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IELTS for the UK

IELTS for the UK

Want to live, work and study in the UK?

IELTS, the world’s most popular test of English for higher education and global migration, has been approved for all UK visas that require applicants to provide proof of their level of English.

IELTS test for UK Visas and Immigration

If you make a visa application to stay or move to the UK, you need to be aware of changes made by the United Kingdom Visas & Immigration (UKVI).

In addition to the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests, which you may already know of, a new test called IELTS Life Skills has been introduced for people who need to prove their speaking and listening skills at level A1 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The IELTS test you take – and the score you need – will depend on both your visa requirements and/or the requirements of the institution where you plan to study or work.

Happy woman studying English in London

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

IELTS Academic

  • IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed to study at university or college as an undergraduate or postgraduate student or join or gain entry into a professional institution.
  • The tasks and texts are accessible to anyone, irrespective of your subject focus.

IELTS General Training

  • IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context.
  • The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations.
  • You may need the test for entry into secondary education, a college or education training centre, or to migrate to an English speaking country.

IELTS Life Skills

IELTS Life Skills is for people who need to show that their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1. It is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes.

What is the test?

IELTS Life Skills is available at two levels:

  • IELTS Life Skills – A1 Speaking and Listening. This test is for UK visas and immigration for a “family of a settled person”.
  • IELTS Life Skills – B1 Speaking and Listening. This test is for UK visas and immigration for an “indefinite leave to remain of citizenship” visa.

The focus of IELTS Life Skills

  • At each level, the test is designed to assess whether you can listen and respond, make your meaning clear, and talk with other people.

Face-to-face Speaking and Listening tests

  • You will take the test with an examiner, and with one other test taker. You will be expected to take part in short discussions on everyday subjects.

The IELTS Life Skills test formats

A1 Speaking and Listening

You will be expected to:

  • Listen and respond to spoken language, including simple narratives, statements, questions and single-step instructions
  • Communicate basic information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics
  • Talk with another person in a familiar situation about familiar topics.

Tasks may include:

  • describing
  • giving opinions
  • giving personal information
  • stating preferences
  • commenting
  • asking for information or descriptions
  • agreeing and disagreeing
  • explaining, giving reasons or justifying
  • deciding
  • suggesting
  • selecting

B1 Speaking and Listening

You will be expected to:

  • Listen and respond to spoken language, including straightforward information and narratives and follow straightforward explanations
  • Communicate information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics, using appropriate formality
  • Talk with one or more people in a familiar situation, making relevant points and responding to what others say to reach a shared understanding about familiar topics.

In addition to the A1 tasks, the B1 tasks may include:

  • comparing
  • showing contrast, cause, reason or purpose
  • prioritising
  • planning
  • persuading
  • narrating
  • asking about past or future events
  • expressing future certainty or possibility

Test dates for IELTS Life Skills

Test dates for IELTS Life Skills

Please note that if you need an IELTS test for UK visa applications, you can only take them at a UKVI approved IELTS test centre. IDP IELTS Test Centres are UKVI approved test centres and we offer all the approved IELTS tests for UK visa applications. To register for a test, please visit here.

Guidance on applying for a UK visa

Guidance on applying for a UK visa

Before you book your test, we strongly recommend that you check with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on the test that you will be required to submit for your application. Please visit this page for more information.

IELTS test and score required for UK visa applications

VISA DESCRIPTION (UK only)CEFR LEVEL REQUIREDSKILLSIELTS TEST AND SCORE REQUIRED
Tier 1 (General) visaC1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 7.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visaB1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visaB1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visaB1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 2 (General) visaB1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa²A1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills¹

Register here
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visaB2Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 4 (General) student visa – below degree levelB1Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Tier 4 (General) student visa – degree level and above and including some pre-sessional courses³B2Reading, Writing, Speaking and ListeningIELTS – 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills

Register here
Family of a settled person’ visaA1Speaking & ListeningIELTS – Life Skills at A1 - Pass⁴ IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening

Register here
Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship⁵B1Speaking & ListeningIELTS – Life Skills at B1 - Pass IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening

Register here

1 Both Academic and General Training are accepted. The CEFR requirement for each skill must be met.
2 IELTS is accepted by UKVI at band scores 4.0 and above, equivalent to CEFR level B1.
3 Universities on UKVI’s list of Tier 4 Sponsors decide which exams to accept when a SELT is not required, and these may include IELTS taken at any of the 1000+ IELTS test locations.
4 IELTS can be used where IELTS Life Skills is used; candidates would need to get 4.0 or above in Speaking and Listening (scores for Reading and Writing will be ignored).
5 Currently, UKVI will also accept an Ofqual regulated test for this category. The test must cover Speaking and Listening at B1 level.
Please note that these changes do not affect the use of IELTS by people from the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland and ‘majority English speaking countries’ as defined by the UK Home Office.

Ready to book your IELTS UKVI test? Register now

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are applying for a UK visa, there is an IELTS test for you.

For visa applications to the UK, you may need to have an English language qualification. IELTS and IELTS Life Skills are included on both the UK Home Office’s list of Secure English Language Tests (referred to as SELT tests by UK Home Office) and the OFQUAL register.

It is recommended you check all visa requirement information directly with the UK government website.

To find out whether you need to take an approved test, what level you need to achieve, and which test you can use, you should contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). For more information, please visit here.

Those who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) to study a bachelor or postgraduate degree are required to meet the English language level set by the institution. All British universities and colleges accept IELTS results. This means that you do not need to take the IELTS test under UKVI specified condition unless your institution has required you to. Please visit here for more information.

These changes are effective from 6 April 2015.

To assist with the transition, the UK government has announced they will accept results from all IELTS tests taken before 22 April. This means that you can submit your past IELTS results to UKVI if:

–  your visa application requires you to supply results from a Secure English Language Test, and
–  your IELTS test date was before 22 April 2015, and
–  your IELTS test was taken at any of the 1,000 IELTS test locations around the world, and
–  you submit your application to UKVI before 5 November 2015.

From 23 April, you will require results from an “IELTS for UKVI” test from one of the UKVI authorized test centres. You can take your IELTS for UKVI test at this test centre.

Ready to book your IELTS UKVI test? Register now

For IELTS and IELTS Life Skills, test dates will be available within 28 days of booking your test. The frequency of IELTS and IELTS Life Skills testing for UK visa and immigration purposes varies by location.

There are no restrictions on retaking IELTS. You can register for a test as soon as you feel you are ready to do so.

For IELTS Life Skills candidates ONLY. Candidates who have previously taken the IELTS Life Skills test and have passed are not allowed to re-take the test at the same level within two years. E.g: a candidate who has taken an IELTS Life Skills A1 test and has passed cannot take another Life Skills A1 test within two years. Similarly, a candidate who has taken an IELTS Life Skills B1 test and has passed cannot take another Life Skills B1 test within two years.

The IELTS test for UK visa purposes is designed to meet certain administrative requirements that are specified by UK Visas and Immigration. Test Report Forms will be slightly different, to show that test takers have taken the test at an IELTS UK visa session. The actual test taken is the same – same content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on.

Yes. IELTS test results are accepted by more than 10,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, colleges, governments and employers.

If your IELTS test date was on or before 22 April 2015, UKVI will accept your results until 5 November 2015.

From 23 April, UKVI will require you to submit results from an “IELTS for UKVI” test that was completed at an IELTS test centre authorised by UKVI to run IELTS tests for UK visa and immigration purposes. You must confirm at the time of registration that you wish to use your test result for these purposes.

IELTS Life Skills is a new English language test offered by the three IELTS Test Partners – British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

IELTS Life Skills is a test of Speaking and Listening, available at CEFR Level A1 and CEFR Level B1. It is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes.


Which IELTS Life Skills test do I need?
Are you are applying to UK Visas and Immigration for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa? IELTS Life Skills A1 is the test for you.

Are you applying to UK Visas and Immigration for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship? IELTS Life Skills B1 is the test for you.

To find out whether you need to take an approved test, what level you need to achieve, and which test you can use, you should contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). For more information, please click here.

You take the test with another test taker and one Examiner. Your own performance on both speaking and listening will be assessed during this one session.

The new test has been designed to meet specific immigration requirements for which applicants only need to demonstrate speaking and listening skills.

IELTS Life Skills at CEFR Level A1 takes 16-18 minutes and Level B1 is 22 minutes.

No, you will be assessed on your Speaking and Listening skills at the same time.

A certificated IELTS Examiner will assess your performance throughout the Speaking and Listening test based on the following criteria:

  • obtaining information
  • conveying information
  • speaking to communicate
  • engaging in discussion

The performance of the other test taker paired with you in IELTS Life Skills test does not affect the assessment of your own performance.

You will receive one copy of the IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form.

Test results are normally available within seven (7) days of your test.

Ready to book your IELTS UKVI test? Register now

For UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) IELTS Test Takers:

* If you have taken an IELTS test for UK visa & immigration purposes, please download the (Enquiry on results) EOR application form here:

For Sydney test-takers:

Click here to download the form. To submit your EOR, complete the application form & post it along with your original Test Report Form to the Sydney office at 725-731 George Street, Sydney, NSW  2000.

For Port Moresby test-takers:

Click here to download the form. To submit your EOR, complete the application form & post it along with your original Test Report Form to the Brisbane office at Level 3, 99 Creek Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000.