English Language Guide for Nurses Coming to the UK

If you're a nurse from another country and want to work in the UK, it's important to know about the English requirements. This is to make sure you can talk well with patients and provide good care. Let's make this easy to understand.

Recognised Majority English-speaking Countries

If you studied nursing or have worked as a nurse recently in these countries, you probably don't need to take an English test:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America

Qualifications or a minimum of one year's work experience in these countries generally fulfil the English language requirements.

English Language Proof for Nurses from Other Countries

If you're not from the above countries, you'll need to demonstrate your English proficiency through tests like the IELTS or OET:

  • IELTS: A minimum score of 7.0 in reading, listening, and speaking, and 6.5 in writing is required.
  • OET: A minimum grade of B in reading, listening, and speaking, and a C+ in writing is required.

Preparing for English Language Assessments

For those needing to take an English test, preparation is essential. Here are some resources to help you:


  • IELTS Liz: Offers free advice and study materials.
  • British Council IELTS Preparation: Provides official practice materials and detailed test information.
  • IELTS Advantage: Features tips, strategies, and practice questions.
  • Magoosh IELTS Blog: Contains study schedules, strategies, and practice questions.


  • Official OET Website: Supplies official practice materials.
  • E2Language: Offers comprehensive OET courses and preparation.
  • Swoosh English: Specialises in OET preparation tailored for healthcare professionals.

Additionally, joining study groups or forums can provide support and insights from other international nurses preparing for the same assessments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I combine scores from different IELTS or OET test dates to meet the NMC's English language requirements?

A: Yes, the NMC allows you to combine scores from two separate test sittings for both IELTS and OET. For IELTS, you cannot have scores below 6.5 for listening, reading, and speaking, or below 6 for writing in either of the two test sittings. For OET, you must achieve no lower than grade C+ (300-340) for listening, reading, and speaking, and no lower than grade C (250-290) for writing across both test sittings. All tests must have been taken within 12 months of each other​​.

Q: What if I narrowly miss the required scores for the English language tests?

A: From 27 May 2023, the NMC will accept Supporting Information from Employers (SIFE) in the UK as supplementary evidence for those who have narrowly missed the required scores for IELTS and OET, providing you have worked in a health and care setting in the UK for at least 12 months full time. This option is available if you've taken the test at least twice and missed the required scores in any one domain by no more than half a grade​​.

Q: How long are my English language test results valid when applying to the NMC?

A: Both IELTS and OET test results are valid for two years from the test date. When relying on two tests to meet the NMC's English language requirements, both tests need to be within the 2-year validity period when your application reaches the NMC's assessment queue​​. For more info

Q: If I need to retake the IELTS or OET, do I have to retake all sections?

A: Yes, if you're retaking IELTS or OET, the NMC can only accept tests where you have retaken all modules​​.For more info

Q: Does the NMC accept the Academic version of IELTS UKVI?

A: Yes, the NMC accepts the Academic version of IELTS, including UKVI. The IELTS for UKVI tests are designed to meet specific administrative requirements outlined by the UK Home Office and are taken at a UKVI-approved test centre. The test format, content, scoring, and level of difficulty are the same as IELTS tests for other purposes​​.

Q: Do you accept OET@Home and OET on computer at a test venue?

A: Yes, the NMC accepts OET@Home and OET on computer at a test venue, in addition to OET on paper at a test venue. You can combine these as OET has confirmed they are the same tests, with the same test tasks, difficulty, format, and timings​​.

Q: Where can I find the NMC's clubbing score calculator to see if my combined IELTS or OET test scores meet the requirements?

A: The NMC provides an online Test Combining Calculator on their website. This tool helps you determine if the combination of your two most recent IELTS or OET test scores meet the English language requirements for registration. You can input your scores from each test sitting, and the calculator will show if you've met the necessary criteria. Remember, your test sittings should be within 12 months of each other. You can access this calculator by visiting the English language section on the NMC's official ​​.NMC Club Score Calculator