Which English test do I need to study at a UK university?
In the 2019-2020 academic year, UK universities hosted 13,725 Spanish students, according to data provided by the UK University Statistics Agency (HESA). The British Council, the UK organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, explains which English exams are recognized by the UK government so that those interested in studying at a higher education institution in the country can certify their level and , in this way, apply for the student visa which must be issued, since the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 1st.
As the British institution clarified, “The Secure English Tests (SELT) are the certifications that any Spanish student, or non-resident in the United Kingdom, must provide to prove that he has the level of English. required in the four language skills (listening and reading comprehension, speaking and writing) ”. So the first step for a Spaniard wishing to study in the UK is to check with the host university what language proficiency is needed to study the chosen study program.
SELT certifies the different levels of English in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and, in order for the results to be valid for the study visa application, the UK government establishes on this page which exams are , in which places are organized and which certification providers administer them. The British Council exam experts offer a brief exam and an explanation of each of the certification options available to Spanish students:
The IELTS Academic for UKVI is the exam offered by the IELTS SELT consortium, which includes the IDPs: IELTS Australia, Cambridge Assessment English and the British Council. In Spain, this exam is done by computer and in one session, which is held at the headquarters of the British Council in Madrid, the only authorized IELTS SELT center in the country. This exam is valid to accredit all CEFR English levels and consists of four components that separately assess each of the language skills (oral and written comprehension and oral and written expression). The format is therefore the same as that of a standard IELTS exam, and includes content at several levels, a level of difficulty, an oral interview with an examiner and a scale of nine scoring bands aligned with the CEFR. All UK universities accept IELTS to prove your level of English.
The LanguageCert International ESOL SELT is a specific level exam, with versions available for candidates who need to accredit the B2, C1 and C2 levels of the CEFR. This is done by computer at one of LanguageCerts’ two SELT centers approved for Spain. The “written” component assesses oral, written and written comprehension, while the “spoken” component examines oral expression separately. The two components can be carried out on the same day or with a maximum delay of 14 days between the two. The results include a mark for each of the four language skills assessed, and a final mark for the global exam, assimilated to the corresponding level of the CEFR.
The Pearson PTE Academic UKVI is a multi-level computerized test that assesses speaking and writing together in one component, while listening and reading are assessed separately in two other components. In Spain, this exam is offered at the Pearson Approved Center in Madrid. The results provide scores for the four language skills according to the Global Scale of English developed by Pearson; these are in turn aligned with the CEFR levels thanks to a correction system produced by artificial intelligence. It is a certification accepted by 98% of UK universities.
The PSI Skills for English UKVI is an on-demand, computer-based exam, and has B2, C1 and C2 versions for applicants who need to accredit these levels to study in the UK. Each of the four language skills is assessed separately through two components that the candidate must complete in one session. In Spain, the exam is offered at the accredited PSI center in Madrid. The results indicate pass or fail for each of the four skills, as well as an overall pass if all are passed.
Students who take their exam with one of the recognized providers will be given a reference number which they must use to submit their visa application and the results will be valid for a maximum period of two years from the date of issue.
The British Council makes the Study UK Guide available to anyone interested in studying in the UK. It details the new visa system, as well as scholarships offered by UK universities, the application process for a place or the differentiators of this educational model, among other aspects of interest to students, their families or educational advisers. .