Should you take IELTS or OET Exam?

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In order to be placed in a permanent nursing role in the UK or Ireland, you must demonstrate your English Language abilities as part of the tier 2 visa application and professional body registration. We have put together a breakdown of each exam available to help you make a decision.

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of those who want to study and work in a location that speaks English.

IELTS is accepted by over 10,000 organisations including the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK and Nursing & Midwifery Board in Ireland (NMBI). It is the only language test accepted by all key immigration authorities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, for visa applications and migration purposes.

What is OET?

The Occupational English Test (OET) is a trusted English Language exam used by healthcare boards and councils across the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Singapore including NMC and NMBI. It was developed specifically for healthcare professionals to allow them to communicate effectively in a demanding healthcare environment.

About the IELTS Exam:

Test format: The IELTS exam consists of four stages; Listening, Reading, Writing and Listening. The listening, reading and writing stages are completed on the same day with no breaks and the speaking stage can be completed one week before or after the other stages. Tests can be completed on paper or on a computer in a test centre.

Test Time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes

Scoring: IELTS is scored on a 0-9 band basis. NMC and NMBI require an overall score of at least 7 or a minimum score of 6.5 in writing section and a minimum score of 7 in the reading, listening and speaking sections.

Price: Approximately £170

About the OET Exam:

Test format: The OET exam consists of four stages; Listening, Reading, Writing and Listening. The test can be completed in a test venue on paper and soon available on a computer in a test centre or on a computer at home.

Test Time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes

Scoring: OET is on an A–E grade basis. NMC and NMBI require at least a grade C+ in the writing section and grade B in reading, listening and speaking sections.

Price: Approximately £300

Preparing for the exams

Both IELTS and OET offer healthcare professionals access to sample tests and practice materials to help you prepare for the exam.

Choosing which exam to take is down to personal preference, while the OET exam is more healthcare and workplace focussed the IELTS exam is a test on the broader English language which would be beneficial for life outside of work.

Visit the IELTS or OET websites for more information on each exam and access to their test materials.