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How much time do you need to prepare for IELTS?

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 proficiency exams. It tests a person’s ability to listen, read, write and speak in less than three hours. But, why is IELTS so important to those wanting to relocate to the UK for work, and how much time do you need to prepare for the exam?

Required IELTS scores

If you plan to relocate to the UK for a new healthcare job and require a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa, its likely you’ll need to provide evidence of your English language skills. 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 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.

How much does an IELTS exam cost?

There’s no limit to how many times you can sit the IELTS exam, but, it’s advisable to put some real time into properly preparing for it as each test costs £180.

How long will I need to prepare?

This is of course different for each person, but general advice is to spend 6-8 weeks preparing for the IELTS exam. Luckily, there’s a huge amount of online support available to prepare you. Here are some useful websites:

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