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English Language Test For Doctors

Guidance on mandatory English Language tests which are required for non native health and social care workers

Guidance on what English Language tests are required and why it’s so important for non-native health and social care workers wanting to move to the UK.



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To be a doctor in the UK, you essentially need two key things: relevant qualifications and experience, and good English language skills.

Before you contact us, you’ll need to already speak decent English – and we’ll assess this on our first call. But before you can become a doctor in the UK, you’ll need to pass the IELTS with an overall score of at least 7.5, and a minimum of 7 for each section. That’s why your English skills are so important, and why you should be working on them right away.

What is the IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is an international test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. IELTS is the only English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa customers applying from both outside and inside the UK.

Importantly, you must complete the ‘academic version’ of the IELTS, according to the GMC’s requirements.

Why is the IELTS so important?

It’s very simple: to be a doctor in the UK, you must complete the IELTS first. Your career in the UK depends on it.

But more than that, it represents a level of English skill that will make your life in the UK much more fulfilling. You’ll be better at your job, you’ll settle more comfortably into British life, and you’ll find it much easier to get things done. Furthermore, it’s also a requirement for immigration to Australia and New Zealand, and to get into the UK’s world-renowned universities.

Best of all, your CV will look so much stronger with an IELTS score of 7.5 or more. Improving your English will improve your career prospects immediately.

What IELTS score is needed to become a doctor in the UK?

You must complete the academic version of the IELTS test and achieve:

  • At least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections
  • At least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections
  • At least 7.5 (out of a possible 9) overall

The GMC will not accept applicants who score lower than this standard and the IELTS scores are valid for two years.

Is there any other way to gain GMC Registration without the IELTS?

Yes – You can choose to complete a 30-day attachment with an NHS Hospital, who will make a comprehensive judgement on your English language skills. In order to be eligible, you will need to attend a Skype interview with the NHS hospital. If successful, you will then be offered an attachment.

As part of the attachment, you will work in-depth with the department, shadowing both Consultants and other colleagues supporting with some of their duties including:

  • Teaching junior doctors / nurses
  • Taking patient history and making correct notes
  • Interaction with colleagues and meetings
  • Support with referral letters
  • Take part in clinical handovers
  • Read patient notes, blood results, feedback accurately

The hospitals Responsible Officer will then support your application to the GMC by authorising the “Structured English Language Reference” form (SELR). They have a duty to ensure safe medical practice and competence of your English language skills.

Things you need to know:

  • The attachment is unpaid
  • Accommodation is usually provided
  • You will need to be on attachment for at least 30 days as part of the GMC requirement
  • If have a valid IELTS score (within 2 years) that is below the GMC standard, the attachment might not be an option (dependent on score)
  • Not all hospitals are offering this
  • Not all grades/ job roles will be considered – normally only positions with a large shortage of doctors will be applicable due to the timescale and engagement required to ensure this process is successful

Typical job roles accepted:

  • Emergency Medicine – Consultant and Specialist
  • Internal Medicine – Consultant Level (such as Acute Medicine, Gastroenterology, Stroke, Care of the Elderly)
  • Radiology – Consultant

There may be opportunities for other job roles in the future, so get in touch to find out if this route to entry is applicable to you

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