The OET Centre delivers the Occupational English Test (OET). The OET Centre is a business unit of the Centre for Adult Education (CAE), a not-for-profit organisation recognised for its contribution to adult education over the past 63 years.
The OET Centre has an MOU with the University of Melbourne for OET research, materials supply and technical support.
The Occupational English Test was designed by Professor Tim McNamara of the University of Melbourne under contract to the Australian Federal Government. As part of the annual intake of refugees and immigrants, hundreds of overseas-trained health practitioners were entering Australia by the mid to late 1980s. The majority were medical practitioners but a number of other health professional groups were also represented. The process of registration to practise in most health professions in Australia included three stages of assessment: English language proficiency, a multiple choice test of profession-specific clinical knowledge, and a performance-based test of clinical competence. Dissatisfaction with the results of existing language tests led to the development of thoroughly researched specifications for a communicative, contextualised test. The OET has been frequently reviewed and analysed in the literature over the past 20 years. McNamara (1996) gives a full account of the development of the test and associated validation research.
The purpose of the Occupational English Test is to evaluate the English language competence of people who have trained as medical and health practitioners in one country and wish to gain provisional registration to practise their profession in an English-speaking context. In most cases, applicants are subsequently required by their professional board or council to sit a test of professional knowledge.
Candidates for the OET are from 12 health and allied health professions: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science. Nursing, Medicine and Dentistry currently provide the largest numbers of candidates. All four language skills are tested – listening, speaking, reading and writing – with an emphasis on contextualised communication for professional purposes. The Speaking and Writing sub-tests are specific to each profession, while the Listening and Reading sub-tests are common to all candidates.
The test is currently used by the governing bodies of the professions at state and national level in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Each board or council determines the result required from candidates to meet the language competency standards required in order to function in their profession. Follow this link to see which Australian and international health Boards and Councils accept the OET.
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