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The NMC are changing the English Language Requirements


Effective communication in the workplace is essential; being able to express yourself clearly allows patients to feel at ease, confident in the knowledge that they are receiving high-quality care.

From 2023 the NMC are changing the English language requirements – here is what you need to know to ensure your success.

The changes the NMC are making include:

  • Standardising the minimum acceptable scores when combining test scores
  • Extending the period for that process from six to twelve months
  • Allowing supporting information from employers as additional evidence

What does this mean?

The NMC currently accept two language tests:

  • the IELTS (International English Language Test System) and
  • the OET (Occupational English Test).

They both include four domains:

  • reading, listening, writing, and speaking
  • The required scores for these remain unchanged.

Current required scores


In the event you do not pass on your first attempt, you have the option to resit and combine the scores from two separate test certificates. But as it currently stands, combining scores is not permitted unless you achieve a minimum score of 6.5 (IELTS) or a grade of C+ (OET).

However, from early 2023 onwards, that is going to change. If your score is no less than 0.5 (IELTS) or half a grade (OET) below the current required score for each domain, you will be able to combine your test scores.

New minimum scores


As it stands, you must retake your test within six months, but the NMC will be extending that to a twelve-month period, ensuring additional time for preparation. But until these changes are put into place, the current requirements must be followed.

Supplementary information from your employer

As well as the changes outlined above, from 2023, the NMC will accept additional supporting information provided by your employer, via a standard NMC form, if:

  • your test scores have fallen short of the passing grade by no more than 0.5 in the IELTS or
    half a grade in the OET; or
  • your English training was undertaken and evaluated in a country where English isn’t the
    majority spoken language.

The supporting information must prove that you can communicate proficiently in the workplace, and:

  • you must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months within the last two years
  • you must have been working in a health and social care environment in the UK
  • your manager must be a registered professional with the NMC
  • a more senior NMC registered professional from the same employer must countersign the

The NMC will consider all information provided by your employer but will not guarantee acceptance onto the register.

When will these changes happen?
The NMC have stated that these changes will not come into effect before January 2023 at the earliest. Until then, nurses wanting to join the NMC register will need to follow the current application process.

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