What level of English do I need to get into a UK university?

If you want to study in the UK and English isn’t your first language, you’ll be required to take an English language test. Here is how to prepare and excel in meeting UK university entry requirements.

Do I need to take an English language test?

Universities want to know that you have the language and academic skills to cope and complete your course. Most courses demand high standards of language skills, which is why they ask international students to take an English language test.

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.

Check the entry requirements with the university – their international admission office will be happy to help you find out the exact qualifications you need.

Which English language test should I take?

Universities will usually state which test they prefer, the minimum overall grade they expect, and the grades they require in writing, speaking, listening, and reading.

IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic and Cambridge English Advanced are the most commonly demanded English tests.

These English language tests are accepted and respected by most countries and course providers around the world, including UK immigration.

IELTS is one of the most recognised English language tests around the world. The IELTS Academic test is generally the most recommended if you want to study an undergraduate or postgraduate course at a UK university.

TOEFL is another of the world’s most recognised English language tests. It shows your potential university how well you can communicate in English at undergraduate level. You can take the test online.

How can I prepare for the English language test?

Most English language tests have information on how the they are structured on their websites.

Make sure you fully understand what to expect in the test and how it will be marked – this will make you feel more confident and you’ll know how to prepare for it. When you are doing mock test papers, try to do them within the time limits of the actual exam.  

You can easily find sample test materials online. These will help you prepare for the test and give you an idea of what to expect in the listening, reading, speaking, and writing tests.

What should I do apart from studying to improve my English?

Doing well in an English language test will take more than just reading the textbooks and trying to memorise the answers. Yes, these are important, but there are other more fun things you can do to help improve your English.

One way to expose yourself with English speakers from around the world is to watch TV and films in English. This is especially useful to the listening parts of the test, where you will need to be familiar with a range of accents. Watch the subtitles in English to help with all areas of English.

To be comfortable reading through long articles for the reading section, practise reading English newspapers and websites. Read about topics you have an interest in to help strengthen your skills in a fun way.

Should I take a preparation course?

If you are worried you won’t meet the entry requirements, there are IELTS centres and language schools around the world that offer preparation courses. You don’t have to attend one, but many students find it helpful.

There is no better way to help with test preparation than to spend time with native English speakers, if you can. There are services where you can chat online with a native speaker and practise your skills before the big day. If this isn’t possible, watch English YouTubers, listen to English podcasters, and watch English TV to surround yourself with native speakers.

With a little preparation and understanding of what the requirements are, anyone should be able to master their entry requirement test.

Start your search now

Get your UCAS Hub

Your place to discover your options and research your future.

Sign up today