The UK Visas and Immigration department (UKVI) has changed the requirements and specifications for language proficiency courses that international students are required to take before being allowed to pursue their studies in the UK, more specifically they have designated a new category of the new “UKVI IELTS tests” and recognizes it as a SELT (Secure English Language Tests. The tests are taken at approved testing centers, over 1000 around the world, and provide evidence of your English language proficiency by giving you a score in reading, writing, listening and speaking on a Band scale of 0 to 9.
These new rules and regulations came into effect on 6 April 2015 and have essentially the same content and questioning format as a standard IELTS test.
This new test 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 within a week before or after that. For higher education in the UK, The Academic version is the most accepted version of the test but the IELTS General Training for UKVI may be accepted too on a case by case basis, most likely if you are studying at below degree level. These tests are less readily available as compared to the IELTS Academic test and are scheduled for 24 days per year.
Another new component that this regulation introduces to the previous IELTS Qualification is the optional Computer based test that is similar to how the PTE Test is conducted. Computer based takers will take their Listening, Reading and Writing components using computer while Speaking portion will remain face to face, as this has always been a key feature of the IELTS approach.
Overall, not much has changed for the test itself, as most content and design of the test remain the same whether it is taken on paper or on computer. This includes:
Please note: Those who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) in the UK to pursue a degree program are required to meet any English language level set by the institution itself(if any).
|Visa description||CEFR level required||Skills||IELTS test and score required|
|Tier 4 (General) student visa – below degree level and pre-sessional courses||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS – 4.0 overall, and for each of the four skills|
|Tier 4 (General) student visa – degree level and above2||B2||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS – 5.5 overall, and for each of the four skills|
|Family of a settled person visa||A1||Speaking and Listening||IELTS Life Skills at A1 – Pass IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening|
|Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship3||B1||Speaking and Listening||IELTS Life Skills at B1 – Pass IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening|