You may be planning to study in Canada and are looking for a suitable English proficiency test. IELTS comes naturally since it is the world’s most popular English proficiency test. However, what are the IELTS requirements for a Canada student visa?
To apply for a student visa to study for an undergraduate course in Canada, you need a minimum total score of 6.0, with a minimum score of 5.5 for each subtest (speaking, listening, writing, and reading). For a postgraduate course, you will need a minimum total score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 for each subtest.
This article discusses the minimum IELTS requirements to apply for a Canadian student visa and other relevant questions you may have about English proficiency tests to study in Canada.
These include if you can take other tests instead of IELTS, other countries you can apply for a student visa with your IELTS, and many more.
Is IELTS Acceptable For Canadian Student Visa Application?
IELTS is accepted for student visa applications. You need a minimum total score of 6.0 for undergraduate studies and 6.5 for a postgraduate student visa. Aside from IELTS, you can also use CAEL, PTE, Duolingo Proficiency Test, or Cambridge Assessment English (CI & C2) to apply for a Canadian student visa.
If you are wondering if Canadian immigration accepts IELTS for student visa applications, they do. In fact, IELTS may be one of the most recognizable English proficiency tests you can use to enter most Canadian universities.
We took some time and checked the English proficiency requirements of some popular universities in Canada, such as the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia. We found that they accept IELTS as proof of English proficiency.
Aside from the three, the following popular universities in Canada also accept IELTS. Please note that this list of universities is non-exhaustive and may increase or decrease:
- McMaster University
- University of Alberta
- Queen’s University
- Simon Fraser University
- University of Victoria
- Ryerson University
- University of Manitoba
- University of Guelph
- King’s University
- Memorial University of Newfoundland
- Brock University
- Wilfried Laurier University
- Lakehead University
- Bishop’s University
- University of New Brunswick
- Brandon University
Related Article that are useful:
Why Do You Need IELTS Score To Study In Canada?
You need an IELTS score to study in Canada so that you can prove you have the English efficiency to complete your studies in Canada. Very weak English would likely mean you will either be unable to study well or cause trouble and difficulties to your tutor, classmates, and professors.
There are some people out there that cannot understand why Canadian Immigration insists that you provide some proof of English proficiency. They usually demand something such as an IELTS score. They see it as discriminatory and question why those from native English-speaking countries do not need to do the same.
The reason is simple: Canada just wants to ensure that you enter their universities with the capability to learn well in English. There is little point in trying to study in Canada when you have poor English. In fact, you may struggle.
You may not be able to understand the professor during lectures or write your essays and assignments to pass your papers. You may even be unable to ask questions about your studies to your teachers or tutors. Your results may be bad, and you may cause trouble for your professors and universities as well.
Language proficiency also helps you function in Canadian society, such as understanding instructions from the police or at least walking into a mart and asking for some chips and a chocolate bar.
Good English proficiency also allows you to form a proper social life in Canada. You can at least walk into a coffee shop or bar and make some friends.
Another reason to demand proof of English proficiency is to ensure that only those who truly want to study in Canada get a visa. Some people aim to migrate to Canada but cannot secure a work visa. So they apply for a student visa instead and disappear once they enter the country.
Demanding proof of English proficiency at least ensures that some of these people are filtered out from the application process.
Check the table to understand IELTS band scores and CLB levels:
|CLB Score||IELTS Speaking||IELTS Speaking||Speaking Writing||IELTS Reading|
How Much IELTS Score Is Required For Canadian Student Visa?
To qualify for a study visa, you need a minimum IELTS total score of 6.0 for undergraduate studies and a 6.5 for a postgraduate student visa. The minimum is 5.5 for each paper for the undergraduate level and 6.0 for the postgraduate level.
Canada set a decent English proficiency level to apply for a student visa. From a full score of 9.0, you only need a minimum of 6.0 to qualify.
For undergraduates, the minimum total score is six. However, they also look into your individual papers. You need to score a minimum of 5.5 for each of the papers (Listening, Speaking, Writing & Reading.)
For postgraduates, the minimum total score would be 6.5. You also must ensure that all your papers score a minimum of 6.
This means you cannot have a very weak paper, which may be a problem for some. Many IELTS candidates struggle with the ‘production’ part of English, such as speaking and writing. They often try scoring high on the ‘input and processing’ papers, such as listening and reading, to cover up their weaknesses.
This strategy may not work with IELTS papers, as you still need to reach a certain threshold for your speaking and writing paper, no matter how high your total IELTS score is.
Can I Apply For a Canadian Student Visa With An Expired IELTS Score?
In most cases, you cannot apply for a Canadian student visa with an expired IELTS score. You may need to retake your IELTS to get a more updated English proficiency score. However, in some limited cases, you may apply with an expired IELTS score, provided that you submitted proof that you have maintained your proficiency.
In many cases, universities will not accept applications for placement in their institutions. The reason is rather simple. An expired IELTS certification may not be an accurate and valid measurement of your current English proficiency.
Language is a dynamic skill, and lack or much more frequent use of it may result in either degeneration or improvement of your English proficiency. This is why IELTS certifications are only valid for two years, to ensure you resit often and constantly get an updated proficiency score.
However, in some extenuating circumstances, universities and immigration authorities may consider or even accept applications for a student visa with an expired IELTS score. However, you need to submit proof that you have maintained your English proficiency.
This proof may be presented as a referral letter, usually written by your academic tutor or your employer:
- A reference letter from a tutor stating that you have kept up with your English proficiency. The reference and tutor must have taught you for at least three months in a country where English is used as the first and native language.
- A reference letter from an employer stating that you have kept up with your English proficiency. The reference and employer must have worked with you full-time for at least three months in a country where English is the first and native language.
However, you do not want to rely too much on such a probability. Instead, you should plan to resit and get an updated score of your IELTS proficiency.
What If My IELTS Score Expires During My Student Visa Application?
In general, this would not cancel your visa application. This is because, logically speaking, your score is still valid on the day you file your application. However, this is completely within the discretion of the immigration authority. You should obey and resit the test if they require you to resit your IELTS.
Sometimes you may have problems along your visa application process. As a result, you can only file your student visa application almost before your two-year IELTS validity expires.
This means there is a likelihood your score may expire during the application process.
If you suspect yourself may be in this situation, in many cases, the application should proceed with no issue. This is because on the day you filed, the application is still valid, and the immigration authority should also apply that understanding.
However, do understand that this is completely within their discretion. They may or may not proceed with your student visa application with an expired IELTS score. If they request that you resit your IELTS to update your score, you should follow suit and resit.
Can You Retake IELTS?
Yes, you can retake IELTS as many times as you want to. However, you should consider spending some time studying, improving, and practising your English before resitting to avoid getting unsatisfactory scores again. However, you cannot retake only part of the papers. You have to resit all papers.
Suppose your IELTS validity has expired, or your scores are not satisfactory enough to apply for a Canadian student visa. In that case, you may need to resit for your IELTS.
One good thing about IELTS is that you can retake them as often as you need, without limitation. Every year, there are 48 test dates available for you to choose from.
However, when you retake your IELTS, you must retake all the papers, which means you cannot just take one or two papers only. Say you’re happy with your listening, reading, and writing scores and just want to retake the speaking test. You cannot do this with IELTS, although some tests such as OET allow it.
The issue with OET is designed for medical professionals for mostly work purposes. This means OET may not be a perfect replacement for IELTS, especially if you do not intend to study medical science through your student visa.
If you intend to retake IELTS, it may be prudent to take some time to study and improve your English proficiency first before you retake the test. This helps you avoid receiving unsatisfactory scores again, which may negatively affect your motivation.
Is it Easier When Retaking IELTS?
In many cases, you should feel like it is easier to retake the IELTS examination. This is because you have developed familiarity with the test and perhaps the technical side of the test as well. However, you are not guaranteed a pass, and you should continue to study as if you have never taken it before.
If you are retaking IELTS, chances are you should find it a little easier to do well. Many reasons can contribute to this.
First is that you have developed a familiarity with the examination itself. When it comes to experience, nothing beats taking the test itself, not even after working on many sample questions. You are aware of the questions and how the audio clips will be played, and you may be less nervous during the speaking test.
You may also feel more confident on the technical side of the test. For example, if you scored well on reading and writing papers, you know that what you did last time is correct, and you can repeat the same thing to get a high score.
You also know some of the mistakes that you have made during your previous test and will make sure not to repeat them again when you retake your test.
Regardless of which, if you are retaking IELTS, understand that although the format is the same, the questions, texts, and topics may differ. You still need to study and ensure you are well prepared before retaking your IELTS test.
Can I Get a Canadian Student Visa Without IELTS?
You can apply for a Canadian Student visa without IELTS, but you will need another proof of your English proficiency. This may be in the form of another proficiency test, such as the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or the Occupational English Test (OET). You may skip the requirement if your prior studies are done in English.
In many cases, you may or may not be able to apply for a student visa without IELTS. This may depend on whether you have other similar qualifications or if your prior studies are done in English in countries that Canadian immigration accepts.
In some cases, you may not be warranted to show your English proficiency test results, provided that your prior studies have been done in English. You may skip the IELTS requirement if you have studied for English tests acceptable for Canadian immigration and universities.
For example, if you apply for an undergraduate student visa from Qatar and have previously done your high schooling in the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) curriculum.
Canadian universities may consider waiving the English proficiency requirement for you since, to complete your IGCSE studies, you would need a high level of English to do so. That is considered proof of your English proficiency.
You may also apply for a student visa without an IELTS score, provided that you submit another proof of your proficiency. It could be another test result, such as the Occupational English Test (OET), Pearson Test of English (PTE), or Duolingo Proficiency Test.
Some universities may accept students without proof of English proficiency but may require you to first spend a semester or two taking English subjects at the university. You may often need to achieve a certain level of proficiency before being allowed to proceed with undergraduate studies.
What Are The IELTS Requirements For Other Student Visas?
To apply for a student visa in the United Kingdom and the United States, you will need a minimum of 6.5 in IELTS. For Australia, you will need a minimum IELTS score of 6.0. For New Zealand, you need a minimum of 5.5 IELTS scores.
IELTS is popular because it is well recognized in many top university destinations. Aside from Canada, IELTS is also accepted in countries popular with university students, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
|Country||Minimum IELTS Score|
Compared to the list, you can see that Canada is rather relaxed in their IELTS requirements compared to the UK and US.
The higher IELTS score requirement for a US student visa may reflect that IELTS is not done in American English. In academic settings, students with IELTS may need a higher proficiency score to be more adjustable to American English.
There is also speculation about why international students are given a higher IELTS score threshold to enter US universities. This is to push them to sit for the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), which is more suitable for American universities.
However, these are not confirmed by US immigration or US universities, which means you should treat these opinions as speculation.