IELTS ExemptionHere is the breakdown

As you are probably already aware, there have been changes this year to the requirements for EU nurses registering to work in the UK. There has also been some confusion over who does and who does not have to take the test, what scores are acceptable and what – if any – exemptions exist.

We are going to try and breakdown the requirements and guidelines laid down by the NMC and taken from their website:

As ever we are happy to receive your comments and questions, BUT we are not the NMC and do not have any control over their assessment processes and protocols. Hopefully this article will go some way to helping you get registered!

If you studied outside the EU/EEA

The requirements for candidates who have studied outside the EU remain relatively unchanged since the adjustments last year. The language requirements remain in place and form the first part of your registration process. To be clear, if you have studied nursing or are a national from outside the EU/EEA your need to have an IELTS qualification giving you a minimum of  level 7 in all areas – Reading, Listening, Speaking and 6.5 Writing. This applies even if you studied your course in English or if English is your first language.

Combining Test scores:

You are allowed to combine 2 test scores, but the conditions for this are quite stringent so pay attention!

  • The tests must have been taken within six months of each other.
  • No score on either test is below 6.5 – see examples below for a full breakdown



Listening Reading Writing Speaking
Test 1 7 7.5 6.5 7
Test 2 6.5 7 7.5 8

This would be an acceptable score. The test shows scores above 7 in all areas, but no score is below 6.5


Listening Reading Writing Speaking
Test 1 6 6.5 7.5 7
Test 2 6.5 7 7.5 7.5

This would not be accepted as shows a score lower than 6.5


Listening Reading Writing Speaking
Test 1 7 7.5 6 7
Test 2 6.5 7 7 7.5

This would not be accepted as shows a score lower than 6.5

Applicants from inside the EU/EEA

All applicants for registration with the NMC must prove their English language capability as a part of the registration process.  If you have studied and are a national of the EU/EEA the requirements are the same as candidates from outside the EU/EEA in terms of acceptable IELTs test scores and combinations. However, there are a few exemptions that is it worth being aware of:

  • IELTS exams over 2 years old may be accepted if you can demonstrate that your language skills have not deteriorated during this time
  • You have recently studied a nursing or midwifery course that has been taught and examined in English in an EU/EEA country – the course must be taught and examined in English with at least 50% clinical interaction. This must include interaction with healthcare professionals, patients and families at least 75% of this must have been conducted in English. Under this condition, most Irish nurses would not be required to provide further evidence of their English communication skills
  • Registration and 2 years practice in a country where English is the first and native language and that proof of this is required for registration. Therefore if you have been registered and practiced for 2 years for example, you should be able to use this.

The NMC provides full guidelines on providing English language competence and what is acceptable on their website. For a guide from the NMC please click


OET (the Occupational English Test) – the English language test for healthcare professionals.

Now available in Nigeria

OET is a healthcare-specific English language test. It assesses the language proficiency of healthcare professionals looking to register and practise in an English-speaking environment.

Is OET the right test for me?

OET tests internationally trained healthcare professionals from the following 12 professions:

Nursing Medicine Dentistry
Occupational Therapy Podiatry Dietetics
Optometry Radiography Pharmacy
Speech Pathology Physiotherapy Veterinary Science


Why should I take OET?

  • It’s the only English language test that’s specifically for healthcare professionals.
  • OET test materials reflect real healthcare scenarios so you’ll know what to expect and feel more confident on test day.
  • While preparing for OET you’ll be learning exactly the kind of language you’ll need for success at work.
  • OET is recognised as proof of English proficiency by healthcare regulators in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Namibia, Singapore and Malta.Find out who recognises OET.
  • OET is also accepted for visa and immigration purposes in Australia and New Zealand.
  • It’s easy to prepare for the test using OET’s onlinePreparation Portal, which includes many hours’ worth of free practice resources.


What’s in the test?

OET covers all four language skills (Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening), with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment.

(45 minutes)
(45 minutes)
(60 minutes)
(50 minutes)
Writing a profession-specific letter of referral or discharge; or a letter to inform or advise a patient/ carer/ group Role-plays with an interlocutor who plays the part of a patient/ relative/ carer. Completion of a health-related summary paragraph and multiple-choice questions on a longer health-related text. Note-taking on a recorded professional consultation and a range of questions on a health-related talk.


Try a free sample test today.

Where and when can I take OET?

OET is available every month in more than 40 countries. In Nigeria, you can take OET at International House Trust Assessment in Lagos.

For the full list of OET test dates and venues, see here.

How do I apply for OET?

It’s easy! You apply for OET by competing the registration form and making payment into NSS Zenith Bank Account No – 2000889599

When and how will I receive my results?

Your results will be released approximately 2 weeks after the test. Log in to your secure online profile to see them.

How is OET scored?

You will receive a numerical score for each of the four sub-tests (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking), ranging from 0 to 500 in 10-point increments (e.g. 350, 360, 370…) The numerical scores will be mapped to a separate letter grade, ranging from A (highest) to E (lowest). There is no overall grade for OET.