IELTS Life Skills

Helping people demonstrate their speaking and listening skills in order to meet UK Visa and Immigration requirements.


IELTS Life Skills is an English test for applicants who need to prove their speaking and listening skills at levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The test is included on the UK Home Office list of Secure English Language Tests (SELT) and is available to take both in the UK and internationally.

How does IELTS Life Skills work?

Applicants will take the test with an examiner, and with one other test taker.

The tasks in IELTS Life Skills are designed to reflect the everyday experience of communicating in a country where English is spoken. Test takers will be expected to take part in short discussions on everyday subjects including:

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

There are three available levels of the test, assessed at the levels of the CEFR.

IELTS and CEFR comparison Common European Framework Reference (CEFR)

IELTS Life Skills A1: to prove English proficiency as part of an application to UK Visas and Immigration for visas that are for the ‘family of a settled person’.

IELTS Life Skills A2: to prove English proficiency as part of an application to UK Visas and Immigration for a visa that is for ‘extension to a family, spouse or partner’. (The A2-level English Life Skills test is only offered in the UK.)

IELTS Life Skills B1: to prove English proficiency as part of an application to UK Visas and Immigration for ‘citizenship or indefinite leave to remain’.

At each level, the test is designed to assess whether someone can listen and respond, make their meaning clear, and talk with other people.

Find out about other IELTS tests

Woman at sunset

IELTS Life Skills CEFR level A1

UK Visas and Immigration for visas that are for the ‘family of a settled person’

For level A1, test takers will be expected to:

  • listen and respond to spoken language, including simple narratives, statements, questions and single-step instructions
  • communicate basic information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics
  • talk with another person in a familiar situation about familiar topics.

Tasks may include:

  • describing
  • giving opinions
  • giving personal information
  • stating preferences
  • commenting
  • asking for information or descriptions
  • agreeing and disagreeing
  • explaining, giving reasons or justifying
  • deciding
  • suggesting
  • selecting.

Woman reading in library

IELTS Life Skills CEFR level A2

UK Visas and Immigration for a visa that is for ‘extension to a family, spouse or partner’

For level A2, test takers will be expected to:

  • listen and respond to spoken language, including straightforward information, short narratives, explanations and instructions
  • communicate information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics
  • talk with one or more people in a familiar situation, to establish shared understanding about familiar topics.

In addition to the A1 tasks shown above, the A2 tasks may include:

  • comparing
  • prioritising
  • planning
  • persuading.

Man smiling

IELTS Life Skills CEFR level B1

UK Visas and Immigration for ‘citizenship or indefinite leave to remain’

For level B1, test takers will be expected to:

  • listen and respond to spoken language, including straightforward information and narratives, and follow straightforward explanations and instructions
  • communicate information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics, using appropriate formality
  • talk with one or more people in a familiar situation, making relevant points and responding to what others say to reach a shared understanding about familiar topics.

In addition to the A1 and A2 tasks shown above, the B1 tasks may include:

  • showing contrast, cause, reason or purpose
  • narrating
  • asking about past or future events
  • expressing future certainty or possibility.

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