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Approved English Tests

If you need a Tier 4 Student Visa to come to the UK, you may have to pass an approved English language test to demonstrate your English level is sufficient for the course you want to study. The rules are complicated and depend on factors such as you age, nationality, the course you want to study and the institution.

The information below will help you understand the rules and how they apply to you. If you are in any doubt, please ask your student advisor at

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Approved English Test?

When you apply for certain types of UK visa, you may have to submit evidence of your English skills to support your application. That means taking an English test that is approved by the UK Visas and Immigration Service (UKVI).

Approved tests are taken under secure conditions to prevent cheating and fraud. Only approved tests are accepted by the UKVI for visa application purposes. These tests are also known as Secure English Language Tests (SELT).

Will I have to take an Approved English Test?

If you need a Tier 4 Student Visa, you will have to take an Approved English Language Test UNLESS:

  • You are studying at or above NQF Level 6 (degree level) at a Government funded Higher Education Institution (e.g. a UK university).
  • You are under 18 and coming to study in the UK on a Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa.
  • You have successfully completed a course of study in the UK as a child student, provided the course was at least 6 months long and was completed no more than 2 years before the assignment of your CAS.
  • You are a citizen of a majority English speaking country, as defined by the UK Visas & Immigration Service. See Further Information below for a full list of majority English speaking countries. Note that the list excludes all African countries.
  • You have a completed an academic qualification, at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, that was taught in the United Kingdom, Ireland or any majority English speaking country except Canada.

What tests are approved by UKVI?

The following tests are approved:

  • Outside the UK, the only approved test is IELTS (Academic) for UKVI. There are test centres in most countries, but at busy times and in some countries it can take 8 - 12 weeks to get a test date. So make sure you book early.
  • International students in the UK can also take the Trinity College Integrated Skills in English (ISE) test. There are test centres in several major cities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Both of these tests are valid for 2 years.

The following tests are NOT accepted: Non-UKVI IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge (KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE), Pearson PTE, IGCSE English or any other high school English qualification.

How do I book a UKVI IELTS test?

You must book a UKVI IELTS test online on the British Council website using the link below (opens in new browser window). Make sure you choose IELTS For UKVI (Academic).


What test score will I need to achieve?

For study below degree level (e.g. foundation courses, A Levels):

  • IELTS 4.0 overall, with a minimum of 4.0 in each skill.
  • ISE I Pass overall, with pass in each skill.

For study at or above degree level (e.g. pre-master's):

  • IELTS 5.5 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each skill.
  • ISE II Pass overall, with pass in each skill.

Note: These are the minimum scores required to apply for a Tier 4 student visa. The course you apply for may have higher English requirements.

How can I prepare for my IELTS test?

The British Council provides a wide range of free resources for test takers, inlcuding tips and advice, sample tests and a free online course. See Further Information below for links.

Further Information

The following links will open in a new browser window.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is for guidance only. You should always check with the UK Government's Website (Visas & Immigration) for the latest information before applying for a student visa. Failure to follow the correct procedures is likely to result in your application being refused and could affect your ability to obtain a visa in the future.