The General Medical Council (GMC), the UK’s official registration body for medical practitioners, is now accepting the Occupational English Test (OET) as proof of English language ability for doctors from other countries. This means that overseas doctors can satisfy the language requirement of registration with the GMC by taking an exam designed to test medical English, with texts and scenarios that reflect those they encounter at work, rather than a general or academic English exam.
The GMC’s decision follows a similar move by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which expanded its English language requirement for nurses to include OET in November 2017. Nurses from all over the world have since taken the exam in the UK, with many more applying every month, and doctors now have the same opportunity.
OET assesses the English ability of members of 12 healthcare professions in the four established areas of listening, reading, speaking and writing. Material for the listening and reading sub-tests is the same for all professions and covers a range of healthcare topics, while speaking and writing are assessed by profession-specific sub-tests that simulate patient consultations and referral letters.
For many doctors, OET’s focus on healthcare will make it preferable to IELTS, previously the only English test accepted by the GMC. While IELTS candidates may have to answer questions on anything from foxhunting to fashion, medical professionals taking OET are tested on their ability to follow doctor-patient dialogues and lectures on health-related subjects, understand reading texts about diseases and treatments, and speak and write using the language of their chosen field.
Of course, as well as being professionally relevant, OET is a rigorous examination of candidates’ comprehension, fluency and accuracy in English. The GMC requires candidates to score at least a grade B on an A-E scale in each sub-test. This is equivalent to C1, the second-highest level in the CEFR, the international set of guidelines used to measure language proficiency. Additionally, doctors who qualified outside the European Economic Area and wish to practise in the UK will still need to take the PLAB tests to ensure their medical knowledge and skills are of a sufficiently high standard.
SLC was the first organisation in Europe and only the fifth in the world to be awarded Premium Preparation Provider (PPP) status by OET and has been running bespoke OET courses for NHS trusts, private healthcare companies and other employers ever since the exam was approved by the NMC. With an unrivalled portfolio of online materials designed, written and taught by medical and English language experts, SLC’s knowledge, experience and commitment to innovation make it the UK’s leading medical English provider.
- SLC’s OET Medicine Preparation Coaching gives comprehensive, focused one-to-one training for the Medicine version of OET
- Courses are designed to meet the needs of the individual student and use SLC’s OET-approved materials
- Teaching is conducted online, so lessons can take place anywhere with an internet connection
- Find out more about OET Medicine Preparation Coaching or book a course now