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Proving English Language Ability

Under the Federal Skilled Worker Category, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and some Provincial Nominee Programs, Canadian Immigration Visa Officers require that applicants prove their language proficiency in either English or French. To do so, each applicant must take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam or a Test d’Evaluation Français (TEF) exam.

IELTS and TEF results help Visa Officers determine whether the applicant has sufficient English or French language ability for proper integration into Canadian society and the Canadian workforce.

Under the Quebec Skilled Worker program, to gain language proficiency points, test results must be submitted for French and/or English. IELTS is the only recognized test for English proficiency. For more information on recognized French tests, see Proving French Language Ability (Quebec Skilled Worker Program).

To demonstrate English language ability, IELTS results must be submitted so that the Visa Officer will be able to objectively evaluate the language category of the applicant. For Citizenship and Immigration Canada, IELTS results are considered the only conclusive proof of English language proficiency.

To enroll for an IELTS examination, you will need to contact your local IELTS test centre to find out the dates when you will be able to take your test and what the cost will be. Then, download and complete the application form and send it the local IELTS centre along with your photos, a copy of your identification, and your payment.

Many people take preparation courses before they take the IELTS to ensure that they receive as high a score as possible. You can also take IELTS practice tests to get an idea of what the tests are like.

The IELTS consists of four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The whole test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes and can be completed in one day. The Speaking component can also be taken up to 7 days before or after the other three components (at the discretion of the test centre).


The Listening component lasts for 30 minutes and consists of four audio clips that you must listen to and answer questions about.

Conversation – 2 speakers
Conversation – 4 speakers

You can read the questions and familiarize yourself with the question types before you listen to the recordings. Listen carefully, as the recordings are played only once.


The Reading component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of three passages you will read and answer questions about. The texts are typically taken from books, newspapers, magazines, and journals. You will be asked to:

Identify attitudes and perceptions
Find detailed information
Complete a diagram


The Writing component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of 2 tasks. You will need to:

Write a descriptive report of a table or diagram (150 words)
Write an essay in response to a statement (250 words)
Be sure to read the question carefully before composing your text.


The Speaking component lasts for 10-15 minutes. It is a face-to-face interview between the candidate and the examiner. It consists of:

Introduction and interview
Individual talk
Discussion topics

Try to speak fluently, using appropriate grammar, and demonstrate a range of vocabulary. Always try to support your opinions and answer the questions with more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’.


You will be given a score for each component (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) on a Band Scale from 1-9. In order to be awarded the maximum 24 points for English language ability on the Federal Skilled Worker application, you will need to score a 8 or higher in the Listening component and a 7 or higher in the other three components.

Band 1 – Non user
Band 2 – Intermittent user
Band 3 – Extremely limited user
Band 4 – Limited user
Band 5 – Modest user
Band 6 – Competent user
Band 7 – Good user
Band 8 – Very good user
Band 9 – Expert user

IELTS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Do I need to take the IELTS?

All applicants for the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) must submit either IELTS or TEF results as conclusive proof of language ability for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For French requirments for Quebec, see Proving French Language Ability (Quebec Skilled Worker Program).

2. How do I prepare to take the IELTS?

There are preparation courses available through educational institutions and on the internet. We offer free IELTS practice tests to help you practice English and familiarize yourself with the IELTS exam.

3. Should I take the Academic or the General Training Module?

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently updated its processing instructions to visa offices, and is now only accepting test results from the General Training module.

4. Where do I take the IELTS?

On the official IELTS website, you can search for your nearest IELTS test centre on the top navigation bar.

5. How much does the IELTS cost?

The cost varies but is typically around $250CDN.

6. How long does the test take?

The whole test takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.
Listening – 30 minutes
Reading – 60 minutes
Writing – 60 minutes
Speaking – 10-15 minutes

7. How long does it take to get my results?

Results are generally issued 13 days after the test.

8. If I’m not satisfied with my results, how soon after can I take the test again?

Candidates are able to repeat the test whenever they wish. You will need to submit another application form; on that form you must indicate the date on which you last took the test. New fees will apply.

9. Can I repeat only the module in which I did not score well?

No. The IELTS is meant to provide an overall profile of a candidate’s English proficiency at a given time. For the results to be accurate, all modules must be taken over at the same time.

10. How long are the test results valid for?

IELTS results are valid for a period of two years. IELTS results issued within 24 months from the date of submission of an application should remain valid throughout the application process.

11. How do IELTS test results correspond to Canadian Benchmark Levels (CLBs)?

IELTS test results correspond to CLB scores as follows:

CLB Level 9 – IELTS Listening: 7.0 Reading: 8.0 Writing: 7.0 Speaking: 7.0
CLB Level 8 – IELTS Listening: 6.5 Reading: 7.5 Writing: 6.5 Speaking: 6.5
CLB Level 7 – IELTS Listening: 6.0 Reading: 6.0 Writing: 6.0 Speaking: 6.0
CLB Level 6 – IELTS Listening: 5.5 Reading: 5.5 Writing: 5.0 Speaking: 5.5
CLB Level 5 – IELTS Listening: 5.0 Reading: 5.0 Writing: 4.0 Speaking: 5.0
CLB Level 4 – IELTS Listening: 4.0 Reading: 4.5 Writing: 3.5 Speaking: 4.0

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