What is the IELTS UKVI and how is it different from the regular IELTS Exam?

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:

  • The test content
  • Timings allotted to each section
  • The different question types
  • The marking and scoring of the test
  • Speaking test delivery (face to face)


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 requiredSkillsIELTS test and score required
Tier 4 (General) student visa – below degree level and pre-sessional coursesB1Reading, Writing Speaking, and ListeningIELTS – 4.0 overall, and for each of the four skills
Tier 4 (General) student visa – degree level and above2B2Reading, Writing Speaking, and ListeningIELTS – 5.5 overall, and for each of the four skills
Family of a settled person visaA1Speaking and ListeningIELTS Life Skills at A1 – Pass

IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening

Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship3B1Speaking and ListeningIELTS Life Skills at B1 – Pass

IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening