English Language Requirement

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia have finalised the consultation relating to the AHPRA English Language Requirement policy for overseas nurses. There is still no final policy release but they are indicating that there will be no major changes to the current policy. I continue to keep this site up to date with the outcome of the consultations. At the moment what I can say is this- there will be English Language standards for overseas nurses to meet!

As a nurse in Australia communication is vital for keeping your patients safe. It has been shown in studies that up to 40 percent of incidents leading to patient harm in Australia can be contributed to communication issues.

It is extremely important then, for the protection of the public, to maintain an English Language Requirement for the purposes of registration for all nurses in Australia. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia have set standards for all nurses in regards to English Language proficiency for registration. There are two tests currently accepted by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Theses are

IELTS with a score of 7 in each of the domains of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, and overall score of 7


Occupational English Test with a B pass in each of the domains of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

The English language test is current for 2 years. Once two years has passed you will have to repeat the test to be eligible for registration. Also, you must ensure that copies of your results are sent to the registration branch in AHPRA.

What do I do if I fail?

Don’t be concerned if you do not pass the test on your first try, this is normal and many overseas nurses fail this test more than once. You can resit the test again, you may have to wait a set period of time in between sittings. If possible sit the test after you have been in the country for a while and get a feel for the language and styles of communication. The speaking domain is the area most overseas nurses have problems with so if you cannot get to Australia before you sit the test it is helpful if you can find a friend or colleague who is proficient in English to help you practice.

Try and read as many different forms of writing styles as you can books, newspapers, medical reports etc. are all used in the reading and comprehension testing.

How do I know if I will need to take an English Language Test?

The AHPRA registration team will assess your application based on all the documents you provide to them. If you are from a country that speaks English and other languages it is important to provide evidence of any of your courses that were carried out in English. Once a decision has been made you will receive a letter advising you if you have to complete an English Language test.

As mentioned the NMBA is currently reviewing the policy of English Language requirements so I will keep this website updated as more information is available

- but as a general guide I can tell you this-

If you are from a predominantly non- English speaking country you will have to complete an English proficiency test!

Keep a check on this website and on the AHPRA website for updates to the English Language requirements for nurses.

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