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 check your language and academic skills

Most courses demand high standards of language skills. That's why they ask international students to take an English language test – to make sure they can cope and complete their course.

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 test should I take?

Universities usually state which test they prefer, the minimum overall grade they expect, and the specific grades they require in writing, speaking, listening, and reading. These are the most commonly required English tests – which are accepted and respected by most countries and course providers around the world, including UK immigration.

  1. IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  2. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  3. PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)
  4. Cambridge English Advanced

How can I prepare for the English language test?

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

Know what to expect in the test and how it's 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.

Chat to students studying at UK universities

Want to speak to international students currently studying in the UK and find out what moving to the UK and studying at a UK uni is like?

Chat to international students

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.

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.

Practise reading English newspapers and websites

To be comfortable reading through long articles for the reading section of the test, read about topics you have an interest in to help strengthen your skills.

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.

Spend time with native English speakers

If you can, there's no better way to help with test preparation. There are services where you can chat online with a native speaker and practise your skills before the test. If this isn’t possible, try English YouTubers, podcasters, and 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.

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