Guide to Secure English Language Tests
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a Secure English Language Test to study English in the UK?
- Do I have to take a Secure English Language Test for academic courses?
- What tests are approved by the UK Border Agency?
- What test score will I need to achieve?
- How do I book a Secure English Language Test in my country?
- When should I sit my Secure English language test?
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), Cambridge ESOL and TOEFL (IBT). Other approved tests include City & Guilds ESOL, TOEIC, BEC, ILEC, ICFE and BULATS. Please note: tests that do not examine all the language skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) are not approved by the UKBA. This includes GCSE / iGCSE English and the paper based TOEFL exam.
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:
IELTS 4.0 (with a minimum of 4.0 for listenreading, writing and speaking)
TOEFL iBT (listening - 13, reading - 8, writing - 17, speaking 19)
Pearson PTE Academic (minimum of 36 in listening, reading, writing and speaking)
Cambridge ESOL (Minimum level PET)
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:
IELTS 5.0 (with a minimum of 5.0 for listening, reading, writing and speaking)
TOEFL iBT (listening - 21, reading - 22, writing - 21, speaking 23)
Pearson PTE Academic (minimum of 51 in listening, reading, writing and speaking)
Cambridge ESOL (Minimum level FCE)
Important note: TOEFL, Pearson and IELTS 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 click-courses.com.
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.