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  • julianosko

IELTS vs OET: which English proficiency test to choose

Hi, I am Aishwarya, an IMG from India. I am currently doing my Master's in Cardiovascular Research at King's College London. A lot of people have the dilemma of choosing between IELTS and OET. That is why in today's blog article, I will be busting some of the myths I have heard, and the pros and cons of each exam in this article. You may also want to read our blogs on How to prepare for the IELTS exam and How to prepare for the OET exam.


IELTS & OET are both English tests you need to take prior to entry to the United Kingdom.

Both exams are equally challenging and require effort. If you would like to familiarise yourself with GMC requirements, please read GMC registration - STEP 3 - Evidence of your knowledge of English.


1. “OET is easier”: It's nothing of the sort. Both exams are tough and have 4 sections you have to clear (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing). The OET is an exam designed specifically for healthcare professionals. For example, the writing section in OET will usually be a referral letter of some sort whereas, in IELTS, the writing section can comprise a variety of general topics. For that reason, it is considered to be easier for some individuals.

2. “OET tests my medical knowledge”: The OET does not test any medical knowledge. It is solely an English language test.

3. “I would have to use fancy vocabulary in OET”: Definitely not. Since the OET is designed for healthcare professionals, it is necessary to be aware of the basic terms in the medical field, but apart from that, it is equivalent to IELTS.

4. “I can clear IELTS/ OET without any preparation since English has been my first language since I was a kid”: This is not the case. A certain amount of preparation is needed. The tests are made in such a way that a particular format has to be followed especially for the writing section. This Is one of the major challenges in the IELTS exam. A lot of people end up with a 6.5 in the writing section despite the fact that their English skills are top-notch. There is a format and a fixed structure you should follow.

If you are preparing for your IELTS or OET exam, TrewLink has an extremely helpful 2-hour FREE recording from a recent master class on tips to pass your OET and IELTS writing exams the first time. The recording is available for you on the website

Taking the IELTS or OET exam

For the GMC to accept your IELTS or OET, your certificates must meet the following criteria:

  • IELTS (Academic version) - minimum 7.0 in all elements, the overall score of 7.5

  • OET (Medicine version) - Grade B or above in all elements

  • IELTS or OET must be less than 2 years old

  • the minimum score must be achieved in one sitting

IELTS and OET certificates are valid for 2 years only. If you are taking the PLAB test, your certificate must be valid on the day you sit the PLAB part 1 exam. If you are applying for registration with a license to practice, it must be valid when the GMC approves your application.



If you have any questions about IELTS or OET, I would be happy to answer them at

Good luck!

Dr Ash

Written by Ash

Edited by Julia


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