IELTS General Training: Proving English Language Ability for Canadian Immigration

Last updated: 2 February 2024

Canada's skilled worker immigration programs require that applicants prove their language proficiency in either English or French.

Most candidates take an English exam only. To prove language proficiency in English, each applicant must take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training exam, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) exam, or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Core exam. This CanadaVisa page provides you with an overview of IELTS General Training.

About the IELTS

The IELTS consists of four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The whole test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes and can be completed in one day. The speaking component can also be taken up to seven days before or after the other three components (at the discretion of the test centre).


The listening component lasts for 30 minutes and consists of four audio clips that you must listen to and answer questions about.

  • Conversation: Two speakers
  • Monologue
  • Conversation: Four speakers
  • Lecture

You can read the questions and familiarize yourself with the question types before you listen to the recordings. Listen carefully, as the recordings are played only once.


The reading component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of three passages you will read and answer questions about. The texts are typically taken from books, newspapers, magazines, and journals. You will be asked to:

  • Identify attitudes and perceptions
  • Find detailed information
  • Complete a diagram


The Writing component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of two tasks. Be sure to read the question carefully before composing your text. You will need to:

  • Write a descriptive report of a table or diagram (150 words)
  • Write an essay in response to a statement (250 words).


The Speaking component lasts for 10–15 minutes. It is a face-to-face interview between the candidate and the examiner. It consists of:

  • Introduction and interview
  • Individual talk
  • Discussion topics

Try to speak fluently, using appropriate grammar, and demonstrate a range of vocabulary. Always try to support your opinions and answer the questions with more than "yes" or "no".

Frequently Asked Questions

All applicants to a Canadian skilled worker immigration program that wish to demonstrate their language proficiency in English must take either the IELTS General Training, the CELPIP, or the PTE Core exam.

There are preparation courses available through educational institutions and on the internet. CanadaVisa offers free IELTS practice tests to help you practice English and familiarize yourself with the IELTS exam.

Of the two IELTS exams, only the IELTS General Training exam is accepted for Canadian immigration purposes. You need to take the IELTS General Training to support your immigration application, even if you previously took the IELTS Academic exam.

On the official IELTS website, you can search for your nearest IELTS test centre on the top navigation bar.

The cost varies based on your location. Generally speaking the cost is around $300 CAD.

The whole test takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

  • Listening: 30 minutes
  • Reading: 60 minutes
  • Writing: 60 minutes
  • Speaking: 10–15 minutes

You can expect to get your results for your computer-based test within 3-5 days.

Results are generally issued 13 days after you take a paper-based test.

You can request a remark (called an "Enquiry on Results") within 6 weeks of your test date. This process takes between 2 and 21 days. If your band score changes, IELTS will provide you with a refund for the fee associated with an Enquiry on Results.

In addition, candidates are able to repeat the test whenever they wish. New fees will apply.

No. The IELTS is meant to provide an overall profile of a candidate's English proficiency at a given time. For the results to be accurate, all modules must be taken at the same time.

IELTS results are valid for a period of two years. IELTS results issued within 24 months from the date of submission of an application should remain valid throughout the application process.

IELTS test results correspond to CLB scores as follows:

  • CLB Level 9 - IELTS Listening: 8.0 Reading: 7.0 Writing: 7.0 Speaking: 7.0
  • CLB Level 8 - IELTS Listening: 7.5 Reading: 6.5 Writing: 6.5 Speaking: 6.5
  • CLB Level 7 - IELTS Listening: 6.0 Reading: 6.0 Writing: 6.0 Speaking: 6.0
  • CLB Level 6 - IELTS Listening: 5.5 Reading: 5.0 Writing: 5.5 Speaking: 5.5
  • CLB Level 5 - IELTS Listening: 5.0 Reading: 4.0 Writing: 5.0 Speaking: 5.0
  • CLB Level 4 -IELTS Listening: 4.5 Reading: 3.5 Writing: 4.0 Speaking: 4.0

The tests are the same. The only difference is the experience. For computer-based tests, you enter your results for the Reading, Listening, and Writing parts on a computer. For paper-based tests, you write your answers on a paper. For both tests, the Speaking module is done face-to-face with an examiner.

The level of difficulty for both formats is the same.

One difference to note is the length of time it will take to get your results. IELTS provides results for computer-based tests in 3-5 days and it takes 13 days to get results for paper-based tests.

The score you need to be eligible for Canadian immigration depends on the skilled worker program you are applying to.

The minimum CLB level that is set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is a CLB 4. Some programs have a CLB level 4 requirement.

Other programs have higher language requirements. The requirements tend to vary between a CLB 5 to a CLB 7.

For some programs, the higher your CLB level, the more points you receive. For other programs, you simply need to prove you meet the minimum level as part of the requirements to be eligible for permanent residence.

Canadian immigration language testing rules are set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). They are not set by language testers such as IELTS or CELPIP. According to the Canadian government, the IELTS General Training exam is a more appropriate way to assess the language proficiency of an immigration candidate. The IELTS Academic is meant to test a student's ability to take educational programs in English.

Both exams are accepted for Canadian immigration and both assess your English language skills objectively. Ultimately, you should choose the test you feel most comfortable with.

Contact us for Assistance

Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law features over 60 immigration lawyers, paralegals, and professionals who are dedicated to helping you immigrate to Canada. was founded as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. Since its launch in 1994, CanadaVisa has grown into one of the globe's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. If you want to immigrate to Canada through the PNP or another skilled worker pathway, the first step is to complete a free CanadaVisa assessment form. If you are eligible for Canadian immigration, a member of the Cohen Immigration Law team will reach out to provide you with as much assistance as possible.

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