IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training
The IELTS test you take – and the score you need – will depend on both your visa requirements and/or the requirements of the institution where you plan to study or work.
- IELTS Academic
IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to anyone, irrespective of your subject focus.
The Academic format is, broadly speaking, for those who want to study or train in a university that teaches in English at undergraduate or postgraduate level, or institutions of higher and further education. Many professions (e.g. medical, nursing, accounting, engineering) also require an Academic test result for registration purposes in many countries.
- IELTS General Training
IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. The General Training version of the test is typically for those who are going to English-speaking countries to do secondary education, work experience or training programs. This version of the test is also often a visa requirement if you are planning to migrate to English speaking countries including Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
If you are taking the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training test for UK visa applications, you will need to make sure that the test is taken at a UKVI approved test centre. IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests for UK visa applications and non-UK visa applications are the same – same content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on.
IELTS Life Skills
IELTS Life Skills is a test of Speaking and Listening, available at CEFR Level A1 and CEFR Level B1. It is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes.
For more information about IELTS Life Skills, please visit www.idp.com/australia/ielts/uk/lifeskills.
It is strongly recommended that you check with the English language requirements with UK Visas and Immigration.
IELTS test and score required for UK visa applications
Please note that if you need an IELTS test for UK visa applications, you can only take them at a UKVI approved IELTS test centre. IDP IELTS Test Centres are UKVI approved test centres and we offer all the approved IELTS tests for UK visa applications. To register for a test, please visit: www.idp.com/australia/ielts/uk/testdates
Before you book your test, we strongly recommend that you check with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on the test that you will be required to submit for your application. Please visit Guidance on applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests for more information
As a guide, you can use the following table:
| Visa description
(United Kingdom only)
|CEFR level required||Skills||IELTS test and score required|
|Tier 1 (General) visa||C1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 7.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
|Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa||B1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
|Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa||B1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
|Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa||B1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
|Tier 2 (General) visa||B1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
|Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa2||A1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills1
|Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa||B2||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills
| Tier 4 (General) student visa - below degree level
||B1||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills
| Tier 4 (General) student visa - degree level and above and including some pre-sessional courses3
||B2||Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening|| IELTS - 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills
|'Family of a settled person' visa||A1||Speaking and Listening|| IELTS Life Skills at A1 - Pass4
IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening
|Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship5||B1||Speaking and Listening|| IELTS Life Skills at B1 - Pass
IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and
1 Both Academic and General Training are accepted. The CEFR requirement for each skill must be met.
2 IELTS is accepted by UKVI at band scores 4.0 and above, equivalent to CEFR level B1.
3 Universities on UKVI’s list of Tier 4 Sponsors decide which exams to accept when a SELT is not required, and these may include IELTS taken at any of the 1000+ IELTS test locations.
4 IELTS can be used where IELTS Life Skills is used; candidates would need to get 4.0 or above in Speaking and Listening (scores for Reading and Writing will be ignored).
5 Currently, UKVI will also accept an Ofqual regulated test for this category. The test must cover Speaking and Listening at B1 level.
Please note that these changes do not affect the use of IELTS by people from the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland and ‘majority English speaking countries’ as defined by the UK Home Office (https://www.gov.uk/english-language).
Important note for Tier 4 Student Visa (without a pre-sessional)
People who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a university that is a Tier 4 Sponsor (previously known as Highly Trusted Sponsors) to study for a bachelor or postgraduate degree are required to meet the English language level set by the institution. All British universities and colleges accept IELTS results. This means that you do not need to take the IELTS test under UKVI specified condition, unless your institution has required you to.
Please check with the institution that you are applying to for their admission requirement. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-students
Want to Study in the UK?
Our experienced IDP Education counsellor will be able to provide advice and guidance throughout the UK student visa application process.
To find out more about Studying in UK, please click here.