Is IELTS UKVI Harder To Pass?

Is IELTS UKVI harder than IELTS??

As a former IELTS examiner, I constantly get asked whether the IELTS UKVI test is hard to pass, and if the standard IELTS test is easier than UKVI IELTS?’ So, here’s my answer after teaching and testing thousands of students worldwide…

The UKVI IELTS test is as hard as the standard IELTS test. It follows the same format and the same procedure, there is no difference in the level of difficulty. However, recent research indicates that over 52% of IELTS test takers (both UKVI and standard IELTS) will not get the band score they need at the first attempt.

There are a variety of factors that can make both of these tests (IELTS UKVI and IELTS) harder or easier. Preparation time, previous experience, exposure to English language, and stress levels can all make the test appear harder, or easier depending on your individual situation.

Let’s see how difficult the IELTS UKVI or IELTS test will be for you.

How Difficult Is The UKVI IELTS Test On Average?

Recently, I conducted some research from users of this site. The table below shows the number of times these people had already taken the IELTS test and failed to get the score they needed.

Is IELTS UKVI Hard To Pass? Is IELTS UKVI Easier?

On average 52% of people had already taken the test at least once (some twice already) and not ‘passed’, according to the band score they wanted. In other words, half of all test takers have to do the test at least one more time.

If you look even closer though, you can see that over 10% of people had taken the IELTS test between 3-5 times and still not passed yet! If that’s you already, I feel genuine sorry for you and I hope this site can help you get the band score you need.

3% of people, according to my research results, have had to take the IELTS test between 6 and 15 times. Now, 3% does not sound like a big number but remember in 2019 3.5 million people took the IELTS test. That equates to 105,000 people who have already taken the IELTS test at least 6 times and not gotten the score they want yet.

So, if you want to know if the UKVI IELTS test, or the standard IELTS test is hard, if you ask any of those 105,000 people they will of course tell you it is super hard!

Obviously, they had not taken my course (check my course out here) because if they did they would have found it much easier and known exactly what to do in each part of the test.

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How Difficult Will The IELTS UKVI Be For You?

In my experience 4 important factors determine how difficult the IELTS test will be for a candidate.

Firstly, the length of time a student actually prepares specifically for the exam. The IELTS test is a high stakes pressured exam which follows a strict procedure. It does this so that it can ensure that is fair for all test takers.

However, this means that a student does need to know the format of the exam. Some of the things candidate should know are:

  • What are the different types of questions that they will face in each part of the test AND strategies to deal with those. 
  • How fast they need to read in the reading section.
  • How fast they need to write their essay.
  • How they are going to structure their essays for different question types.
  • What are they going to do with their preparation time in IELTS speaking part 2.
  • What are they going to say if they can’t think of a suitable response in speaking part 3.
  • How difficult will it be to listen and focus on understanding native speed English for over half an hour whilst reading questions and writing answers all at the same time.

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I could go on, but you get the idea, specific preparation is required so that you will not waste time in the exam considering how to do all of these things!

Secondly, what makes the IELTS test harder or easier is previous experience. The test will be far easier if you have had previous experience being interviewed in English by native speakers. If you have taken the test already and are more comfortable with the format and procedure now. If you have experience of dealing with stressful examinations in the past.

All this experience combined will help make the test easier or lack of will make it harder!

Thirdly, exposure to the English language. If you have lived abroad for an extended period of time in an English speaking country and lived and breathed English each day then the test will be far easier.

Similarly, if you have had to work with native English speakers closely for months at a time, or more, then you too will find the test easier. You might also have been lucky enough to go to an English speaking international school in your country as well, in which case you can expect the test to be not as difficult as well.

Finally, whether you can control your own stress levels will also determine how hard the test is for you. I know candidates often put a lot of pressure on themselves to get a certain band score for university, or immigration, or even to impress family and friends and the combined pressure of all this can make them overly anxious on test day. 

This is the last thing you want as just a few nerves can come across as lack of confidence in your own ability in the speaking test or it could take your focus away from the questions in the reading and listening sections.

At least in the writing section you have time to check your work which you absolutely must do as under pressure candidates often make ‘silly’ mistakes that they usually wouldn’t.

Only you will know your exact circumstances based on those above factors. So, only you can tell how hard the UKVI IELTS test will be for you. I strongly recommend though that you plan ahead. 

Start preparing early and make sure you have enough time and money to retake the test if needs be. Even though you won’t want to retake the test just knowing that that is an option can take a lot of pressure off you and help you perform better on test day. 

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What Is The Difference Between IELTS And UKVI IELTS?

At the beginning of the article, I said that IELTS and UKVI IELTS were the same, and they are, apart from a few minor differences. So, I just want to clarify those differences here.

The main difference you would notice is that the UKVI speaking test is video recorded. That’s right, there will be a video camera recording the entire time from the moment you walk in the door.

In theory, this means that a university or immigration officer could request to see the recording and check visually your level of English and your identification, so it is supposed to make the test more secure.

Also, there will be fewer candidates testing at the same time when compared to a UKVI test day. So there will be fewer students in the listening test room. The idea is that it will maintain a higher level of security.

The other main difference is that the certificate is slightly different. It features your CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) level. This is just another leveling system popular in Europe and is required for immigration purposes. In fact, UKVI stands for the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration department.

Good luck and remember, the IELTS test certificate expires after 2 years so make sure you take the test at the right time to suit your own individual needs. Don’t mess this up people! You might also like to read: How To Know If You Are Ready For IELTS?

Recommended IELTS Study Tools

Thank you for reading this article. I always get lots of questions about how else to get a better band score quickly. So, this is what I recommend:

Complete IELTS Course: Of course, my full course ‘INCREASE YOUR IELTS‘ covers everything you need to need to know to pass IELTS, including practice questions, model answers, grammar work, strategies for every possible reading, writing and listening question type, as well as a complete speaking course too, check it out here.

IELTS Essay and Speaking Feedback: To complete full mock tests and get feedback from IELTS examiners on your IELTS essays or speaking tasks then visit: IELTS Feedback and Mock Tests, here.

Improve your grammar fast by using the Grammarly suggestions to improve your writing. Every IELTS students should have this free grammar improving tool.

Improve all-round English skill with If you have failed IELTS more than once then you probably need to improve your general level of English. Use the free online lessons and vocabulary building tools here and start improving today! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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