British Council offers expert advice on how to prepare for the Life Skills test. To ensure the best chance of meeting visa requirements, we advise test takers to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the test first. Use this page to find out everything you need to know about IELTS Life Skills tests, formats along with free access to preparation resources. 

IELTS Life Skills test format

There are 3 Life Skills tests available: 

  • IELTS Life Skills – A1 Speaking and Listening
  • IELTS Life Skills – A2 Speaking and Listening (Offered in the UK only)
  • IELTS Life Skills – B1 Speaking and Listening

Each test corresponds to Level A1, A2 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – the internally recognised guidelines for measuring language ability.

Life Skills tests have two main parts. In the first part of the test, you will be expected to ask and answer questions on familiar topics. The second part of the test is a combined Listening and Speaking task.

What will you have to do?

All Life Skills test takers will be asked to complete a task played on a CD. When you complete the task, you’ll be assessed on your ability to listen for both the general meaning and detail. You will say your answers, although you can make notes on paper while you listen to the CD.

Following this task, you will be asked to discuss a theme related to what you have listened to on the CD. 

For people taking IELTS Life Skills B1 level, these is an additional task where you will plan an activity with the other test taker.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed on four key language skills:

  • 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 will be marked.

Why do I take the test with another test taker?

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 you with another candidate at a similar level of ability, so you can show how well you can use English to communicate and engage in discussion with others.

How long does the test take? 

Life Skills tests are completed in one short session:

  • IELTS Life Skills - A1 Speaking and Listening: 16 –18 minutes
  • IELTS Life Skills - A2 Speaking and Listening: 20 minutes
  • IELTS Life Skills - B1 Speaking and Listening: 22 minutes.