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Secure English Language Tests (SELTs)

If you need a Student Visa to come to the UK, you may have to pass a Secure English Language Test to prove that 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 level of 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 for advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Secure English Language Test (SELT)?

A Secure English Language Test is an English language test that is approved by the UK Visas & Immigration Service (UKVI) for visa application purposes. It is taken under secure conditions to prevent cheating and identity fraud.

Will I have to take a Secure English Language Test?

To apply for a Student Visa, you will have to take a Secure English Language Test UNLESS:

  • You have already proved your knowledge of English at the required level in a previous, successful UK visa application.
  • You are studying a course at or above NQF Level 6 (degree level) at a Higher Education Provider (e.g. a university). In that case, the institution can make their own assessment1 of your English level.
  • You are under 18 and coming to study in the UK on a Child Student Visa.
  • You have a GCSE or A Level in English Language or Literature that was awarded following education at a UK school, provide you started the course when you were under 18.
  • 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 successfully completed a bachelor's degree in the UK.
  • You have successfully completed an academic qualification, at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, that was taught in English. If you rely on this option, you will also need an English Language Assessment from UK Naric to confirm your English proficiency, based on your degree qualification. You can buy this service online for a small fee (See Further Information below).

What tests are approved by UKVI?

The following tests are approved:

  • Outside the UK, the only approved tests for Student Visa purposes are IELTS Academic for UKVI, PTE Academic UKVI and LanguageCERT SELT. You may have to wait for a test date at busy times, so it is best to 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.

The UKVI IELTS is the most popular test, but availability is limited and it takes 2 weeks for test results to become available. If you need a test result quickly, then you should take a PTE Academic UKVI or LanguageCERT SELT instead. It is usually easier to get a test date at short notice and results are available within a few days. All tests are valid for 2 years from the date the test is awarded.

Note: the following tests do not count as secure English language tests for visa purposes: IELTS (Non-UKVI), TOEFL, Cambridge (KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE), PTE Academic (Non-UKVI), high school English qualifications (except IGCSE or A Level when studied in the UK under the age of 18). If you need a secure English language test to support your visa application, you will not be able to use any of these tests.

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). Please make sure you choose IELTS For UKVI (Academic) when booking this test.

Book > IELTS Academic For UKVI

IMPORTANT: Test centres can be very busy and you may have to wait a long time for the next available test date. Also, it takes 2 weeks for the results to be published. So it is important to book this test as early as possible. If you are unable to book a UKVI IELTS test in time to start your course, you should consider the PTE Academic UKVI or LanguageCERT test instead.

How do I book a PTE Academic UKVI test?

You can book a PTE Academic UKVI test online using the link below.

Book > PTE Academic UKVI

Make sure you choose PTE Academic UKVI when booking this test. Availability is usually good, but test centres are not available in all countries. Results become available within 48 hours (and sometimes on the same day).

How do I book a LanguageCERT SELT?

You can book a LanguageCERT SELT test online using the link below.

Book > LanguageCERT SELT

There are many versions of this test, so please make sure you book the correct one. When booking, you need to choose an exam that tests all four language skills (i.e. Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) and at the correct level for your visa application (CEFR B1 or CEFR B2). If you are not sure which test to book, please ask your student advisor for advice.

What test score will I need to achieve?

For study below degree level (i.e. below NQF Level 6), you need to achieve a score equivalent to CEFR B1:

  • IELTS 4.0 overall (minimum 4.0 in each skill).
  • PTE Academic 43 overall (minimum 43 in each skill).
  • LanguageCERT SELT B1 Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking (minimum 33/50 in each skill).
  • ISE I Pass overall (minimum pass in each skill).

For study at or above degree level (i.e. NQF Level 6 or higher), you need to achieve a score equivalent to CEFR B2:

  • IELTS 5.5 overall (minimum 5.5 in each skill).
  • PTE Academic 59 overall (minimum 59 in each skill).
  • LanguageCERT SELT B2 Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking (minimum 33/50 in each skill).
  • ISE II Pass overall, with pass in each skill.

Note: These are the minimum scores required to apply for a Student Visa. The course you apply for may have higher English requirements.

How can I prepare for my test?

The British Council, Pearson and LanguageCert all provide a wide range of free online resources for test takers, including tips and advice, sample tests, courses and webinars.

Also In This Section

Further Information

The following links will open in a new browser window.

1 The institution may still ask for an English test, but they are not restricted to tests that are approved by the UK Visas & Immigration Service.

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.

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