Like many countries, Canada has a language requirement for several of its visas, including the Federal Skilled Worker program and Federal Skilled Trades Program. Depending on your visa, you may have to demonstrate that you are fluent in English at level 4 or more according to the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), which assesses language ability.
There are several exams you can take to demonstrate your fluency, including the CELPIP and the IELTS, both of which are offered internationally. This guide is aimed at helping you understand the required IELTS score for Canada PR through the Express Entry route.
What is the IELTS?
The IELTS is designed to measure your proficiency in English in four language areas: listening, writing, reading, and speaking. The exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 9, ranging from non-user of the language (1) to competent user (6) to expert user (9).
There are two versions of the exam: Academic and General. The Academic version of the test is used to assess whether students are qualified to enroll in an educational program, and covers English language skills that will be used in an educational context.
The General version of the exam covers language abilities in workplace and social settings, and you may be required to take it before enrolling in certain work experience programs abroad. It’s also used for immigration to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.K.
An IELTS score for PR in Canada is typically valid for 2 years but this can vary depending on which visa program you’re applying for, so be sure to schedule your test during the appropriate time frame.
Studying in Canada
Even if you aren’t planning to emigrate to Canada, you may still need to take the IELTS exam in order to attend a Canadian school or university. Requirements vary from school to school, but in general, you’ll need an overall score of 6.5 to be eligible to enroll. For example, the University of Toronto requires you to have a score of 6.5, with at least a 6 in each skill area. Graduate level students must have a score of at least 7.0.
Universities typically accept a wider variety of exams than the Canadian immigration authorities, so you may be able to take the TOEFL exam rather than IELTS. You may also be exempt from the language requirements if you’ve spent four or more years studying in Canada or in another predominantly English-speaking country.
What is the Minimum IELTS Score for Canada’s Express Entry Program?
Your IELTS score is an important part of your Express Entry application. If you’re applying to the Federal Skilled Worker program, or any other permanent residency visa, you’ll need to meet the Canada PR IELTS requirements (CLB benchmarks) requirements for your visa, which can range from 4 to 7. Beyond achieving the minimum IELTS requirement for Express Entry, your IELTS score will also get you points for your overall candidacy, improving your chances of being approved.
You’ll have to upload the results to your Express Entry profile when you enroll in the system and you may be asked to provide a copy of the original score report later. Your results must be valid for at least 12 months since that’s how long your Express Entry profile is active for. But you can update your score if you retake the exam and achieve a higher result.
Once you’re enrolled in the Express Entry program, your profile will be ranked against others using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). This is where having a good IELTS score can really boost your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residency.
Not only will you get points for your English language proficiency, but you can get additional CRS points for your French language ability and your spouse’s language ability. If your points are low in other categories (such as your age or work experience), then improving your IELTS score or taking an exam in French is a great way to improve your profile.
For example, you can get up to 30 more points for your French language skills if your English results are at level CLB 5 or higher. You can also get extra points if you achieve the highest benchmark possible (level 9) on your IELTS exam.
Canada PR IELTS Score and Language Requirements
Canada requires applicants for permanent residency to be fluent in at least one of Canada’s two official languages, French and English. The minimum benchmark will vary depending on your visa program, so be sure to keep that in mind when applying. You’ll have to show proof of language proficiency exam even if you’re from an English-speaking country.
The Federal Skilled Worker program requires you to reach CLB 7 or more, while the Federal Skilled Trades program requires a CLB 5 in speaking and listening, and CLB 4 in reading and writing. If you don’t meet these IELTS Express Entry requirements, then you can either work on improving your IELTS score or apply for a program that is more in line with your current language abilities.
Meeting the Canada PR IELTS Requirements
The IELTS exam can be taken at one of 1,600 locations around the world and is offered in two formats: paper or computer. The total time allowed for the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The reading, writing, and listening sections are taken together, without a break, while the speaking section requires a face-to-face conversation with a trained examiner.
You can schedule and pay for the exam online, or bring an application form to your local test center. The cost of the exam is $319 in Canada, although prices may vary internationally.
You’ll have to leave any mobile phones, watches, and other personal items in a locker outside of the testing room. Test-takers with disabilities or medical conditions can request additional time or accomodations (such as a Braille version of the exam) with 6-12 weeks’ notice. Only water is allowed inside the testing room, and there are no scheduled breaks.
The Listening section is 30 minutes long and includes four audio recordings with 10 questions to test your comprehension skills. The recordings are of native English speakers with a variety of accents and include both monologues and conversations between 2 to 4 people. You’ll be given multiple choice and matching questions, sentence completion exercises, and more.
The Reading section is 60 minutes long and has 40 questions, including multiple choice, short answer, and sentence completion. You’ll be required to read and analyze excerpts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, job descriptions, and other texts. This part of the exam measures your proficiency in regards to “social survival” and “workplace survival”.
The Writing section is 60 minutes long and includes 2 prompts. The first prompt requires you to write a letter explaining a situation or asking for information in a formal or semi-formal style. The second prompt asks you to write a personal essay responding to an opinion or argument. You’ll be expected to write at least 150 words for the first prompt and 250 for the second.
The Speaking section lasts for less than 15 minutes and is delivered by a trained professional. You’ll be asked to introduce yourself, respond to a prompt, and engage in a short discussion on everyday topics. The examiner will assess your ability in regards to pronunciation, vocabulary, accuracy and more. You’ll have time to prepare written notes for part of this section.
Test results are available 13 days after your exam and can be mailed to you or viewed online. You can also have them sent to up to five organizations of your choice and even added to your LinkedIn profile to improve your appeal to prospective employers in Canada! You’ll receive a “band score” in each of the four sections, as well as an overall score.
If you aren’t happy with your score, you can retake the exam at any time. However, you may want to enroll in a preparation course in order to see the most improvement to your score.
The IELTS website offers sample test questions and other study materials to help you prepare for the test. Even native English speakers may benefit from some preparation, since the exam format may be different from the way you use English in your daily life.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the study materials and consider purchasing a practice exam online. The Progress Check will test you in all the subject areas and give you feedback on which skills you need to focus on improving. According to IELTS, it’s easier to improve your score in the receptive skills (reading and listening) than in productive skills (speaking and writing).
We Can Help You Get Minimum IELTS Score for Canada PR
It can be hard to figure out exactly how many points you can expect to get in the CRS system based on your language abilities. If you’re having trouble understanding the requirements for your visa, or just want to make sure you’re on the right track, we can help you out.
Your IELTS score plays a big role in the application process, so we want to help you maximize your score and achieve a satisfactory result. Whether you’re trying to decide the right time and place to take your exam, or are looking for the right IELTS preparation course, just reach out to us for some personalized help as you prepare your Express Entry application.