Home » What are the IELTS Life Skills tests?

What are the IELTS Life Skills tests?


What are the IELTS Life Skills tests?IELTS Life Skills is an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) that assesses your English speaking and listening skills at Level A1, A2 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The test is offered by the IELTS Partners – The British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

IELTS Life Skills is a test specifically designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes.

At the time of writing, the IELTS Life Skills test is approved by the UK government as the test to take if you are applying for the following types of UK visa:

  • family visa
  • extension to family, spouse or partner visa
  • indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.

There are three types (levels) of the IELTS Life Skills test

The three types of test are:

  • IELTS Life Skills – A1 Speaking and Listening.
  • IELTS Life Skills – A2 Speaking and Listening (offered in the UK only).
  • IELTS Life Skills – B1 Speaking and Listening.

The IELTS Life Skills test level you will need to take depends on the type of visa you are applying for.

At the time of writing, the UK government advises the following:

  • If you are applying to UK Visas and Immigration for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa – further leave to remain, choose Life Skills A1.
  • If you are applying to UK Visas and Immigration for a ‘family of a settled person’ extension visa, choose Life Skills A2.
  • If you are applying to UK Visas and Immigration for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship, choose Life Skills B1.

Before you register for a test and begin preparing, you must check on the UK Government website for the latest information about whether you need to take an approved test, what level you need to achieve, and which test will apply for your application.



IELTS Life Skills tests and the CEFR

IELTS Life Skills tests meet the standards for speaking and listening in English set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The tests will assess your ability to listen and respond, make your meaning clear, and hold a conversation with another person.

Each test corresponds to Level A1, A2 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – recognised guidelines for measuring language ability.


How are the tests structured and carried out?

You will take your IELTS Life Skills test face-to-face with an examiner and with one other test taker. You will be asked to take part in a structured conversation and must demonstrate that you can listen and respond to a number of tasks.

The tests have two main parts.

  • In the first part of the test, you will be expected to ask and answer questions on familiar topics.
  • The second part of the test is a combined Listening and Speaking task.

IELTS Life Skills test takers will need to complete a task played as a recording. You’ll be assessed on your ability to listen for both the general meaning and detail. You will say your answers, although you can make notes on paper while you listen to the recording.

You will be assessed on four key language skills. You will need to show you can do the following:

  • obtain information
  • convey information
  • speak to communicate
  • engage in discussion.

At times during the test, you will be allowed to take notes to prepare your answers. The examiner will not mark your notes – only your speaking and listening skills will be marked.

The tasks that you may need to complete in the Life Skills test are designed to reflect the sort of conversational English you’ll need for living in the UK.

You’ll need to show that you can talk about everyday subjects such as:

  • personal details/experiences
  • family and friends
  • buying goods
  • work
  • health
  • leisure
  • education/training
  • transport
  • housing

Note: For people taking the B1 level test, these is an additional task where you will plan an activity with the other test taker.


Taking the test with another test taker

IELTS Life Skills tests how well you can communicate with other people in everyday English. The best way to test these skills is to pair you with another candidate at a similar level of ability, so you can show how well you can use English to communicate and engage in discussion with others.

As part of test, you and the other test taker will be asked to discuss a theme related to what you have listened to on the recording.


How long does the test take?

IELTS Life Skills tests are completed in one short session, with a few minutes difference between each type:

  • A1 Speaking and Listening: 16 –18 minutes
  • A2 Speaking and Listening: 20 minutes
  • B1 Speaking and Listening: 22 minutes.


Finding a test centre

The tests are available in various parts of the world, in locations specified by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You must take the test at an approved test centre. The UKVI will not accept results from other testing locations.

You must confirm at the time of registration for your test that you wish to use your test result for a UK visa application, and make sure that you sit the test in an ‘IELTS for UKVI’ test session.

To find an approved test centre visit:



How many copies of the Test Report Form do test takers get?

You will receive one copy of the IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form.


How soon are the results available after the test?

Test results are normally available within seven days of your test.


How often is the test available?

For IELTS and IELTS Life Skills, test dates will be available within 28 days at permanent locations and quarterly at pop-up locations.


How often can the test be retaken?

For IELTS tests, there are no restrictions on retaking the test. For IELTS Life Skills, if you pass the test, you cannot retake it at the same level for a period of two years. If you do not pass it, there are no restrictions on retaking the test.


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