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IELTS Vs IELTS UKVI: Which One Is Right For You?

Understanding the Differences Between IELTS and IELTS UKVI

Universities and companies in countries like the UK, Australia, the USA, Canada and some European countries, where English is the main language of instruction, need the test as a way to verify that you can speak the language and perform successfully. Most universities in the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Australia and the US and a few European universities require this test as part of their admission process.

There are many different types of English language tests such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, Cambridge PTE,  IELTS and Duolingo.  Of these IELTS is among the most popular and widely accepted. But did you know that if you are applying to study in the UK, you need to choose between the standard IELTS test or IELTS UKVI test? 

Let’s examine these two different types of IELTS.

What is IELTS?

IELTS evaluates the candidate’s proficiency in English Language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. This test is jointly owned by the world’s leading language experts British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and IDP Foundation Australia. With the test being conducted separately by two official bodies – IDP and the British Council, students might have doubts about which one is better? There is no difference between the tests conducted by both these agencies and you can opt for any of these agencies for taking your test.

Who Takes IELTS and Why?

This test is for people who want to study, work and migrate to countries where English is a main language of communication. Popular countries that accept IELTS results as part of their university admission process are the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. The reason behind this is that the immigration authorities and the Universities want to make sure that the candidate doesn’t face any communication issues during his stay in their country.  Some universities don’t require these test scores for their admission process. But, it is recommended to take this test to increase your chances of visa approval.

You can read our IELTS deep dive here

Difference between IELTS and IELTS UKVI

Off late, there have been many cases of students complaining about a few universities not accepting their IELTS score, in spite of it being mentioned in the admission criteria on the university page. However, what many students failed to notice before applying and taking an IELTS test was that there is another IELTS test known as the IELTS for UKVI. 


In 2015, the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration (UKVI) made important changes to the Secured English Language Tests (SELT) for visa and immigration purposes. The notable changes are the introduction of IELTS UKVI and IELTS Life Skills tests. This reduced the number of accepted tests and made changes to the way the tests are conducted. 

IELTS UKVI test is the same as the regular IELTS test with a few changes in the way the test is conducted. The IELTS UKVI is conducted in key authorized locations around the world. While, the content, format, difficulty level and scoring remains the same, the Test Report Form (TRF) differs slightly. These test locations must follow the procedures specified by the UK government with more secured protocols while conducting the exam. Some of them have more CCTV surveillance and examiners, and fewer people taking the test on the same day. It also costs more than a regular IELTS exam. 

How much does the IELTS for UKVI test cost?

While the regular IELTS test costs around 13,250 INR, the IELTS for UKVI will cost about 18,500 INR.

Where are the test centers for IELTS UKVI?

There are a total of 11 cities in India where this test is conducted. The IELTS UKVI is conducted in the following Indian cities. 

Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Pune. 

Which IELTS test should I take?

If you are looking to study at a degree (Bachelors) level or above in the UK, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 study visa. In this case, you may take the regular IELTS test. However, make sure that the university you are applying to is part of the British Universities and Colleges of the Highly Trusted Sponsors (HTS) list. 

You will need to take the IELTS for UKVI under  the below scenarios:

  • If you are not applying for a Tier 4 study visa and are applying for any other visa required to get into the UK.
  • The university you have applied to is not part of the Highly Trusted Sponsors list
  • You are not applying for a degree or above level of studies abroad
  • The university specifically requests you for an IELTS UKVI score
Will my IELTS UKVI score be valid in other countries?

Yes, if you have taken the IELTS UKVI test, its score will be valid for universities, employers, and governments throughout the world. 

Which test do UK universities accept?

As mentioned above, if you are applying for a degree or above level, a regular IELTS test would be sufficient. You need to take the IELTS UKVI test only if the university is not listed in the Highly Trusted Sponsors list. 

Are there any other English language requirement alternatives to IELTS?

There are no other English language test alternatives to IELTS in the UK. However, the IELTS test can be ‘waived off’ if you secure more than 70% marks in 12th grade in the English language as a subject or the medium of instruction in your last 4 years of study is English. However, to check if you can receive this waiver, you will need to contact the university directly. Do note that, even if your IELTS test is waived off, you will need to have good English language communication to pass immigration after reaching the UK. 

What if I am not sure which IELTS to take?

If you are not sure whether to take the regular IELTS or the IELTS for UKVI, it is suggested to take the IELTS for UKVI test to be on the safe side. If other study abroad countries like Canada, Australia, etc are also an option, then please take the regular IELTS test. Our Student Support Team is always on standby to help you during your application process. 

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  • SoPs, LoRs, Resumes - proofreading, sharing samples, etc.
  • Information on Application Fee waivers, GRE / IELTS waivers, deadlines, etc.
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