A Comprehensive guide on IELTS - Your first step to Canada PR
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A Comprehensive Guide on IELTS – Your First Step To Canada PR

Canada has two official languages – English and French – and you must be proficient in one to settle in Canada. In the 2016 census, 29.97 million Canadians (86.2 percent of Canadians) reported knowing English.



Since English is a widely spoken language, it has become a basic requirement to work, live or study in Canada. Consequently, the IELTS becomes your first step to Canada PR.

In this comprehensive guide on IELTS, you will learn everything you need to know to take your first step to Canada PR.

What is the IELTS exam?

The International English Language Testing System, also known as IELTS, is an English language proficiency test for study, migration, or work in English-speaking countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Most universities, schools, immigration authorities, and employers worldwide trust and recognize IELTS. They consider IELTS a reliable indicator for measuring proficiency in English across different skills. 

Canada also accepts IELTS scores to measure English proficiency for immigration to the country. Besides IELTS, three other language tests are also acceptable for immigration to Canada:

  1. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
  2. Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF Canada) and 
  3. Test d’Évaluation du Français (TEF)


4 components of IELTS


Each of these components contains specific tasks to evaluate your language proficiency skills. You can take the reading, writing, and listening tests on the same day, one after the other, with no break between. However, slots for the speaking test can be booked for another day but within seven days of the exam date.

Here’s an overview of what comes in the exam:


Description of all the 4 sections of IELTS exam


Content for the IELTS test is made with extensive research by international experts. It is a level playing field. So, the tests are fair and unbiased to every candidate, regardless of nationality, gender, lifestyle, or location. The IELTS does not measure you on your subject knowledge but on your linguistic skills. And based on the test, you receive your IELTS score, called bands.

Each band means the following:

IELTS ScoreProficiency LevelMeaning
9ExpertComplete command
8Very goodCommand of English with occasional inaccuracies.
7GoodGeneral command despite some inaccuracies up to an operational command with few occasional errors.
6CompetentOperational command, but occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate use, and misunderstandings in some situations. 
5ModestPartial command
4LimitedPartial command, but likely to make many errors.
3Extremely limitedBasic knowledge is limited to familiar situations. Often shows problems in understanding and expression.
2IntermittentCan only convey and understand the general meaning in very familiar situations, and there are frequent breakdowns in communication.
1Non-userGreat difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
0Did not attempt the testDid not answer the questions

There are two types of IELTS exams – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic tests your academic vocabulary, and the results determine whether or not you are ready to study English. IELTS General, on the other hand, tests your everyday English skills. You should choose what suits your goals. For example, take IELTS Academic if your goal is to study in Canada. Otherwise, go for IELTS General training if you want to work or do professional training.

IELTS for Express Entry

There are many ways to apply for Canada’s Federal Economic Immigration Programs. An attractive way is the Express Entry program – the fastest immigration route for Canada PR. Most people apply for immigration through Express Entry only. But it is only for eligible skilled workers who want to work and live in Canada. To be eligible, you must have appropriate qualifications and skills.

Express Entry manages three main federal immigration programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) for skilled workers with foreign experience
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) for skilled workers qualified in a skilled trade
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC) for skilled workers with Canadian work experience

In IELTS, every point counts. Because a good IELTS score can strengthen your Express Entry application and increase your chances of immigration to Canada. And the higher you score, the better opportunities and platforms wait for you in Canada.

What is the minimum IELTS score required for Canada PR?

Obtaining permanent residency or citizenship in Canada requires scoring at least six bands in each category. After that, you can submit your profile for the Express Entry Pool and the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). 

However, some PNPs will accept less than six bands. But it is recommended to score at least 8, 7, 7, 7 if you want to improve your chances to receive an invitation to apply (ITA), as this will increase your overall CRS score.

Here’s a list of minimum IELTS scores required for the Express Entry program:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

CLB LevelPoints per subcategoryListeningReadingSpeakingWriting
746.0 – 7.06.06.06.0
857.56.56.56.5
968.07.07.07.0
10 or more68.5 – 9.08.0 – 9.07.5-9.07.5-9.0

2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

CLB LevelListeningReadingSpeakingWriting
44.53.54.04.0
55.04.05.05.0
65.55.05.55.5
76.06.06.06.0
87.56.56.56.5
98.07.07.07.0
10 and above8.5 – 9.08.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.07.5 – 9.0

3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

NOCCLB LevelListeningReadingSpeakingWriting
A10 and above8.5 – 9.08.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.07.5 – 9.0
A98.07.07.07.0
A87.56.56.56.5
A76.06.06.06.0
B65.55.05.55.5
B55.04.05.05.0

How long are IELTS results valid for?

IELTS results are valid for two years from the date of issue. Once your Express Entry registration expires, you are no longer eligible to receive ITAs for permanent residency. However, you can retake the IELTS test at any time.

How to apply for Canada PR with a low IELTS score?

There are chances that you may have got low IELTS scores required for Canada PR. In that case, you can always retake the IELTS test as there are no restrictions on how many times you can retake the exam. 

Retaking IELTS is not the only option with low IELTS scores. There are more than 80 programs for immigration to Canada. Some immigration programs require a low IELTS score for Canada PR. 

For example, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are an attractive way to immigrate to Canada with low IELTS scores.

Some of the PNPs are as follows:

  • Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program
  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program
  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program

Besides these programs, Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) and Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) are other immigration programs with low IELTS scores for Canada PR Visa.

What are IELTS Exam Fees?

There are two exam formats for IELTS: paper-based and computer-based. The exam fees for both are as follows:

  • Paper-based exam: INR 14,700
  • Computer-based test: INR 14,700

Tips to achieve high scores in IELTS

Before you begin preparing for IELTS, find out

A Comprehensive guide on IELTS - Your first step to Canada PR


Start by mastering the basics of the English language. Next, master the language. Different people take different amounts of time; take yours.

Below is a section-by-section list of the best tips you can use to achieve a good score in IELTS exams:

Tips to achieve a high score in IELTS Listening Test

  • Before test
    • Start listening to news, TV, and online videos in English,
    • Familiarize yourself with all the test questions in the listening section, e.g., multiple-choice, labeling, matching, etc.

  • During test
    • Listen to the audio instructions carefully as they are not printed in the booklet.
    • Read the test instructions carefully regarding word limit, as you may lose points if you exceed the word limit.
    • Read the questions before listening. Around 30-60 seconds are there to read them beforehand.
    • Underline the keywords and listen to synonyms and paraphrases.
    • Imagine the situation and then formulate the answer. 
    • Pay close attention to the negative words, such as not, no, never, etc.
    • Review the answers within the 30-second pause provided after each section.
    • Transfer responses from the booklet to the answer sheet within 10 minutes.
    • Use correct spelling and grammar in your answers.

Tips to achieve a high score in IELTS Reading Test

  • Before test
    • Read English magazines, journals, and books. Underline less common words.
    • Practice guessing the meaning of an unfamiliar word based on the context. If it’s still unclear, look it up in the dictionary.
    • Familiarize yourself with the differences in test format between the general training and academic IELTS test modules.
    • Practice reading a text within a specific time frame.
    • Practice reading techniques, such as intensive reading, skimming, and scanning.

  • During test
    • Read the instructions carefully.
    • Underline important information and take notes in the reading passage.
    • Divide the time evenly and keep track of time.
    • Transfer all answers to the answer sheet and avoid blank spaces.

Tips to achieve a high score in IELTS Speaking Test

  • Before test
    • Speak in English as much as possible.
    • Read English books, watch movies, series, documentaries, etc., in English. Think about why you like or dislike the content.
    • Speak in English before entering the exam room.

  • During test
    • Remain calm and do not rush the words.
    • Give detailed explanations that are relevant to the topic.
    • Correct yourself without panicking if you make a mistake.
    • Ask the examiner for clarification or repetition if you have difficulty understanding the question.
    • Pay attention to your body language.
    • Use a neutral tone when speaking.

Tips to achieve a high score in IELTS Writing Test

  • Before test
    • Improve command over grammar.
    • Search the Internet for IELTS sample essays and analyze them based on essay structure, task setting, coherence, sentence variety, and vocabulary.

  • During test
    • Analyze each task and underline the keywords carefully.
    • Frame your sentences and words and refrain from using words in the questions.

All the sections carry equal weightage, and you must practice them all with equal effort. However, pay more attention to the section you are least familiar with. You can read our comprehensive guide to achieve a high score in IELTS  to maximize your IELTS score.

Is there any alternative to IELTS?

Not long ago, IELTS was the only option for an English language test. Now there are alternatives to IELTS. And one good alternative to IELTS is CELPIP. 

CELPIP, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, is a general English language proficiency test like IELTS. It assesses your ability to perform well in English in everyday situations, such as communicating with colleagues and supervisors at work, interacting with friends, understanding news broadcasts, and interpreting and responding to written material. 

The CELPIP has become very popular in recent years as an alternative to the IELTS. Read our comprehensive guide on CELPIP – an alternative to IELTS to learn more about it. After that, you can decide which exams suit you best for your immigration to Canada.