How to Meet the IELTS Requirements for a Canada Student Visa

How to Meet the IELTS Requirements for a Canada Student Visa

JUL 29, 2022



Choosing to study in Canada as an international student often provides unique and excellent opportunities to build your career at some of the best institutions in the world. In addition, international students in Canada receive some precious experience due to Canada's open-minded, multicultural mindset, the quality of Canadian education and the fantastic international experience that Canada can present.

Learn more about why so many students choose to study in Canada here.

Canadian universities have a wide variety of requirements that you must fulfill to be enrolled. While Canadian university admission requirements for international students often differ per university, one of the requirements you certainly need is a Canadian student visa. You won't be allowed to study in Canada as an international student without a visa or study permit.

One of these primary requirements of a Canadian Study Visa is a language proficiency score in one of Canada's official languages - English and French. The most popular and recognized way to prove your English language proficiency is via what's called an IELTS score.

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It's explicitly designed to test the English language proficiency of international applicants. Below, we discuss how this system works, what international students require, and how to ensure you meet the IELTS requirements for a Canada Student Visa.

How Does The IELTS Work?


The IELTS is the world's most recognized English language skills testing system. Over 10 000 organizations accept the IELTS as a valid means of proving someone's English proficiency. Two IELTS tests are relevant for studying in Canada. They are:

IELTS General Test

This test is the primary test. It's specifically designed to test the four major language disciplines:


Applicants listen to specific situations and are assessed on their ability to understand and respond to them.

General Reading

Applicants read a short passage and are assessed on their written word comprehension.

General Writing

Applicants write two tasks to assess their ability to understand a brief, construct arguments, understand tone, and register in English.


Applicants are asked to prepare a small speech and are then quizzed on specific aspects of the speech.

IELTS Academic Test

The IELTS Academic Test is specifically designed to test an immigrant's understanding and ability to engage with English, the academic language. This test is usually taken in conjunction with the IELTS general because an IELTS academic test result alone will not allow you to get your visa or permanent residency.

However, it's usually required by Canadian universities or certain professional occupations. It has two sections:

Academic Reading

Applicants read passages explicitly chosen due to their relevance for undergraduate and postgraduate students and answer multiple choice questions based on the passages.

Academic Writing

Applicants are required to interpret data and explain it in their own words. They are also required to write a short formal essay to show their ability to write English in an academic style.

While an IELTS academic test is not required for a Canada student visa, you may need it to get an acceptance letter from your chosen university, which is necessary for you to get a Canada student visa.

An IELTS academic score is usually one of the primary Canadian university admission requirements for international students. This is fundamental as you need a letter of acceptance from a Canadian tertiary institution to apply for a study permit. However, if you plan on studying at a Canadian college, you may only need the IELTS general test.

Minimum IELTS Requirements for a Canada Student Visa

As the IELTS is just one of the four accepted Canadian language tests, an IELTS score is converted into a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score. While no CLB score is required for a Canadian student visa, it's widely accepted that you will need a CLB score of 7 to be allowed to complete a degree.

On top of this, your chosen academic institution may have a language proficiency requirement that may go over and above the needs of the Canadian government. A CLB score of 7 works out to a score of at least 5.5 in all four of the IELTS modules.

This is the highest score generally required by the Canadian government, so you must ensure you do everything possible to get your score as high as you can.

How to Fulfill the IELTS Requirements for a Canada Student Visa


Several tactics will help you be as prepared as possible for your IELTS assessment. They are as follows:

Step 1: Take a Practice Test or Preparation Course

Taking a practice test or numerous practice tests can give you a clear idea of how well you would do in the final test, the aspects you need to work on and give you a good idea of how to engage effectively with and get the most out of your IELTS assessment. Good language learners notice their mistakes and learn from them, and there are few better ways to catch your mistakes than through a practice test.

A fantastic way to gain access to practice tests and find out how to improve your weak areas is to take an IELTS preparation course which can provide you with practice assessment and exercises and guidance on how to make the most of your IELTS assessment. To help find the IELTS preparation course that will get you your best score, click the button below to speak to a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

Step 2: Learn the Test Format

The IELTS format is something that can be difficult or confusing to the uninitiated and should be studied heavily through the use of practice tests and exercises.

The Format of the IELTS General is as follows:


  • Length: 30 mins

  • Sections

    • Section 1:

      • 10 Questions based on a recorded conversation between two speakers.

    • Section 2:

      • 10 Questions based on a spoken monologue

    • Section 3:

      • 10 Questions based on a conversation between two primary speakers, guided by a third.

    • Section 4:

      • 10 Questions on an academically-focused monologue.


  • Length: 60 minutes

  • Sections:

    • Section 1: Social Survival

      • Questions based on basic linguistic survival in English.

    • Section 2: Workplace Survival

      • Questions based on workplace situations.

    • Section 3: General Reading

      • Questions based on more complex, extended writing.


  • Length: 60 minutes

  • Tasks:

    • Task 1: Letter of Request

      • The applicant must write a letter with the intent of getting something from someone.

    • Task 2: Discursive Essay

      • The applicant must write an essay to convince someone of their point of view.


  • Length: 11-14 minutes

  • Sections:

    • Section 1: Introduction and interview

      • Applicants are asked about general topics about themselves.

    • Section 2: Long Turn

      • Applicants must speak about a particular case.

    • Section 3: Discussion

      • Applicants discuss the topic they spoke of in section 2.

Step 3: Ensure You Can Handle the Time Constraints.

Time constraints can be a hugely limiting factor for those who do not effectively prepare for their language assessment. The best way to ensure you can handle the time constraints is to time your practice tests and ensure you have enough time to not only finish but also have the chance to check your answers upon completion.

Step 4: Practice Multitasking

To improve your English proficiency, particularly in your reading sections, you must be able to both listen to and comprehend spoken conversations, often while asking questions about said conversation.

Step 5: Expose Yourself to English

This is probably the most crucial step, as this is ultimately going to decide whether you're capable of getting the score you need to be admitted to a Canadian academic institution. To do this, you must consume as much English media as possible via reading English books, watching English television and movies, and conversing in English as often as possible, particularly in group activities or with multiple people.

This will give you a natural feel for the language and help you to deal with anything you perhaps aren't prepared for in the final test, as well as help you to assimilate once you make your move to Canada effectively.

It's Time to Start Preparing For Your Future In Canada.

You have all the necessary strategies and a basic understanding of how to fulfill the IELTS criteria to fulfill the Canadian university admission requirements for international students so you can get your letter of acceptance and your Canadian study permit. However, if you're unsure which step you need to take first or if the IELTS is suitable for you, click the button below to talk to an RCIC who can answer any questions you may have.


What is the Application Process for a Canadian Study Permit?

The Canadian Study permit application process is relatively simple. However, it requires several criteria to be fulfilled to be considered eligible to apply, and you must take specific critical steps before you submit your application. You can find a full breakdown of the Canada study permit application process and criteria here.

Can you study in Canada as an international student without IELTS?

Yes. As mentioned before, you can take other language tests to get your CLB. These are:


  • The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)


  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français

  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

Can you do your IELTS assessment online?

Yes, but only if you're from one of the countries listed below.

Argentina Armenia Australia Austria  Azerbaijan  Bahrain Bangladesh  Belarus
Belgium   Brazil   Bulgaria  Cambodia  Canada  Chile  Colombia  Croatia
China Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Egypt Estonia Finland France
Germany Ghana Greece Hong Kong Hungary India Indonesia Ireland
Israel Italy  Japan  Jordan Kazakhstan  Kenya  Kuwait  Laos
Latvia Lebanon Lithuania Malaysia Malta Mexico Myanmar Nepal
Netherlands New Zealand Nigeria North Macedonia Norway Oman Pakistan Peru
Philippines Poland Portugal Qatar Romania Russia Saudi Arabia Serbia
Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sri Lanka United Kingdom
Switzerland Sweden Taiwan, China Thailand Turkey Vietnam Ukraine United Arab Emirates
United States of America Uzbekistan