You may have just completed your IELTS and are looking at if your score is good enough to work overseas. Suppose your score is 6.5. Is it enough to work overseas? Which countries accept IELTS 6.5 for nurses?
IELTS score of 6.5 is valid for nursing applications only in the United States. Most other English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, require an IELTS score of 7.0 or above. With 6.5, your choices are limited, so you may want to resit the IELTS test or consider alternatives such as OET.
This article discusses countries that accept an IELTS score of 6.5 and why the requirements for nursing in IELTS are so high. Aside from there, we also discuss if there are other alternative arrangements such as taking other English proficiency exams.
Which Countries Accept IELTS 6.5 For Nurses?
An IELTS score of 6.5 only qualifies you to apply for nursing work in the United States. For other major English-speaking nations such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, you will need an IELTS score of at least 7.0 or more.
|Country||IELTS Score||Additional Requirement|
|United States||6.5||Must Score At Least 7.0 In Speaking|
|Canada||7.0||British Columbia Required At least 7.5 In Listening.|
|United Kingdom||7.0||At Least 6.5 In Writing|
|Ireland||7.0||Minimum of 7 In Any Three Subtests|
|Australia||7.0||Minimum of 7.0 In All Subtests|
|New Zealand||7.0||Minimum of 7.0 In All Subtests|
For nursing work applications, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 to enter major English-speaking nations. Even with that score, your options are limited, as only the United States accepts such a score.
When you reach 7.0, your options will be truly open. With that score, you can apply for most major English-speaking nations, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland.
However, you also need to ensure you fulfil additional requirements for the scores. You may find yourself passing the general requirements but may not pass the additional requirements.
For example, suppose you intend to apply to Australia. In that case, you need to ensure that aside from scoring 7.0, you also need to score at least 7.0 for all subtests. The same could be said for the United Kingdom, where you must ensure your writing score is at least 6.5.
These additional requirements are put in place to ensure only those who can truly function in English get to work as nurses in these countries. Unfortunately, it also means you cannot bank on using some of your stronger subtests to cover up for weaker ones.
For example, say that you are weak in speaking and writing and only score 6.0 for both. But you scored well in reading and writing and scored 8.0 for both. That gives you a total score of 7.0.
Technically, you could have applied for nursing jobs in all the countries listed above. Still, your weak speaking and writing scores disqualify you.
Why Do You Need Such A High IELTS Score To Be A Nurse?
You need such a high IELTS score to apply for nursing work because nursing is a critical work that may decide the life and death of individuals. This means it requires very good communication skills. You may also need a higher IELTS score since it is a general English proficiency test and not specific enough for medical settings.
When looking at the IELTS score requirements for nursing, it is rather high. With a full score of 9.0, you are requested to score 7.0 to be eligible to apply for nursing positions in many English-speaking countries. That means you need to score around 80% of the marks available.
Suppose you are wondering why such high scores are needed. In that case, the nursing bodies from these countries do not give out any official explanation. But you may see the reason when you consider some factors, such as the nature of the work, the regulations, and issues with IELTS itself.
Nursing Is A Highly Critical Work: Nursing is not an ordinary job but a highly critical one, with a small margin of error. Mistakes in nursing work may easily result in not just permanent damage to a patient’s health but may also cost lives.
Nursing also may involve working in a fast-paced and highly-stressed environment. Nurses and doctors need to communicate information such as medicine, symptoms, or patient conditions quickly and clearly to each other.
Aside from that, you also will need to advise patients on things such as medicine-taking instructions. Such work may need a higher level of preciseness and proficiency in English than serving coffee at a cafe.
Imagine the trouble a nurse with weak English may cause in the hospital, hard-to-read reports, misadvising patients on how to consume their medications, and so on. That is a lot of liability. This is why a high degree of English proficiency is required.
Nursing Body Regulation: Most of these advanced, English-speaking countries are attractive destinations for many nurses worldwide since they pay a great salary and give great benefits packages.
However, only a limited number of nurses are required in these countries. Suppose they simply open up and accept every nurse that applies to work in their countries.
In that case, there will be an oversupply of nurses. As per the supply-demand theory, an oversupply of nurses will result in a salary drop across the board.
Plus, even if there are openings, these nursing boards would probably always prefer to hire their nationals first before hiring foreigners.
This is why a high IELTS score may be required to limit the number of foreign nurses eligible to apply to work in their countries. If they allow foreigners to come in, they would be the best people contributing to the standards of nursing in their countries.
IELTS May Not Be Specific Enough: The test itself is another reason for the higher IELTS score. IELTS is created without a specific profession or objective – it is a general English proficiency test.
Some variants of IELTS, such as IELTS academic, may measure a candidate’s English proficiency in academic settings. Still, it does not address the specific needs of nurses.
Medical professionals use English in a rather different way at work. There may be more need to learn the vocabulary of the body, describing symptoms, or specific jargon and terminology that only those in the medical field use.
Many nursing boards may have noticed that IELTS does not address these issues properly, which is probably why they set a higher score for IELTS.
Are There Other Easier Tests Other Than IELTS?
Other Than IELTS, nurses of medical professionals can consider taking the Occupational English Test (OET) instead. OET is an English proficiency test designed for medical professionals. It may be easier for nurses as the topics and content tested are usually related to their work.
Medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, dentists, or therapists may consider taking the OET instead of IELTS to prove their English proficiency. The OET is widely recognized and accepted for job applications related to health in many countries, including the major English-speaking countries.
Suppose you struggle to push your IELTS score high enough to pass 7.0 or more, despite taking the test multiple times already. In that case, you may consider taking the OET test. This is because some medical professionals think the OET is easier to take.
The reason is that the OET is designed especially for medical professionals. If you look into the test itself, the topics used are usually medically based and related to the daily work of a medical professional.
OET may not be as versatile for things such as a university or visa applications. Still, it should be well recognized enough to help you enter most English-speaking countries for a nursing position.