OET: Occupational English Test = A test which assesses language skill in a Health Professional Context.
IELTS: International English Language Testing System = A test which assesses language skill in an Academic or General context. (A large number of IELTS test takers intend to study at university.)
Which is easier/ harder?
It depends on your background. If you have not yet worked as a health professional, then probably they are equal and it depends if you have previous IELTS experience, as many have. If you have experience as a health professional either in your country or in Australia, New Zealand or an English speaking country, then there are some advantages in doing OET.
Compare the following:
IELTS: 4 parts on general topics which get progressively harder. (Perhaps easier than OET is some ways as you don't need to take as many notes but the topics are varied.)
OET: 2 parts. Part A is a medical interview which is a note-taking exam. Part B is a lecture on a health topic. Question types include gap fill, short answer, MCQs, table completion style. (Many candidates say OET is hard, and requires good note-taking skills, but the topics have a medical focus so you can use your medical knowledge/vocabulary to some degree.)
IELTS: 3 readings MCQs, Gap Fill, True False or Not given questions on general topics.
OET: Part A: Summary Gap Fill; Part B MCQs on health topics. A similar in degree of difficulty but OET may be slightly easier once you become familiar with the test format due to the medical context.
IELTS : 11~14 minute structured interview on a general topic.
OET: 14~18 minute profession specific interview containing Health Professional-Patient role-plays. If you are an experienced health professional and confident speaker, then OET may be better as it easier to prepare for and reflects Australasian work situations.
IELTS: 2 tasks, task 2 describing a graph or process (Academic) or a letter (General) and Task 2 an essay on a general topic.
OET:1 task, a profession-specific medical letter, usually a referral letter based on case notes. As in the other skills, you can use your medical knowledge in this section, and as it is only one task for some it is easier to prepare for.
Check out their respective websites for more details.
Here is an approximate guide to OET and IELTS scores.
To conclude, OET is not an easy test, but definitely passable if you are well prepared and that is what OET Online specialises in. So if you are planning to take the OET exam, check out our options for a course that suits your needs.