Canada Student Visa: IELTS Band Requirements

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An illustration of the process of applying to SDS, including IELTS documentation.

From translating certificates to filling out forms, preparing to study in Canada is a multi-step process. An important part of the study abroad process includes improving your English or French communication skills, to meet Canada’s student visa IELTS band requirements.

Read on to find out more about the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) band requirements, as well as the band requirements for other popular English language proficiency tests when applying through Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS). 

Note: In Canada, international students receive study permits to attend classes. When you get a study permit, you also usually get a visitor visa to enter Canada. In this article, we use the terms “student visa” and “study permit” interchangeably for easier understanding. 

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Study Permit Streams 

In Canada, there are two streams to apply for a study permit: general and Student Direct Stream (SDS). 

SDS

If you’re eligible to apply through the SDS, you’ll need to meet specific band requirements, or in other words, meet or exceed a specific score on an eligible language proficiency test. 

General Study Permit Stream

Students applying through the general study permit stream may also need to prove their language proficiency with an eligible language proficiency test, but this varies by country. Check the Government of Canada’s website for more information.

An illustration of a hand writing on a document, representing an English language test required for a Canada student visa application.

What are English Language Proficiency Tests?

English language proficiency (ELP) tests measure your skill level in English-language communication. Taking one of these tests is not only required to apply for a Canadian study permit through SDS, but they can also be extremely helpful for you to know what specific language skills you can work on. 

Tip: Remember, the test score you need for your program might be different than what’s required for your study permit. Make sure to check your program’s requirements as well as the Government of Canada’s official website for the most up-to-date information. 

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IELTS Band Requirements

IELTS is a widely-recognized test accepted for Canadian student visa applications. It has two test types which you can use to apply for a Canadian study visa: Academic and General. This test ensures that you’re able to effectively communicate and understand English, both in academic and everyday environments. 

Achieving an overall score of 6.0 or higher on the Academic test, or an IELTS General score equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmarks score of 7 or higher is required in part of Canada’s student visa IELTS band requirements.

Decode English Language Proficiency test scores on our blog.

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Other Language Tests 

Taking another language proficiency test? Let’s explore the band requirements for other language proficiency tests. Each test has its own criteria, but they all assess your ability to communicate effectively and understand English (or French) within an academic and casual setting.

TOEFL 

International students taking The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) need a score of at least 83. TOEFL assesses reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. The test is usually taken online and includes tasks such as reading comprehension, listening to lectures, and expressing opinions orally and in writing.

CAEL

Taking the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test? If so, you need a score of at least 60. CAEL evaluates language skills through academic English speaking, reading, listening, and writing exercises. It includes tasks such as reading articles, listening to discussions, and presenting written and spoken responses.

CELPIP

International students taking the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) need a score of at least 7 on the Canadian Language Benchmarks scale for each ability. CELPIP measures practical language proficiency for daily life in Canada. It includes tasks like describing situations, participating in discussions, and responding to written and spoken prompts.

We’ve broken down what IELTS is, and how to prepare for it on our blog.

PTE 

If you’re taking the Pearson Test of English – Academic (PTE Academic), you’ll need a score of at least 60. PTE is a computer-based test that assesses speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. Tasks include summarizing spoken text, writing essays, and responding to questions based on audio clips.

TEF 

Planning to study in French, and need to prove your language skills? International students taking the Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF Canada) need a TEF score that’s equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) a score of at least 7 for each ability. The TEF assesses your French language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Get ready to take the IELTS by reading up on six of the most common IELTS mistakes and how to avoid them.

Now you know Canada’s student visa IELTS band requirements. Whether you choose IELTS or another test like TOEFL, CAEL, CELPIP, or PTE, preparation is key. Start your preparation early, use mock test resources provided by testing organizations, and consider language proficiency courses if needed. This way, you’ll increase your chances of a successful academic journey in Canada. You’ve got this! 

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