English Language Tests for International Students in Canada

Are you looking to study in Canada this fall? Here is a review of government-approved English language tests widely accepted by Canadian universities and colleges.

With the fall 2021 semester not far away, many soon-to-be international students around the world are preparing their applications to study in Canada.

Each Canadian educational institution sets its own admissions policies. They assess criteria such as an applicant’s transcripts, motivation letter, professional background, and professional and academic recommendations.

They also assess your language abilities. You must check with the designated learning institution (DLI) you are applying to before deciding which English language tests to take.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, language testers have had to scale down their operations to comply with government lockdown restriction orders worldwide.

However, they are also offering online tests to help students meet the admissions requirements of Canadian higher institutions.

What Are English Language Tests?


English Language tests are used to evaluate an individual’s linguistic skills. It involves your participation in a paper-based, computer-based, or online test to measure your level of understanding of a particular language.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the world, as earlier mentioned, numerous test centers for language proficiency tests are currently unavailable to attend to prospective international students and immigrants.

Thus, provisions were made for these language proficiency tests to be conducted online without risking students’ lives.

Moreover, the majority of language proficiency tests are valid only for two years and won’t be accepted after the validation period.

English Language Proficiency Test In Canada

Regarding Canada, English and French are widely spoken in many of her provinces and territories.

In 2016, a census reported that 56.0% of Canada’s overall population communicates in the English language, while 21.4% of Canadians use the French language.

This indicates that many Canadian citizens and residents prefer to communicate in English.

Besides, many Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) make it mandatory for prospective international students to provide proof or certification that ascertains that they are well-versed in English.

IRCC Approved Language Test

If you aspire to study in Canada, you must undergo a language proficiency test, mainly in English or French. Therefore, language tests are essential for prospective Canadian international students and immigrants.

However, the English language proficiency test will evaluate your ability to speak, listen, read and write while using the language. Therefore, each Canadian DLI requests its applicants to provide proof of proficiency in a certain language.

So it is in your best interest to check the university’s official website to confirm the required language proficiency test.

Language Test Options For International Students To Study In Canada

Here are language testing options approved and widely accepted by Canadian educational institutions:

  1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  2. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  3. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
  4. Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Test
  5. Duolingo English Test
  6. Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
  7. Cambridge Assessment English Test

#1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is one of international students’ top English language test options. It is under the control of Cambridge Assessment English, British Council, and International Development Program IELTS Australia.

Many Designated Learning Institutions in Canada acknowledge IELTS. It offers international students two options: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

More so, IELTS does not require you to pass any minimum score. Instead, the International English Language Testing System results are rated from “band 1 to band 9”. If you are yet to partake in the test, you will be rated “band 0”.

Thus, if you had a paper-based IELTS at accredited test centers, your IELTS Test Report Form (TRF) will be available in about 13 days. However, results are quickly sorted within 5 to 7 days if you go for IELTS computer-based tests.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) accept test results of paper-based and computer-based IELTS from international students.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic urged its management to make provisions for a temporary measure that allows international students to do IELTS online.

#2. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL):

TOEFL is a renowned language test option for international students and is acknowledged by more than 400 Canadian DLIs. It was initially held by Modern Language Association in 1964.

However, TOEFL is now a registered Educational Testing Service (ETS) brand. It is the most preferred English language proficiency test for international students.

Thus, you can opt for TOEFL as you can get your test result in a maximum of 6 days. TOEFL Internet-Based test (iBT) is increasingly replacing paper-based and computer-based tests of TOEFL.

As a prospective international student, you can take advantage of TOEFL Special Home Edition to comfortably take your test anywhere without going to a test center.

This offer is temporarily available to international students in countries where it operates. Besides, you cannot benefit from this offer if you’re presently in mainland China and Iran.

Furthermore, Tests of English as a Foreign Language usually last for about 4 hours and will give rise to the assessment of your reading, listening, speaking, and writing abilities in the English language.

If you enrolled for TOEFL Special Home Edition, your test result would be available between 6 to 10 days.

#3. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP):

CELPIP is under the supervision of Paragon Testing Enterprises, which is an affiliate of the University of British Columbia. This program is used to assess a foreign national’s proficiency in the English language.

As a test taker of CELPIP, you can choose either CELPIP-General or CELPIP-General LS. After 4 to 5 days of taking the test, you can access your CELPIP test scores online upon receipt of a notification in your email.

This is possible through your CELPIP online account. You can also request a hard copy of your CELPIP score reports for CAD20.

Additionally, to facilitate your application to study in Canada, you need to download the PDF format of your CELPIP test scores through your CELPIP account. Then, you will have to submit the result to IRCC.

#4. Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Test:

CAEL is another English language test option for international students under Paragon Testing Enterprises’ administration. Also, most universities and colleges in Canada accept international students’ results from the Canadian Academic English Language Test.

In addition, CAEL provides two different options to test takers. You can choose to have CAEL Online or CAEL at a test center. Regardless of your choice, you still have the same test questions.

More so, CAEL at a test center is a computer-based test available in several countries, including Canada, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States of America, China, the Philippines, and India. Both are conducted within 3.5 hours.

Furthermore, you can access more than 15 CAEL free online courses on YouTube, free webinars, and sample tests while preparing for the test. Finally, for added comfort, you can register for CAEL Online, available in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Columbia.

However, test takers of CAEL can access their results within eight working days of taking the test.

#5. Duolingo English Test:

Duolingo English test is another way of certifying your proficiency in the English language. It is an online test that can be completed in less than 60 minutes.

More than 3000 universities and colleges worldwide are accepting Duolingo English Tests.

Besides, CAEL keeps you safe since you do not need to travel to any test center. It is also very affordable as you won’t spend more than $49 on all processes.

Registering for the Duolingo English Test will subject you to an adaptive test that measures your English language skills, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Also, you need to undergo a video interview, which lasts for up to 10 minutes. The video interview involves recording your answers to some open-ended questions.

Hence, it would help if you had an internet-enabled computer with a functioning webcam, microphone, and speakers. During the registration process, your identification card will be requested.

You can make use of your international passport or any government-issued identification. Thus, your results for the Duolingo English Test will be available within 48 hours

#6. Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic):

PTE Academic is one of the most trusted English language test options for international students and visa applicants. You can register for PTE Academic at any time of the year.

Up to 90% of Canadian universities and colleges acknowledge PTE Academic for international students. Besides, you can access your test results for PTE Academic in less than two days.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, its management had to avail an online testing (Versant English Placement Test – VEPT) of PTE Academic to international students. Through VEPT, you will be opportune to access your results a few moments after taking the test.

#7. Cambridge Assessment English Test:

Cambridge Assessment English Test is a subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. They also co-founded the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

The English Test aims at enlightening international students on several English skills. In addition, it will help you to prove your skills in the English language.

Cambridge Assessment English avails various English qualifications. This includes A2 Key, B1 Preliminary, B2 First, C1 Advanced, and C2 Proficiency.

Therefore, C1 Advanced (Cambridge English: Advanced) and C2 Proficiency (Cambridge English: Proficiency) are recommended for international students.

They are both accepted by the majority of Canadian universities and colleges. They also consist of 4 papers, with an examination length of about 4 hours.

Hence, C1 Advanced will allow you to have proof of high-level competency in the English language. It is accepted by 9,000+ universities, colleges, businesses, and government entities in various regions.

C2 proficiency is the highest level examination proving your outstanding English language skills. Depending on your choice, you can go for a computer-based or paper-based test. You also need to know that its paper-based test and computer-based test must be administered at a Cambridge test center.

Additionally, after taking a computer-based test for Cambridge Assessment English, your result will be available between 2 to 3 weeks. For paper-based tests, your test result will be available between 4 to 6 weeks.

Ultimately, your chances of getting an acceptance letter from a Canadian university or college will improve when you have a higher score on your language proficiency test.

Moreover, your application for international study will not be processed if you fail to attach a copy of your language proficiency test result.

Also ReadHow to get scholarships in Canada for International Students.

FAQ about English Language Tests Options for International Students to Study in Canada

Why language proficiency test?

Language proficiency test allows you to certify your skills in a specific language by taking a recognized language examination or test.

Does the English language test for international students have a validity period?

Yes, most language proficiency tests are valid for two years.

How can I find my IELTS certificate number?

Your IELTS certificate number can be found on your Test Report Form (TRF). You can also find the certificate number in the lower part of the unofficial online result.


In conclusion, English language tests for international students in Canada are a great way to ensure that you are well-prepared for your studies. With the right preparation and practice, you can ace your test and be on your way to a successful future in Canada.

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