Should I take IELTS or OET?

Should I take IELTS or OET?

Deciding which exam to take can often be a very difficult decision! Maybe you have done IELTS and you are sick of it. Maybe you've heard IELTS is really hard and you think OET might be easier? Maybe you've heard OET is expensive?

Below we have a table that compares the two exams and gives a summary. If you want more information on the two exams, I will be releasing a video about it soon. For early access to this video, contact me here.


OET is more expensive than IELTS. It costs approx £300. Although, unlike IELTS, it is possible to have sub-tests remarked at a price cheaper than IELTS.

The IELTS academic exam normally costs approx £150.

(Note, the UKVI test is more expensive but is no longer required for nurses to work in the UK)


The topics in the OET exams are restricted to healthcare, although listening and reading can relate to any of the medical disciplines tested by OET, such as Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Medicine etc. OET for Nurses/Doctors will cover things like symptoms, consultations, medical progress, monitoring, testing.

The topics in IELTS are wide-ranging. In Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing you will be expected to understand and use ideas and information related to topics including traffic, engineering, fashion, art, food, friends, sport, hobbies, regrets, predictions and much more.


The vocabulary in OET is generally not a surprise for most students because a lot of medical education and workplaces use English. Some less formal phrases and synonyms might be a challenge. Generally, this is not a big problem for medical professionals.

As you would expect, vocabulary is a key part of IELTS tests and studying. You are marked on your topic-specific vocabulary and you also lose points for using vocabulary incorrectly! It's essential to grow your vocabulary to score over 6.0! It's essential to experience a wide range of English language materials, such as TV shows, lectures and radio programmes.


Grammar is a fundamental part of expressing and understanding language clearly. For example, you must demonstrate a wide range of tenses, sentence structures and use of the active/passive voice in order to get B in the OET Writing task and 7.0 in the IELTS Writing tasks.

Grammar is one of the main reasons why people do not get the required score in IELTS and OET Writing. Not only that, grammar is vital for Reading, Listening and Speaking in IELTS- just like OET!


OET is great for nurses and doctors who want to work in other countries. In the UK, for instance, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council recognise OET at level B for both Nurses and Doctors.

The IELTS exam is recognised by a wide variety of institutions across the world - universities, medical councils, immigration departments etc. Each organisation sets the score that an individual needs to qualify with.


OET is a great solution for healthcare professionals who are worried about the academic and wide-ranging style of the IELTS exam. In some areas the OET tasks are more straightforward (Writing/Speaking) but the Listening and Reading are just as difficult as the IELTS sub-tests.

OET also helps students to develop useful language for the medical workplace in English-speaking countries. When you pass, the skills you have are still relevant. Employers in the UK respect this.

However, the OET test is more expensive than IELTS and the cost will understandably be a big part of your decision. ​

There is a lot to learn when you start studying IELTS Academic. It can feel a bit scary! Once you learn the main strategies, however, you quickly develop the analytic and descriptive techniques that will help you to get high scores.

People who read, watch TV and movies and are interested in the world normally do well in IELTS.

Be honest with yourself - can you speak about a very wide range of subjects in your own language? If the answer is no, maybe OET is a better choice for you.

If you have any questions, just send the team a message here.
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