Do you need to prove your level of English for immigration or work purposes, but you don’t know what English test to take?
Should you take a general English test like the International Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a test specific to your profession like the healthcare-focused Occupational English Test (OET)?
Before you make the decision, you need to decide which one is the most suitable for you. Luckily, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you better understand the difference between a general English exam and a profession-specific one.
Academic English test
One of the options you could look at is an academic English test. Like all English tests, they cover the four basic language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
When you sit an academic English test, you will be asked to complete several tasks that relate to one of the four skills. Typically, these tests will reflect aspects of academic language and assess whether you have the necessary skills to start studying or training.
For instance, if you take IELTS Academic you will be required to write a formal, academic essay like those required in tertiary education providers. Topics are of general interest and can range from jam-making to questions about government spending.
Profession-specific English test
Profession-specific tests use tasks and activities that relate to your profession. They use subjects, language and scenarios drawn from real workplace environments to assess your English language skills.
There is currently only one globally available English test designed for healthcare professionals – the Occupational English Test (OET). Like general or academic English tests, OET assesses four language skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking).
Unlike other English tests, OET does so through a set of tasks that you are likely to meet in the healthcare workplace.
In OET’s Speaking subtest, for example, you play the role of a healthcare professional, whether this a nurse or a doctor, communicating with a patient, carer or family member.
These role-plays are based on workplace situations and reflect the kinds of conditions you would find in your healthcare role.
Which should I take?
A general English test such as IELTS or TOEFL is a great option for students looking to study in an English-speaking country or taking a course where English is the dominant language.
If you’re a healthcare worker, such as a doctor or a nurse, your best option is OET.
As the only English language test made specifically for the healthcare industry, it uses real healthcare scenarios – which can make you feel more confident than an academic English test.
Additionally, as OET replicates the types of communication skills you would need in a healthcare workplace, you’re developing as a professional while you learn.
If you would like to begin your journey, apply for OET today.