Nursing Council Refreshes English Language Competence Policy

Aug 25, 2022

We are pleased to share the latest changes from the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ).  
The key policy changes relate to English Language competence and can be summarised as follows:

  • A new minimum score for the writing band IELTS and OET
  • Clearer guidance on computer-based testing
  • Clarity around education and registration-based evidence and pathways

New minimum writing score

The minimum score for the writing band will be changed to 6.5 in the International English Language Test System (IELTS) and 300 in the Occupational English Test (OET). This change takes effect at 9am, 19 August 2022.

Please note, there will be no change to the required Reading, Speaking, and Listening band scores. These will remain at 7 for IELTS and 350 for OET. The Nursing Council does not prioritise one test over the other.

Computer-based and online testing

  • Testing that occurs at an IELTS or OET testing venue but that is undertaken on a computer will be accepted by the Council.
  • Fully online computer-based testing (for example OET@home or IELTS Online), will not be accepted by the Council.
  • The Speaking Test component of the OET’s On Computer mode, which is delivered online but with a live assessor, will be accepted by the Council.

Evidence pathways

Three distinct pathways are defined below for nurses to demonstrate their English Language Competency:

  1. Test-based pathway – where evidence consists of IELTS or OET results that demonstrate achievement of minimum scores as above.
  2. Education-based pathway – where evidence consists of the education that led to registration as a nurse being taught and examined in English in the UK, Singapore, Ireland, Canada, or the USA. 
  3. Registration-based pathway – where evidence consists of having passed an English language test to obtain registration in the UK, Ireland, Canada, or the USA.

Changes for Singapore nurses

Nurses who are educated in English at a Singaporean institution are eligible for the education-based pathway, and Singaporean-registered nurses are not usually required to complete a CAP if applying for equivalent registration.

Singapore has been removed from the list of countries (UK, Ireland, Canada, USA) where a nurse may be eligible for the registration-based pathway. This is because the Singaporean Nursing Board does not currently require an English language test to gain registration. This means that a test-based pathway will be required for Singaporean-registered nurses that have not been educated at a Singaporean Singaporean educational institute.

Australian registered nurses

Under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997, a nurse registered in Australia is generally entitled to registration in Aotearoa New Zealand. A nurse with Australian registration therefore does not need to provide evidence of English language competence to the Nursing Council.

The points outlined above apply to all nurses who begin their application with CGFNS on or after 19th August 2022. Nurses who applied to CGFNS and/or Nursing Council before this date will not be disadvantaged by the changes announced.

What timeframes do the tests need to be conducted in?

You can achieve the minimum score in the English language tests over more than one sitting, however the required score must be met within 12 months of first sitting the test and met within three years of your CGFNS report being transmitted to the Nursing council.

Borders are open and we are welcoming health professionals from all over the world. Now is a great time to get underway and consider a life in beautiful New Zealand.

To check all Nursing Council Requirements please click here

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions around these new requirements. We’d be happy to help!