Tier 4 English Exam

Tier 4 visa rules now require international applicants whose first language is not English to show that they have a certain level of English ability.

This has been identified by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as follows:

  • is from a majority English speaking country; or
  • has completed an academic qualification, at least equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree which was taught in a majority English-speaking country; or
  • is proficient at CEFR level B2(equivalent to at least an IELTS 5.5) in each of the four sub-components of language learning (reading, writing, speaking and listening).
  • Trinity’s (ISE) examinations assess all four language skills – Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading.

    The ISE II exam corresponds to B2 level on the CEFR and is considered to be comparable to an IELTS band 6.0 or Cambridge ESOL FCE.

    The UKBA approve this exam for use in Tier 2 (Religious Workers), and Tier 4 (Student studying at degree level), visa applications.

    The exam has 3 parts:


    You are required to produce 3 pieces of written work before the exam date. These should be selected from a list of tasks supplied by Trinity College London.

    Controlled written exam (2 hours), composed of 2 tasks:

    Task 1 – Reading into writing task (250 words)

    Task 2 – A writing task (250 words)

    Spoken Interview:

    This is a one-to-one, face-to-face interview with a Trinity examiner.

    The interview will last 12 minutes and is in three parts:

    Discussion of a topic (up to 4 mins) which you must choose and prepare beforehand.

    Interactive Task (up to 4 mins)

    Conversation with the examiner (up to 4 mins), including a discussion of your portfolio AND one of the following topics: society and living standards, personal values and ideals, the world of work, unexplained phenomena and events, national environmental concerns, public figures past and present.

    We would advise candidates to attend an ISE II Preparation class before taking the examination. However it is possible to enter without attending classes beforehand.

    Preparing for the Trinity ISE II examination – Guidelines for candidates

    To prepare for the ISE II examination you can to use Trinity website.

    On the website you can access all the documentation associated with the three components of the ISE II examination outlined below. You can also look at the ISE Syllabus for more detailed information about the ISE II examination and how to prepare. Read the ISE II section of the syllabus to give you the best possible chance of passing your exam.