Medacs Healthcare

Language Tests

Before any nurse that is trained outside of the UK can work as a nurse within the UK, they are required to demonstrate their ability to speak the English language to a standard set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). To be eligible for UK nursing work, the NMC requires nurses to have passed one of the following English language exams:

  • IETLS test - UKVI IELTS or Academic IELTS with a score of 7 in listening, reading and speaking, and a score of 6.5 in writing. 
  • OET test - OET with a score of B in each section 

Test differences and similarities 

Both IELTS and OET are designed to assess all elements of English language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. However, while IELTS reflects the use of English in multiple contexts such as study, work and socially, OET is purely aimed at the healthcare sector. OET helps to ensure that the English language skills of internationally trained healthcare professionals are at an appropriate standard for patient safety and healthcare work in the UK.

There are typically two names for the IELTS test; IELTS UKVI Academic and IELTS Academic (Regular). There are no differences in the test format or questions, the actual test taken is the same in terms of; content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on. The only difference is the test centre. The IELTS test for UK visa purposes is designed to meet certain administrative requirements that are specific to UK Visas and Immigration. Both types are accepted by the NMC as proof of a candidate’s English language ability, while only UKVI IELTS academic is accepted for visa purposes.

Other differences include cost. Here are the costs for each test type:


Approximate cost in £



IELTS Academic (Regular)




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Additional Information

  • IELTS Test
  • OET Test

Relevant Links

  • Nurses Outside of the EU/EEA
  • NMC Registration Process
  • Do You Have Right of Abode?
  • Applying for a Visa
  • Nurses Who Have Relocated to the UK


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