What is the OET?

OET for Pharmacists

If you live in the UK and are a pharmacist by profession, you may have been really excited to hear the news that the General Pharmaceutical Council now approves the Occupational English Test (OET) as a standard to prove your proficiency in English.

Up until now, the IELTS has been one of your only options to prove your competency in the English language, but I know, having taught many pharmacists over the years, that the IELTS can be a tricky test to score well in.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the differences between the two tests, and point out the benefits of each, so you can compare both and decide which test is right for you.

What is the OET?

The Occupational English Test (OET) is a test run by Cambridge Boxhill and is designed for the healthcare sector.

It’s split into four sub-tests: Listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

So as you can see, in this respect, it’s exactly the same as the IELTS.

Is the OET easier than IELTS?

Well, the simple answer to that is no! Both the IELTS and the OET test your proficiency in English to the same standard. The tests themselves are equally hard. However, while the context of the reading and listening texts, and speaking and writing tasks are incredibly varied in IELTS - anything from space travel to football - in the OET, all the material is based around healthcare.

This means that whilst also giving you the opportunity to learn and practice the kind of language you will need every day at work, the test tasks themselves are designed to help you prove that you have the right level of English for work or study in the field of health,

Let’s look at each of the OET sub-tests in more detail and look in particular at the specialised pharmacy sub-tests.

OET Listening Sub-Test

Whereas the IELTS has four sub-sections for the listening which is split into two listening texts about general English (such as asking for personal details when joining a gym, or listening to a museum talk) and two listening texts on academic English (e.g. a group of students discussing a project, and a lecture about film studies), the OET listening is based entirely around healthcare situations.

It’s split into three.

OET Listening A: Consultation Extracts

  • You’ll hear two consultations between a healthcare professional and a patient.

  • The consultations are not connected.

  • Tests your ability to identify specific information during (e.g. nature of injury, duration, effects).