The Occupational English Test (also known as OET for Nurses) is an international English language test for the healthcare sector. It assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practice in an English-speaking environment.

Unlike IELTS OET is designed specifically for your profession “Nursing”.

The OET for nurses is now accepted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the United Kingdom (NMC) and the Irish Nursing Board (NMBI) to prove that a general nurse with completed studies within the European Union has an adequate level of English to be able to practice Nursing in full safety.


The listening test consists of two parts. In Part A, candidates listen to a simulated consultation (dialogue) between a professional and a patient and are required to take notes under headings. In Part B, candidates listen to a health professional giving a short talk on a health-related topic and are required to complete a range of open-ended and fixed-choice questions.


The reading test consists of two parts. In Part A, lasting 15 minutes, candidates are asked to skim read 3 or 4 short texts and complete a summary paragraph by filling in the missing words. It is designed to test the reader’s ability to scan texts within a time limit, source information from multiple texts, and synthesise information. In Part B, lasting 45 minutes, candidates are asked to read two passages on a general healthcare topic and answer 8–10 multiple choice questions for each text. It is designed to test the reader’s ability to read and comprehend longer texts.


The writing paper asks candidates to write a letter, usually a letter of referral. For some professions a different type of letter is required, e.g. a letter of transfer or discharge, or a letter to advise a patient, carer or group. Candidates are given case notes which must be included in their letter.


The speaking test is in the form of one-to-one conversations with an interlocutor. It starts with a short warm-up interview about the candidate’s professional background. This is followed by two role plays. Candidates have 2–3 minutes to prepare for each role play. Role plays last about five minutes and is based on typical interactions between a health professional and a patient. The candidate adopts their usual professional role (e.g. as a nurse) and the interviewer plays a patient or sometimes a relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interviewer is the owner or carer of the animal.

Required Score for NMBI registration

Language requirements – old and new – explained

New language requirements:

Subtest or ComponentMinimum Occupational English Test (OET) Grade and Score
Listening B (350 – 450)OET (Nursing) with Grade B in three components and C+ in one component
ReadingB (350 – 450)
WritingC+ (300 – 340)
SpeakingB (350 – 450)

Required Score for NMC registration

Language requirements – explained

Language requirements:

The NMC will accept an OET examination certificate that confirms you achieved:

  • at least a grade C+ in the writing section 
  • at least a grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections.

Combining OET test scores

You can achieve the required mark across two test sittings if:

  • you sit the tests within six months of each other
  • you’re tested in all four sections at the same time
  • all grades in both sittings are above grade C+, and
  • you achieve at least a grade C+ in the writing section and at least a grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections in either of the two test sittings.

Combined OET scores: Accepted

Test 1BBC+B
Test 2BC+BB

The applicant has scored at least grade B in the listening, speaking and reading sections and at least grade C+ in the writing section in either of the two test sittings, and no score is lower than grade C+.

Combined OET scores: Not accepted

Test 1BBC+B
Test 2CC+BB

This application would not be accepted. The applicant has scored lower than grade C+.


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