To be a nurse or doctor in the UK, you essentially need two key things: relevant qualifications and experience, and good English language skills.

Before you contact us, you’ll need to already speak decent English – and we’ll assess this on our first call. But before you can become a nurse or doctor in the UK, you’ll need to pass the IELTS with an overall score of at least 7. That’s why your English skills are so important, and why you should be working on them right away.

What is the IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is an international test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. IELTS is the only English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa customers applying from both outside and inside the UK.
Importantly, you must complete the ‘academic version’ of the IELTS, according to the NMC’s requirements.

Why is the IELTS so important?

It’s very simple: to be a nurse or doctor in the UK, you must complete the IELTS first. Your career in the UK depends on it.

But more than that, it represents a level of English skill that will make your life in the UK much more fulfilling. You’ll be better at your job, you’ll settle more comfortably into British life, and you’ll find it much easier to get things done. Furthermore, it’s also a requirement for immigration to Australia and New Zealand, and to get into the UK’s world-renowned universities.

Best of all, your CV will look so much stronger with an IELTS score of 7 or more. Improving your English will improve your career prospects immediately.

What IELTS score is needed to become a nurse in the UK?

You must complete the academic version of the IELTS test and achieve:

  • At least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections
  • At least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections
  • At least 7.0 (out of a possible 9) overall

You can provide two separate IELTS test certificates to meet these requirements, but must not have scored below 6.5 in any categories, in either of the test sittings. The two test sittings must be taken within six months of each other to be considered. The NMC/GMC will not accept applicants who score lower than this standard and the IELTS scores are valid for two years.

Sign the petition

HCL has been a leading party in the questioning of the NMC’s required IELTS pass rate for overseas nurses. As it stands, overseas nurses need to achieve a 7.0 in all of the IELTS Academic modules. However, it is argued that this is too high and the evidence to suggest so has been mounting. Although we wholly agree that overseas nurses need to be tested on their level of English to work in the UK, the current pass rate set by the NMC is so high that even nurses from Australia, whose native language is English, are having difficulty achieving the required score.

We have teamed up with several NHS Trusts to produce a report which provides an insight into how much IELTS is affecting the recruitment of overseas nurses into the UK; at a time when chronic staff shortages threaten to change the quality of service and patient care we have come to expect of the NHS.

You can help get this issue in front of the government by signing the e-petition to the right.


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