study in canada without ielts

Study in Canada Without IELTS? Your Guide to Alternative English Tests for Canadian Student Visas


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If you dream of studying in Canada but don’t have the required IELTS scores, don’t give up hope! There are several alternatives to IELTS that you can take to prove your English proficiency and qualify for a Canadian study permit. While IELTS remains the most popular test, Canada also accepts a number of other standardized tests as proof of English ability for immigration purposes. Read on to learn more about studying in Canada without IELTS.

What English Proficiency Tests Does Canada Accept?

In addition to the IELTS, here are some of the other English language tests accepted by Canadian immigration for study permits:

  • CELPIP: The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) test specifically evaluates English proficiency for immigration to Canada. It assesses functional listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
  • TOEFL: The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test used worldwide to evaluate English proficiency for academic and immigration purposes. The internet-based (iBT) TOEFL test is accepted in Canada.
  • CAEL: The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test assesses the English skills needed for an academic environment. It evaluates listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • PTE: The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic is a computer-based test that measures real-life English skills needed for immigration and academic success.  
  • ME LAB: The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (ME LAB) evaluates advanced English proficiency and predicts academic achievement.

What Are the Minimum Test Scores Needed?

To be accepted for study in Canada, you need to meet the following minimum test scores:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall, with no band lower than 5.5
  • CELPIP: 7.0 overall, with no band lower than 6.0  
  • TOEFL iBT: 86 overall, with no section below 20
  • CAEL: 60 overall, with no band below 50
  • PTE: 60 overall 
  • ME LAB: 85 overall

Of course, many top universities and colleges expect scores higher than these minimums. Check directly with your desired school to confirm the scores they require.

Why Apply for Study in Canada Without IELTS? 

There are a few reasons international students may consider alternatives for proving English ability when applying to study in Canada:

  • Test availability: In some countries, it can be difficult to find open IELTS test centers or availability. The other tests may offer more accessible testing dates and locations.
  • Test format preferences: Some students feel they perform better on computer-based tests like PTE or TOEFL iBT compared to IELTS. Others find CAEL or CELPIP evaluate skills more relevant for academic and settlement in Canada.
  • Score requirements: Students who have taken IELTS but not achieved the minimum scores in all bands can try another test where they may score higher overall. 
  • Time constraints: IELTS scores are valid for only two years. Applicants who took the test too long ago may prefer to take a test with a longer validity, like TOEFL scores which are valid indefinitely.

How to Apply for a Canadian Study Permit Without IELTS?

If you want to apply for study in Canada using one of the above alternative English tests, follow these steps:

  • Research schools and programs in Canada you want to apply for. Confirm which English tests they accept and the minimum scores.
  • Register to take one of the approved English tests above. Ensure your scores will be ready in time for your student permit application.
  • Check the current application processing times and apply for your Canadian study permit as early as possible. 
  • Submit your completed application to IRCC. Include your English test scores as proof of English proficiency. Provide all other required documents.
  • Wait for IRCC to process your study permit application. If approved, you can come to Canada to pursue your academic goals without IELTS!

Study in Canada Without IELTS

While IELTS may be the most familiar, it’s not the only pathway for international students who want to study in Canada. With the right preparation, you can submit alternative English test scores and get approved to achieve your Canadian study dreams

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