Specialist Language Courses

NMC Statement – Changes to English Language Requirements – OET C+ Writing


SLC is delighted to report that the NMC governing council has responded positively to the request made by the NMC to amend the required score for the Writing paper of the OET to a C+, so that it aligns with the change made at the end of 2018 to lower the score of the Writing paper of the IELTS test.

The change will come into effect from 28 January 2020. OET results achieved during the previous two years that meet the new requirements will also be accepted.

This is a much-needed correction as for the last year, OET candidates have had to demonstrate a markedly higher level in the written paper than in the IELTS test – a C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference as opposed to a B2 in IELTS.

Despite this anomaly, most nurses wishing to register in the UK choose OET as it is a test of healthcare English, so much more suited to clinical practice than the academic focus of IELTS. This test is primarily taken by overseas candidates wishing to study at an English-speaking university.

SLC’s own yearly statistics were submitted to the NMC as part of the request process and highlight some of the issues surrounding the written section, with significantly higher numbers failing to pass it compared with the other papers of Reading, Listening and Speaking. You can download the report here. 

Chris Moore, SLC’s Managing Director said:

“We’re delighted that the NMC has lowered the score and brought OET into line with IELTS. NHS Trusts working with overseas nursing candidates will have more nurses on the wards and a more predictable pipeline for on-boarding new candidates.”