IELTS for nurses is a much-discussed topic. At all Highway IELTS workshop locations, a significant share of prospective test takers are in the medical field. If you are a nurse and you are looking to emigrate or study abroad, IELTS is an indispensable tool. It is even useful for nurses who simply wish to advance their careers within their own countries. Medical authorities put a premium on nurses’ ability to communicate in English, so IELTS is a great way to open the door to a world of prospects. This post will describe the special relationship between IELTS and the nursing profession.
What is IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System is a tool that assesses a person’s level of English proficiency for communication, work and life in an English-speaking environment. There are four tests: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Each one contains a set of tasks that candidates must complete in a certain time. There are two versions of the test: Academic and General Training. The speaking and listening modules are the same in both of these. These two tests measure your ability to speak and listen in English. Nurses generally have to take the Academic version of the test. This test has some unique features:
IELTS Academic: Reading
The reading module of the Academic IELTS exam consists of three texts of approximately 700-800 words each. These texts will cover a range of academic or scientific topics. In total, there are 40 questions accompanying the texts. Candidates must complete all the questions in one hour. This is a challenging test for two reasons. The first is the volume of material, which makes it difficult to read each text word-for-word before attempting the questions. In other words, you need be strategic in the way you approach the test. The second reason is that the texts and questions are not straightforward. They will test your ability to read with comprehension and discernment.
IELTS Academic: Writing
The Academic test of writing includes two tasks. The first task is an analysis of data. Candidates must look at data, which could take the form of a map, a graph, or a diagram. They must then compile a 150-word report on what they see. After this, candidates have to write an essay of 250 words on a topic of general interest. As with the reading test, you have one hour in which to complete all of this. Of all the tests, academic writing is possibly the most challenging. Nobody should approach this test “blind” without preparing in advance.
Marking and Assessment
Human examiners are responsible for grading every aspect of candidates’ performance on the test. The authorities that govern IELTS maintain very strict oversight over all of these processes to ensure fairness and consistency. The same authorities offer means of redress in cases of unfair conduct. The marking criteria are transparent and well known, which makes it possible to prepare adequately and to improve your score on a second attempt. For these and many other reasons, IELTS is the global gold standard in English language bench-marking.
Why is IELTS so important for the Medical Field?
Medical professionals have to undergo training throughout their careers. In order to pursue a particular specialization, or gain an attractive position in an organization, a nurse or doctor might have to relocate or travel for a specified time. As English is the global language of our times, it stands to reason that proficiency in this language will open doors. Recognition of this proficiency is a crucial part of any medical professional’s career. Getting this right can broaden job opportunities at home and abroad. Even though alternative tests are admitted in some countries, IELTS remains the gold standard, as we discussed here.
Most countries and authorities require nurses to take the Academic IELTS test and achieve a band score of 7 on each of the four tests. So you must score at least 7 for speaking, writing, reading and listening to succeed. Recent changes in the United Kingdom allow nurses to present two IELTS certificates, gained within 6 months of each other. This means that if you only achieved a 6.5 on one of the four tests, but then achieved a 7 on your second attempt, you can submit both certificates. The National Nursing and Midwifery Council will accept this. The comparable Australian body offers a similar dispensation.
How Easy is it to Achieve This?
Nurses are, of course, highly educated people. They have all had to compete for limited spaces in universities and training institutions. They are crucial to the proper functioning of any healthcare system. Specialized nurses combine years of training and experience with a vast reservoir of knowledge. Sometimes they don’t get the appreciation they deserve, but they save lives every day and in every country one earth.
However, the IELTS exam does not test any of these things. It focuses on your ability to communicate in English at a high level. For this reason, a band 7 on the Academic IELTS exam is a significant achievement. A score of 7 corresponds to a C1 in the Common European Frame of Reference guidelines, which describes a “proficient user”. In order to safely achieve this score on your first attempt, you should prepare thoroughly. The academic exam will test your ability to communicate in English, not your knowledge of the medical field. It is important that you know exactly what to expect and how to tackle all the sub-tests before you book the exam. We have helped many nurses to achieve the scores they need through our in-person workshops and online development courses.
Even if you are a proficient communicator, bear in mind that IELTS is a high-stakes test. You will feel anxious on the day because you will have so much riding on the results. Also, most people have not had a language test since they were in high school. A further factor to consider is that the kind of communication that you habitually use in the workplace might actually disadvantage you when it comes to test of language proficiency.
The Role of IELTS in Career Building
With all this in mind, plan your IELTS journey carefully. Whether you are newly qualified, registered, or highly specialized, nursing is a profession with very high requirements for communication skills. IELTS will enable you to unlock doors to career advancement wherever you are in the world. Recruitment agencies are able to guide nurses to wonderful opportunities, once they have the requisite qualifications, including English language proficiency.
However, it is essential that you take the right steps. The IELTS exam is costly, because it involves multiple levels of assessment and accountability. This is exactly why governments, universities and employers trust the IELTS system. But this also means that failing to prepare can hinder your progress in migrating to a new country or moving up in your current organization.