Blogs > IELTS/OET - English Language Requirements / English Language Exams / Visas


  • June 07, 2018


There is often a lot of confusion between IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI and then UKNARIC. So, this article aims to explain the differences between the exams and what is necessary for international doctors to secure both GMC Registration and a UK visa.

GMC Registration Requirements - IELTS Academic/IELTS UKVI with an average score of 7.5 and 7 in each section OR Grade B's in each section of OET

Tier 2 Visa Requirements - IELTS UKVI - Average score of 4.0 or higher

Our first piece of advice is to take IELTS Academic for UKVI when possible because of two advantages:

  1. It satisfies the GMC’s requirements
  2. It satisfies the UK Government Immigration and Visa requirements

You should note that IELTS Academic for UKVI is more expensive than IELTS Academic alone, however, this is the best option in the long-run because it saves you from sitting an additional exam when applying for your visa.

Furthermore, a limited number of test centres now offer the IELTS Academic for UKVI online. Please click here for more information.

What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. The test measures an individual’s English language capabilities and is the most popular language exam for IMG’s. The exam covers the four key language skills in general English: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Doctors must achieve an overall score of 7.5 (with a score no less than 7.0 in each section of the test).

There are two types of IELTS tests:
1) IELTS Academic and
2) IELTS General Training

  • IELTS Academic -£165

This test is for individuals applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment.

  • IELTS General Training -£165

This test is for individuals who are relocating to an English-speaking country for secondary education, work experience or training programs. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

What test should I take?

As you are an international doctor who is aiming for GMC Registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK, you should take the IELTS Academic UKVI. This will satisfy the requirements for both the GMC and the UK Government Immigration and Visa.

Alternatively, you can take the Occupational English Test (OET - £349) as an alternative test to prove your English language skills. OET is designed to replicate the critical tasks of the healthcare workplace setting and the test measures a doctor’s abilities through the skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. The score required is four B’s and the scores must be achieved at the same exam sitting.

Although OET will satisfy your GMC registration it will not satisfy your UK visa application.


So far, we have established that to satisfy the GMC’s English language requirement and the UK Visa application you must take IELTS Academic UKVI. However, we are aware that some doctors sit the IELTS Academic exam and thus their visa application will then require them to sit IELTS UKVI.

What is it?

The IELTS UKVI stands for UK Visas and Immigration and is a government-approved degree comparability service. An IELTS UKVI score can be used to prove your English language abilities in support of a UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) application.

Click here to find a list of test centres for IELTS UKVI.

As an IMG who wants to become GMC Registered you will have to apply for two visas. The first is a UK visit visa for when you come to the UK to take PLAB 2 (which does not require IELTS UKVI). Second, is the Tier 2 visa for work once you have received GMC registration and obtained a job (requires IELTS UKVI or UKNARIC).

If I have already taken IELTS, can I still use my result to apply to UK Visas and Immigration?

IELTS Academic will only satisfy the requirements for GMC Registration but IELTS UKVI and IELTS Academic UKVI will satisfy both GMC Registration and your visa application.

UKVI requires you to submit results from an IELTS for UKVI test that was completed at an IELTS test centre authorised by UKVI.

So, do I have to take IELTS again?


If you have taken IELTS Academic, passed, obtained GMC Registration, secured a job offer and are now applying for your Tier 2 visa – you will be expected to show a pass mark of IELTS UKVI. But don’t worry – you will only need band scores of 4.0 and above.

Is there a difference in exam content between IELTS Academic and IELTS UKVI?

There are no differences in the test format or questions. The actual test taken is the same – same content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on. The purpose of the test is designed to meet certain administrative requirements that are specific to UK Visas and Immigration.

Alternative to UKVI – UKNARIC – £49.50 + VAT* (£59.40)

In addition to IELTS UKVI satisfying the visa application, there is an alternative way to satisfy the English language requirement in your visa application – UKNARIC.

UK National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) is an agency that provides an assessment and then a statement to confirm that an international academic qualification is comparable to a UK degree taught in an English standard.

Therefore, if your primary medical qualification had some element of English language taught – whether you had modules taught in English or separately learnt the English language as part of the course – you will be eligible to use UKNARIC’s Statement of Comparability.

However, please note that it is possible for the agency to assess your degree and find that it is not comparable to a UK degree. In this instance, you will be given a full refund of payment and you will then be required to sit IELTS UKVI.

You should also note that UKNARIC for GMC Registration will not suffice.

How do I apply for UKNARIC?

You can apply directly here and the NARIC website sites completion time is between 10-15 working days.

Documents needed for application:

  • Your contact details and a statement of the purpose of your enquiry (i.e. UKVI)
  • A photocopy or scan of your qualification certificate with final transcripts
  • A photocopy or scan of a certified translation to English of your documents, if the translation is necessary
  • Payment for the service


  • IELTS Academic –Satisfies GMC Registration requirement
  • IELTS Academic UKVI – Satisfies both GMC Registration& UK Visa requirements
  • IELTS General – Does not satisfy GMC Registration or UK Visa requirements
  • IELTS General UKVI – Satisfies UK Visa requirements

If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] and we will be happy to help you. And head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK.


Get Email Job Alerts

Get email alerts tailored to just the jobs you're interested in.


Register With Us

Help us match you with jobs that are perfect for you.


Send Us Your Resumé

Upload it from your computer or via your phone from your cloud storage.

error: Content is protected !!