IELTS Life Skills B1 Test Guide for 2021

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We discuss this in detail in our Partner & Spouse visa Coronavirus (COVID-19) update.

In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about the IELTS Life Skills B1 test, including:

  • Do you have to take the IELTS Life Skills B1 Test?
  • What level IELTS Life Skills Test do you have to take?
  • Should you take the IELTS Life Skills B1 Test or another test?
  • What happens in the IELT Life Skills B1 exam?
  • How do you best prepare for the B1 IELTS Life Skills Test?
  • How do you book the B1 IELTS Life Skills Test?
  • What happens after the B1 IELTS Life Skills exam?

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What is the IELTS Life Skills B1 Test?

The IELTS Life Skills B1 test is designed for those who want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and/or British citizenship.

It is on the list of Home Office approved Secure English language tests.

The IELTS Life Skills B1 test costs £150. 

It assesses listening and speaking only and can be booked using this link.

part 1

Do you have to take the IELTS Life Skills Test?

Does everyone have to take the IELTS Life Skills Test?

No. Not everyone will be required to sit the test as some applicants (i.e. those applying for a visa) will be exempt.


Exemption #1 – Physical or mental disability

Those who have a medical condition, either physical or mental, may be exempt from the English language requirement.

In order to be exempt, applicants with a physical or mental disability will need to be professionally diagnosed in order to persuade the Home Office caseworker that it would not be reasonable for them to sit the English language test.

This gives people who are deaf, mute, or have a speech impediment a high probability of being granted exemption from the English language requirement.

It is important to note that not all medical conditions are automatically exempt – each case is decided on its own merits.


Exemption #2 – Age

Those who are above 65 years of age (or higher) on the date of application will be exempt from the English language requirement (and therefore will not have to sit the B1 exam).

In such a case, all that is required is the submission of a passport or travel document in order to satisfy the English language requirement.


Alternative #1: Being a Majority English-speaking National

Taking the IELTS Life Skills B1 test is not the only way to meet the English language requirement.

One of the alternatives is applicable to those who are nationals of a majority English-speaking country, as listed below:

  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Australia;
  • the Bahamas;
  • Barbados;
  • Belize;
  • Canada;
  • Dominica;
  • Grenada;
  • Guyana;
  • Jamaica;
  • Malta;
  • New Zealand;
  • St. Kitts and Nevis;
  • St. Lucia;
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
  • Trinidad and Tobago; and
  • the United States of America.

In this situation, the applicant’s passport or other travel document is all that is required to prove exemption.

If the applicant is unable to submit this document due to loss, theft, or other reasons, they can still prove your nationality by submitting the following documents:

  1. National identity document (if available)
  2. A letter from your country’s national government or Embassy which states your name, nationality, and date of birth.

Alternative #2: Relying on a degree level or above qualification that was taught in English

The other alternative to the B1 English language test is applicable to those who have an English-taught degree qualification (or above).

If the applicant’s degree or above level qualification was obtained from a UK university, then the requirement is met, as long as it is an academic (i.e. not vocational) degree.

If an academic degree or above level qualification was obtained from an educational institution in one of the following countries, then the applicant will also need to submit a statement from UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) that the qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK:

  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Australia;
  • the Bahamas;
  • Barbados;
  • Belize;
  • Dominica;
  • Grenada;
  • Guyana;
  • Ireland;
  • Jamaica;
  • Malta;
  • New Zealand;
  • St Kitts and Nevis;
  • St Lucia;
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines;
  • Trinidad and Tobago; and
  • the USA.

If the applicant’s academic degree or above level qualification was obtained from an education institution that is not featured in one of the above countries, then they will need to submit:

i) a statement from UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) that the qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK; AND

ii) a statement from UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) that the qualification was taught or researched in English at the required CEFR level or above.

part 2

Should you take the IELTS Life Skills B1 test or should you take another test?

If you are in the UK, partners generally choose from one of two tests, the Trinity GESE Grade 5 B1 test or the IELTS Life Skills B1 test.

Both tests assess speaking and listening and when passed, both satisfies the English language requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), British Citizenship, as well as UK partner and parent visas.


If you are are applying for limited leave to remain as a partner or parent

Partners and parents who want to apply for a UK spouse visa or parent visa should consider applying for an English test at B1 standard, rather than the minimum standard (A1 or A2, depending on whether they are applying for an extension or whether it is their first partner or parent visa).

This is because, if they take a Home Office approved English language test at B1 level for their partner visa application, they will normally be able to use the same English language certificate that they will get for passing the B1 test all the way up until they apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

This will obviously save both money and time.

Obviously, this question is only for those who already can demonstrate a good English language ability.

…but what level of English am I or my partner at?

The ‘A1’ standard is described as a ‘beginner’ level of speaking and listening whilst the ‘B1’ standard is described as ‘intermediate’.

To help things further, it is important to know what is required of you in order to pass the A1, A2, and B1 exams.


In order to pass the A1 Life Skills Test

#1 The applicant must be able to do the following:

  1. Listen and respond to spoken language, including questions, statements, simple narratives and single-step instructions.
  2. Talk with another person in a familiar situation about something that is familiar to both of you
  3. Communicate basic information, opinions and feelings on familiar topics

#2 In the A1 exam, the activities 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.

 

You can start watching the mock language exam at 3:50 of the video.

This link can also help you prepare for an A1 IELTS Life Skills test.


In order to pass the A2 Life Skills Test…

#1 The applicant must be able to do the following (in addition to what is required in the A1 test above):

  1. Compare
  2. Prioritise
  3. Plan
  4. Persuade

In this link, you can find a practice test document that will help you prepare for the IELTS Life Skills A2 exam.


In order to pass the B1 Life Skills Test…

#1 The applicant must be able to do the following (in addition to what is required in the A1 & A2 tests above):

  1. Show contrast, cause, reason or purpose
  2. Narrate
  3. Ask about past or future events
  4. Express future certainty or possibility

Here’s an example video of a B1 Speaking and Listening Test:

You can find a practice test document that will help you prepare for the IELTS Life Skills B1 exam here.

part 3

What happens in the IELTS Life Skills B1 exam?

It will be helpful for you if you already know the IELTS Life Skills B1 exam format before you take the test.

The IELTS Life Skills B1 exam lasts around 20 minutes.

You will take the exam with one other candidate.


Part 1 of the test – introduction

At the beginning, the examiner will ask you four questions:

  1. What is your name
  2. Can you spell it for me?
  3. Where do you come from?
  4. How long have you lived here?

These questions are the same in every exam. You can therefore prepare your answers for these beforehand.

The introduction should be used to warm up and to become as relaxed as possible.

Throughout the test, it is important to answer the questions using full sentences.

The examiner will then ask for you to give them your mark sheets.


Part 2 of the test – topic discussion

In this task the examiner will give you a topic.

You will then be expected to ask your partner questions about this topic.

You will also be expected to answer your partner’s questions about this topic.

The following is a typical task:

“Now you are going to ask each other some questions. I want you to find out from each other about something you do in your free time, and why you enjoy it. You have two minutes to talk to each other”.

Be careful – your job is not to talk about the topic – your job is to ask questions. Therefore, as soon as you answer a question, immediately ask a follow-up question.

Example

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like reading, going to the gym and cooking. What about you?

I am a big sports fan. I play football for a local team and I go to watch matches most weekend, too. Do you play any sports?

Keep asking and answering questions until the examiner stops you.

The examiner will then give you the instructions for the next task.


Part 3 of the test – presentation and questions

In this part of the test, you and your partner are given two different topics.

You have to talk about your topic for one and a half minutes.

After this, your partner will ask you three questions about what you said.

Once this has been done, your partner will talk about their topic in a similar way that you did.

Your job here will be to listen to them and then ask them three questions afterwards.

The listening section will be next.


Part 4 of the test – listening

In this part of the exam, you will listen to two short recordings.

After listening to the records, the examiner will ask you a multiple choice question about one of the recordings.

There will be three possible answers that you can choose from.

Once you have answered, you will then hear the recording again.

After hearing the recording, you will again be asked two more questions.


Part 5 of the test – planning

This is the part that IELTS Life Skills candidates most often have a problem with.

The examiner will say something like:

“Now you’re going to plan something together. I’d like you to imagine that you are organising a party for your friends.

First, talk together about where you should have the party and choose the one you think would be best”.

You will be given prompts like this:

  • in a restaurant?
  • in someone’s home?
  • in a bar or café?

Second, you will be asked to plan the event.

You will be given prompts like this:

  • What food and drink should there be?
  • How many people should there be?
  • What games or activities should there be?

Part 6 of the test – open discussion

In the last past of the IELTS Life skills B1 exam, the examiner will give you a more open topic that you will have to discuss for four minutes.

Example

Sample question

“We are going to talk together about food and cooking. Find out from each other what kind of food you like and what you can cook”.

There are two things that you should note.

Firstly, it is good to ask a lot of questions.

Secondly, since you will have much more time in previous activities, this will allow you to discuss your topics in more detail.

part 4

How do I book the IELTS Life Skills B1 exam?

Booking the IELTS Life Skills B1 exam is easy.

All you need to do is follow these steps below:

  1. To start, find a test location from this link and select “IELTS for UKVI and IELTS Life Skills” from the two options.
  2. Scroll down from the list of countries and select your country. Then, select “Find a test location”.
  3. Various test centers which are available in your country will be displayed. Select from the list and click “Book now”.
  4. You will then receive contact information of the testing center you chose. You also need to pay the exam fee during this step.

In order to use the online booking system, you will then be asked to create an account. Once you have it, process your booking.

What ID documents do I need to book the IELTS Life Skills B1 test?

Identity Document

Can this be used for tests taken in the UK?

Can this be used for tests taken outside the UK?

Passport

Yes

Yes

Biometric Residence permit

 

Note: These should only be used for tests taken in the UK if you do not have a valid passport

Yes

No

Valid photographic Government issued identity cards

No

Yes, but only in the country where the document was issued

Identity cards of EEA nationals and Swiss nationals

Yes

Yes, but only in the country where the document was issued

Travel documents, including:

 

Convention travel document 

· Stateless persons travel document 

· Certificates of Identity 

· Travel document issued by the United Nations 

· Travel documents issued by the International Red Cross 

· Emergency travel documents

 

Yes

Yes

Here are some important things that you should remind yourself before submitting these documents:

  1. Your documents must be original and valid. This means that documents that are expired will not be accepted. Photocopies will also not be accepted.
  2. Bring the document that you used when you booked the test online.

What document can I use if the Home Office have my passport?

If, when you apply for an IELTS Life Skills B1 exam, your passport is in possession of the Home Office, you can submit a valid EU identity card or a Biometric Residence Permit.

An alternative is to request your passport back from the Home Office if you do not have any of the above-mentioned documents.


What if there is no availability for test centre that I want to take the test at?

If there are no available slots for your chosen schedule, you can try checking other test centres that are close to you.

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