How to Set Up a Bank Account in the UK

How to Set Up a Bank Account in the UK

If you’ve made the decision to study in the study in the UK you’re in great company because over 500,000 international students study here every year. I’ve chatted extensively with overseas students about their experiences of setting up their new life when they first arrive, and one difficulty that crops up in conversation a lot is how to set up a bank account in the UK. Read on to find out why this is and how to avoid having the same problem yourself.

Most of the big UK banks offer accounts for students and international students. However, the UK has extremely tight regulations around setting up a new bank account. The main part that newly arrived students struggle with is providing the required proof of address documents. There’s a set list of acceptable documents including things like a utility bill (gas/electricity etc.) or a council tax bill. It can be extremely difficult for a student who’s newly arrived as they may be renting a room in a house, or staying with family or friends, but have no bills or documents in their name at that address. Also, it’s worth knowing that banks don’t usually accept mobile phone bills as proof of address. Many said they felt like they were going around in circles as it’s hard to set up bills without a UK bank account, and starting on the job hunt becomes difficult because most employers want to pay into a UK account. Click here to see the sort of documents you’ll need to provide to open student accounts with Natwest and Barclays.

What if I Don’t Have the Required Documents?

What can you do if you don’t have the required documents to set up an account with a traditional UK bank? Don’t despair! Here come app-based banks to the rescue. These banks operate completely online and you manage your account on an app on your smartphone. Some popular ones in the UK are Monzo, Starling and N26. I have personally used Monzo, so I’ll explain more about the set-up process. Opening the account is done in minutes on their website and your identity is verified with your date of birth rather than proof of address. You take a picture of your ID (passport, driver’s license etc.) and a short video of yourself so you can be matched to your ID. Once you’ve been approved, you can start using your account straight away on the app.

You can use Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone to pay for things using contactless. If you want a physical card for your account, simply get it sent to a UK address of your choice and it will arrive in a few working days. Additionally, Monzo has some great features like real-time spending notifications, spending alerts and savings ‘pots’. They’ve also teamed up with TransferWise to provide international money transfers from within the Monzo app, which makes it quick and easy if you need to move money over from your account at home.

So if you find yourself pulling out your hair with the question of how to set up a bank account in the UK, it’s definitely worth considering going app-based. Happy banking!

Am I Ready for the IELTS Test in 2019?

Am I Ready for the IELTS Test in 2019?

8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking your IELTS Test

When the time comes to take the IELTS test, you will probably ask yourself a very important question: “Am I ready to take the IELTS test?”

Am I ready for IELTS is a crucial question, because if you are not ready, you will pay hundreds of dollars or pounds for the official IELTS test that does not provide you with any feedback on your English language mistakes. Sure, taking the IELTS test will give you an idea of how the IELTS test works. But most importantly, if you’re going to invest money, time and effort in taking the test, you must be prepared with your best English and an understanding of the test strategies, in order to avoid disappointment.

If you think you are ready, think again because you need to answer some more questions. Here are the 8  Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking your IELTS in 2019.

1. What is my English level?

If you speak English in your daily life, or if you’ve studied a formal English course before, you may feel that you have good English. In fact, you might feel quite proud of all the expressions you know and the enjoyment you gain from speaking effective English. However, IELTS requires much more than daily chatting with friends and colleagues. In addition, it is common that people tend to overestimate their ability in another language (mainly because they don’t recognise their own mistakes). Therefore, to be successful at IELTS, you need to be accurate with your English grammar and have a strong vocabulary base. One way to see your English level is to take a quick English level test.


2. What does the English level test mean?

The free online English level test takes about 10 minutes and shows the level of your understanding when it comes to grammar, vocabulary and language structures. Students who score above 38/40 on the test have an advanced level of English and can expect to score approximately 8 – 9 on IELTS. On the other hand, students who score around 17 – 22 on the level test can be classified as Pre-Intermediate English learners. A Pre-Intermediate level student would be expected to score around 3 – 4 on IELTS. Therefore, this level test is a great way for you to find out your approximate English level and IELTS equivalent, so you don’t waste your time and money taking the test when you’re clearly not ready. See the free ClickStudies English Level Test for an approximate guide. The following chart shows how you can measure your score.

3. What IELTS score do I need?

When you ask “Am I ready for the IELTS test”, you need to think about your purpose for taking the IELTS test. If you are migrating to a new country it will be different, depending on the number of points you require. For example, to migrate to Australia, you may get 10 or 20 points towards migration, depending on your needs. To join a college to do a certificate course, you will most likely need a lower score than if you join a university degree course. See EasyMigrate for specific details on IELTS score requirements.


4. What version of IELTS do you need? Academic or General?

Normally, if you’re applying for entry to college or university course, you’ll need to take the Academic version of the IELTS test. If you plan on migrating to a new country, you will probably require the General IELTS test. You should remember, the General and Academic IELTS test have the same structure and content for the listening and speaking sections. In contrast, the reading and writing parts of the test are different for the General and Academic versions of the test. Most people find the Academic version slightly harder than the General version.

5. Should I do the paper-based IELTS test or the computer delivered IELTS test?

For over twenty years, the IELTS test has been paper-based. This changed recently when IELTS became available via computer. If you know the structure of the IELTS test, the good news is that the computer delivered IELTS test follows the same test structure as the traditional paper-based test. In more good news for test-takers, the computer delivered IELTS test has so far been well-received by candidates anwho say the computer platform works well. However, the computer delivered IELTS test is not available in all countries yet. If you are worried about your ability to write neatly and quickly by hand, you will be happy to hear about the changes. See this video about the computer delivered test for information.


6. Where can I get help with the vocabulary I need?

This is a great question because the IELTS test is built on high level vocabulary that you may not use in your daily life. For example, you should not use the word ‘thing’ when you are speaking or writing IELTS. This is despite the fact that the word ‘thing’ is very common is everyday English. Instead you should use the word ‘aspect’. As soon as you start using powerful vocabulary such as ‘aspect’ correctly, your score on the speaking and writing sections of the test will rise. For a great free resource that will help you find and practice the most common 570 words used in academic English and IELTS, check out the RMIT Learning Lab for excellent vocabulary word lists, resources, games, and practice.

7. How should I start my IELTS training?

You have a few choices here. For example, you can study strategies for reading, listening, writing and speaking with videos such as these. You can also purchase a textbook that can help you prepare. Or you can join an IELTS course. There are many options for face-to-face courses although you will be limited by your location.


8. How can I prepare 24/7 using a 100% online IELTS course?

If you are interested in taking a fully online course that covers all aspects and skills required in the IELTS test, as well as practice activities that you can download and weekly office hours with the instructor, you should check out IELTS in 21 Days. This fully online course is for students who want the complete preparation package in an easy-to-understand framework that covers all four skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking. For more information on the 100% online course IELTS in 21 Days, email


So that’s it. If you need to ask “Am I ready for the IELTS test in 2019?”, then these are the quesitons you need to ask yourself before committing big money to book an IELTS test. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment below or email the address above for more info.

Study in California

Study in California

California attracts people from all over the world, which makes California a very easy place for international students to feel at home.  In this article we look at some of the most common reasons why you might choose to study in California.

California is home to four of the world’s top 20 universities: Stanford, California Institute of California Institute of Technology, Berkeley and UCLA. In addition, California has dozens of other excellent universities, large and small. Whatever study abroad experience you are looking for, there is a school in California to fit your need.

Key Facts about Study in California

California is in the United States, so see our Studying in the U.S page for general U.S. facts.

But what makes California different from other U.S. destinations?

  • Californians are a very diverse people who come from all over the world, particularly Asia and Latin America. In big cities like Los Angeles, more than half of the people speak a language other than English at home.
  • As home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, California is the world leader in technology and filmmaking. California universities are on the leading edge of business, technology, and the visual arts.
  • It’s worth mentioning the California sunshine. It’s never too hot, too cold, or too humid, which allows international students to go outside and really experience America all year round.

The downside of studying in California is that it is generally more expensive than other places in the United States. The cost of living in San Francisco or Los Angeles is comparable to other major world cities like London, Tokyo, or New York. If you are concerned about cost, find the location of your desired university and look for nearby apartments using a web tool like Trulia that shows you photos and prices of apartments and their exact locations in the city.

College Life in California

Everything that attracts international students to study in California is also attractive to Americans from the other 49 states. California universities, large and small, have many students who are not from the local area. They live in local apartments or dormitories with other students. This is nice for international students, as student social groups are more open and it is easy to make friends.

California universities are also very welcoming to international students. They all have centers to offer support to international students with finding housing, academic support, and any difficulties students may have. At some universities like the University of Southern California, more than one out of every four students is international.

California – North and South

If you have decided that you want to study in California, you should know the difference between north and south.

Southern California is where you find the iconic Southern California beach and movie culture. Universities like Pepperdine, UC Santa UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego are all just minutes away from fun and beautiful beaches. UCLA and USC are deeply connected to the movie industry, and have buildings named after George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Arnold Schwarzenegger is even part of the faculty at USC!