International Students

Can I study in the UK without proving IELTS scores?

Can I study in the UK without proving IELTS scores?

What is the Purpose of the IELTS Test?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It uses a nine-band scale to identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9), and provide a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.


Different universities and courses ask for different test scores. Areas like law and medicine will usually want their students to have a higher level of English than others. The best way to learn what your university and course entry requirements are is to check with the provider itself.


New government requirements on language testing

Students planning to study a course at the academic degree level (such as a foundation course, or pathway course) will need to take a SELT to receive the UK Student Visa.

A sufficient score on the SELT is considered a guarantee that incoming international students will be able to integrate into the community and be able to study in the UK. IELTS and Trinity College London are the few exam boards recognized by UKVI as SELT providers.

The SELT by IELTS is called the IELTS Life Skills or 'IELTS for UKVI'. The IELTS Life Skills test requires you to demonstrate your speaking and listening skills only at level A1 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). A pass/fail result will determine if you meet the necessary English language level.



Not everyone applying for the UK Study Visa (also known as the Tier 4 General Student Visa) needs to pass the SELT.

Here is a list of student categories that do not need to take a SELT:

  • International students coming from inside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland who does not need a UK Study Visa.
  • Non-EU international students who have been admitted studying a higher degree (at Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D. level).
  • Internationals coming to the UK just to learn English for a period of under 11 months.
  • Students under 18-years old, coming to the UK on a Tier 4 Child Student Visa.
  • Students who have studied for at least 6 months in the UK in the past 2 years.
  • Students coming from an English-speaking country outside the EU.


From June 2020 onwards, international students (and other citizens) who need a UK visa can also take one of Pearson's English Tests to meet the visa requirements established by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).


Different PTE tests and levels are required based on the type of visa you need. Still, international students need to pass either PTE Academic or PTE Academic UKVI:

  • study visa: PTE Academic or PTE Academic UKVI
  • work visa: PTE Academic UKVI or PTE Home A1
  • family visa: PTE Home A1 and A2
  • settlement visa: PTE Home B2


Alternative tests to it

Not having to take a SELT does not mean you will not have to take any English language test to come and study in the UK. English language proficiency is a requirement for university admission, and universities will require other English test scores (such as IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT, C1 Advanced, PTE Academic).


To be noted, that most of the Universities will no longer consider a Duolingo test, for general September 2021 entry and applicants will require a qualification from the above list, but they might consider an English language qualification from your country. The type of English test required and score band will depend on the University or College you apply to, the courses you apply and if you are living or not in the UK, it is advised to research on their website and contact them for more information.


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