English Language Requirements to register at the RCVS
To be able to register for the first time with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), you must demonstrate an advanced level of English through one of the following two exams:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Occupational English Test (OET).
Both exams have four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The required level to pass is an advanced level, which allows you to have effective operational skills. This level is equivalent to a C1 (according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - CEFR) or a Cambridge Advanced level or a score of 110-120 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). However, you must take the IELTS or OET even if you already possess any of these other qualifications. If you were registered with the RCVS before Brexit, there is no need to take any English exam to practice as a veterinarian in the UK. Remember that both exams have a validity period of 2 years, so you must register with the RCVS within 2 years of having taken the exam.
Among the different varieties of IELTS exams available, you must choose either IELTS Academic or IELTS UKVI Academic (for UK Visa and Immigration Purposes). The score you must obtain should be 7.0 or higher, with a minimum of 6.5 in one of the sub-tests (listening, reading, writing, speaking). In other words, you can score 6.5 in one of the sub-tests, but in the other three, you must get a minimum score of 7 (to achieve a global score of no less than 7). If you fail one of the sub-tests, you will have to retake the entire exam. The price to take this exam is around 247 euros, which includes study materials. The exam can also be taken online from home. The results of the test are usually available at the center 7-14 days after the test date, and you must send the scanned Test Report Form to the RCVS. You can find more information here.
You must choose the veterinary version of the OET and obtain a minimum score of B, with a minimum of C+ in one of the sub-tests (listening, reading, writing, speaking). This means you can get a C+ in one of the sub-tests, but in the other three, you must achieve a minimum score of B (for a global score also of no less than B). If you fail one sub-test, the scores of the ones you passed will be saved, and you only need to retake the one you failed. The price of this exam is around 380 euros. The exam is conducted on paper, and you must go to official centers to take it. It cannot be taken online from home. The cost of retaking one part is around 126 euros. Make sure to include the RCVS on the list of verifying institutions allowed access to your results. The results are usually available 17 days after the test date, and you must send the scanned Statement of Results to the RCVS. You can find more information here.
- More internationally recognized
(New Zealand, Australia...)
- More availability of materials and
- More availability of dates and
locations to take the exam
-The exam can be taken from home
- If you fail a part, they don't retain the scores of the parts you passed
- May be more difficult to pass than OET
- More focused on veterinary medicine
- Usually easier to pass
- They retain the scores of the parts you pass
- The website offers numerous free
resources to prepare for the exam
- Higher registration fee than IELTS
- Not recognized outside the veterinary sector in the UK
- Less availability of dates and locations to take the exam
With all the information provided, it's up to you to choose the exam you want to take. Candidates from Veterinary Talent who have taken both exams usually comment that OET is easier to pass, especially if you have already practiced as a veterinarian, as the topics for the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections are situations that occur in veterinary practice. For example, the listening test could involve an owner explaining the reason they brought their pet to the veterinarian.
As an exception, there are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency that may be accepted by the RCVS. One is to demonstrate that English is your native language, and the other is to show that you completed your veterinary degree in English. Contact us if you have any doubts about the English language requirements for registration with the RCVS. Also, if you were previously registered with the RCVS and deregistered, you do not need to take any English exam again to re-register.
BEFORE STARTING TO PREPARE FOR THE EXAM:
It can be useful to take a level test before starting to study for the exam or even before taking any courses or hiring a teacher. Knowing your level will also help determine the effort you need to put in to pass the exams. You can take free level tests at the following links:
RESOURCES TO PREPARE FOR THE ENGLISH EXAM:
There are several online resources that can help you prepare for the English exam, both for IELTS and OET. In this section, we have compiled a list of materials (many of them free) to make it easier for you to pass the exam and start working in the UK. Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) platforms offer training for IELTS preparation. You can check the websites of EdX, Coursera, or Future Learn, or visit Class Central's page, which aggregates lists of free courses on IELTS. The website IELTS Liz provides free resources and tips to pass the IELTS, allowing you to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking tasks. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel. Other helpful YouTube channels include E2 IELTS and Fastrack IELTS. You can practice mock exams at ieltstestsimiulation (there are several similar pages to do mock exams easy to find).
For OET preparation, we recommend checking the Official OET YouTube channel, where you will find numerous resources, both general and specific to veterinary practice. For example, there are specific videos to prepare for the veterinary part of writing, speaking, reading, and listening (these are just example samples, there are many more). Remember that writing and speaking are specific to veterinary practice, while reading and listening are common to all healthcare professions. The official OET website also offers numerous practice resources, as well as their Facebook group (OET Occupational English Test).
If you prefer using your mobile phone, you can download the free Chatterbug app and practice English anytime during the day through short videos and lessons. Just search for it in your phone's Play Store or App Store. Lastly, if you prefer preparing for the exam (or at least some parts) with a private teacher, you can use platforms like Preplay and Livexp to find one that fits your budget and requirements.
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, we recommend subscribing to the podcast of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which can be found on platforms like ivoox. It will help you become familiar with aspects of the veterinary profession in the UK while practicing your listening skills.