Image of student in classroom

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. Not sure what test to take? Don’t worry. We’ll guide you through these changes and what steps you’ll need to take to study in the UK.

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.

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.

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. You may also be exempt if you’re from a majority-English speaking country such as the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand.

You can take the IELTS Academic for UKVI at an IELTS SELT Consortia Centre. In the UK, INTO UEA is an examination center 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.

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.

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

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.

If you intend to study at degree level in the UK (NQF6 or above), you can take a standard IELTS test in order to apply for your Tier 4 student visa. It doesn't have to be a UKVI approved test.

Download the respective guidance for a Center to find out about alternative English language tests accepted if you are studying at degree level or above. Programs at INTO Centers which are considered to be NQF 6 (degree level) or above include undergraduate degrees, Graduate Diplomas and postgraduate degrees.

INTO University of East Anglia

INTO University of Exeter

INTO Queen's University Belfast

INTO University of Stirling

INTO Newcastle University

INTO City, University of London

INTO London World Education Center

INTO Manchester

Unsure if you need to take a UKVI IELTS test?

Download our simple PDF guides: Guidance for Foundation and International Year One applicants Guidance for Graduate Diploma applicants

Need some help?

We’ll help you every step of the way. If you have questions about the new UKVI IELTS guidelines or are still unsure about what it means for you, our dedicated team are ready to help.

Email the SELT support team: