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You must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language proficiency if you want to work, live, or study in an English-speaking country. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language test designed to help you study, migrate, or work in a country where English is the native language.
Depending on your goals or purpose for moving abroad, you may choose to sit one of the following IELTS tests:
IELTS Academic test
IELTS General Training test
IELTS Academic for UKVI
IELTS General Training for UKVI
IELTS Life Skills (A1 or B1)
IELTS has a number of different test types which you can choose from according to your intent.
If you plan to study in higher education or seek professional registration, you can take the IELTS Academic test.
If your goal is to study secondary education, work, or migrate to an English-speaking country, IELTS General Training test might be right for you.
Where you want to study, work, or migrate will affect which test you need to take. If you want to go to the United Kingdom, you will need to specifically take the IELTS for UKVI test. This can either be the IELTS Academic for UKVI test, IELTS General Training for UKVI test, or the IELTS Life Skills A1 or B1 test.
Life Skills A1 tests your listening and speaking skills at the level of A1 in the Common European Framework (CEFR). The combined speaking and listening test lasts between 16 and 18 minutes and will take place with an examiner and one other test taker. The second test taker’s performance will not affect your test results. The results can be used to apply for certain visa types for the UK, for example, for the “family of a settled person” visa.
Life Skills B1 is a secure English-language test (SELT) accepted by the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration Department as proof of your English-language proficiency. The test looks at your listening and speaking skills in the 22-minute test with an examiner and one other test taker. The second test taker’s performance will not affect your test results.
An IELTS examiner will look at your English speaking and listening skills, and your ability to obtain and convey information, speak to communicate, and engage in discussion.
You will be assessed on your ability to listen and respond to spoken English where you have to obtain and convey basic information and communicate on familiar topics.
The examiner might ask you to describe a topic, give opinions or preferences and justify those, and explain and expand on a topic. You will also be expected to communicate with both the examiner and the other test taker.
There are no band scores with any of the Life Skills tests, your results will be given as a pass or fail.
IELTS and IELTS for UKVI are the exact same test in terms of format, content, scoring, and level of difficulty. The only difference is that an IELTS for UKVI test is approved by the UK Home Office for work, study, and migration purposes.
If you take an IELTS for UKVI test, your test report form will be a little different to show you have taken an IELTS for UKVI test at an approved test centre.
Make sure to visit the relevant government or institutional websites to confirm which test you need to take, as government agencies, institutions, and other recognising organisations set their own IELTS entry requirements.
You can also prepare for IELTS with a Progress Check practice test, available for both the General Training and Academic tests. Take this official mock test and get an indicative band score, plus an official feedback report.