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What do I need to bring to my IELTS exam?

By Keith Pilkington

​In locations where it’s permitted and safe to do so, IELTS testing is going ahead, with additional precautions in place to help protect the health of test takers and staff.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the world’s most popular English language exams for higher education and global migration. It’s been approved for all UK visas that require applicants to provide proof of their English Language ability.


If you plan to relocate to the UK for a new job in healthcare and require a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa, its likely you’ll need to provide evidence of your English language skills. IELTS for UKVI is probably for you. This is a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) and can be used to prove your English language proficiency in support of the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) application.

Book your IELTS UKVI here.

What does the exam include?

The IELTS exam assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking. There are two types of IELTS; Academic and General Training. Listening and speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter for the reading and writing sections differ depending on which test you take. The listening, reading and writing sections of all IELTS exams are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between. The speaking section can be completed up to a week before or after the other sections (your IELTS test centre can advise more on this). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Preparing for IELTS

There are many online resources to help you prepare for IELTS , including practice tests and answers. You will be able to time yourself and develop your exam technique, as well as experience the types of tasks you will be asked to complete, and review you answers compared with model answers. It is also worth considering how much time you need to prepare. Some useful websites:



What to bring on the IELTS exam day

On the day of your test, it’s be best to arrive early so you have enough time to check in, and move through all the necessary security procedures. You will need to bring your ID, which could be a valid passport or national identity card (this must be the same ID you provided on your IELTS application form). Listen carefully to the test supervisor’s instructions. If you can’t hear or are unsure of what to do, raise your hand for assistance. Remember that you must not use a dictionary, pager, electronic recorder or mobile phone during the exam.

IELTS band scale

Once you’ve completed the IELTS, you’ll be given a score from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – listening, reading, writing and speaking. The average produces your overall band score. You can score whole (e.g. 5.0, 6.0) or half (5.5, 6.5) bands in each part of the test. The skill level ranges from Band 0 – did not attempt the test, to Band 9 – expert user. To register as a doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC), you must complete and pass the IELTS Academic, achieving a score of at least:

  • 7.0 within the listening and reading sections

  • 7.0 within the writing and speaking sections

This must equate to an overall score of 7.5 (out of a possible 9).

If you trained as a nurse in a non-native English-speaking country, you must either complete the IELTS Academic or the Occupational English Test (OET). The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires evidence of an IELTS score of at least 7.0 in all areas and a recent pre-registration nursing qualification that was taught and examined in English.

For more information about overseas worker requirements, read our collection of blogs.