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Approved English Tests for Canada Immigration: IELTS, CELPIP & PTE

Published on: February 5th, 2024

Almost every category of economic immigration to Canada requires the results of an English test in order to apply. The version of the test that you need to take, and the score you need to get, depend on the specific program you are applying for.

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When it comes to immigrating to Canada, one important aspect is proving your ability to communicate effectively in English through approved language tests. These tests are essential as they evaluate your language skills, ensuring that you have the necessary abilities to become a part of Canadian society. Recognized language proficiency tests like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE), serve as standardized measures to assess how well you can use English.

Having a strong command of the English language is vital for seamless integration into Canadian life. Proficient language skills empower immigrants to communicate effectively in both daily and professional settings. This linguistic competence is crucial for securing employment, pursuing educational opportunities, and fostering meaningful relationships with others. Furthermore, a solid grasp of English facilitates a smoother adaptation for immigrants, making it easier for them to settle into their new lives in Canada.

For this reason, the Canadian immigration system places significant emphasis on language proficiency, using approved tests as fair and objective measures to evaluate applicants. Attaining a high level of English proficiency not only increases your chances of a successful immigration process but also sets the stage for a more enriching and inclusive experience in the diverse and multicultural environment that Canada offers.

English Language Tests Accepted by Canadian Government

For Canadian immigration, you have to provide language test results from an authorized organization.

There are three current authorized test providers in English, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the Pearson English Test (PTE).

IRCC does not have a preferred test. Since results from all three tests are valued equally, you can choose to take whichever test is more convenient for you.

No matter which language test you take, the results must be from within the last two years (24 months) to be valid.

IELTS, CELPIP and PTE  all assign a score for each of four language abilities: listening, reading, writing and speaking.


IELTS is an internationally available English proficiency test. We usually recommend our clients take the IELTS for their immigration file, and provide them with IELTS training, because there are many testing centers around the world. There are two categories of IELTS: General Training and Academic. For Canadian immigration, you should take the IELTS – General Training.   IELTS results provide a score for each language ability, as well as an overall band score that averages your results in each ability. For Canadian immigration purposes, your overall band score does not matter.


CELPIP was designed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Unlike the IELTS, which are designed for international English proficiency, the CELPIP was designed for Canadian English, which contains elements of British English and American English, as well as Canadian accents.  There are two CELPIP test types: the General Test and the General LS Test. For immigration, you have to take the CELPIP – General Test. Originally, the CELPIP could only be taken from within Canada, but it’s now expanded internationally with test centers in United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Philippines, India, China, and the United States.


The Pearson Test of English Core (PTE Core). is a new English test that was developed by Pearson to meet IRCC’s language proficiency requirements for Canadian immigration applicants. Like the other language tests, the PTE will test on the four areas of language ability; reading, writing, listening and speaking. 

Pearson Canada Inc. is the organization responsible for overseeing the administration of the Pearson Test of English Core (PTE Core).


What Score do I Need?

Most Canadian economic immigration programs have minimum language requirements, but they are not all the same. The score you need to get will depend on the program you’re applying to.

In addition to minimum requirements, many programs also operate on points systems. Points may be awarded for things like age, work experience, and education, in addition to language proficiency. Depending on your profile, the language test score you need to qualify could be different from the minimum requirement.

Our advice is to give it your best effort. If you don’t like your results, you can also take the test again to try to improve them. The important thing to remember is that these are tests. Even if you are confident in your English or French language ability, you should prepare by studying and doing practice tests.

Preparing for an English Test for Canadian Immigration

First, find out which test you need to take, like IELTS, PTE, or CELPIP. Learn about the test format and practice with official materials and sample tests online. Get comfortable with the test conditions and time limits. You can also join classes or get a tutor for extra help.

Apart from test practice, work on improving your English skills in general. Read, listen, speak, and write in English every day. Watch English movies and TV series, listen to podcasts, and read news articles. Practice talking with friends or join study groups. Use language learning apps and tools to help with words and grammar. When practicing, try to create test-like conditions to manage your time better and build confidence. With a step-by-step approach like this, you can increase your chances of doing well on the English test for Canadian immigration.




Did you know?

Canada is a bilingual country, so you may be able to increase your eligibility by submitting test results in both official languages, English and French. However, you do not need to be bilingual to qualify to immigrate to Canada.

Exploring French Language Proficiency as a Valuable Option in Canadian Immigration

If you’re considering immigrating to Canada, it’s crucial to demonstrate your proficiency in at least one of Canada’s official languages, either English or French. Testing for both languages is valid, and proficiency in either language can significantly enhance your chances in the immigration process to Canada.

Some individuals opt for French language tests for diverse reasons, including accessibility or it being their native language. Bur one of the main reasons is the fact that the Express Entry system has introduced the category “French language proficiency” issuing invitations exclusively for individuals with a high level of proficiency in the French language, along with other requirements. So, if French is your native language or you possess a strong command of it, by taking language proficiency exams or improving your previous scores, you can now gain a significant advantage over other applicants in the Express Entry system.

To showcase your proficiency in French, you can opt for either the Test d’évaluation de français pour le Canada (TEF Canada), administrated by The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Test de Connaissance du Français pour le Canada (TCF Canada), administrated by France Éducation International.

There are two types of TEF available: the TEF and the TEFAQ. We usually recommend that you take the TEF. The TEFAQ is only accepted for Quebec immigration, while the TEF is accepted by both Quebec and federal immigration.

For more information about the French language test, please refer to the complete article at French Language Test for Canadian Immigration

Did you know?

In October 2020, Canadian government increased the number of points awarded to Express Entry candidates with strong French proficiency. If you are trying to improve your ranking in the Express Entry pool, scoring well on one of Canada’s accepted French language exams can significantly increase your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

Canadian Language Benchmark

No matter which test you take, your results will be converted into Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), or Niveaux de competence linguistique canadiens (NCLC), levels. CLB levels run from 4 (poor) to 10 (excellent). When Canadian immigration programs indicate a language requirement, they usually refer to a CLB level.

Example: Say a program has a minimum language requirement of CLB 4. That means that your lowest score among the four language abilities must be at least CLB 4. If you score below that level on any of the abilities, you will not meet the minimum language requirement.

Learn how to convert your test results to CLB.

At Canadim, we are with you every step of the way. We don’t just prepare our client’s immigration file; we prepare our clients for their new life in Canada too!  Our free online assessment can help you discover all of your options to move to Canada permanently.

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