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OET Exam: A Pathway for International Nurses Immigrating to the USA


Many nurses already know about the Occupational English Test (OET) and the benefits it provides when proving your English language skills. If you are not familiar with OET, read on to learn about how the OET test works, and why it could be a great fit for you.

What is OET?

OET is a leading global English test specifically designed for nurses and healthcare professionals. For international nurses looking to work in the USA, the exam is now recognized by the CGFNS as an approved English language exam for the US Immigration visa screen.  Developed over 30 years ago in Australia, the test is recognized around the world, including in the USA, UK, Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland and beyond.

Unlike general or academic English tests, OET is healthcare specific and profession specific. Basically, if you’re a nurse, you will be assessed in Writing and Speaking using tasks that use nursing language and real-world scenarios.

The OET Nursing test assesses all four communication skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) using nursing-specific scenarios and tasks. It takes approximately three hours to complete, while the Speaking sub-test may sometimes occur on a separate day.

The OET is offered as a paper exam, or you can also choose to take the exam on a computer at one of their 800 venues in more than 70 countries or OET@Home®. Not all registering organizations accept every test mode, so it is important to check with the organization before you choose your test type.

OET Benefits

Nursing Practice Focused: Since OET focuses on healthcare-specific language skills, it may prepare nurses for the challenges in the US healthcare system. This is because you'll gain more confidence communicating with colleagues and patients.

Recognized by CGFNS: The OET is recognized and accepted by major regulatory bodies and professional healthcare organizations in the USA, including the CGFNS. These institutions consider OET scores as evidence of English language proficiency for registration and employment purposes. The recent updates from the CGFNS further reinforce the importance of the OET as a reliable measure of linguistic competence for nurses.

Prepares Nurses to Practice in the USA: The OET  confirms nurses will learn English language skills that may help you adapt to the US healthcare environment. Studying targeted nursing profession language skills specific to the nursing profession, you may feel more confident communicating with healthcare teams, following medical instructions, documenting patient information, and most importantly, communicating with patients.


The OET Exam Format for Nurses

To help you get a better understanding of the beneficial test format, here’s some additional details about the Writing and Speaking portions of the test.

OET Writing Sub-Test: A Referral Letter

The Writing sub-test requires candidates to produce a letter, such as a referral letter or a letter of discharge, based on case notes and other documentation. For nursing, this is a better test of English than writing an academic essay on a general topic, like global warming.

OET Speaking Sub-Test: A Role Play

The OET Speaking sub-test is a role play between you (playing a nurse) and an interlocutor (playing a patient or patient carer). It reflects real-life interactions, which you might have already encountered before in your current nursing role.

If you’re looking to take an English test specifically for nursing, then make sure you take OET. Not only will you prove you have the right level of English – you’ll be ready to perform in the global healthcare industry.

o learn more about how you can prove your English skills confidently with OET and find out how you can prove your english skills.