What is a Good IELTS Score for Immigrating to Canada?

What is a Good IELTS Score for Immigrating to Canada?

By Clara N.

You have been dreaming about relocating to Canada! In fact not a day passes by without you thinking about what life in Canada would look like or be like. You finally have that job offer you had been waiting for or like many other people, you are just looking for greener pastures to be able to provide for your family. 

Whatever your reasons, getting an opportunity to live and work in Canada would be a dream come true for many.

The vast majority of newcomers to Canada become residents through economic immigration programs (aim to positively affect the Canadian economy). Canada’s immigration targets for 2018-2020 indicate that nearly 200,000 new economic immigrants will be welcomed to the country each year. This means that there are many opportunities for foreign nationals with the skills needed to fill labour gaps in the Canadian economy.

The majority of economic immigration programs aim to attract skilled workers to Canada. Skilled workers are able to fill shortages in Canada’s labour force and build lasting careers contributing to the Canadian economy. Skilled worker immigration programs are permanent resident programs, and successful applicants receive Canadian permanent resident status.

There are numerous immigration requirements that must be met. One of them is taking an English proficiency test i.e. the IELTS exam.

IELTS test scores – CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) equivalencies

The Canadian Immigration states that you MUST take the IELTS General test and NOT the IELTS Academic option.

In order to assess how language scores translate to Canadian immigration, the Government of Canada created a system called the Canadian Language Benchmark Levels (CLB Levels) which converts scores from the IELTS language test  into the same equivalencies, so they can be compared to each other. There are 10 CLB Levels. The higher someone scores, the more points they will receive in points assessments and ranking systems. 

The table below compares the IELTS scores to the CLB Levels

CLB LevelReadingWritingListeningSpeaking
10 and above8.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.08.5 – 9.07.5 – 9.0

Improving your IELTS score is the number one way to increase your Express Entry points. On their own, good IELTS results can get you up to 160 points.

But if you have good IELTS and post-secondary education, you can get an additional 50 points. Good IELTS scores and at least three years of work experience can get you another 50 points.

You need to score at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 to be eligible for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Worker program which is at least 6.0 on each language ability on the IELTS. But if you can score CLB 9 in all language abilities, you could be looking at up to 260 Express Entry points for just your language ability.

You can also take the IELTS as many times as you want to. You can even update your Express Entry profile with new IELTS test results after you submit your profile to the pool.

What can higher IELTS scores do for you?

Getting a higher Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score can mean an incredible difference in your CRS score for Express Entry. Combined with your other skills transferability factors, like education, a slight increase in your CLB score could result in an increase of close to 100 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points. Take a look at these two hypothetical Express Entry profiles:

Profile 1

  • A single applicant
  • Age 30
  • Holder of a Bachelor’s degree or a three-year diploma
  • Three or more years of skilled work experience outside of Canada
  • Close relative residing in Canada
  • Obtain language test results to support a CLB 7

Total CRS Points: 346

Profile 2

  • A single applicant
  • Age 30
  • Holder of a Bachelor’s degree or a three-year diploma
  • Three or more years of skilled work experience outside of Canada
  • Close relative residing in Canada
  • Obtain language test results to support a CLB 9

Total CRS Points: 439

As you can see, there is almost a 100 point difference between these two nearly identical candidates.

What is the difference?

The second profile has a CLB score that is two points higher than the first. In order for the first candidate to improve their language score and get that huge CRS boost, they would only need to score one or two points higher on each section of the IELTS.

CategoryCLB 7CLB 9
Writing 6.07.0

This is why it is so important to train for the IELTS. Just a small improvement can help you get closer to the CRS cut off score for an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Learning & Testing Services (LTS) of East Africa provides IELTS test preparation packages options to help test-takers prepare for the IELTS test and get you a better score. This extra bit of IELTS preparation might just be what pushes your application over the cut off score!

Immigration tip

Register to take your IELTS early. That way, if you don’t do as well as you hoped, you have time to retake them before you submit your profile. You can always update your profile, but if you wait until after you’re in the pool to improve your score, you could be missing out on draws.




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