What is a Pre-sessional course?
Presessional English courses are designed for International students who are holding a conditional offer to study an academic programme at that university (or sometimes another university) but have not yet reached the required English Language level required. They are available at most universities in the few months before academic courses start in September, and less commonly in October to December for January starts. They are intensive courses focusing on academic English skills. You can see the different pre-sessional courses available at each university in their profile on our website.
Is the pre-sessional course instead of retaking IELTS?
In most cases the ‘successful completion’ of the pre-sessional course can be the condition in your offer, but this is not always the case and some universities will still require you to take an IELTS test after the pre-sessional. You also have to be clear about what ‘successful completion’ means. Usually you will have assessments during the course and a test at the end and you will be expected to have improved and reached the level of English for the degree course. One of the benefits of a pre-sessional course is that your teachers will see you over a longer period so they get a more accurate idea of what level your -English is compared to a one –off test where you could have a good day, or a bad day!!.
The idea of ‘direct entry’ or ‘guaranteed entry’ from pre-sessional to the degree is not really correct, some places have this but it is rare. You should expect to have a test during the pre-sessional and have to ‘successfully complete’ or ‘pass’ to progress onto the degree programme.
Every year about 1-2% of the students we send do not pass or successfully complete and either have to study more English or find another university course that will accept them (and we are happy to help with this too).
Why should I take a pre-sessional?
Studying a degree in the UK is a big investment of time and money, and you will want to do as well as you can, and enjoy yourself at the same time. Nearly all of your academic assessments will be in written English, and to fully integrate and make friends from around the world your speaking and listening skills also need to be good. Therefore some intensive study in an English Language environment is a great way to make your language even better. You get used to the style of teaching and learning in a UK university and you get used to local accents, and you hear English around you all the time.
As well as improving your academic English and study skills, the courses are a chance to get to know your new environment. Degree programmes in the UK are intensive, especially at Masters level, so to have a few weeks to get the feel of your new home before they start can be a big help. Many students who already have an unconditional offer still choose to study a short pre-sessional course as an orientation or easy introduction to the new environment.
What will I study?
Pre-sessional courses are intensive and designed for students preparing to study a degree course, so they are a little different from the IELTS preparation or General English courses you may have already studied although will still cover some parts of these.
Usually they will aim to:
to develop study skills in preparation for your degree
to improve students’ general and academic english
to improve subject specific vocabularly
to help students adapt to living and studying in a new environment
to help students prepare exam strategies for tests
Courses are intensive with around 20-24 hours of class a week, and please remember this is usually more ‘contact’ time than you can expect on your degree programme.
What about my visa?
The CAS, and therefore visa, you are issued will depend on the offer you have for your degree and the university you will study at as follows:
If you are unconditional but choosing to study a pre-sessional then you will be issued a CAS, and get a visa, for the duration of the pre-sessional and the degree programme.
If you are conditional on successful completion of the pre-sessional then you will be issued a cas and visa for the duration of the pre-sessional course only and you will have to extend your visa in the UK (with a new CAS) once you have completed the pre-sessional
If you are conditional but the University issues a ‘combined CAS’ – in some cases the University may choose to issue a single CAS for the duration of your study if the pre-sessional course is less than 12 weeks. Please note this is up to the specific university’s policy.
Remember you will need to the evidence of sufficient funds in your bank to cover the same duration as your CAS (and course) so please check with us or with the University if you are unsure.
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