English proficiency test
If you’re planning on living, working or studying in the United Kingdom, it’s important to take an English language test to show that you’re capable of speaking and understanding the English language.
If you want to study abroad in the UK, you only need to prove that you can speak and understand English through a test. However, in order to be fully naturalised as a British citizen, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 states that you must also pass the “Life in the UK test”. This is a computer-based English test that contains 24 questions covering topics such as British values, history, traditions and everyday life. While there are some language questions in the “Life in the UK test”, many of the questions will be related to the history of the UK and modern values.
Indefinite Leave to Remain versus British Citizenship
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British Citizenship are two different classifications. ILR gives you the ability to live, work and study in the United Kingdom without being subject to UK immigration controls. This means you can enter and exit the country at will. Applying for ILR involves several different requirements including a sufficient level of English.
Once you have gained ILR status, you can apply for British citizenship, also known as naturalisation. This gives you the right to obtain a British passport and you’ll be given the full rights of a UK citizen. You must have held ILR status for at least a year before applying for British Citizenship and you will need to pass the British Citizenship English test.
Do I need to study for the British citizenship test?
The Life in the UK test requires a fairly good understanding of the English language. However, it’s only required for people that want to become a British citizen. If you only wish to study or work in the UK, then you do not need to pass this test.
If you do plan on becoming a British citizen, then you should consider obtaining the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test. This is a helpful book that will help you prepare for the test by explaining British values, history and traditions. You can also study this book as an eBook or in audio formats. Since the test will be mainly focused on British traditions and customs, it’s a good idea to experience life in Britain for some time to help you understand the different concepts in the book.
How do I prove my understanding of English?
To prove your understanding of the English language, you’ll need to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) which is considered by UK Visas and Immigration as official English exam and proof of your English language level. Whether you want to study, work or live in the UK, you need to take and pass a SELT to receive a visa that allows you to stay in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the SELT is to ensure that candidates are able to integrate into the community.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard that is used to describe proficiency in a language. The SELT follows this framework and grades your English ability as:
- A1 – Beginner
- A2 – Elementary
- B1 – Intermediate
- B2 – Upper-Intermediate
- C1 – Proficient
- C2 – Mastery
Depending on the visa you wish to acquire or how you want to remain in the UK, you’ll need to pass the correct SELT test.
For example, C2 proficiency is only required if you wish to study in a high-level academic environment such as a postgraduate or PhD programme.
However, if you only wish to study in the UK, you can start with just a B1 whereas some institutes may require a B2. If you want to enter the UK as a sportsperson or have a spouse or partner in the UK, then an A1 level is required. For indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, you’ll need to have a B1.
Prepare with an online UK visa SELT exam preparation course
If you’re looking to live, work or study in the UK and need to take a SELT, consider applying to the SELT preparation course offered by Oxford International English Schools. This course involves 5-hour online preparation courses that are tailored to your visa application, CEFR, language skill and SELT examination type. They will help you assess your English level and check if you’re already able to pass the exam. The course involves mock tests and information on how the examinations work.
Students on our UK SELT preparation course can book their LanguageCert SELT exam through Oxford International English Schools and will receive a 10% discount off the cost of their exam booking.
Visit the LanguageCert website to locate your nearest SELT testing centre and see where you can take the test.