The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)


IELTS Canada


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the test administered by the British Council for Canada Immigration. The IELTS test of English measures the ability of non-native (and native) speakers to communicate in English as it is spoken, written and heard around the world. The IELTS test assesses all four language skills that are important for effective communication: speaking, listening comprehension, reading and writing.


To immigrate to Canada via Express Entry (or to join any one or more courses at Canadian universities, colleges or technical institutes) you must pass the IELTS English Test with a minimum score requirement.


The IELTS Test is conducted at thousands of centers all over the world. Its official web site gives more details on how to register and where to take the test. The IELTS Canada Immigration conducts two versions of the test: Academic and General Training. If you are planning to immigrate to Canada under Express Entry Program , you should sit for the General version of the IELTS Test.


The IELTS Canada Immigration Test is divided into four modules: writing, speaking, reading and listening. Each module is approximately 120 minutes long and contains 45 multiple-choice questions. The total score for each module is 1 – 9 points, with 1 point being the lowest score and 9 points as the highest.


  • The Speaking section tests your ability to communicate in an everyday conversation. The examiner will ask you to introduce yourself and talk about your hobbies, interests and plans. He or she will also ask questions related to the topic given in the question paper.
  • The Writing section tests your ability to write a letter, essay or report on a given topic.
  • The Reading section measures your ability to read passages from academic texts and answer multiple-choice questions.
  • The Listening section evaluates your ability to listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, and answer multiple-choice questions.


So as you can see, passing the IELTS Test is essential if you want to immigrate to Canada. It is a challenging test but with proper preparation it can be passed easily.


Your language tests are one of the requirements that must be completed before applying for Express Entry to any of the immigration programs of Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trade or Canadian Experience Class.


You must have completed your test and received your official results before you can submit your express entry profile.


As previously discussed you will need to take an approved language test in either English or French or you can take a test in both languages for more points.


If you are going to take the English test, there are two testing options to choose from.


They are:


  • IELTS General Training Test and
  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program. CELPIP-General Test


Which of the two English Tests should I take? Is IELTS Canada the best?


Both tests can be used for applying for Permanent residency for Canada.


Some things to consider when choosing which test to take.


The first to Consider is that CELPIP exams are not offered in many places, you will need to find out if there is a CELPIP examination center near you. They are offered at many locations inside Canada, but outside Canada they are only offered in 5 countries: Singapore, UAE, Philippines, China, India and USA.


You can check the CELPIP locations here (CELPIP website locator).


This can be contrasted with the IELTS exam that has many hundreds of testing centers throughout the world.


You can look for your nearest testing center here:


If you don’t have a CELPIP testing center near you, it would be best to take your IELTS exam. If you have the choice of both then it is really up to you to make a choice.


The second thing to consider is that both tests assess the same 4 core areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. So, you won’t be tested on different skills in either of the exams.


The exams do have a slightly different format as shown below, however they are very similar. So in that regard there is very little difference in the content and style of the two exams.


CELPIP Canada breakdown


There are 4 sections within the CELPIP. It takes 3 hours in total. You will be given a score of 1 to 12 for each section. The test is computer-based. They are graded according to the Canadian Language Benchmark Levels (CLB) – which we will cover later in this chapter.


  • Reading: 4 components with 38-45 questions. Time taken 55-60 minutes.
  • Listening: 7 components with 40-46 questions. Time taken 47-55 minutes.
  • Writing: 2 components for this one. You will write an email and respond to a survey. Time taken: 53-60 minutes.
  • Speaking: 8 components to this test, with 8 questions. Time taken: 15-20 minutes.


IELTS Canada breakdown


There are 4 sections, with 1 to 9 points assigned to each. You can score whole points or half points. Your points will be matched to a Canadian Language Benchmark Level (CLB) once you receive your results.


  • Reading: 3 components with 40 questions. Time taken: 60 minutes.
  • Listening: 4 components with 40 questions. Time taken: 3 minutes.
  • Writing: 2 components. You will write an essay and a letter. Time taken: 60 minutes.
  • Speaking: 3 components. You will introduce yourself, deliver a speech and answer questions. Time taken: 11-14 minutes.


One difference you will notice is that the CELPIP is scored out of 12 for each section whereas the IELTS is scored out of 9 in each section. Please note this does not mean more points are available for CELPIP.


Your score on each section of each exam will be compared to a points table which will convert your language test score to a CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) score for each section. This ensures everyone is calibrated in a fair and objective way, and that everyone will have access to the same points regardless of the test they took.


Availability of preparation resources


There are many more free and paid resources for IELTS than CELPIP as the IELTS exam is taken by many thousands of people worldwide each month and is used for English language testing across the world, whereas CELPIP is only used as a Canadian language test.


That said, there are resources to help you prepare for CELPIP online, including on their own website:



For IELTS a simple google or YouTube search will find you thousands of preparation resources for free to help you on your way and also schools and tutors all over the world to help you with paid preparation if you feel you need it.


Does Canada favor IELTS Canada over the other?


No, they do not. Even though the CELPIP was created for people applying for Canadian Permanent Residency, it is not favored over IELTS and both are considered as equally relevant qualifications.


How long will my Canada language tests be valid?


Your test results for both tests will remain valid for 2 years.

I am a native English speaker, do I need to take an English Language test?


Yes, everyone needs to take an approved English or French test, regardless of whether they are a native speaker or not.


Is there any difference if I am taking the English test as my first Canadian Official Language or my second Canadian Official language?


If you speak both English and French, and are going to take the tests for both languages, there is no difference to the test you will take. The difference will come in the points allocated, as first and second Official language tests are given different points.

Are there minimum language threshold results I need to achieve to be considered for Express Entry?


Yes there are. And they are different for each of the 3 express entry immigration programs.

Minimum English Language thresholds for IELTS Canada Federal Skilled Worker Program:


  • First Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:
    CLB 7 in all sections : speaking, listening, reading and writing
  • Second Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:
    CLB 4 in all sections : speaking, listening, reading and writing.


Minimum English Language thresholds for Federal Skilled Trade Program:


If you achieve these results or higher you have achieved the required language ability to apply.


  • First Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:
    CLB 5 (English) for speaking and listening, and
    CLB 4 (English) for reading and writing.
  • Second Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:
    CLB 4 in all sections : speaking, listening, reading and writing.


Minimum English Language thresholds for the Canada Experience Class:

First Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:


  • If you have a NOC code in the “0” group or “A” Group you must achieve a minimum of CLB 7 in speaking, listening, reading and writing.
  • If you have a NOC code in the “B” Group you you must achieve a minimum of CLB 5 in each of speaking, listening, reading and writing


*The reason for a higher level in the 0 and A groups is a higher language skill requirement to perform those occupations. To remind yourself of your NOC code group please refer back to the NOC code chapter.


Second Official Canadian Language minimum requirements:


  • CLB 4 in all sections : speaking, listening, reading and writing.


In short – you just have to meet these minimum thresholds to meet the language requirement to be eligible to submit your Express Entry application. Once you are in the system you will be given CRS points based on how high your scores for language are.


What if I don’t reach these results?


The answer here is to keep preparing and return to sit the test again until you become eligible. You won’t be alone in this, many people have sat their language tests many times to qualify.

What if I got lower than I needed to in one of my skills areas but my average was still over the threshold?


This is irrelevant. You must achieve the actual score required in each of the skills to be able to reach the minimum threshold requirement, your average will not be taken into consideration.


I took my IELTS Canada test and did not like my results, can I take the test again to try for better results?


Yes you can. There is no limit on the number of times you can sit your English test to improve your points. The CELPIP does require a 30-day gap between your test retakes, IELTS does not have any requirement for gaps between retakes.


How much does the test cost?


CELPIP costs around $280 – $320 CAD currently, and the IELTS cost varies from country to country from around $180 – $300 USD.


How do I book the test?



The importance of preparation


Please spend some time watching YouTube videos or searching up any of the thousands of web pages dedicated to the IELTS exam preparation. We see time and again, people not do as well as they could simply by being surprised by the specific nature of the questions asked.


A couple of hours preparing can make significant differences to your results. So, if we could give one piece of best practice guidance it would be, even if you are a native speaker, please spend a few hours preparing as the questions are very specific and can be a bit unexpected if you have not done any preparation.


Testing Day Information


  • For both tests you will need to bring valid photo ID, such as your passport, national ID card or drivers license and your email confirmation of your test registration.
  • You will also need to arrive 45 minutes before your testing time to allow ID checks and assessment set up.
  • After you pay your fee and book your testing location and date, your testing center will send you an email with a full detailed explanation of what you need to do on testing day.


How long will it take to receive my results?




  • You will receive your CELPIP results 4-5 days after taking the test. You will have online access to your results through their portal and will receive an email notification of your results with a downloadable certificate that you will need for your Express Entry submission.


IELTS Canada


  • If you have taken IELTS Canada as a Paper test, your Test Report Form will be available 13 days after you complete the test.
  • If you have taken IELTS Canada on Computer test, your results will be available in three to five days after your test.


You will be able to log in to the IELTS portal to see your results, and you will receive an email with your official certificate of results via email. You will need this certificate for your Express Entry application.


How do I convert my results in the tests into Canadian Language Benchmark Level (CLB)?


The first step to determine how many points you will receive for your language results is to convert your test results into their CLB equivalent.


If you took the CELPIP, this is easy as the results are already provided in the CLB equivalent format.


If you received a 9 in CELPIP listening you receive a CLB in listening of 9. If you received an 11 in CELPIP speaking you receive an 11 in CLB speaking, and so on. So for CELPIP your CELPIP score and your CLB score match.


IELTS has a different scoring format and so you will need to convert them from IELTS scores to the associated CLB score by using the tables shown in each Express Entry application stream below.

How many Express Entry points will I get for my results as a Federal Skilled Worker Program applicant?


You will earn points towards your 67 point requirement for Express Entry qualification for your language test results. Here is how your points will be allocated:

Federal Skilled Worker Program Applicants


If you are applying to the Federal Skilled Worker stream, your points will be allocated this way, as follows.

CELPIP – English as first official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – CELPIPListening – CELPIPReading – CELPIPWriting – CELPIPPoints per ability


CELPIP – English as second official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – CELPIPListening – CELPIPReading – CELPIPWriting – CELPIPPoints Total
5 and above5-125-125-125-124


IELTS Canada – English as first official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – IELTSListening – IELTSReading – IELTSWriting – IELTSPoints per ability
76.06.0 –
107.5 – 98.5 – 98.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.06


IELTS – English as second official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – IELTSListening – IELTSReading – IELTSWriting – IELTSPoints Total
5 and above5.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.04


Federal Skilled Trade Program Applicants


No points are awarded for your language skills at Express Entry, you must simply meet the minimum threshold stated to qualify under the language requirement.


However, once you have submitted your Express Entry, and you enter the next round of the visa process you will be allocated points for your language test results in the CRS points score. So even though you only need to meet the minimum requirement for Express Entry it is still worth trying your best to gain points further along the process.


CEC Canada Experience Class Applicants


Language results for CEC applicants are split into 2 categories:


1 – Occupations with a NOC classification 0 and A and


2 – Occupation with NOC classification of B


So if you are in group 1 with a NOC classification of 0 or A, you require a higher level of Language ability to apply and you will need higher results to obtain the maximum points on offer.


CELPIP – English as first official language

NOC code groupCLB LevelSpeaking – CELPIPListening – CELPIPReading – CELPIPWriting – CELPIP
0 , A9 and above9+9+9+9+
0 , A88888
0 , A77777

CELPIP – English as second official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – CELPIPListening – CELPIPReading – CELPIPWriting – CELPIP
5 and above5-125-125-125-12

IELTS – English as first official language

NOC code groupCLB LevelSpeaking – IELTSListening – IELTSReading – IELTSWriting – IELTS
0 , A10 and above8.5 – 9.08.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.07.5 – 9.0
0 , A98.
0 , A87.
0 , A76.


IELTS – English as second official language

CLB LevelSpeaking – IELTSListening – IELTSReading – IELTSWriting – IELTS
5 and above5.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.05.0 – 9.0

Should my spouse sit a Language exam such as IELTS Canada?


Yes, they should. You can earn more points for your spouse’s language ability at every level of the immigration application process. It is not an essential requirement, but if they speak English and or French well enough to earn a 5 in each category, have them sit the tests.


Spouse language points


If your spouse has passed a language test in English or French, you can be awarded an extra 4 points at Express Entry stage under a Federal Skilled Worker application. For FST and CEC applicants, extra points can be gained at the CRS stage for spouse language results. To earn these points they must have achieved a CLB of at least 5 in every section of the language test – ie Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Editor in Chief - at | Website | + posts

Editor in Chief -

Dr. Montague John (PhD), is one of the World’s leading Canadian Immigration experts. Affectionately known as “Monty” he established more than 25 years ago and it has grown to be one of the most reliable sources of Canada Immigration information.

In 2022 Dr. Montague John (PhD) published his book, “How to Immigrate to Canada” as, which featured as Bestseller in its Category for several weeks. Montague co-ordinates all the qualified contributors at and serves as Editor-in-Chief.