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IELTS for health professionals

There have been recent changes regarding IELTS requirements for people in the medical profession who wish to work in the UK. These mainly affect nurses and midwives who have been trained in the EU and wish to register with the NMC. From January 19th this year, all nurses and midwives will need to have a level of English equivalent to Band 7 in Academic IELTS and be able to demonstrate this in all 4 language skills: Reading; Writing; Speaking; Listening.

Getting Band 7 in the Academic IELTS test is not an easy task. It is equivalent to a C1 level of English / a Toefl score of 110 / Cambridge Advanced (CAE). Band 7 means you can communicate your ideas and opinions clearly and fluently in both spoken and written form using a range of vocabulary and complex structures with few errors. It is really important for candidates to understand the criteria for the Speaking and Writing tests so that they know what the examiners are looking for.

In Parts 1 and 2 of the IELTS Speaking test, candidates may be asked questions about their current job or something related to health (exercise / diet / sport) and then health professionals can use words and expressions which are typically used in the medical field to demonstrate a good knowledge of vocabulary. However, in Part 3 of the speaking test, candidates might be asked about more abstract topics so they have to be prepared to talk about a variety of different issues.

In the Academic Writing test candidates have to complete two tasks: an academic report and a discursive essay. The essay question also requires candidates to express clear views and ideas within a structured essay format (minimum 250 words) but the report requires a very different writing skill: the ability to transfer visual data from a graph, chart, table or diagram into an academic report (minimum 150 words). The key skill being tested here is how to compare and contrast data and how to highlight the most significant statistics.

For nurses wishing to work in Ireland, the IELTS requirement is slightly lower for nurses and midwives (overall 6.5). However, they still have to get band 7 in both the speaking and the writing parts of the test which are often the most difficult for candidates to achieve To see the IELTS requirements for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, please refer to our nurses info page.

For doctors wishing to register for the GMC in the UK, the IELTS requirement remains at an overall band of 7.5 but with a minimum score of band 7 in each section. So that means if candidates achieve band 7 in 2 parts of the test, they would have to get band 8 in the other two parts. To see the criteria which differentiates a band 7 from a band 8, you can check the band descriptors here for the IELTS speaking and IELTS writing tests.

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By Jenny Bedwell on 2016 03 15

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Aldila, Indonesia

Aldila, Indonesia

Hello again Jenny & Nigel,

First of all I wanna thank you for everything you taught me, it really works!! I just got my last attempt IELTS result and thankfully I’ve got what I need !! I got 7 for listening, 6.5 for reading, then 6 for writing and 6.5 for speaking!! I’m so happy, finally I can continue my study this July.


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