IELTS Requirement for the UK

IELTS is a test which tests your command over the English language by testing four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Based on your performance in each section, you’re assigned scores between 0 to 9. The overall score is an average of the scores from the four sections.


Category of IELTS

There are many different versions of IELTS. You can go for IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic. Check the table below to see which IELTS would be best for you.


IELTS Registration

The following two bodies conduct the IELTS test:

  1. Australian Education Office (AEO).
  2. British Council.

Both of the above are equally acceptable for PLAB, GMC registration and CMT. There’s a common perception in Pakistan that AEO is more generous with IELTS scores. Because AEO has local examiners in the speaking part of the test, while British Council has British Speakers. However, this should not affect the scoring criteria.

IELTS is generally conducted twice a month.


IELTS Requirement

To Qualify For PLAB 1

You need IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic with at least 7.0 in each of the four areas and an overall score of at least 7.5

To Qualify For PLAB 2

Not required.

To Qualify For PLAB Visa

You do not need IELTS for the PLAB visa.

To Qualify For GMC Registration

You need IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic with at least 7.0 in each of the four areas and an overall score of at least 7.5

To Qualify For Tier 2 (General) Visa

You need IELTS UKVI with at least 4.0 in each of the four areas and an overall score of at least 4.0

To Qualify For Foundation Training Programme

You need IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic with at least 7.5 in each of the four areas and an overall score of at least 7.5

To Qualify For Core Medical Training

You need IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic with at least 7.0 in each of the four areas and an overall score of at least 7.5 or you can get this form signed by your NHS consultant.

To Qualify for Non-Training Jobs

You do not need IELTS for non-training jobs.


Summary of IELTS Requirement

IELTS Criteria 2
If all of the above is confusing, just know that if you take IELTS UKVI Academic, with a score of 7.0 in each section and 7.5 overall, you’ve cleared IELTS for everything, except for Foundation Program entry, which asks for 7.5 in each section and 7.5 overall.

All version of IELTS are only valid for 2 years.


Useful Links


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I take IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic?

This is a personal choice. If you take IELTS UKVI Academic, you will not have to take IELTS again. If you take IELTS Academic, you will have to take IELTS UKVI Academic later on as well.

2. What is the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS UKVI Academic?

The pattern of the exam is exactly the same. The only differences are that the UKVI version costs a little more, it has increased camera surveillance and is held less often.

3. Should I take IELTS from British Council or Australian Education Office?

This is a personal choice. IELTS is accepted from both of these bodies. There’s a common perception in Pakistan that AEO is more generous with IELTS scores. Because AEO has local examiners in the speaking part of the test, while British Council has British Speakers. However, this should not affect the scoring criteria.

4. Can I take IELTS before graduating from medical school?

Yes, you can.

5. Is IELTS easy to pass?

It depends on how good your English is. The only way to find out is to go through practice tests from the IELTS Cambridge series.

6. Can I improve my English language skills if I study for IELTS?

Studying for IELTS only makes us familiar with the test. It does not improve our English language skills.

7. How can I improve my English language skills?

The only way to improve your language would be to increase your exposure to English. You can do this by reading books, watching movies and shows and talking to people in English.

8. How can I improve my IELTS scores?

You can improve your scores by practicing as much as you can. If your scores still do not improve, then you might need to increase your exposure to the English language. You can do this by reading books, watching movies and shows and talking to people in English.

141 thoughts on “IELTS Requirement for the UK

      1. I want to give ielts but ielts ukvi is not conducting in my city and for that i have to go lahore or islamabad which is quite difficult for me.
        Im planning to give acedamic ielts here in my city then will go for plab then after that will give again ukvi ielts.
        I listened from random sources that if i get academic ielts bands with plab requirement i have to take 6 band in ukvi as thats only for vusa purpose
        Is it correct??

      2. Hello, kindly read the post under which you have commented; you will see that you only need 4.0 in IELTS UKVI for your Tier 2 visa application.

  1. I was wondering if you have any information on when and how frequently IELTS is conducted in the UK? If for instance someone plans to go there on a visit visa and start the whole IELTS / Plab journey once they’re there?

  2. Ill be giving plab 1 soon and going through a similar journey . So can i simply give ielts academic instead of ukvi academic ?

      1. Why would she need to take IELTS UKVI academic anyway? Actually I have just passed by MBBS exam and planning to go for PLAB as well, so gathering different bits of information.

      2. IELTS UKVI Academic is a requirement for Tier 2 (General) Visa, which is basically a work visa for working in the U.K.

        IELTS UKVI Academic is also valid for every other part of the U.K. journey. So it’s better to go for IELTS UKVI Academic.

        And it’s totally okay. You can always ask questions. 🙂

      3. Humm.. So basically we have to apply for visa twice. Once for PLAB2 and then again as a work visa, right?

      4. I am sorry I didnt get this UK government hospital sponsorship bit. Do you mean that once you are registered with GMC you get sponsorship from any UK government hospital and that is why it easier to get work visa??

      5. Going by your reply ,does it mean paasing UKVI is a prerequisite to taking PLAB 1?

      6. No, it is not. IELTS Academic will also work for PLAB 1. But ILETS UKVI Academic is needed for Tier 2 visa. You should read the post above. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Hi
    I got 7.0 in Writing, reading and speaking and 7.5 in listening. I have been living in UK 🇬🇧 since 1993 and holding a British passport. What about my situation?

  4. Even if you’re a holder of a British passport, you’ll have to clear IELTS for PLAB if you’ve graduated overseas. However, I’m not sure about CMT though.

  5. When will UKMLA be started exactly replaced by PLAB? Do you have any update? Or from where can I get this news exactly? Please let me know I ll be grateful .

    1. On GMC’s website, it was stated in 2015 that the UKMLA would go live for IMGs in 2019. However if you email GMC or if you check the latest news on their website, you will find out that the process is under consultation until 30th April 2017. And until then, they will not comment on a possible timescale or a tentative starting date for the UKMLA.

      This is the latest update.

      1. So those who have to start this entire IELTS/ PLAB journey should wait for April 30th before taking any step?

      2. It depends. For those who are in final year or who have already graduated, can already make plans.

        However, those who are yet to reach final year, should ideally wait to see what the GMC decides in April 2017. Because they might not have enough time to clear PLAB.

      3. I have just passed my mbbs. What would you recommend should be my next step?

      4. Pass IELTS as soon as you can and take PLAB 1 in November 2017. Take PLAB 2 next year. Make sure you have a job right now. You will need to be employed for your PLAB 2 visa. If you could save your salary, that would be great. Check my post for Visa Homework.

      5. What if one passes both steps before 2019 but doesn’t get a job before UKMLA kickstart. Will that make one’s PLAB status null and void?

      6. 1. The UKMLA is not expected to start before 2022.

        2. As long as you have the GMC registration, you will not need to take UKMLA if PLAB is replaced.

        3. Finding a job only takes a few days or weeks.

        Good luck! 🙂

  6. Hi there, I had ielts in September 2016 and got only 6.5 overall, since then i am phobic to ielts. Please do recommend some good practicing material for ielts. Thanks.

    1. Please do not be scared of IELTS. You should increase your exposure to English. You can do this by reading books, watching movies and shows and talking to people in English. You can also read other people’s IELTS experience to see how they prepared for the test.

  7. Hi, did you apply for GMC registration after you passed PLAB 2 exam on Feb 2017 ? If it was true, how did you do that since your IELTS has already expired. Did you retake IELTS? And regarding the Tier 2 (General) Visa which is work visa, do you mean you would have to sit for another IELTS test( IELTS UKVI Academic) just to get your work visa? and that means you’re going for IELTS test twice?

    1. I took a second IELTS. You’re right. 🙂

      If your first IELTS is UKVI Academic and you complete everything in less than two years, then you do not need to retake IELTS. 🙂

  8. Would I be able to use UKIV Ielts to apply for postgraduate admissions in Canada and Australia whilst also using same for Plab, or do I write IELTS academic first and rewrite UKIV ielts when I need plab 2 visa?

    1. You can use IELTS UKVI Academic for PLAB 1, GMC registration and Tier 2 visa (basically for everything). But I am not sure about Canada or Australia. You can email them to ask about it.

  9. do i need a valid ielts certificate for CMT or can an old one work provided that i got the required score?

  10. Brother i will complete my mbbs in december 2018 .What should be my plans like regarding the plab ?plz suggest me

  11. Hi, is it necessary to give the ielts exam before graduating MBBS or one can also do it after graduation?

    1. It is not necessary to take IELTS before graduating. You can take it after graduating as well. Since the PLAB exam is going to end soon. It is, therefore, wiser to take IELTS before graduation, to save time.

  12. I am about to complete my internship in Bangladesh .I am Nepalese but my passport is British ..where should I take ielts exam and what steps you will recommend me ? Thankyou ..your blogs are really helpful .😊

  13. I took IELTS before starting house job and did PLAB1 after house job. now that i m applying for PLAB2 ,it has already expired and i was wondering when is the best time to re-take IELTS? As for now my plan only includes taking PLAB2 and coming back to Pakistan (my personal situation is bit vague right now for me to decide when to apply for GMC registration and next steps). secondly is there any time period limit after PLAB2 to apply for GMC registration?

      1. Oh! If I got you correctly once PLAB 1 is passed as a result of passing IELTS one can still take the PLAB 2 even if it’s expires?

    1. Hi Nuzhat/Naseer, I am facing the exact same situation. I cleared my Plab 1 with my IELTS done in 2015 which expires on September 20. I want to book for Plab 2 now and also redid my IELTS but when I change my scores in GMC portal to book for Plab 2, it doesn’t even give me the option. How were you able to resolve your situation? Would really appreciate your answer considering I want to sit for Plab 2 on November 8 date.

      I see Naseer has mentioned that we don’t need IELTS for Plab 2 but a bit of clarification would be appreciated.


      1. I took my first IELTS in July 2014. I took my second IELTS in February 2016 (less than two years after my first IELTS). As soon as I passed my second IELTS, I was able to update my results on the GMC Online portal. If you are not able to do this, you should get in touch with the GMC regarding this.

        And yes, you do not need IELTS for PLAB 2, as I have mentioned in this article as well. So you will be able to take your PLAB 2 on 8 November with IELTS. You will, however, need IELTS when you apply for GMC registration.

      2. Sorry Naseer, I am able to update my scores on the GMC Portal. What I meant to say was when I updated the scores, the option to book a Plab 2 exam disappeared.

        I have since changed my scores to the old results but the option to book for Plab 2 has gone, instead, I only see Plab 1 booking options only.

        Should I be concerned or is this a minor glitch?


      3. I think this is because your PLAB 1 will expire in September or November this year and all PLAB 2 dates must be booked until then. So your PLAB 1 would expire. This would also explain why they are showing PLAB 1 dates to you.

      4. Sorry this is for you Dr Naseer Khan, will I have to have a current IELTS to apply for GMC registration? What if it expires before I apply for GMC reg despite having passed both steps?
        Also kindly correct my tense “have to have” if it’s wrong as I’m preparing hard for IELTS through every means possible.

      5. 1. Yes, you will need a valid IELTS for GMC registration.

        2. If it expires, you’ll have to retake it.

        3. You shouldn’t worry as you’ll probably be done with GMC registration in time.

        4. In case it does expire, by the time you apply for GMC registration, your English would be a lot better (because of spending time in the UK for PLAB 2), so passing IELTS will not be an issue.

        5. I think “have to have” is fine.

        Good luck! 🙂

  14. Hi. I’m a bit confused. How can it be that you get 7.0 in each part of ielts and the overall is 7.5?

    1. You need to get at least 7.0 in each of the four sections and at least 7.5 overall.

      So you can get 8.0 in listening and reading. And you can get 7.0 in writing and speaking.

      So your overall score would be 7.5 and you would qualify for PLAB 1.

  15. Hello, thank you for the great info and blog,
    If I scored 7 and 7.5 and with an overall score 7.5 and finished the GMC registration, when applying for FY2, do I need to retake the IELTS exam again to get 7.5 in each section in order to apply for a job and does that required too when applying for CMT?

    1. Yes, you do need 7.5 in each section to apply for training FY2, but not for non-training FY2.

      Most people begin their UK career with non-training jobs. Training FY2 is not even always available.

      As I’ve mentioned in the article, CMT does not ask for 7.5 in each section.

      So do not worry about IELTS please. You’ll be okay even without 7.5 in each section as long as you score at least 7.0 in each section and 7.5 overall. 🙂

  16. What do you mean by completing everything in 2 years? Does that include applying for gmc registration?

  17. I am planning for NZREX and the requirement is PLAB 1 only and obviously IELTS. In this case will IELTS Academics be sufficient ?

    1. Yes, IELTS Academic will be enough for PLAB 1.

      You should make sure to confirm IELTS requirement for NZREX (if there is any).

      Best of luck! 🙂

  18. Hello Dr Naseer
    The blog is really informative and helped me a lot with PLAB and Ielts.
    I’ll be graduating in December 2017.What should be my path right now as UKMLA is been implemented from April 2017.
    And should I go for IELTS UKVI or IELTS Academic?

  19. Hello Dr Naseer! Thanks for all your helpful advice. Please am currently on a Tier 2 dependant visa which is valid till 2020, if i finish ielts, plab 1 and 2 within 2yrs, would need to apply for a work visa, or i can still continue with my dependant visa. Thank you

    1. If your dependent visa covers the length of your contract, then you’ll be able to continue on it. But getting a work visa is not an issue. So do not worry about it. 🙂

      1. Thanks a lot for your reply. Sorry to ask again, will i be required to write the ielts ukvi or i can just go ahead and do the normal ielts?

  20. Dear Dr. Naseer, If it takes more than 2 yr from passing IELTS to get a CT1/ST1 post, do I have to sit for IELTS again?

    Do you know,if run through program for paediatrics/MRCPCH also demands IELTS again(as one has already passed IELTS with 7.5 score for PLAB 1)?

    Thanks in advanced 🙂

    1. 1. Yes, if you’re talking about a training CMT1 job. But if you’re working in the UK already, passing IELTS is not a big deal.

      2. I am not sure about pediatrics. You can check official websites or ask those who’re working in the system to confirm this. 🙂

  21. Hey Dr Naseer, I had a query regarding IELTs. I gave IELTS UKVI academic but I got a 9 in listening, 8 in reading, 6.5 in speaking and 6 in writing making my overall score 7.5. I wanted to ask that since I plan to improve my score to appear in PLAB 1 would it be okay to give the normal IELTS academic (without ukvi) since i already have given the UKVI and got more than band 4 as required for the tier 2 visa? I mean to ask I won’t be needing the UNI now right?

  22. I have completed my intersip and did job in my country for 20 months as a house officer , so from which level can i start working in nhs.

  23. Hi dr naseer, I would like to ask regarding the IELTS criteria of GMC, “that you obtained the scores in most recent sitting of the test”, I took the IELTS test march 25, i didnt achieve the required score, I took another test last may 25 and still did not pass. however, when I remarked my march 25 exam, it increased to writing 7.0 and obs 7.5, would still they consider my march 25 eventhough i took may exam?

    1. The GMC has given different answers to different people about this. So it is best to email the GMC yourself and follow what they tell you. 🙂

  24. Hello Nasir, I have a query. I completed ielts academic with score (s9 l8 w8 r8 overall 8.5). However i revently gave ielts academic ukvi and my score dropped tremendously (w6.5 s7 r8 l8 overall 7.5). My question is do i need to retake the ukvi ielts as you have written that only 4 is required for visa purposes. So then can i use my regular ielts academic for the other purposes? Ty.

    1. Hello,

      The GMC has given different answers to this for different people. So it would be best to email the GMC to confirm this. Kindly let me know what the GMC responds with.

  25. Salaam !
    Hope you’ll be doing fine there and in good health.
    I want to ask, what will be the OPTIONS for me
    If I apply for tier 2 visa(right now) after I’mve done with my house job and 2 months more experience ?
    Can I apply for any diploma course without plab 1 and 2 ??

  26. Hi Naseer, Thank you so much for taking the time to share you journey and experience. I’m really grateful for finding your blog. I’m re-taking my IELTs exam next week. I haven’t signed up a GMC account yet. I would like to ask you the following questions if you don’t mind:
    1-whether I should wait for the ielts exam result before I register for plab 1?or can I at least reserve a seat before ielts results?
    2-you mentioned “a valid certificate of IELTS” in one of your replies? should the certificate by emailed to GMC or the British council should send them the certificate upon asking for it.
    3-I was able to get UK visa 1 year ago for an attachment , I’m planning to take PLAB 1 in UK? do you recommend that? Let’s say I was able to take it in November 2017, when can I take PLAB2?
    Thanks and regards and I hope you will be rewarded well for your good deeds.

    1. 1. You can not reserve a seat for PLAB 1 until you pass IELTS.
      2. You will only need to show your documents to the GMC after passing PLAB 2.
      3. PLAB 2 is being booked 5 to 6 months in advance. So you will need a separate visa for PLAB 2 anyway. Thus, I advise taking PLAB 1 in your home country.

  27. Hi naseer I have done my mbbs from India (2008-2014) . I have my English language proficiency statement with CEFR level C1 issued by my university. Do i need to take ielts for applying plab1?

    1. This does not work from Pakistan. I have heard (but I am not sure) that it does not work from India either.

      If I were you, I would’ve done the following.

      1. Posted on Facebook to check with other Indians to see if this works.
      2. Applied for IELTS exemption.
      3. Started studying for IELTS, just to be safe. Because we have to take IELTS anyway for GMC registration.

  28. Hey naseer. Can’t thank you enough for your hard work here. Keep it up!

    For UK nationals but studying from abroad, is it necessary to go for UKVI? (Considering what you said regarding training jobs that UKVI is needed) or academic would suffice?

    1. For training jobs, they ask for IELTS Academic (it does not matter if it is UKVI or not) from everyone. I think the UK nationals have to take it as well. You can check eligibility criteria from the official websites to confirm this.

      Good luck! 🙂

  29. Hi dr.naseer,
    aoa. I want to ask what will be total expenditure I will face while applying for plab1, then INSHALLAH plab2, then GMC registration.
    Thanks for your blog.
    Very helpful.

  30. Hi dr Nasser
    Thanks for you site
    Any recommendation for speaking part of ielts
    And if any one here tried a tutor with a good experience and price
    To share his contact detalis with us
    Thanks abunch

  31. Just a read one of your comments; ”Plab 2 is booked 5-6 months in advance” is that always the case? I mean is there no chance to book it in one or two months time and get a place?


    1. It is possible to find PLAB 2 slots a month or two before the exam (if someone cancels their exam), but usually PLAB 2 is booked 4-6 months in advance.

  32. After completing my non training job ,when i am applying for core training of any speciality,do i need to appear in ielts again if it has expired?

  33. Hi Dr. Naseer,
    Your blog is very very helpful.Thank you for all that you have provided us with. I have passed my MBBS from a renowned medical college in Bangladesh 1 year back. Now I am intending to sit for IELTS and eventually appear for PLAB in march’2018. However, there seems to be some problems which I wanted you to help me overcome. I am Indian Citizen by birth and still hold an Indian passport residing in Bangladesh. i have been living here since the age of four. Now my questions are the following :
    1. Will this cause any problem when applying for Tier-2 visa?
    2. While filling in the details of the Ielts registration form online should I provide my Indian address as given in my passport or should I give my present residing address in Bangladesh?

    1. 1. I am not sure. But since you have been there for long, you should be alright. It’s best to check official guidelines and/or post this question on the Facebook groups as there are MANY others in your situation who have got Tier 2 visas. They can guide you better.

      2. Again, I’m not sure about this. I’m very sorry! But I THINK, it does not matter.

  34. hello Dr Naseer I have a question if you can answer me please! so im planning to take the Plab 1 test in the UK in 15th of march, and i still didn’t get the ielts score it is always the writing! anyway there is a test date on the 24th of February the results will be available online at the 8th of march midnight in Jordan time that is about 10 pm UK time which is before the deadline, the problem that I have with this is that the online results dont have test report form number. i made an a account on the GMC website not an official one just to see how the process goes i tried to put test result not real ones but just to know if i can still book the test without the test report form number , and it took me to the payment section with no problem, my question is , can I take the test on the 24th of FEB and put the test results that i got online then the next day morning when i can get the report put in the test form number or it wont be confirmed ?

  35. Hello sir , can you kindly please tell me the difference between Paper based and computer based choices in registration for my IELTS exam ? , I am going for IELTS Academic UKVI in May 2018 🙂

    1. I have never taken the computer based IELTS. So I can’t comment on it. It would be best to check opinions on Facebook. Good luck! 🙂

  36. HI
    My Academic ielts results are Overall :7.5 

    Reading :9 

    Speaking :7.5

    Writing :6.5

    Listening :7
    Is it wise to go for a re-evaluation? .please reply .

  37. Hi. I recently gave the ielts academic and got an 8.0 overall. I plan on taking the PLAB 1 in november which is the next coming attempt. Will i need to take the ielts ukvi again when i apply for plab 2 ? or when i apply for gmc registration.?
    also, can i take the plab 2 on a visit visa and then take the ielts ukvi prior to gmc registration. What band will i require then ?

  38. If i takeyl ielts in my final year of medical school.
    Is ther any expiray date for ielts .or thats it ..then i can sit for exam any time?

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