OET - a guide for overseas doctors

  • July 18, 2022
 

The Occupational English Test (OET) medicine version is specifically designed for healthcare professionals.

The exam tests your ability in reading, writing, speaking and listening and it is used by overseas doctors to demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively in English to support their application to register and practice medicine in the UK. 

For doctors who prefer OET, compared to IELTS, the good news is that OET is now accepted by both the GMC and the UK Home Office - meaning that only one test now required for both UK registration and visa purposes

As an IMG coming to work in the UK, there are different scenarios in which you’ll need to provide a pass in an English test. In this article, we outline the key facts about OET, including the following topics: 


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What is the OET? 

The OET tests communication in English with an emphasis in medical and healthcare professional settings. 

It is recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC), and is fast becoming a common choice to prove a candidate’s ability to communicate in a healthcare environment, such as the NHS.

As an overseas doctor you must select and sit the medicine version of the test, this is the only one accepted by the GMC for the purposes of registration for a license to practice. 

Content and structure: 

The OET tests your ability in four areas of English language communication: 

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

Listening: 

This section consists of three parts and tests a candidate’s ability to understand a range of materials, such as lectures or consultations. 

Part A – consultation extracts (5 minutes each)

You will listen to two recorded patient consultations and will be assessed on identifying specific information. You will also complete the healthcare professionals’ notes using the information that you have heard during the consultation. 

Part B – Short extract of workplace discussion (1 minute each)

Here, you are tested on your ability to identify detail, understand conversation, meaning and reasons or purpose contained in the discussion. You will hear 6 short extracts and answer multiple-choice questions on each. Example extracts could be a consultation dialogue, team meetings or professional handovers. 

Part C – presentation extracts (5 minutes each)

This tests your ability to follow a recorded healthcare related presentation or interview. You will listen to two extracts covering different topics and will then answer 6 multiple choice questions on each extract. 

What does the listening sub-test assess? 

The listening sub-test assesses your ability to identify specific information and details, to understand conversations, reasons for comments and the opinions of the speakers. 

Reading: 

In this section you are expected to demonstrate your ability to read and understand texts related to healthcare. This sub-test consists of three parts.

Part A – expeditious reading task (15 minutes)

This tests your ability to quickly and efficiently locate specific information from short texts. The texts will all relate to the same topic, and you will answer 20 questions in total. 

Part B and C (45 minutes)

Part B consists of 6 short text extracts from a healthcare setting, sourced from the workplace. It assesses your ability to identify detail, understand context, main points and overall gist of a text. Example texts are hospital policies or guidelines, manuals, instruction guides, internal communications between staff. 

Answers are multiple-choice, and you will be asked three questions per text. 

Part C consists of two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals. Each text is 800 words in total. Here you will be tested on your ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion. Each text has eight multiple choice questions. 

What does the Reading sub-test assess?

Each reading sub-test assesses different skills: 

  • Part A, to read quickly, skim and scan across a variety of texts, in order to identify specific information. 

Top tip, familiarise yourself with the conventions of medical texts, the structures, presentation of both numerical and textual content. 

  • Part B, to understand detail and main points. 

Top tip for Part B is to excel at identifying ideas or points within paragraphs, or sentences. 

  • Part C, to understand meaning and opinion presented to you. This covers a longer text. 

Top tip, the focus here is to understand the wider context, from sentence to paragraph level. 

Writing: 

This tests your ability to communicate effectively in a healthcare context, such a writing a referral letter. You will be given one task with a healthcare focus relating to the usual demands in the medical workplace. 

The task is to write a letter, usually a referral. However, this can on occasion be a letter of discharge or advice for a patient. You will be provided with some materials to assist with context, and information to use in your writing. 

How is the writing assessed? 

  • overall execution and completion
  • use of the correct and most suitable language
  • overall comprehension and use of the materials provided
  • grammar, punctuation & spelling
  • cohesion, presentation, structure and layout

Top tip, reading more will considerably improve your writing skills. 

Speaking: 

This section tests your ability to communicate effectively in a role-play based on a typical healthcare scenario. Each role-play takes about five minutes each. 

The test will start with an introduction and short warm up conversation. Then the role-play will begin one-by-one and you have three minutes to prepare for each. 

How is the speaking assessed? 

  • intelligibility (pronunciation)
  • appropriate use of language
  • relationship building
  • understanding and incorporating the patient’s language
  • providing structure
  • information gathering
  • information giving

What scores do I need? 

For the GMC to accept your Occupational English Test (OET) certificate you will need to score a grade B or above in each test area.

These scores must be achieved in the same test, and this must be your most recent sitting of the OET. 


Remember, for the GMC to accept your OET certificate, you must take the medicine version of the test. 


Does time matter? 

Each sub-test is timed, and you will need to practice how to give each section the right amount of time. You will have to be efficient and work quickly, dedicating the right amount of time to each question and text. 

When and where can I sit the test? 

You can sit the OET in test venues around the world and they offer the tests 14 times per year. To find out if there is a test venue that suits you take a look at the official website.

How can I prepare? 

OET can be challenging. So, make sure you are as prepared as possible before sitting the exam. 

OET involves learning a wide range of healthcare related and profession specific language

To get the right score, this must be at an advanced level. 


CLICK HERE & REGISTER FOR 10-20% DISCOUNT ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSES


You don’t need to pay take a course. However, it is highly advisable to attend a course, and/or language classes, successful IMGs have advised that this helped them improve their standards in all areas of the test, including improved general levels of English. 

Most overseas doctors advise that they improved by attending specific OET courses, and this also helps you to get used to the test format and timings.

We strongly recommend that you start preparing for the exams as far in advance as you possibly can. 

Establish your level of English, and work out what areas you will need to focus on. Identify your weaknesses, set goals for yourself and plan a revision timetable.

What resources are available online for each subtest? 

Listening online resources: 

A good start would be to watch and listen to extracts online, here are a few options:

Reading online resources: 

Read short, medium and long extracts online.

Why not try the following resources: 

Writing online resources: 

To improve writing skills, we recommend reading and writing! Read short, medium and long extracts online. Write short extracts, re-write articles and write on your own journal. 

Why not try the following resources: 

Speaking online resources: 

To improve speaking skills, we recommend speaking! Speak with colleagues and friends in English as much as you can. You can also record yourself reading aloud or speaking and then play back your recording, assessing yourself. 

Why not try the following resources:  

We have also created a useful blog series on Exam Tips and Revision Guidance, which includes tips for studying at home. 

Passed? What next?

If you have your OET in place you are in a prime position to apply and interview for jobs.


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An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Acute Medicine Department. They are looking to appoint an Acute & General Internal Medicine Consultant, a great opportunity to further your medical career in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support, and international applications from IMGs are welcome.

The successful candidate will be the clinical lead and will drive the development and transformation of acute medicine, where patient-centered care is at the heart of the services. The role involves working within the Acute Assessment Unit, which consists of a 25-bed inpatient area including a 5-bed enhanced care area and an adjacent 6-space Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit.

Health Service

Working for this health service is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Their clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. They foster strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in their modern education center.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department. This is a unique opportunity to help shape an integrated care system with closer political engagement than in the UK.

Department & Team

Medicine in this health service is fully integrated by age and specialty, with three medical wards: . The EAU has a 5-bedded Enhanced Care Area and a separate intensive care unit led by intensivists. The AEC Unit is supported by a SAS doctor and consultants. The department comprises a 16-bed EAU, staffed by 11 consultants, 8 SAS doctors, 7 FY1 doctors, 2 FY2 doctors, and 6 Clinical Fellows, organized into 8 medical teams and the EAU team.

The specialty of Acute Medicine is based within the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU). The service includes a 25-bed Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) featuring 5 enhanced care beds and an Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC) Unit. The post holder will work across both the AAU and the AEC.

Continued Professional Development

The health service offers further training & accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. Health & Community Services supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years, and an annual study leave allowance. 

Life in the area

Living in the area presents significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate is notably advantageous compared to the U.K., and they provide a generous public sector pension scheme that isn\'t constrained by U.K. lifetime or annual contribution limits. The Consultant Contract closely mirrors the U.K. model but offers higher incremental levels. Incremental progression is automatic from points 1 to 17 on the pay scale based on satisfactory performance, while formal applications are necessary for points 18 to 20.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

EEA candidates: 
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine
•    European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:
•    MRCP
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

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A Northern English NHS Trust is looking for a Consultant Histopathologist to join their team at. They are considering either UK or overseas-trained doctors for a permanent contract type. The trust will support with CESR support for those who are looking to attain CESR and Specialist Registration. This is a high performing and friendly department for overseas doctors new to the NHS, or UK-based doctors looking to further careers in the UK.

This is a great job for any overseas Pathologists looking for CESR-support and great career development in a beautiful part of England.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

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What is the department & team like? 

The Histopathology Department is staffed by a dedicated team of consultants and junior doctors committed to delivering outstanding patient care. The team comprises experienced consultants and supportive junior doctors, ensuring comprehensive coverage and expertise in diagnosing a wide array of cases. The department is actively involved in the diagnosis and management of diverse histopathology and cytology cases, encompassing oncological, gastrointestinal, dermatological, and respiratory conditions, among others.

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On average, the histopathology department handles a substantial volume of cases each year, covering a broad spectrum of pathology types. Through the collaborative approach and commitment to excellence, they strive to uphold the highest standards of patient care and contribute to advancements in diagnostic medicine.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

The Trust and Histopathology team are dedicated to supporting their doctors career development through. For example, the new appointee will have the opportunity for the development of teaching experience as they would be expected to undertake formal and informal teaching of trainees within the department, and participate with other consultants in teaching/lectures as part of the Trust’s postgraduate education program. There will also be the opportunity for the development of personal research interests through the Research and Development Department. Research is highly encouraged at this trust and is undertaken during SPA sessions. The new consultant will also be able to increase their experience in MDTs, as these are regularly held within the department. 

Life in North East

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AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Histopathology
  • Specialist European Qualification in Anatomic Pathology
  • Full and Specialist registration (and with a licence to practise) with the General Medical Council (GMC), or be eligible for registration within six months of interview.
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • FRCPath
  • Full and Specialist registration (and with a licence to practise) with the General Medical Council (GMC), or be eligible for registration within six months of interview.
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance

UK based applicants

  • Full GMC registration
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance
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Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The Department & Team

The Crisis and Assessment Team (CAT) serves as the primary gateway to adult and older people\'s mental health services, conducting assessments in the community and emergency settings, alongside medical reviews. They collaborate closely with law enforcement, responding to Adult Protection Notices and coordinating mental health law assessments. This role within the CAT focuses on streamlining referrals, providing short-term crisis interventions, and ensuring individuals receive appropriate ongoing care. You\'ll engage with both working-age adults and older adults, with responsibilities extending to police referrals and mental health law assessments during standard working hours, with on-call commitments.

Continued Professional Development

Professional development is integral to their ethos, offering CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and opportunities for sub-specialist development. They prioritize ongoing learning through conferences, local CME events, and a generous study leave allowance.

Life in the area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.


Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum consultant experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification


Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
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We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to an Old Age role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

 

What is the health & community service like?

Working in this location is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. The service fosters strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in a modern education center.

What is the department & team like?

The inpatient services are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, including two wards for older adults. One ward offers 14 assessment beds for individuals over 65 experiencing functional mental health issues, with some flexibility for those under 65. The other ward provides 10 assessment beds for patients with dementia. Following the refurbishment, the latter ward will feature 8 acute assessment beds and 8 transitional/step-down beds for those with dementia or enduring mental health problems who cannot be supported in local nursing or residential homes.

The Older Adults Community Mental Health Team (OACMHT) manages a caseload of about 300 patients, including new referrals triaged by the Crisis and Assessment team, providing both short-term treatment and long-term care coordination. The role involves providing medical support to the OACMHT alongside two other consultants and a staff grade doctor.

The post holder will join an established team, comprising 2 WTE older adult consultants, 1.0 WTE Associate Specialist (Memory Assessment Service), 2.0 WTE staff grades (inpatient and community), and 1.0 WTE F1 doctor (inpatients and community). Dedicated administrative support includes a 0.5 WTE medical secretary and ward and team secretarial support.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Old Age Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a General Adult role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather. 

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%

General Adult Psychiatry Department & Team

The inpatient service features 17 adult acute beds, including an extra-care area, for individuals aged 18 to 65 with severe mental illness requiring admission. The goal is to promote recovery and well-being, helping service users achieve their potential. The service caters to a diverse population with complex needs. The multidisciplinary inpatient team includes doctors (two part-time consultants, staff grade/clinical fellow, and F2), a clinical psychologist, nurses, a social worker, occupational therapists, an art therapist, healthcare assistants, and administrative staff.

The Home Treatment Team functions as a step-up, step-down service to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and facilitate early discharge. They attend ward reviews, support patients on leave, and assist with discharge planning, also gatekeeping inpatient beds. The team includes two part-time consultants, a 0.5 FTE team manager, two FTE senior practitioners, 5.5 FTE nurse practitioners, one FTE social worker, three FTE senior HCAs, and one FTE occupational therapist. Covering all adult ages, there is an arrangement with an Older Adult Consultant for additional support if needed.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in three years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Adult Psychiatry

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