Guide to Secure English Language Tests

Free Student Account

Register now for your FREE student account!


Or sign in here if you are already regsitered.

Student Account Benefits

A free, one stop advice service for international students who want to study in the UK.

expert help and advice Free expert advice and assistance from your student advisor.
apply online Apply online for any course in minutes!
apply online Fast decisions on your applications, often
within 2 - 3 days!
help applying for student visa Visa Assist service. The key to getting your student visa on time.
help applying for student visa Find a safe & secure place to stay with our accommodation booking service.
help applying for student visa UK based advisors - experts in the British education system.
point of contact in uk A friendly point of contact in the UK throughout your studies.

Our services are paid for by our partner colleges and universities and are FREE OF CHARGE for students who apply through this web site!

UKBA secure english test requirements If you need a Tier 4 General Student Visa to come to the UK, you may need to pass an approved English language test first. The rules vary depending on your nationality, the type of course you want to follow and the type of college or university where you plan to study. The following list of frequently asked questions provides some background information to help you understand the rules. Approved tests (known as secure English language tests, or SELTS) must be taken in person in a secure environment, so the identity of the student sitting the test can be verified. The UK Border Agency decides which tests are approved and the minimum English level required.


If you accept an offer from one of our partner colleges or universities, you are entitled to free personal assistance with your student visa application. Find out more about our Visa Assist Programme.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Secure English Language Test to study English in the UK?

No. However, if you plan to study for 11 months or more, you will have to demonstrate to your English school that you are at a level of at least CEFR B1. For more information about the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), please see our section on English language qualifications.

Do I have to take a Secure English Test for academic courses?

If you want to study an academic course for 6 months or more, the UK Border Agency will require you to take a test unless:

  • You are studying at or above degree level at a government funded college or university (if you are studying at a private institution, you will need to take a test);
  • You are under 18 and coming to study in the UK on a Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa;
  • You are over 18, but you have studied as a child student in the UK for at least 6 months within the last two years;
  • You are from one of the following countries, which the UK Border Agency considers to be majority English speaking: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States;
  • You have a completed an academic qualification, at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, which was taught in a majority English speaking country.

Note: if the UK Border Agency does not require you to take a test, your sponsor may still ask you to take a test to demonstrate your English level is sufficient for the course you want to study.

What tests are approved by the UK Border Agency?

The most popular approved tests are IELTS (Academic), Pearson PTE (Academic) and Cambridge ESOL. A full list is available on the UK Border Agency web site. Note: As of April 2014, the TOEFL iBT test is no longer accepted by the UK Border Agency.

What test score will I need to achieve?

If you are studying a course below degree level (e.g. A Level, national certificates and diplomas), you will need to pass at a level equivalent to CEFR B1. Minimum scores are as follows:

Test Name Total Listening Reading Writing Speaking
*IELTS 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0
*Pearson PTE - 36 36 36 36
Cambridge ESOL KET -- Exceptional in all skills --

If you are studying at degree level or above, you will need to pass at a level equivalent to CEFR B2. Minimum scores are as follows:

Test Name Total Listening Reading Writing Speaking
*IELTS 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
*Pearson PTE - 51 51 51 51
Cambridge ESOL PET Exceptional in all skills

* These tests expire after 2 years.

How do I book a Secure English Language Test in my country?

To find a test centre and book a test in your country, please use the links below. If you have difficulty finding a test centre, please contact your student advisor at

Cambridge ESOL

When should I sit my Secure English language test?

You will need to pass your secure English test before you can apply for a student visa. If you are planning to come to the UK to study, you should make arrangements to sit your English test as early as possible.