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A Comparative Analysis of Language Tests Accepted by IRCC for Canadian Immigration


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Thurs, 08th February 2024

On January 30, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) expanded its range of accepted language tests for immigration purposes, now including the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Core for all immigration programs except the Student Direct Stream (SDM).

This development warrants a closer examination of how the PTE Core compares to other IRCC-approved tests, namely the CELPIP General Test and the IELTS General Training in English, along with tests for French proficiency.

About Canadian Language Benchmark- CLB

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) serves as the foundation for assessing language proficiency in English or French for various immigration programs managed by IRCC, including Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs. There are also two tests that candidates can use to obtain their Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score in French. These are the TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français and the TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français. It evaluates candidates across reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities, with minimum CLB score requirements varying across programs.

How do the three English language tests compare?

The PTE Core, distinguished by its computer-based format, comprises three modules: speaking and writing, reading, and listening. Unique to PTE Core is its exclusive use of scoring technology without human examiner interaction. Scores range from 0 to 90, with corresponding CLB equivalencies ranging from 7 to 9. This test, lasting approximately two hours and conducted in over 475 global locations.

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CELPIP, an acronym for the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, simplifies score conversion by aligning its four categories numerically with CLB benchmark levels. This test, taking about three hours to complete, is available in 23 countries.

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IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, evaluates candidates across four abilities and assigns band scores, with CLB equivalencies corresponding to these bands. Candidates aiming for CLB 7, for instance, must achieve a minimum IELTS score of 6 across all four categories. IELTS tests, lasting around two hours and 45 minutes, can be completed either on paper or on a computer, with costs similar to CELPIP.

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Express Entry, Canada's application management system for economic immigration programs, sets minimum CLB score requirements tailored to specific programs. For instance, candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) must attain CLB 7 in all four categories, while those in the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) require lower CLB levels in certain categories, reflecting the linguistic demands of their respective occupations.

Those in the CEC also require a CLB 7 but only if their occupation falls under a National Occupation Classification (NOC) TEER of 0 or 1. If a CEC candidate’s NOC TEER is 2-3, they must have a minimum CLB of 5.

Candidates applying for Express Entry through the FSTP require a minimum CLB level of 5 for speaking and listening, and a level 4 for reading and writing. Canada is expecting to admit 110,770 Express Entry candidates in 2024 and this will rise to 117,500 in both 2025 and 2026.

In summary, while the PTE Core joins the ranks of IRCC-accepted language tests, candidates must carefully consider factors such as test format, scoring method, availability, and cost when choosing the most suitable option for their immigration journey to Canada.

If you seek support in applying for Canadian immigration for Canada Permanent Residency, reach out to SIEC Migration experts today. Our experts are ready to guide you through the Canadian PR process.

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