With the fall 2020 semester just around the corner, prospective international students around the world are preparing their applications to study in Canada.
Each Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) sets their own admissions policies. DLIs are colleges, universities, and other educational institutes that are allowed by the government to welcome international students.
DLIs assess criteria such as an applicant’s transcripts, professional background, motivation letter, and academic and professional recommendations. They also assess your language skills.
It is important that you check with the DLIs you are applying to before deciding upon which language test to take.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, language testers have had to scale back their operations to comply with government lockdown orders around the world. However, they are also offering online tests to help international students meet the admissions requirements of Canadian schools.
Here are language testing options widely accepted by Canadian DLIs, discussed in alphabetical order:
The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test is operated by Paragon Testing Enterprises. It is accepted by over 180 universities and colleges across Canada, including all English-speaking universities and 82 per cent of English-speaking colleges. According to Paragon’s website, CAEL is set to once again be available in India, the Philippines, the UAE, and in most of Canada by early June.
Test results are available within 8 business days.
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency exams offered by Cambridge Assessment English are accepted by over 200 schools in Canada including nearly all public universities.
Test results are available within 2-3 weeks for computer-based tests, and 4-6 weeks for paper-based tests (both of which must be completed at a Cambridge test centre).
These exams are generally taken after students have completed English language courses. As such, tests are more in-depth to prepare students to be able to put their English language skills to good use in real-life contexts, including higher education. C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency certificates are valid for life, which means that some institutions in Canada accept results that are older than 2 years. Cambridge is reopening its global test centres as local regulations allow and advises students to contact their local test centres for the latest information.
The IELTS Academic test is operated by three partners: IDP Education, the British Council, and Cambridge Assessment English. This test is accepted by some 400 Canadian universities and colleges. It is currently available in over 30 countries, but is usually administered in more than 140 countries.
Results are available after 13 days for paper-based tests and within 5-7 days for computer-based tests.
In response to the pandemic, the three partners recently introduced the IELTS Indicator as a temporary measure to help international students complete their English test online. IELTS Indicator is taken online from the candidate’s home.
The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training (both of which can only be completed in person at an IELTS test centre) are the only English tests approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for students that want to fast-track their study permit application.
Under IRCC’s Student Direct Stream (SDS), residents of India, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco, and Senegal can get their study permit processed within 20 calendar days, so long as they meet certain criteria, including obtaining a score of at least 6.0 on each skill of the IELTS (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).
IRCC accepts both paper-based as well as computer-delivered IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training test results.
The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is accepted by 90 per cent of Canada’s universities and colleges. Normally available in over 50 countries, PTE is currently available in over 10 countries, including in much of India.
Test results are available for most people within 2 days.
Pearson is also offering its Versant test online during the coronavirus period so that international students can get their English assessed at home. Versant test results are available immediately after the test has been completed.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is accepted by over 400 Canadian universities and colleges including 100 per cent of universities.
Results are available within 6 days.
The TOEFL iBT (“Internet-based Test”) is usually available in over 150 countries but the administrator of the test, Education Testing Service (“ETS”) has had to scale-back operations just like every other tester. Test dates are becoming more available for students in locations around the world in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, ETS is temporarily offering the TOEFL Special Home Edition iBT to international students in every country where it runs tests except for mainland China and Iran.
Results are available after 6-10 days.
There are other options available to international students. For instance, there are tests that are offered by individual institutions themselves, such as the University of Toronto, and McGill University.
Before registering for an English language test, make sure that the DLIs you are applying to accept the test. In addition, make sure to confirm that the DLIs will accept online tests that are currently being offered during the COVID-19 period.
Many international students go on to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit and then apply for Canadian permanent resident status. Before submitting your Canadian immigration application, you need to take another language test, and the two English tests accepted by IRCC are the IELTS General and the CELPIP.
Fortunately, your English skills will be even stronger by the time you take either test due to the time you will have spent learning, working, and socializing in Canada.
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