What is IELTS?


The IELTS, which stands for International English Language Testing System, tests a person’s proficiency with the English language in four bands: speaking, reading, writing and listening. It is the world’s most popular high stakes English language test. It is the test that opens doors to a world of academic and professional opportunity around the world where English is a language in the workplace or the classroom.
IELTS is the accepted exam by the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council of the United Kingdom) for the purpose of a Nurse trained outside the UK to prove that their level of English is at the required level to ensure the safety of the Medical Staff and Patients alike.

Exam Formats

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: the academic version and the general training version.

The academic version is the version chosen by the NMC for nurses who want to practice in the United Kingdom.

The general training version is for people who want to undergo training or gain work experience, or for those who are planning to migrate.

Nurse applicants who want to practice the profession overseas should register for the academic version

Exam Parts

The IELTS test has four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Examinees are required to accomplish all four parts to receive an IELTS result. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The listening and speaking parts are the same in both the General and Academic versions of the exam, but there are specific Academic versions in both reading and writing.

As this website is specifically designed for nurses we will only be focusing on the Academic version of the exam.


The Listening Module or the first past of the exam has 4 sections for 40 items to be accomplished in 30 minutes. For this part of the test, examinees need to be very attentive to the conversation played on the audio device. There will be no repetition, meaning, the test takers are not allowed for second chances. Try to catch up with every item as fast as you can if you do not want to get left behind.


The Academic Writing Module or the third part of the exam has 2 tasks to be accomplished in 60 minutes. Here, you get to exhibit your writing skills on paper. There are 2 questions. For the first question, you should allow yourself to use at least 150 words. And for the last one, you should express your thoughts in 250 words. The second question is worth more in points than the first question.


The Academic Reading Module or the second part of the exam has 3 sections for 40 items to be accomplished in 60 minutes. This part of the exam examines your reading comprehension skills. Examinees are given 1 hour to complete this exam.
You can skim the questions first if you believe you can answer them, unless the section is unfamiliar to you. Reading and understanding at the same time is really a must because of the time constraint.


The last part of the exam is the speaking test where you will be interviewed by a native English speaker. This one-on-one interview will last for 15 minutes. This module is delivered in such a way that it does not allow examinees to rehearse set responses beforehand. Allow yourself to relax, be comfortable, so you can respond sensibly to the interviewer.

In July 2017 the NMC relaxed the IELTS requirement slightly
allowing nurses to combine two IELTS test certificates


Which IELTS test do I need to complete?
Applicants must take and complete Academic IELTS. General Training IELTS is not accepted.

What Academic IELTS score do I need to be a nurse or midwife in the UK?
Nurses from outside the EU need a 7.0 score or above in all four elements of the exam.

Why do I need such a high Academic IELTS score?
Following consultations beginning in 2003, it was decided that a score of 7.0 was the lowest acceptable level of language ability due to the requirements of the role.

I scored 6.5 in one of the IELTS elements, can I still apply?
No. A score of 7.0 is required in all four elements, as well as your overall score. Anything below 7.0 will not be considered.

I took my IELTS test three years ago and scored 7.0. Will my application be accepted?
IELTS scores are only valid for two years but if you can prove your current English ability to the NMC, exceptions can be made.

Do nurses from the EU and UK need to take the IELTS test?
Nurses from the EU and UK do not need to take an IELTS test, but following a change in application procedure from 18th January 2016, they will need to show their ability to communicate safely and effectively in English.

Exam Fees

The payment for the exam depends on the test centre location. IELTS has more than 1,000 test centres and locations in more than 140 countries. Here are the common exam fees for some EU countries:

  • Romania: 850 lie
  • Poland: 745 zloty
  • Italy: €225 – €230
  • Spain: €212
  • Portugal: €220
  • Hungary: 56,000HUF
  • UK: £160 – £165

To find out upcoming test dates and the test fees on various countries, click here.

Documentary Requirements

  • Accomplished IELTS Application Form
  • (2) passport size colored pictures
  • At least (1) photocopy of a valid national ID (passport, PRC ID, SSS, GSIS, driver’s license or any other national ID such as a Voter’s ID and Postal ID).
  • Bring the same passport or national identity card that you entered on the IELTS Application Form on the day of your exam.