IELTS vs OET: What’s the difference?

The Department of Immigration and Border Patrol (DIBP) has a unique way of distinguishing applicants English language ability. There are currently two test results that the DIBP will consider when making a decision on your case:

  • OET


Both tests are in 4 sub-parts: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

IELTS is a general test. OET is industry specific.

OET has the ability for test takers to take individual subparts if the applicant has not achieved the desired marks however, most assessing authorities require results from one sitting.

Most visas have a minimum criteria specified for the grant of a visa. For example, for the subclass 457 visa, the minimum is 5 in each for IELTS.


IELTS listening – get 32 out of 40 correct = Band 7. The information for the gap-fill exercises is (mostly) played sequentially. The test is usually in 3 sections: one is mono-voice; one is a conversation between two or more people; one is someone giving directions you follow – on a map or a floor plan. There are several English accents to contend with: maybe a Scottish accent, a New Zealand accent, American or Australian accent. The IELTS Listening test takes 40 minutes to complete.
Assessed by an IELTS assessor.

OET listening – is in two parts. Part A is a consultation – about 8 to 10 minutes. Two voices. Part B is a “lecture” – one voice – 25 or so minutes. Starts off at a reasonable pace but the last third is spoken quickly –demands high concentration to keep up with what the speaker says / summarise / brief time to take notes.
To get a “B” (or “A”) in OET Listening, candidate must get at least 65% right.
Assessed by an OET assessor.


IELTS Reading – score 32 out of 40 correct = and you have Band 7. Usually there are 3 sections – with 12 to 15 questions for each section. Questions are either multiple choice / or fill-in-the-gap. Straightforward. Questions are (mostly) sequential. You are given one hour to complete the reading. You choose which section you do first, second & third.

Reading answer sheet is marked by computer.

OET Reading is in 2 parts. Part A consists of 4 separate pieces of text on the one topic. Your task is to complete the summarising gap-fill exercise at the end. There are many gaps – maybe 28 to 35. You are given 15 minutes to complete the readings and fill in all the gaps.

Part B consists of two passages – each with multiple choice questions. Many MCQ have 2 of the 4 options which could be correct. Your task is to work out which one is more correct than the other.

You are given 45 minutes to do Part B. To get a “B” (or “A”) in Reading, candidate must get at least 65% right. Reading answer sheet is marked by computer.


IELTS Academic Writing
consists of 2 parts: Part A – describe a graph, a table or a flow chart. Part B – write a 250w essay.

Part A requires analytical English – the language of comparison. You write about ‘..the upward trend’ or ‘fluctuated between …’ or ‘remained constant / unchanged’ Part B writing requires you to write a comparative or an argumentative essay (one page – 250 words long). You get one hour for
writing. You are given both Parts together. You can do the essay first – then the graph. It is up to you.

Assessed by an IELTS assessor.

OET Writing requires candidates to consider a discipline-specific case study – and write a letter of referral. Nurses might write a letter of discharge; Pharmacists might write a letter to the customer’s doctor; Doctors and Dentists usually are writing to a specialist – referring the patient.  5 minutes reading time 40 minutes writing time.
Assessed by an OET assessor.


IELTS Speaking is in three parts:
Part 1 – warm up / intro / very short “interview’
Part 2 – the solo performance – one min. preparation time then two minutes talking on the given topic.
Part 3 – a 2-way conversation.

The critical difference between IELTS and OET Speaking Test is that in the IELTS speaking test you are talking with your examiner – the one who judges you.

Your body language counts – can help you.
Takes 11 to 13 minutes.

OET Speaking takes the form of a consultation / an exchange of information – between the professional and the patient / client / customer – however the “role player” is instructed to act passively, making it extremely hard for the professional to “drive” the encounter. The intonation of the candidate’s voice is most important – as is sounding confident. “Body language” is NOT involved. 2 role plays in 15 minutes.
Speaking is assessed by two OET assessors who listen to your recorded voice some time after the test is over.





  • AUD$580.00 globally
  • Test fees in Australia include GST.
  • An additional AUD$7.00 booking fee is charged for every application.