Which is easier for healthcare professionals – IELTS or OET?



Which is easier for healthcare professionals – IELTS or OET?


When it comes to both the IELTS and the OET, the question we are asked most often is, “Which is easier IELTS or OET?” and our response is usually, “It depends.” You see there are advantages and disadvantages to either English test depending on your situation.

Which one is better? 

That question is like comparing a Ferrari to a Lamborghini – either will get you to where you need to go, it just depends on which you prefer. Both the IELTS and the OET are high stakes Cambridge examinations that are trusted by healthcare regulators. They both test your English Listening; Reading; Speaking and Writing skills and they both evidence your English language ability. Both examinations reassure your regulators that you can communicate effectively if you reach 7.0 – 7.5 in IELTS and 4B grades in the OET. This step is in your best interests and the best interests of your future patients here in the UK. With that acknowledged, the IELTS is more readily available than the OET, both in terms of available test dates and locations.  There are currently 500 IELTS test centres compared to 110 OET locations.

Which one is cheaper? 

You see, there is a phrase that we hear a lot, which is that ‘the OET is expensive’. Yes, on the face of it, if you compare the two exams, to take the IELTS test costs £155 – £175 depending on where you take it. The OET, on the other hand, costs £290 – £350 (a difference of approximately £195) depending on whether you enter individually or as part of a group. The cost of preparation for the IELTS is comparatively lower too. However, if you consider your chances of success for both of them, you may see things a little differently. The IELTS can be considered more random than the OET. The topic of a question in the IELTS exam can be historical, political, economical, geographical, sociological… The list is endless. Conversely, the OET is profession specific and as such, all of the material will be healthcare focused.  This means that it could be considered unpredictable by comparison, and therefore more difficult. To add a level of credence to that argument, in January 2018, the OET stated that for every 1 person who passes the IELTS, 4 pass the OET.

Which test should you do?

Ultimately, both exams will help you to demonstrate to yourself and your regulator – either the GMC for doctors or the NMC for nurses – that you have the necessary level of English language skill to practice safely in the UK. Every day we speak to doctors and nurses who decide to do either the IELTS or OET and the one they eventually choose is a personal decision. We see plenty of healthcare professionals through both exams and we can do the same for you.

Prepare for the right exam with us… Call 0203 637 6722.