Everything you need to know about IELTS Life Skills tests A1, A2 and B1.
What is IELTS Life Skills? What is it for?
IELTS Life Skills is an English language test offered by the IELTS Partners – The British Council (The United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities), IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.
IELTS Life Skills is a test of Speaking and Listening and is available at CEFR Levels A1, A2 and B2. IELTS Life Skills is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes. Your IELTS Life Skills results could help you obtain a visa to the UK if you also meet additional criteria.
There are 3 Life Skills tests available:
- 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
Each IELTS Life Skills test corresponds to Level A1, A2 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – the internally recognised guidelines for measuring language ability.
You should use the UK Government visa checklist to find out whether you need to take an IELTS Life Skills approved test, what level you need to achieve, and which test you can use. Different types of UK visas have different requirements, including requirements for people extending UK visas while already in the UK.
The important thing to remember is that if you want to apply for certain visa categories including an indefinite leave to remain UK visa, or for citizenship, you must sit the B1 test. Also remember that while the IELTS Life Skills test is available at different UKVI-approved centres around the world, the A2 IELTS Life Skills test is ONLY available in the UK, for people already in the UK applying for an extension visa, or further leave to remain.
You can use free sample tests from several different sources to prepare for the test, with free test samples and practice papers for every level.
While the format of the tests are similar, there are different levels of challenge.
This is a typical speaking task question for IELTS Life Skills A1.
________________ (Candidate A), I’d like you to ask _____________ (Candidate B) about his/her neighbours. _______________ (Candidate B), I’d like you to ask ____________ (Candidate A) about his/her favourite time of year.
This is a typical question for IELTS Life Skills B1.
_________________ (Candidate A), you’re going to tell _______________ (Candidate B) about the kinds of things that make you laugh and the people who make you laugh. _________________ (Candidate B), you’re going to tell _______________ (Candidate A) about something you’d like to be good at and why you’d like to be good at it.
As you can see, while they are both about everyday subjects appropriate for life in an English speaking country, B1 questions are more complex.
What is the difference between IELTS Life Skills A1, A2 and IELTS Life Skills B1?
A1 is the very basic level, A2 is equivalent to IELTS 3.5. B1 is the higher level and roughly equivalent to a 4.0-5.0 IELTS Academic score.
The level you choose depends on the type of visa you want to get:
IELTS Life Skills A1 – This will prove your English speaking and listening skills as part of your application to UK Visas and Immigration for further leave to remain.
IELTS Life Skills A2 This will prove your English speaking and listening skills as part of your application to UK Visas and Immigration for further leave to remain (extension visa).
IELTS Life Skills B1 This will prove your English speaking and listening life skills as part of your application to UK Visas and Immigration for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.
What is the format of the IELTS Life Skills test and how is IELTS Life Skills assessed??
The new IELTS Life Skills test has been designed to meet specific immigration requirements for which applicants only need to demonstrate speaking and listening skills, not reading and writing.
You take the IELTS Life Skills tests with another test taker and one examiner. Your own performance on both Speaking and Listening will be assessed during this one session.
The Life Skills tests are not very long and will assess the speaking and listening skills of two test-takers at a time.
IELTS Life Skills at CEFR Level A1 takes 16–18 minutes, IELTS Life Skills at CEFR Level A2 takes no more than 20 minutes and Level B1 is 22 minutes. There is no break between speaking and listening components as test-takers will be assessed on both skills at the same time.
A certificated IELTS examiner will assess your performance throughout the English language Speaking and Listening test based on the following criteria:
- obtaining information
- conveying information
- speaking to communicate
- engaging in discussion.
Speaking skills – What if one test-taker speaks better than the other? Don’t worry. The performance of the other test taker paired with you in the IELTS Life Skills test will not affect the assessment of your own performance, so don’t worry if the other test taker seems to do better or worse than you in face to face speaking or listening ability.
Usually, your IELTS life skills test is marked quite quickly, and test results will be available within 7 days.
Does IELTS Life Skills test scores expire? Or, how often can I retake IELTS or IELTS Life Skills?
For all IELTS tests, your test results are valid for two years. However, there is an important difference. With the General Training IELTS test and Academic IELTS test, there are no restrictions on retaking the test. For IELTS Life Skills, if you pass the life skills test, you cannot retake it at the same level for a period of two years, so choose your test dates carefully to work with your visa application. If you do not pass it, there are no restrictions on retaking the test.
How long is IELTS Life Skills A1 valid for?
IELTS Life Skills A1 English language test is valid for two years. Remember that you cannot retake the test within the two year period. Similarly, B1 speaking and listening is valid for at least 2 years.