SELT English Exams for UKVI: A Guide for Learners

Do you have to take a SELT English test for your visa to work or study in the UK? If this is the case, you should keep reading. We will try to answer as many questions as possible about SELT exams.

Please note that all information is correct at the time of writing and to the best of our knowledge. Please always check with the UK Government website before booking your exam.

Overview

  1. What is SELT?
  2. Why do I need a SELT English test?
  3. Where can I take the test?
  4. What is the Exam like?
  5. How can I book a SELT English test?
  6. How many times can I take the test?
  7. How can I prepare for the exam?
  8. What is the difference between SELT and IELTS?
  9. Overview of different SELT tests and booking options

What is SELT?

A SELT English test is an official exam by the UK government to test your level of English. SELT stands for ‘Secure English Language Test’ and it examines your skills in understanding and communicating in English. SELT refers to a number of official English language tests that will be accepted by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as proof of your level of English when applying for a visa, British Citizenship, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or a visa extention.

There are different SELT exams that test different levels of English from A1 (Beginner) to C2 (Proficient) level.
There are four different providers which offer SELT exams within the UK. These are:

Some of these names might sound familiar to you while others don’t, but all of them provide official SELT exams you can take to prove your level of English.

Why do I need a SELT English test?

You need to do a SELT English test if you would like to apply for some visas, British Citizenship, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.

However, you might be exempt from sitting a SELT exam. Some people do not have to take a SELT test, based on their nationality, their previous studies, or their current visa. If you click here, you will be directed to a list of exemptions on the UK government website. If you came to the UK as an EU Citizen before Brexit and were able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will not need a visa to stay in the UK.

The first thing you should always do when applying for a visa is to find out about the level of English required for the visa you need. We collected all the important information for you in the following table:

What level exam do I need to take?

Visa TypeEnglish Level and
Test Components
Exam Options
Join Family VisaA1
speaking & listening
see options
Representative of an
Overseas Business Visa
A1
speaking & listening
see options
Sportsperson VisaA1
speaking & listening
see options
Further Leave to Remain
(as a partner or parent)
A1
speaking & listening
see options
Further Leave to Remain
(visa extention)
A2
speaking & listening
see options
Indefinite Leave to Remain
(Settlement or Permanent Residency)
B1
speaking & listening
see options
British Citizenship (Naturalisation)B1
speaking and listening
see options
Skilled Worker VisaB1
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see options
Health & Care Worker VisaB1
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see options
Minister of Religion VisaB2
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see options
Innovator VisaB2
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see options
Start-up VisaB2
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see options
Student Visa (below degree level)
(UKVI requires B1 but some institutions
require B2)
B1/B2
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see B1 options
see B2 options
Student Visa (degree level and above)
(UKVI requires B2 but some institutions
require C1)
B2/C1
reading, writing, speaking, listening
see B2 options
see C1 options
Note that all information is correct at the time of publishing.

Where can I take the test?

You need to sit the exam at approved test locations. There are locations all over the UK, where you can go to take the test. Most of the providers have test locations in every major city. But be aware that you might need to travel to get to the nearest test location, depending on where in the UK you are living.

You might now wonder if you have to travel to the UK to sit the exam. The answer to that is no! There are test locations all over the world, although not in every country. Once you have decided on an exam, you can check on the website of the provider if there is a test location in the country you are living in. There might not be, which means you may have to travel to another country to take the test.

Either way, keep in mind that this is an official exam by the UK government. This means even if you are doing the exam in the UK, you can not do it in your language school, but you have to travel to an official SELT test location! There are 72 test centres within the UK and more than 900 worldwide. You can find a list of all of these locations, including the addresses and the name of the provider it belongs to, on the UK government website.

What is the exam like?

There are two different types of exams. Which type of exam you must sit depends on which visa you need. This can vary depending on what you intend to do once you are in the UK. For instance, the SELT test that you need to take if you would like to study in the UK differs from the one you will need to do if you want to apply for ILR. In general, it is a standardised test to measure your level of English. There are SELT tests for every level of English, from A1 to C2.

So, what are the two different types of SELT English tests?

One of them is an exam that tests your listening and speaking skills in English. This type of exam is used to prove English levels from A1 to B1. Both communication skills will usually be tested by interacting with an examiner.

The other type is an exam that tests your listening and speaking skills along with your reading and writing skills. You will need to take this test if you are planning on applying for a visa that requires an English level from B1 to C2.

But be careful – there are SELT exams of both types for B1 visas, depending on which visa you need. Visas for ILR as well as for British Citizenship only require a SELT English test that includes listening and speaking, but you need to prove your level of English in listening, reading, writing and speaking to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa or a Health & Care Worker Visa.

Also, there may be some differences between the exams by different providers regarding the style of the test. Some of these differences might be the size of the group (you can either sit the exam alone or together with other students), the length of the test or the composition of the exam (some are formed out of two parts, some consist of four or more parts etc).

How can I book a SELT English test?

When booking the exam, make sure that the test you want to book is approved for SELT. There are different websites where you can book your exam, but you can also book it on the homepage of each of the test providers. See the table below to get an overview of different SELT English tests and exam booking options.

Keep in mind that it may take some time to get an appointment for the SELT exam. You should get an appointment within 28 days but it may as well take a bit longer. Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and book the exam as early as possible in advance. You will always have to select the country and city where you would like to sit the exam when booking a SELT English test. Make sure you will be able to travel to the test location nearest to you before booking the exam.

It is also important to always check which specific documents you will have to bring for identification purposes. This might also vary depending on where you sit the exam. You will find some information on accepted ID documents on the UK government portal as well as on the websites of the test providers.

How many times can I take the test?

When preparing for the SELT English test you might be interested in knowing if you can only take this test once. This is not the case. In fact, there is no restriction on how often you can sit a SELT exam. This means you can sit the exam as often as you want to or need to. However, it will cost you time and money to resit the exam, so you should make sure that you get enough practice before taking the test.

How can I prepare for the exam?

There are always different ways to prepare for the exam. You can find many exercises on the internet and on YouTube, where you can see example videos of the exam.

The key to passing the exam is practice! Try to practise your communication skills as often as possible with a partner. You can also try to read English texts, for example in a magazine, or watch some films in English. However, you should not only check your level of English (which you can do here) but also be familiar with the exam format to avoid unpleasant surprises during the exam.

Ways to prepare your exam

If you are thinking about taking a SELT B1 Listening and Speaking exam, have a look at our GESE 5 Exam Preparation course. It is an online course, so you don’t have to be in Edinburgh to join the lessons. Here we help you to prepare both parts of the Trinity GESE 5 exam. You will also receive feedback from one of our teachers after completing the exercises.

We also offer face-to-face courses for IELTS Academic at our school in Edinburgh. These will help you preparing for the IELTS for UKVI exam (but not for the IELTS Life Skills exam!). IELTS for UKVI is an Exam by IELTS SELT Consortium that tests your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in English. Depending on your point score in the exam you will be given proof of your level of English from B1 to C2 level. If you would like to learn more about IELTS Academic and the score you will need you can click here to check out our Complete Guide to Academic IELTS.

If you are planning on taking a different test and you don’t feel confident enough about your level of English yet, you can also book a private online class with one of our teachers. You will get a chance to practise the exam and receive feedback on your performance.

What is the difference between SELT English Test and IELTS?

IELTS means ‘International English Language Testing System’. It is a testing system by the British Council to test your level of English. IELTS exams are often used for people immigrating to another country or university admissions for those wo already have the right to study in the UK. The difference between IELTS and SELT exams is that IELTS tests are not necessarily accepted by the British government as proof of your level of English. SELT, as mentioned before, is an exam that is approved by the British Home Office.

IELTS for UKVI, on the other hand, is a SELT test. This exam has the exact same format as the ‘normal’ IELTS test but it is approved by the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI). It is also taken at a different test location than the normal IELTS exams. IELTS for UKVI is a listening, reading, writing and speaking exam used to prove different English levels from B1 to C2. There is another IELTS exam that the UK government will accept as valid evidence for your level of English, which is the IELTS Life Skills. This exam has a different format than the ‘normal’ IELTS or IELTS for UKVI and it tests your listening and speaking skills at English levels from A1 to B1.

Overview of different SELT English tests and booking options

SELT A1 Speaking and Listening Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonGESE Grade 2book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS Life Skills – A1
(Speaking & Listening)
book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational
ESOL SELT A1
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Home A1book exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI A1
(2 component)
book exam here

SELT A2 Speaking and Listening Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonGESE Grade 3book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS Life Skills – A2
(Speaking & Listening)
book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational
ESOL SELT A2
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Home A2book exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI A2
(2 component)
book exam here

SELT B1 Speaking and Listening Exams

Click here for a detailed comparison of the different B1 speaking and listening exams and choose the best one for you!

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonGESE Grade 5book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS Life Skills – B1
Speaking & Listening
book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCert International ESOL SELT B1
(Speaking & Listening)
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Home B1book exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI B1
(2 component)
book exam here

SELT B1 Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonIntegrated Skills in English I (ISE I)book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS for UKVI (minimum score 4.0 in each part)book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational ESOL SELT B1
(Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking)
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Academic UKVIbook exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI B1
(4 component)
book exam here

SELT B2 Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
Inside UKTrinity College LondonIntegrated Skills in English II (ISE II)book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS for UKVI (minimum score 5.5 in each part)book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational ESOL SELT B2
(Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking)
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Academic UKVIbook exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI B2
(4 component)
book exam here

SELT C1 Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonIntegrated Skills in English III (ISE III)book exam here
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS for UKVI (minimum score 7.0 in each part)book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational ESOL SELT C1
(Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking)
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Academic UKVIbook exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI C1
(4 component)
book exam here

SELT C2 Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking Exams

Where?Test ProviderExam Name
UKTrinity College LondonIntegrated Skills in English IV (ISE IV)email
selt@trinitycollege.co.uk
for more information
UK & OverseasIELTS SELT ConsortiumIELTS for UKVI (minimum score 8.5 in each part)book exam here
UK & OverseasLanguageCertInternational ESOL SELT C2
(Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking)
book exam here
UK & OverseasPearsonPTE Academic UKVIbook exam here
OverseasPSI Service (UK) LtdSkills for English UKVI C2
(4 component)
book exam here

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