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Approved tests and qualifications for English language ability


Birkbeck values our multi-lingual student body and encourages applications from speakers of all languages. We consider each application individually, so please make a case for your level of English language ability if you are a non-native speaker of English. We also offer an online pre-sessional academic English course for applicants who do not meet our English language entry requirements. 

Your English language ability is sufficient if you:

  • are a national of the UK or of a majority English-speaking country (see list below)
  • can show that you have an approved qualification, English language test or can demonstrate an equivalent proficiency (see below).

If you require a Student visa, you must meet different requirements specified by the Home Office.



  • Standard requirement: The majority of our programmes require applicants to demonstrate their proficiency in English to the level of IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each sub-test.

  • Higher requirement: Some linguistically demanding courses will require a higher score equivalent to IELTS 7.0 with 6.5 in each sub-test.


  • AS or A-Level in English Language or Literature (including Cambridge International A Levels)
    • Standard and higher requirement: C
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English
    • Standard requirement: 176 with 169 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 185 with 176 in each sub-test
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English
    • Standard requirement: 176 with 169 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 185 with 176 in each sub-test
  • Duolingo English Test (not available for applicants who require a Student visa)
    • Standard requirement: 120
    • Higher requirement: 140
  • GCSE in English Language or Literature
    • Standard and higher requirement: C
  • IELTS Academic (no more than two years old)
    • Standard requirement: 6.5 overall with minimum of 6.0 in sub-tests.
    • Higher requirement: 7.0 overall with minimum of 6.5 in sub-tests.
  • IGCSE - English First Language
    • Standard and higher requirement: C or 5
  • IGCSE - English Second Language
    • Standard and higher requirement: B or 5
  • International Baccalaureate English A: Literature OR Literature and Language OR Literature and Performance
    • Standard requirement: Standard or higher level 4
    • Higher requirement: Standard or higher level 5
  • International Baccalaureate English B
    • Standard requirement: Standard level 5, higher level 4
    • Higher requirement: Standard level 6, higher level 5
  • INTO Test of English/IELA
    • Standard requirement: 176 overall with 169 in sub-tests / 65% overall with 60% in sub-tests
    • Higher requirement: 185 overall with 169 in sub-tests / 70% overall with 65% in sub-tests
  • OnCampus Test of English
    • Standard requirement: 65% overall with 60% in sub-tests
    • Higher requirement: 70% overall with 65% in sub-tests
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) (We do not accept PTE Academic Online)
    • Standard requirement: 62 with 60 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 68 with 62 in each sub-test and 67 in writing
  • PSI: Skills for English
    • Standard Requirement: B2 Pass with Merit
    • Higher Requirement: C1 Pass
  • TOEFL: IBT (no more than two years old)
    • Standard requirement: 79 (reading: 18, writing: 23, listening: 19, speaking: 19).
    • Higher requirement: 94 (reading: 19, writing: 24, listening: 20, speaking: 20).
  • Trinity College London: Integrated Skills in English (no more than two years old)
    • Standard requirement: ISE II
    • Higher requirement: ISE III


  • AustriaMatura/Reifeprufung
    • Standard and higher requirement: 2 (gut) in English when both written and oral exams are taken
  • BelgiumDiploma van Secundair Onderwijs or Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Superieur
    • Standard and higher requirement: Distinction in English
  • DenmarkBevis for Studentereksamen
    • Standard and higher requirement: 10 in English
  • FinlandYlioppilastutkintotodistus/Studentexamensbetgy
    • Standard and higher requirement: 5 (magna cum laude approbatur) in English
  • GermanyAbitur
    • 12 (gut) in English when taken as an achievement/main/intensive course
  • Hong KongHong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) - English Language subject
    • Standard requirement: 4
    • Higher Requirement: 5*
  • IcelandStudentsprof matriculation examination
    • Standard and higher requirement: 8 in English when taken as a compulsory modern language
  • LuxembourgDiplome de Fin d'Etudes Secondaires
    • 45 (bien) in English
  • MalaysiaSijil Pelajaran Malaysia - SPM 1119 English 
    • Standard requirement: A 
    • Advanced requirement: A 
  • NetherlandsVoorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO)
    • 7 (ruim voldoende) in English
  • NorwayVitnemal for videregaende opplaering
    • 5 in English
  • PolandSwiadectwo Dojrzalosci (Certificate of Maturity/Matura)
    • Standard requirement: Oral basic - 90%, written basic - 80%
    • Higher requirement: Oral basic - 95%, written basic - 85%
  • SwedenAvgangsbetyg/Slutbetgy fran Gymnasieskola
    • Standard and higher requirement: VG (val godkant) in English or Grade C in English
  • Switzerland: Maturitatzeugnis/Certificat de Maturite/Attestato de Maturita federal maturity certificate or the recognised cantonal maturity certificate
    • 5 (gut/bien/bene) in English



  • If you are a national of one of these countries, your English language ability is sufficient. Student visa holders have different requirements.
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • The Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Ireland
    • Jamaica
    • Malta
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Singapore (language of instruction must be English)
    • South Africa (language of instruction must be English)
    • St Kitts and Nevis  
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America


  • If you have studied at degree level in a university in the UK or in another majority English-speaking country within the last three years, that is sufficient to demonstrate your English language ability. Normally we would expect you to have studied for a year or more.


  • If you have completed a period (18 months) of continuous paid or unpaid experience in a country listed above, within three years of admission to the College. This should have involved a high level of speaking, reading, writing and listening in English. Roles in the following areas would be considered suitable: clerical and administrative, journalism, education, web content creation, PR/marketing. Roles that would not be suitable: hospitality/catering, cleaning, construction.


  • Designed to give you a solid foundation for your studies at Birkbeck, our pre-sessional academic English course will improve your skills and assist you in meeting Birkbeck's English language entry requirements.