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NMC raises English language test pass score

The NMC has raised the minimum English language overall pass score to 7.0 for overseas-trained nurses and midwives coming to work in the UK from 1 February 2007 to ensure greater public protection.

The British Council's International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is currently compulsory for all nurses trained outside the European Economic Area (EEA), but the minimum overall score, in the academic version of the test, is set at 6.5 (out of a possible 9). For midwives, the general or academic version of this test is currently acceptable.

The following now has to be achieved by overseas-trained nurses and midwives in the academic test who make fresh applications to the NMC from 1 February 2007:

  • At least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections.
  • At least 7.0 in the writing and speaking section.
  • An overall average score of 7 (out of a possible 9).

As a result of public consultations for both nursing (November 2003) and midwifery (October 2005) and evidence collected from the British Council, the NMC decided that a score of 7 was the lowest level acceptable for language skills.

Nurses trained outside the EEA must complete an Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP) in order to gain entry to the NMC Register. The ONP consists of a compulsory 20-day period of protected learning and where appropriate, a period of three to six months supervised practice. Midwives will complete a period of adaptation training. The IELTS test certificate score should be submitted to the NMC at the initial application stage.