of working in Acute Medicine

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Acute Medicine
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
99,532 - 131,964

The University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust is seeking to appoint a consultant in acute medicine, CESR is supported. You will collaborate closely with acute consultant colleagues in this NHS job, as well as Emergency Department consultants, medical specialties, and AMU staff across each hospital site to provide optimal patient care and ensure the team remain leaders in Acute Medicine. The NHS vacancy is suitable for overseas doctors (IMGs) including candidates who are pursuing CESR Portfolio Pathway. Specialists in Acute Medicine, holding a specialist certification would be suitable for this post, based on experience entering at either Specialty Doctor or Consultant grade. 

Overseas applications from experienced Specialty Doctors and Consultants are welcomed. 

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

The NHS Foundation Trust is a district general hospital trust managing three hospitals. The Trust serves the different towns, delivering a broad range of medical services. They are performing at a good level across their services and continuously provides huge opportunities and benefits to the way they deliver patient care. The Trust focuses on delivering excellent general hospital services, serving a population of approximately 750,000 with the help of more than 9,000 staff members. The hospitals have around 1,100 beds in total, offering services including General Medicine, General Surgery, Neurology, Rheumatology, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Gynaecology, and Paediatrics.

The Trust achieved foundation status in 2005 and, in October 2020, merged two of its hospitals to create a new organization, establishing one of their hospitals as the emergency care site and another as the planned care site. The Trust remains dedicated to continuous improvement, striving to provide high-quality, patient-centered care across all its facilities.

What is the department & team like?

The Acute Medical Unit (AMU) is a 30-bed assessment and short stay unit for general and acute medical patients, handling approximately 8,000 to 9,000 patients annually. Adjacent to the unit is the Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC) area, which includes three clinic rooms and a four-trolley assessment area. The AMU team comprises one ACM SpR, one ACCS trainee, one F1, two Physician Associates, and two F2/3s, along with 10 ANPs for Ambulatory Care (two per day, Monday to Friday, and one on weekends), and a dedicated DVT Band 6 nurses. The on-call medical team is based within the AMU in blocks from Monday to Thursday and Friday to Sunday. This team includes one SpR, one SHO, and one F1.

The Acute Medicine Directorate has experienced rapid change and improvement in its SDEC models over the past year. With new investment, they are looking to build on this progress and continue their transformation journey towards the 2026 Major Emergency Site model, as outlined in the Dorset Clinical Services review. This fixed-term position is to replace a colleague who is leaving, with the expectation that it will become a full-time substantive post. New post holders will be expected to work flexibly across both sites.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

With an extremely active education/teaching programme supported by the consultant team, there is opportunity to work towards and complete CESR, get involved in active research and many aspects of CPD. Participation in research and educational activities will be encouraged.

  • Attractive salary and relocation package
  • Training and development opportunities
  • CESR support for those eligible
  • Tier 2 Health and Care Visa (sponsorship for the whole family)
  • Guidance regarding the CV and full interview preparation
  • Assistance regarding the GMC registration, visa, accommodation and transportation by an experienced onboarding specialist
  • Complete IMG Relocation service from start to finish of process
Life in the area

Nestled along England\'s picturesque south coast, the area offers a unique blend of urban amenities and coastal charm. Doctors enjoy proximity to both bustling city life and tranquil seaside retreats. Residents indulge in sailing adventures around harbour or stroll along its sandy beaches. The area boasts reputable schools and universities, nurturing young minds for future success. Transportation links are robust, with easy access to neighboring cities like Bournemouth and Southampton, as well as major airports. Housing options range from waterfront apartments to quaint cottages, catering to varied tastes and lifestyles. Poole epitomizes the quintessential coastal living experience.


EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in General and Acute Medicine
  • Board Certified Specialist

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • MRCP
  • Experience of working in General and Acute Medicine

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in General and Acute Medicine
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
99,532 - 131,964

An NHS Trust in the Midlands is in search of a Consultant Psychiatrist in Eating Disorders. The role is open to overseas consultants with experience or interest in Eating Disorders alongside UK middle grade doctors with S12 who have experience or interest in Easting Disorders. 

This role will primarily focus on the severe pathway. The appointed candidate will offer direct clinical care and clinical leadership to a diverse team, comprising specialist nurses, therapists, psychologists, dietitians, therapists, social workers, and peer support workers. Additionally, there will be occasional cross-cover duties for the inpatient consultants stationed at a 15-bed inpatient unit.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?
The NHS Trust serves a population of approximately 850,000 across several towns, provides comprehensive Mental Health Services. Alongside Learning Disability services for a significant region of the West Midlands, it offers tertiary services in Forensic and Child Psychiatry. Furthermore, it extends its reach to Community Health Services within its region. As a teaching Trust, it has strong ties with a university medical school, offering placements for medical students and engaging professionals in teaching and training. The Trust provides higher education facilities for continuous professional development and collaborates closely with the Academic Department of Psychiatry for research opportunities. 

What is the department & team like?

The Eating Disorders Service is a specialist, tertiary service staffed by 4.2 WTE Consultant Psychiatrists, 2.4 WTE specialty doctors, 1.0 WTE ST 4-6, 1.0 WTE CT3, and 1.0 WTE F2 doctor. This multidisciplinary team manages a range of complex cases, including patients with a BMI below 15, those with complex medical or psychiatric comorbidities, pregnant patients, and diabetic patients. Treatments provided encompass individual therapy based on psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, and systemic approaches. The service also offers specific pathways for patients transitioning from CAMHS, pregnant patients, and SEED patients, alongside a dedicated Clinic for Eating Disorders and Diabetes, with plans for an ARFID clinic.

Facilities include both an outpatient service and a 15-bed regional inpatient unit, all housed in a self-contained unit on a general hospital site. Annually, the service is expected to handle a caseload of approximately 230 patients, with around 360 new referrals. The team works closely with the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Teams, the Crisis and Home Treatment Team, and the Gastroenterology Departments at the NHS Trust. This comprehensive service, supported by significant investment through the Community Mental Health Transformation Plan, aims to deliver high-quality, specialized care to patients with eating disorders across the town they service.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

The NHS Trust offers extensive career development opportunities, including CESR support for international doctors seeking specialist registration and access to specialty training. The Trust encourages the development of sub-specialties in areas like eating disorders and psychodynamic therapy.

The Trust is committed to service improvement and innovation through its transformation plan, which includes significant investment in services such as the new Community Eating Disorders Service. This dedication to growth and quality improvement creates an exciting environment for professionals aiming to contribute to meaningful changes in healthcare delivery.

Life like in the area

The town is an urban area with nearby rural settings, offering a diverse living environment for doctors. The city provides a mix of cultural activities, historic sites like a Cathedral, and scenic spots in the countryside. The area boasts a range of quality schools and universities. Excellent transportation links connect the city to major cities like Birmingham and London, with easy access to airports such as Birmingham Airport. The area offers a variety of housing options, from modern city apartments to charming rural homes, catering to different lifestyle preferences.


EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Eating Disorders Psychiatry (Desirable)
  • Board Certified Specialist in Adult Psychiatry 

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Specialist / Consultant experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • Experience of working in Eating Disorders Psychiatry (Desirable)
  • MRCPsych (Desirable)

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Eating Disorders Psychiatry (Desirable)
  • S12 (Desirable)
£83945 - £95275
An excellent opportunity has arisen for a Specialist Grade in General Adult Psychiatry to join a trust on the south coast of England. This is a high-performing and supportive department for overseas doctors new to NHS jobs or UK-based doctors looking to advance their careers in the UK. CESR support is available.

MRCPsych - preferred 
S12 - preferred 
12 years post graduate experience with 6 years in psychiatry

What is the NHS Trust like?
The NHS Trust provides a range of high-quality specialist mental health, learning disability, and neurodiversity services, in the South West region. The Trust is passionate about promoting good mental health and wellbeing, striving to use the expertise and resources within the organization, and through partnerships, to deliver safe, high-quality services focused on people\'s recovery.

With an annual income exceeding £206 million, the Trust employs around 3,600 staff. Each year, it receives approximately 74,000 referrals and supports around 26,000 people every month. This passion and commitment shape the Trust\'s vision, mission, and strategy. The staff are pivotal in all activities, and the Trust is committed to fully involving them in the development of the organization and its services.

General Adult Psychiatry Department & Team

The Community Mental Health Services provide secondary care interventions for individuals referred by Mental Health Assessment workers and other teams, such as acute and inpatient services. The community teams manage caseloads that include individuals with a wide range of mental health difficulties and complexities, from those requiring intensive long-term care to those receiving short-term psycho-social interventions. The team collaborates constructively with various agencies within Torbay to ensure a coordinated approach to managing risk issues.

The team comprises a full-time Clinical Team Leader, Mental Health Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, and Support Time and Recovery Workers. All three Community Mental Health Teams share an Accommodation Officer, a Personality Disorder Lead, and a Carers Support Team. The team employs a strong multidisciplinary approach, working cohesively to provide an effective and safe recovery-focused service to those referred. 

Life in South West

The South West of England offers both rural and urban settings, providing diverse living options. The region features stunning landscapes, including the Jurassic Coast, Dartmoor, and Exmoor, perfect for hiking and outdoor activities. There are high-quality schools and renowned universities, such as the University of Exeter and University of Bristol. Excellent transportation links include major motorways, rail services to London and other cities, and airports in Bristol and Exeter. Housing options range from urban apartments and suburban homes to countryside cottages, catering to a variety of lifestyles and preferences.

Am I eligible for this role?

MRCPsych - preferred
S12 - preferred 
12 years post graduate experience with 6 years in psychiatry - necesary 
52,530 - 82,000

Opportunity for a Consultant Histopathologist at a major University Hospital in the Northeast of Engalnd. The role offers the chance to contribute significantly to pathology services within a regional pathology hub, working with a skilled team of 12 consultants delivering a comprehensive cellular pathology reporting service to a diverse population across several towns, and totaling 1.6 million residents.

This role is particularly advantageous for overseas Consultant Histopathologists aspiring to establish themselves in the NHS. Suited for candidates with specialization in the European Economic Area (EEA) or experienced International Medical Graduates (IMGs) seeking completion of the Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR), it provides a unique pathway for professional growth.

The Histopathology Department is a centre of diagnostic excellence, the department handles a diverse caseload, offering comprehensive care ranging from routine diagnostics to complex pathology. 

Their main hospital is a major teaching and trauma center with 1,024 beds, a 24-hour acute admissions unit, and an emergency department. The Trust\'s dedication to research and development is evident through active participation in regional and national research programs and clinical trials. The Research and Effectiveness department within the Trust facilitates project coordination, supporting innovation. A specialized member of the research staff brings expertise in managing the pathological aspects of clinical trials.

The urban hub, offers residents a dynamic living experience with access to scenic parks, cultural attractions, quality schools, and Teesside University. Robust transportation links connect Middlesbrough locally and to major cities and airports. Housing options, from historic residences to modern developments, cater to diverse preferences, ensuring a vibrant urban lifestyle with green spaces and educational excellence.


EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Histopathology (essential) 
  • European Specialist Qualification in Anatomical Pathology

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • FRCPath (essential)
  • ???????Experience of working for Histopathology (essential)

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Histopathology (essential)

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