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IELTS Vs UKVI: Which One Is For You?

UKVI vs ielts

When it comes to studying, working or migrating to the UK, mastering the English language is a mandatory application requirement. One of the most pertinent questions about applying for courses in the UK is, “What is the Difference Between IELTS Vs. UKVI exams?” While both evaluate the Big Four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, minor differences between the IELTS and IELTS for UKVI drastically impact the outcome. In this article, let us go through the difference between the two exams and unpack key contrasts around applicant eligibility, test venues, report formats and minimum band requirements while applying to study abroad in the UK.


Before getting into the difference between UKVI IELTS and IELTS exam, let us first understand what is UKVI IELTS. UKVI stands for United Kingdom Visa and Immigration. IELTS UKVI is the version of IELTS approved by the UK Home Office for UK visa applications. It has the same format, content and difficulty level as the regular IELTS exam, but is specifically designed to meet UK immigration requirements. What this means is that the students who are planning to study or immigrate to the UK might take UKVI IELTS to obtain their UK Student Visa. The test report indicates that the exam was taken at a designated UKVI approved test centre.

When you give the IELTS UKVI instead of the IELTS exam, the difference will be in the Test Report Form, which will indicate that the student has taken the exam at a centre approved for IELTS for UKVI. In addition, when a student takes the UKVI IELTS, they get the option to take a pre-sessional English course in case they fall short of the minimum course requirements at a University.

Is IELTS UKVI Harder than IELTS?

While the IELTS UKVI is often perceived to be more difficult than the regular IELTS exam, in reality both tests have the same level of difficulty as they assess identical language skills through the same modules and scoring patterns. While IELTS UKVI involves stricter identity verification in line with UKVI rules, the content and assessment structure remain unchanged. Both evaluate reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities to equivalent standards. Therefore, it would be incorrect to claim that IELTS UKVI is harder than the typical IELTS. The deciding factor between these exams is only one’s visa requirements rather than the difficulty level.

Get hold of the right IELTS Speaking Books to strengthen your speaking skills for the IELTS exam.

Benefits of IELTS UKVI

IELTS UKVI is specifically approved and accepted by the UK Visas and Immigration Office as proof of English language ability. It helps streamline the UK visa application process for candidates by fulfilling a mandatory requirement. The following are key benefits of taking the IELTS UKVI exam instead of IELTS – 

  1. Fulfilling the English language requirements for various UK visa categories like work, study or family extension visas makes candidates eligible.
  2. It can enhance UK visa approval chances as immigration authorities trust the score validity.
  3. For international students, it is a must for accepting offers from UK universities under Tier 4 study visa categories.
  4. Work visa aspirants find it useful for proving English skills to potential employers in the UK.
  5. Family members migrating to join relatives find it simpler to demonstrate proficiency in English.
  6. Retake options are available if needed, which allows multiple attempts to achieve the required scores.
  7. The approved test centres maintain standard protocols ensuring fair and transparent testing conditions.
  8. The UKVI IELTS prepares candidates to communicate effectively in real life situations in UK academic or workplace settings.

Taking IELTS UKVI provides flexibility and a dedicated path for immigration to the UK by fulfilling stringent English language requirements.

Types of UKVI Examinations

There are primarily three types of UKVI IELTS examinations – Academic, General Training and Life Skills (A1/A2/B1). Let us go through the details of each of these UKVI IELTS types –

Exam TypeDescription
IELTS UKVI AcademicThe IELTS UKVI Academic assesses English proficiency for UG or PG programmes in the UK. It tests whether the student’s communication skills are adept for the academic setting in the UK.
IELTS UKVI General TrainingThe General Training IELTS UKVI exam evaluates practical English skills required for work or everyday situations. It is suitable for work, migration and vocational training visa applications.
IELTS UKVI Life Skills A1This test evaluates basic conversational English speaking and listening skills. It is ideal for sports persons, company executives visiting the UK and family members on short term visas.
IELTS UKVI Life Skills A2The IELTS UKVI Life Skills A2 level assesses English speaking and listening at a higher elementary level. For those applying for extended family visas within the UK, this is an appropriate option.
IELTS UKVI Life Skills B1This test evaluates the students’ English language ability for permanent residency, citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Also go through IELTS Essay Topics to strengthen your preparation.

Difference Between General IELTS & UKVI IELTS

The IELTS and UKVI IELTS exams are exactly similar in terms of paper format, content, scoring and difficulty level. However, the difference is in the Test Report format and purpose for which the student is appearing for the test. The following are some of the major IELTS UKVI and IELTS differences –

ParameterGeneral IELTSIELTS UKVI
PurposeThe General IELTS is designed to prove English language proficiency for academic or professional purposes globally.The IELTS UKVI is specifically designed and approved by the UKVI to meet the language requirements for UK visa applications.
Test CentersCandidates can take General IELTS at any authorised IELTS test centre worldwide.Candidates must take the IELTS UKVI at a secure test venue approved by the UKVI to fulfil requirements.
RegistrationCandidates can register for General IELTS directly via the official IELTS website or through local test centres.Candidates need to register for IELTS UKVI via the official UKVI website or through designated UKVI approved test centres only.
Test FormatThe General IELTS is delivered through both computer-based and paper-based testing formats.The IELTS UKVI is mandated to be computer-delivered with additional biometric verification for identity.
Scores ValidityThere is no fixed time period for the validity of scores in General IELTS.The scores obtained in IELTS UKVI are only valid for 2 years from the date of exam for UK visa applications.
Test FeesThe fees for General IELTS are lower than IELTS UKVI due to lesser administration costs. The fees for the normal IELTS exam is Rs. 14,700/–.The fees charged for IELTS UKVI are higher as it covers expensive identity verification processes and security measures. The following are the fees for UKVI IELTS

Academic and General Training – Rs. 15,100
Life Skills – Rs.13,940
Identity CheckGeneral IELTS involves standard photo ID and biometric checks for verification.IELTS UKVI has stricter identity checks like live photo matching and iris scans to avoid frauds as per UKVI rules.
Test ResultsThe test report issued is the standard International IELTS Test Report Form.The IELTS UKVI issues a customised UKVI Test Report mentioning the approved test venue taken at.
AcceptabilityGeneral IELTS scores are accepted globally for all academic and occupational purposes.IELTS UKVI scores are only accepted by UKVI for UK visa and immigration application procedures.
Minimum ScoreThe minimum score requirements vary as per destination universities or assessment bodies.UKVI has set mandatory minimum individual band scores depending on different visa categories.

Difference Between IELTS Academic and UKVI

IELTS Academic and IELTS for UKVI (formerly known as IELTS General Training) are both versions of the IELTS exam but they differ in terms of their focus and application. 

AspectIELTS AcademicIELTS for UKVI
PurposeEntry into undergraduate or postgraduate courses in English-speaking universities.Apply for work, study, or family visas to live in the UK.
Content of ExamTasks are more academic-focused, assessing reading, writing, listening, and speaking at a higher level suitable for university studies.Tasks are designed to assess everyday English skills for non-academic situations in the UK.
Reading TasksIncludes texts from academic sources such as textbooks, journals, and articles.Includes texts related to everyday life scenarios like advertisements, notices, and newspapers.
Writing TasksEmphasises formal academic writing, such as essays and reports.Focuses on practical writing tasks like filling out forms, writing emails, or letters.
Listening TasksInvolves listening to lectures, discussions, and academic conversations.Involves listening to conversations, announcements, and everyday interactions.
Speaking TasksTopics revolve around academic subjects and personal experiences related to education.Topics cover general situations like hobbies, daily routines, and social interactions in the UK.
Test Validity Period for UK VisasValid for up to 2 years for UK visa applications.Valid for UK visa applications, but specific validity can vary based on visa type and requirements.

UKVI IELTS Score Required As Per Visa

The minimum IELTS UKVI scores required differ according to the UK visa being applied for. The following are the IELTS UKVI scores required for various visa types –

  1. For highly skilled roles under Tier 1 General visa, an applicant needs an overall band score of 7.0 with minimum 7.0 in each component. 
  2. Tier 1 visas for exceptional talent and entrepreneurs accept an overall 6.0 with no component band below 5.5. 
  3. The Tier 2 General work visa and Minister of Religion category require minimum scores of 6.0 overall and 5.5 in each component. 
  4. Those seeking work as sportspeople or applying under Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer need 4.0 overall with at least 3.5 in each section. 
  5. Most student visa applicants aiming for university degrees require an overall score of 6.0 with 5.5 in individual sections. 
  6. Students with pre-sessional English course offers can get away with lower scores. IELTS Life Skills tests are specified for dependent family visas – A1 for spouses/partners and A2 for family extensions. 
  7. Visa extensions and permanent residency under Tier 2 categories demand minimum scores of 7.0 overall and 6.5 in individual sections. 
  8. Those applying under the family visa route need scores above A1 and A2 levels depending on their circumstances. 

These mandatory score thresholds keep changing frequently so candidates must regularly check updated requirements.


Therefore, both IELTS and UKVI IELTS evaluate English proficiency for studying or immigration to the UK. However, IELTS UKVI has unique requirements since it aims to facilitate UK visa applications. Candidates must choose the right exam based on their purpose – IELTS UKVI for UK immigration and IELTS for other global academic/employment needs.


Q1. Is UKVI easier than IELTS?

No, both IELTS and IELTS UKVI have the same difficulty level as they follow the same format and assess the same language skills. The only difference is IELTS UKVI has additional identity checks.

Q2. Can UKVI IELTS be used for other countries?

No, the IELTS UKVI score is specifically validated for the purposes of UK visa applications. It may not be accepted universally outside the UK for other non-immigration purposes like higher education or jobs.

Q3. Is there any change in the pattern of IELTS and IELTS UKVI?

No, both exams follow the same pattern of assessing Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking skills. However, IELTS UKVI has stricter identity verification processes during online registration and at test centres.

Q4. What is the UKVI IELTS’s cost?

The cost of IELTS UKVI ranges from ₹13,940 for Life Skills to ₹15,100 for academic and general modules due to additional security features involved in the exam.

Q5. Can I get a UK student visa with a General IELTS test?

Yes, some UK universities may also accept General IELTS scores for admissions. However, for student visa applications, IELTS UKVI is mandated by the UK Home Office as proof of English.

Q6. What is the passing score for IELTS UKVI? 

The minimum overall IELTS UKVI score varies between 4.0 to 7.0 depending on the specific UK visa category applied under. Authorities have set individual band thresholds that need to be crossed as well.

Q7. What is the eligibility criterion for UKVI?

Eligibility depends on visa route but generally includes proper documents, maintained income & savings records, job offer/admission proof as applicable and meeting the language level set by UKVI IELTS.

1 thought on “Top PGDM Courses In Canada: Universities, Specialisations & Eligibility”

  1. I have done Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts from India and completed my graduation in the year 2022 .I am 22 years old. After graduation, I have done 1 year paid internship from USA .Now, I would like to take occupational experience and learn culinary skills and also do masters in Culinary arts.How can I find the college n best course / country where I can persue studying further

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UKVI vs ielts

IELTS Vs UKVI: Which One Is For You?

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