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Recent Changes to the NMC Registration Board with the ILETS/OET Exams

Recent Changes to the NMC Registration Board with the ILETS/OET Exams

English competency is important when you are working in an English-speaking country and it is especially vital to be able to portray good language skills when working in the healthcare industry. The NMC (nursing and midwifery council) has recently announced that they will be making changes to the NMC registration board in the UK in relation to its English language requirements with the ILETS/OET exams, in order to create a fairer chance for professionals completing them. The NMC’s aim is to appease some concerns from healthcare professionals who were unable to join the register due to narrowly not passing the exams, even though their English skills were competent in a work environment. After much feedback and careful consideration, the council will bring forth these changes in January 2023.

Current Test Structure:

The NMC currently accepts two language tests: the academic International English Language Test System (IELTS) and the Occupational English Test (OET). There are four domains and the required scores remain the same.
If you don’t pass the first time, you can sit the exam again and combine scores from two test certificates. Currently, you can’t combine test scores if you achieve less than 6.5 (IELTS) or C+ / 300 or above (OET) in any part of the test. As this is already the required score for writing, no changes will be implemented here.

See the below table for the current required scores for English Language Tests:
Table with Current required scores for English language tests

Doing an exam

What are the Changes?

You must still achieve the required test scores for each domain, but to combine test scores, you’ll need to get no less than 0.5 (IELTS) or half a grade (OET) below the required score for every domain. This means you’ll be able to combine your scores as long as you achieve 6 (IELTS) or C / 250 or above (OET) in writing, and 6.5 (IELTS) or C+ / 300 or above (OET) in the other three domains. This is called the minimum score.

See the below table for the new minimum scores for each part of the test:
Table with New minimum scores for each part of the test

To combine your scores, you must currently retake your test within six months of sitting the first test. This period will be extended to 12 months to allow for more preparation time.

Supporting Information From Your Employer:

With the new changes from 2023, the NMC will accept supplementary supporting information from employers demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively in English in a practiced environment. The information will be accepted under the following conditions:

  • You narrowly miss out on a score in one of the four domains by 0.5 in the IELTS (6 for writing and 6.5 in the other domains) or half a grade in the OET (C / 250 or above in writing and C+ / 300 or above in the other domains).
  • You were trained and assessed in English in a country where English is not a majority-spoken language.

The Requirements For This Are:

  • You’ll need to have worked for your employer for a minimum of 12 months within the last two years.
  • The above must have been in a health and social care practice setting in the UK.
  • Managers will need to be an NMC-registered professional.
  • Standard NMC form for employers to complete.
  • This form needs to be counter-signed by a more senior NMC registered professional who’s working for the same employer.

Professionals looking to join the NMC register will need to follow the current requirements until these new changes have been implemented. We advise you to stay updated by visiting the NMC’s website in relation to these upcoming amendments.

At Servisource, we place International Healthcare Professionals in permanent positions across the UK into the private sector and NHS while offering career progression within a supportive work environment. Find out more and request a callback from our team.

The team at Servisource wish you the best of luck with the exams and your pursuit at joining the register.

For more information on our UK Permanent placements or to request a callback visit:

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