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7 things you need to know before you take the B1 visa and taxi driver exam in London

There are certain things to check before you actually take your B1 exam. Did you know that there are two types of B1 Trinity exam? Which one do you need?

In this article you’ll find seven most important and common questions students ask before the B1 Trinity exam:

  1. What type of B1 exam do you need to take?
  2. Do you have the right documents?
  3. How long does it take to prepare for the B1 exam? And when can you get the results?
  4. How well should you know English to pass the exam?
  5. What questions to expect during the B1 exam
  6. How to prepare for the examiner’s questions.
  7. How to choose a topic and what to include in your presentation?

1. What type of B1 exam do you need to take?

There are two types of B1 exams:

a) B1 GESE Grade 5

You must take and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in at least CEFR level B1 in Speaking and Listening if you want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (to settle) or British Citizenship

This B1 GESE Grade 5 exam takes only 10 minutes during which your speaking and listening will be tested. You will receive provisional results on the same day whereas the certificate will be sent to you usually within 7 days

You might also need to take a ‘Life in the UK’ Test as part of your application. Remember that it’s is not a Trinity test.

b) B1 SELT – ISE I

You must take and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at least CEFR level B1 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening for a:

Tier 1,2,3 and 4 visas
– Further Leave to Remain
– Indefinite Leave to Remain
– British Citizenship ( Naturalisation)
– Application for private hire driver licence received by TfL (Transport for London) on, or after, 14 October 2016.

This Trinity’s ISE I exam covers 4 skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. You sit the exam in 1 day and a certificate is usually sent within 21 days.

Do you know which one you need to pass?   If not, we suggest contacting the HMRC or TFL to enquire about the certification you need before you actually book the B1 exam.

 2.Do you have the right documents?

You’d need one of the following, valid and not  expired, documents in order to take the B1 exam:

– Valid passport, EEA/EU or Swiss National ID cards
– Valid Biometric Residence Permit
– Travel Document issued by the United Nations or the Red Cross Valid Vignette attached to an Immigration Status Document or a GV3 Document

If are unable to present the appropriate identification outlined above, you should contact the UK Visas & Immigration Secure English language team for advice on

Failure to provide a form of accepted ID or the ID presented is reasonably rejected by Trinity, will prevent you from taking the exam and the exam fee will not be refundable by Trinity.

Your ID presented on the day of the exam MUST be the same as the ID you used to book the exam online. Original forms of ID must be provided – copies will NOT be accepted. Letters confirming proof of ID (for example government officials, police or lawyers) will also NOT be accepted.

3. How long does it take to prepare for the B1 exam? And when can you get the results?

It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to receive the results. Once you receive the certificate it’s valid for two years.

Make sure you allow yourself enough time to study for the exam, do not wait until the last minute because it might be too late and you might fail to present the certificate when necessary.

Students who successfully passed the B1 exams and have been learning English at our centre- TELC UK – School of English, studied for:

– 2 weeks to prepare for B1 GESE Grade 5 exam (A2/B1 level student)

10-14 weeks to learn English and prepare for  B1 SELT ISE I (A2/B1 level student). It took 2-3 weeks to prepare and pass the B1 exam for more fluent and confident speakers of English ( B2 level).

4. How well should you know English to pass the exam?

You need to be fairly fluent speaker of English with a good knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, most of students we’ve prepared for the B1 GESE Grade 5 exam were either strong A2 or low B1 English level learners. Knowledge of more sophisticated words and variety of grammar structures is crucial but not essential as you can study that during your preparation course at our school. If you’re not sure about your level you can check it here or book a free consultation to check your level and ask more questions about the B1 Trinity exam.

Students who want to pass the B1 SELT ISE I exam need at least B2 level of English, it normally takes a bit longer to prepare if you are B1 level as there’s more to learn, in particular you will need to learn new strategies to score more in your writing and reading parts which are not very easy to complete for someone who has never seen or practised for the exam.


5. What questions to expect during the B1 exam

During the B1 GESE exam you’ll be asked two of the following areas of topics:

Festivals (potential question:  What’s the most popular festival in your country?)
Means of transport (potential question: What means of transport are there in your city?)
Special occasions, eg birthday celebrations (potential question: How do you celebrate your birthday?)
Entertainment, eg cinema, television, clubs (potential question: Where do you normally go out in your free time?)
Music (potential question:What’s your favourite type of music? )
Recent personal experiences  (potential question: Why have you decided to move to this country?)

REMEMBER: You are required to ask the examiner at least one question related to the subject areas in this phase.

B1 SELT ISE I exam is much more complex and each part ( speaking, listening, reading and writing) relates to a variety of topics. See a sample. We strongly recommend booking a preparation course before your exam. During the course you’ll be able to practise all the skills which will enable you to successfully pass the exam. Book your next B1 SELT ISE I course.

6. How to prepare for the examiner’s questions.

In order to prepare yourself for the examiner’s questions you need to learn the right English grammar and develop your vocabulary. In order to score more points in the exam you have to make sure you use a variety of grammar structures especially past simple and present perfect simple and continuous together with words related to each topic and some linking words. The best way to prepare is to practise especially with your friends and family as it is totally free,  otherwise you can find an English teacher or English course that will teach and help you with your preparation.

Here’s the list of things you should be able to know:

Language functions and Grammar

– Talking about the future — informing and predicting  (using future forms-> will, going to, present continuous)
– Expressing preferences (I prefer, I’d rather, I’d like, etc.)
– Talking about events in the indefinite and recent past ( using past simple and present perfect)
– Giving reasons (because / cause, because of, as / since, that’s why, etc.)
– Stating the duration of events ( for 3 years, since 2015, while I, ever, never, just …. etc.)
– Quantifying (a lot of, few, much, not many etc.)



– Vocabulary specific to the topic area
– Vocabulary specific to the subject areas
– Expressions relating to past and future time, eg two days ago, in the future
– Phrases and expressions relating to the language functions listed above



– The correct pronunciation
– The combination of weak forms and contractions, eg I’ve been to, I should have…
– Avoidance of speech patterns of recitation

7. How to choose a topic and what to include in your presentation?

As part of the exam you have to choose and prepare a topic for discussion. Your topic should be closely related to your personal interests and it CAN NOT be chosen directly from the list of subject areas for the conversation part (see point 5).

The topic you choose should provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate the language requirements of the grade. When preparing your topic please think carefully about the amount of material necessary, bear in mind the time available, you have got up to 5 minutes to carry a discussion about your topic.


Do NOT  prepare your topic as a written script, as this will lead to a memorised recitation and it will have a negative effect on the assessment of this part. While preparing your topic anticipate questions the examiner might ask you, you should be prepared to give further examples, explanations and clarifications

You must complete a topic form before the exam and later bring it to the exam room. The topic form is designed to help promote a spontaneous discussion. Write your topic within the box in the middle and then one short sentence or phrase related to each point you want to talk about. Here are examples:

All of your points should be thematic and provide an opportunity for discussing different aspects of the topic. If you fail to prepare a topic for discussion you cannot be assessed for task fulfilment for this part and as a result you fail the whole exam.