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What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) assessment looks at all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

You have the option to take the IELTS test on paper or computer. If you book to take the Paper IELTS, you will complete the reading, writing and listening tests sat at a desk with your questions paper and answer sheets. The speaking section will then be completed face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

If you book to do your IELTS on computer, you will complete the reading, writing and listening sections on the computer, filling in your answers as you go along. The speaking section will also be completed face-to-face with the IELTS examiner.

 Which option do I need to choose when registering with the GMC?

There are two versions of the IELTS test you can take, General and Academic. As an international medical graduate, you will need to make sure to book the Academic version as this is designed to support professional registration applications.

With the Academic IELTS there are a few options, but we advise to book the IELTS Academic UKVI. This version is multi-purpose and will not only be acceptable for your GMC registration, but can also be used to support your Tier 2 Visa application. By picking this version, you will be saving yourself from potentially sitting two exams – and not to mention the cost!

What can I expect from the IELTS UKVI?


  • Duration - 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes transfer time)
  • This section involves listening to four clips - a general conversation between 2 people, a monologue of every day social context, an academic conversation (2-4 people) and a monologue of an academic subject.
  • Each clip will be followed by 10 questions


  • Duration - 1 hour
  • Includes three long texts taken from books, journals, or newspapers and are selected for a non-specialist audience. It's designed to test a range of reading skills from reading for idea, to skimming to understanding logical argument.
  • This section consists of 40 questions


  • Duration - 1 hour
  • This section is built up of two tasks. In task 1 you will be shown a graph, chart, or diagram and be asked to explain what you see in your own words. In task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point, view or argument. Both tasks will require you to write in a formal style.


  • Duration - 11-14 minutes
  • Part 1 - The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself, and a range of familiar topics which may include home, family, work and interests.
  • Part 2 - you will be given a topic card and 1 minute to prepare before speaking on that topic for up-to 2 minutes.
  • Part 3 - you will be asked further questions on Part 2. It's an opportunity to explore different ideas/thoughts.

Side note – The speaking test can be taken up-to 7 days before or after completion of the listening, reading and writing sub-sections.

What scores do I need to pass?
To register with the GMC, they will require you to have an overall IELTS score of 7.5 across the four stages, with no sub-sections scoring less than 7. The requirement for a Tier 2 General Visa is much less and requires a score of 4 overall, as well as each sub-section.

What happens if I don’t achieve 7.5 Overall in the IELTS?
Don’t worry! You can book IELTS as many times as you need to in order to pass.

You will have to pay per attempt, so we would strongly advise you to use the resources available online to prepare as best you can. For each section of the test the British Council site (LINK ?) has example questions with videos and answers that you can download.

If you are worried about the test, or have unfortunately failed the test, and would like to speak with an IELTS tutor get in touch today.

How much will it cost me to book an IELTS?
The Academic IELTS will cost you £195.

Where can I book my IELTS?
The IELTS exam is widely accessible with over 1,600 test centres available in over 140 countries/territories.

Find a test location and book online here

Further resources available here:
Sample Test Questions

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