Applying for a spouse visa in the United Kingdom requires a number of documents to be presented. One of these is an English proficiency certificate showing an individual’s level in using the English language. The United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has announced that all UK Spouse Visa applicants need to pass the IELTS Life Skills approved by the UKVI.

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What is the IELTS Life Skills?

IELTS Life skills is an English Language test offered by the IELTS Test Partners – British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. Speaking and listening skills are evaluated in the IELTS Life Skills examination. For UK Spouse Visa applicants, IELTS Life Skills A1 test is the requirement.

IELTS Life Skills candidates have to undergo a face-to-face speaking test and listening test. The candidate will be joined by the examiner and another test candidate. The tasks in the examination are designed to measure one’s English ability in everyday experience setting. Discussions can include the following:
  • Personal details and experiences
  • Family and friends
  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Health and lifestyle
  • Leisure
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Weather
Candidates in the IELTS Life Skills A1 test are expected to focus on the following:
  • Listen and respond to spoken language, including simple narratives, statements, questions, and single-step instructions
  • Communicate basic information, feelings and opinions on a given familiar topic
  • Talk with another candidate in a familiar situation about familiar topics
  • The tasks may include any of these:
  • 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
The test format

The test should be completed within 18 minutes. The tasks are divided into different phases.

Phase 1a
The examiner will select questions from a provided set of questions in a test pack.

Phase 1b
The examiner will ask the candidates to ask particular questions to each other. A preparation time is given. After, the candidates start giving their questions and responses.

Phase 2a
The candidates are going to listen to two recordings and answer some questions. Note-taking is allowed. The audio recording will be played and questions will be given by the examiner to both candidates.

Phase 2b
The examiner will ask the candidate to have a conversation about a topic related to the one they have just listened to. If necessary, prompt questions will be provided for candidates to stay on the topic.

What do IELTS Life Skills candidates need to do to prepare for this examination?
  • Build a strong vocabulary. The content of the responses are expressed well when the right vocabulary words are chosen. Make sure to use appropriate vocabulary that will suit in your sentences. 

  • Be exposed with the English language. Always find the opportunity to use the English language. These practices will help not only in developing your speaking skills but also gaining confidence in using the English language. 

  • Practice. Find someone you can talk English comfortably with. This could be someone you know who is good at English, or better yet, a speaking coach. You will learn from comments and feedback that will make your skills better for the test.