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The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), through its program of certification, assesses whether physicians graduating from these schools are ready to enter programs of graduate medical education in the United States. Due to COVID-19 the USMLE have suspended 2CS exams and are now accepting the OET.

Why do I need to take an English Language Proficiency Assessment?

Educational Commission For Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certification requires all international medical graduates (IMGs), even if English is your native language, wanting to enter U.S. graduate medical education, either accredited US residencies or fellowships in 2021 to demonstrate English language proficiency.  

Pre-Covid they used the English language component of Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS), but due to its suspension, you need to get at least a B score (>350/500)  in all components in a single administration of the Occupational English Test (OET). The four components of OET Medicine: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

When do I have to take the OET exam by for ECFMG?

If you are pursuing one of the five pathways for ECFMG Certification in order to participate in the 2021 Match, you must take OET Medicine by December 31, 2020 to ensure that your test score is reported in time for ECFMG to assess your pathway application and to report the result to the NRMP by the NRMP’s ROL deadline. However, do not wait till the last session to take the exam in case you fail and need to retake it.

Remember, all pathway applicants, regardless of citizenship, native language, or medical school language of instruction must satisfy this requirement.

What is the difference between OET and Step 2CS?

Your Step 2 CS administration included The Patient Encounter- twelve patient encounters, The Standardized Patient & Physical Examination and Telephone Patient Encounters. OET Medicine, is a brief, 20-minute experience of 2 roleplays. OET Medicine is designed solely to assess an individual’s English language proficiency in a health care environment. It does not assess clinical skills through physical examination. An assessor is present only for the speaking portion of OET Medicine.

If I passed all the subcomponents of Step 2 CS apart from Spoken English Proficiency (SEP), can I just take OET speaking component?

Step 2 SC has 3 separate subcomponents and they must all be passed at a single test in order to pass Step 2 SC. The same applies for the OET, you must take all the 4 subcomponents and pass them in one sitting.

What is the latest I can take OET Medicine in order to be considered eligible for the Match?

You must take OET Medicine by December 31, 2020 to help ensure that your test score is reported in enough time for ECFMG to determine the status of your pathway application and to report that status to the NRMP by the NRMP’s ROL deadline. However, the earlier you take the test, the better chance you will have of obtaining another test date if you fail the test.

Will my OET Medicine results be needed in time for the rank order list (ROL) deadline?

Yes. To participate in the Match, IMGs must have satisfied all exam requirements for ECFMG Certification by the ROL deadline of the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®). Passing OET Medicine is one component of completing a pathway and satisfying ECFMG’s English language proficiency and clinical skills requirements. Therefore, to be eligible for the Match, applicants must fulfil all components of one of the five pathways (in addition to passing USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge) successfully by the NRMP’s ROL deadline at 9:00 p.m., U.S. Eastern Time, on March 3, 2021.

Why did ECFMG choose OET Medicine?

ECFMG chose OET because it is designed for health care professionals, and there is a version, OET Medicine, specifically for physicians. It assesses the language skills of health care professionals who wish to practice in an English-speaking environment. These health care professionals need adequate English language proficiency to deliver high-quality patient care.

OET Medicine simulates real workplace scenarios and assesses relevant language skills needed for the practice of medicine. It will allow applicants for Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates Certification to demonstrate language skills that are important for success in U.S. graduate medical education. The OET is recognized widely by health care boards, councils, and commissions around the world.

Where can I take the OET? 

There are a large number of test centers throughout the world and new centres are opening continually, especially in the USA. This link shows you where and which dates you can take the OET exam in your country. https://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/test-information/test-dates-locations/  In addition, OET is starting to offer [email protected], a version of the test that applicants can take safely and securely at home through remote proctoring.

Will OET test materials reflect the health care workplace in the United States?

OET has been designed to reflect health care workplaces in English-speaking countries. Subject matter experts (SMEs), who are practicing doctors and/or leading academics in their medical fields, provide input into all test materials to ensure that the questions and tasks accurately reflect the health care workplace. OET’s pool of SMEs includes physicians who are based in the United States. They check that the terminology and concepts used are appropriate and will neither advantage nor disadvantage those who aim to work in the United States.

I want to work/train in the United States, so why do I have to take a test that includes non-U.S. accents and British spelling?

OET has been designed for the international workplace and reflects the diverse reality of most health care settings. The test, therefore, includes British spelling and a range of accents, including Australian, British, American, and more. Professionals today are regularly required to communicate with colleagues and patients from different linguistic backgrounds, so OET ensures that you are prepared for this reality.

What accents will I hear in OET?

For the Listening sub-test, across all three parts, a range of accents is used to reflect the global nature of the health care workforce. The main accents are Australian, American, and British. Other accents are Canadian, Irish, New Zealand, and South African.

For the Listening, Reading, and Writing sub-tests, you will not lose marks if you accurately use any variation of English.

Will I lose marks for using U.S. spelling?

No. OET accepts both U.S. and British spelling as correct.

View Jay’s video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOD2062NYbI
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