IELTS tests

The UK Visas and Immigration department (UKVI) has made some changes around the English language tests that international students need to take before studying in the UK. Confused? Don’t be. We’ll guide you through these changes and what steps you’ll need to take to study in the UK.

What is a SELT?

A SELT is a Secure English Language Test. It’s a term used by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to describe the English language tests they’ll accept as evidence of English Language proficiency for your visa application.

What is a UKVI IELTS test?

The new UKVI IELTS tests are Secure English Language Tests, approved by the UK Visas and Immigration department. The tests are taken at approved testing centres and provide evidence of your English language level by giving you a score in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

The full name of the test you need to take is IELTS Academic for UKVI. This new test came into effect on 6 April 2015 and has the same questions and content as a standard IELTS test.

We recommend taking the IELTS Academic for UKVI test. This is scheduled for 48 days per year. You’ll usually take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests on Thursdays or Saturdays, and the Speaking test either on the same day, or seven days before or after that. However, the IELTS General Training for UKVI may be accepted too, if you are studying at below degree level. These are scheduled for 24 days per year.

Do I need to take a UKVI IELTS test?

If you’d like to study in the UK, you may need to take a UKVI IELTS to demonstrate your English language ability in order to apply for a Tier 4 Student visa. If you’re a student and want to study a programme with INTO that is considered ‘below degree level’, you’ll need to take an IELTS Academic for UKVI test. These include A-levels, Foundation, Diploma, English for University Study and any course taught at either INTO Manchester or INTO London.

However, if you intend to study at degree level (NQF 6 or above), you only need a standard IELTS test in order to apply for a Tier 4 student visa. It doesn’t have to be a UKVI approved one. This includes Undergraduate degrees, Postgraduate degrees, Graduate Diplomas (not at INTO Manchester or INTO London), integrated courses and courses under six months in length.Some courses and INTO centres can also accept alternative tests to IELTS, such as Pearson PTE. Find out which other test are accepted. You may also be exempt if you’re from a majority-English speaking country such as the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand.

Other accepted tests

Where can I take a test?

You can take the IELTS Academic for UKVI at an IELTS SELT Consortia Centre. In the UK, INTO UEA and INTO GCU are examination centres for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). If you are currently in the UK, you’ll be able to use Trinity ISE I or II SELT board as well as the IELTS Academic for UKVI test, when applying for courses below degree level.

What IELTS score will I need to get?

You’ll need to achieve at least B1 or IELTS 4.0 overall in each test sub-skill, to meet UKVI requirements. Your specific centre and course may have a higher minimum level. 

How should I prepare for my test?

The British Council offer free learning and practice materials. Preparation courses are also available in most countries. 

What can I do if I haven’t met the course entry requirements’ SELT scores?

If you are unable to meet the English language requirements for your course, there may be other options available to you.

Depending on your academic level and the course you intend to study, you may be able to use a non-SELT to demonstrate your language proficiency. However, students using non-SELTs to demonstrate their language proficiency will still need to meet UKVIs minimum language requirements.

Certain centres will also have lower SELT requirements for students who wish to undertake an extended programme or who would like to complete an English for University study course or a Pre-sessional English course.

Unsure if you need to take a UKVI IELTS test?

Download our simple guidance:

Guidance for foundation and diploma applicants

Guidance for graduate diploma applicants

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