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To study in the UK you need to obtain a student visa, part of the Tier 4 category of visas. To be eligible, you need to prove you have a minimum level of proficiency in English. Find out how you could qualify...
The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is the guideline that sets out the different standards of English for international students.
Its scoring system ranges from level A1 (a basic ability to communicate and exchange information) to C2 (understanding almost everything heard or read, speaking fluently and constructing complex sentences and phrases).
The minimum requirement for international students who need a visa to study at or above degree level is the B2 level of proficiency.
The B2 level requires understanding of the main ideas of complex texts on concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their specialised field.
Students should be able to:
For more information, see Council of Europe - The Common European Framework in its Political and Educational Context .
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has created a list of approved secure English language tests (SELTs), which will help you to prove your level of English to universities.
Each test has a different grading structure, but they all correspond with the CEFR scoring system, so whichever test you take and whatever score you get, you will be able to check your CEFR level and whether it meets your visa and university requirements. You can find out how your chosen SELT is scored in relation to CEFR guidelines at Cambridge ESOL - Test Scoring .
This can be complicated, so make sure you take a look at the different SELTs available below, check how they're scored, and clarify exactly what level of English your chosen course and university requires.
The IELTS is the most commonly accepted test in the UK. There are two types of test to choose from:
Both are made up of four parts - speaking, reading, listening and writing - and the results are graded on the IELTS nine-band scale. A minimum average score of six or seven is usually required by universities.
To find your nearest test centre, visit IELTS Worldwide Search . Further information is available at IELTS (International English Language Testing System) .
This is a computer-based test of academic English, which is available throughout the year at secure test delivery centres around the world. Test takers receive an overall score and sub-scores for reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Most institutions will require a PTE Academic score in the range of 50-64. Some institutions may list a higher or lower score, depending on the course.
For more information, visit Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) .
Cambridge ESOL exams are accepted by almost all UK universities and colleges as proof of English language skills. They test real-life language skills and cover the four key skills: speaking; reading; listening; and writing.
They are accepted by the UKBA for student visa applications and you can also gain valuable UCAS tariff points that can be used when applying to UK universities. The exams can be taken in 2,500 centres in over 130 countries.
Trinity College London also offers ESOL qualifications that are accepted by both the UKBA and universities within the UK and internationally. The institution's Integrated Skills in English (ISE) exam is typically taken by those who want to prove their level of English for educational purposes and spans CEFR levels A2-C2. For more information, visit Trinity College - ESOL .
Most universities offer further languages support to students who have already been accepted onto courses. This is called English for Academic Purposes (EAP).
There are two main types of EAP in the UK:
All students whose first language is not English should contact their university's in-sessional support programme as soon as possible after arriving.
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