IELTS Life Skills For UK VISA – Speaking and Listening

IELTS Life Skills is for people who need to show that their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1.

Before you register for your test you should check the English language requirements for your visa category.

Please visit Guidance on Applying for UK Visa – approved English language tests for more information.

What’s in the test?


IELTS Life Skills is available at two levels:

  • IELTS Life Skills – A1 Speaking and Listening
  • IELTS Life Skills – B1 Speaking and Listening

Face-to-face Speaking and Listening test

You 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 an English-speaking country. You 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

The focus of IELTS Life Skills

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

Focus: You 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
Focus: You 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 tasks shown above, the B1 tasks may include:
  • comparing
  • showing contrast, cause, reason or purpose
  • prioritising
  • planning
  • persuading
  • narrating
  • asking about past or future events
  • expressing future certainty or possibility

How to prepare

Preparing for IELTS Life Skills


How will I be assessed in the test?

You will be assessed on your ability in four key areas:

  • obtaining information
  • conveying information
  • speaking to communicate
  • engaging in discussion

At times during the test, you will be allowed to take notes to prepare your answers. The examiner will not mark your notes – only your speaking and listening skills are marked during the test.

At what level is IELTS Life Skills?

IELTS Life Skills is available at A1 and B1 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is an international standard used around the world to describe learners’ language skills.

What happen during the test?

There are two main parts to IELTS Life Skills:

  • In the first part, you are expected to ask and answer questions on familiar topics.
  • The second part is a combined listening and speaking task.
    • At A1 and B1 level, you will listen to a task played on a CD.
    • Completing the task allows you to show your ability to listen for both the general meaning and detail.
    • You will say your answers, although you can makes notes on paper while you listen to the CD.
    • There will then be a discussion on a theme related to what you have listened to on the CD.
  • Additionally at B1 level, there is also a task where you plan an activity with the other candidate.

Why do I take the test with another candidate?

IELTS Life Skills tests how well you can communicate with other people in everyday English. The best way to test these skills is to pair test takers at a similar level of ability, so you can show how well you can speak English to communicate and engage in discussion with others.

How long is the test?

For IELTS Life Skills, you only need to attend one short session to complete the test. The times allowed for each level are:

  • IELTS Life Skills – A1 Speaking and Listening

16–18 minutes

  • IELTS Life Skills – B1 Speaking and Listening

22 minutes.

Test dates

Test dates for IELTS Life Skills

To find a suitable test date and register for an IELTS Life Skills test, please visit here


Results for IELTS Life Skills tests

Test results are normally available within seven (7) days of your test.

You will get one of two results:

  • Pass
  • Fail

A fail result means that you have not been successful and your test cannot be used for your visa application