IELTS for Doctors

IELTS for Doctors Heading to the UK

A great many of our students need to take IELTS in order to register for the PLAB test and practice medicine in the UK. We have put together this page to help you better understand what is required.

Do all doctors without UK medical qualifications have to take IELTS?

No, not all doctors trained outside of the UK require an IELTS score. If you obtained your primary medical qualification from an English language university, you may not need to show an IELTS certificate to prove your English ability.

You may not need to do IELTS if your primary medical qualification…

  • was completely taught in English
  • was obtained within the last 2 years

If this is the case for you, go to the GMC website and follow the instructions.

If the above does not apply to you, you will need to take the IELTS test.

What do I need to know about the IELTS test?

If you have to do an IELTS test, you must:

  • do the academic UKVI test
  • get a band 7.5 or higher overall
  • get a minimum of band 7 in each of the 4 modules (listening, reading, writing, speaking)

Furthermore, these scores must be obtained in the most recent sitting of the test.

If you obtained the necessary IELTS scores but did so more than 2 years ago and you can prove that you have maintained your English skills, you may not need to retake the test. Go to the GMC website and follow the instructions if this applies to you.

If you have never taken the test, you are probably wondering about what the test is like. We will address this next.

How does the test work?

The test contains 4 modules (listening, reading, writing, speaking).

The listening module tests your ability to understand monologues and dialogues in both informal and formal contexts. The listening test takes roughly 40 minutes.

The academic reading module tests your ability to understand 3 texts about a range of topics. This test takes 1 hour.

The writing module tests your ability to do two different types of academic writing. Task 1 (20 minutes) tests your ability to analyse and write about data or processes. Task 2 (40 minutes) tests your ability to write a short argumentative essay. Overall, the writing test takes 1 hour.

The speaking module tests your ability to take part in conversations about general topics, present short monologues and answer questions about more abstract and academic topics. The speaking test takes roughly 12 to 14 minutes.

How should I prepare for the test?

There are a number of ways that you can prepare yourself for the IELTS test:

Improve your listening skills by listening to English language podcasts (we recommend the Nature and the New Scientist podcasts).

Improve your academic vocabulary using our free academic word list app.

Practice reading complex texts. We recommend reading English language news sites such as the BBC and also serious magazines such as National Geographic and New Scientist.

Take our IELTSTutors writing courses.

If you feel like you need more focused guidance, take 1-1 lessons with us to get personalised and effective IELTS help.

Final thoughts

Most of the doctors we have worked with have had good receptive language skills (listening and reading) but have required focused 1-1 lessons to improve their academic writing to a band 7 level. Most that we have worked with have achieved this score after 5-10 lessons.

The key aspect that we focus on in these lessons is teaching the conventions (rules) of academic writing, which may be different in your native language. As well as this, we teach how to structure arguments, analyze data and also the grammar required in academic writing.

If you are interested in finding out more, book a free consultation with us.

Good luck on your IELTS journey.