Immigration to Canada: when to take the IELTS test?

British Council IELTS
Published: February 7, 2024

British Council

If you're contemplating going through an immigration process in Canada this year, remember that mastering the IELTS test is a crucial part of the process.

Find out when's the perfect time to embark on this challenge and how to get ready for it. Your Canadian dream awaits!

Begin your IELTS Journey on the Path to an Immigration Process in Canada

As you know, proving English language proficiency with an official certification is required for most of the immigration pathways in Canada. In this article, we'll go over past Express Entry draws trends to somewhat predict the best times of the year for you to take the IELTS Test with the British Council, which is accepted by the IRCC, and achieve your immigration goals. Plus, we've got some great insights on effective preparation methods.

Click here to receive free preparation material!

Immigration to Canada: Express Entry

Canada Express Entry is a points-based immigration program designed to facilitate the efficient selection and admission of skilled immigrants to Canada.

Applicants create an online profile, where they are assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability.

Periodically, the Canadian Government, IRCC, conducts draws from the Express Entry pool, inviting candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residency.

If you are interested in doing your immigration process to apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry program, it would be helpful to know the draw trend from 2023.

How did the draws trend last year?

According to the Express Entry Pool, we can say that they happened every two weeks, but sometimes the time between them was shorter. For example, let's look at December and the first four months of last year:

Month and date Number of invitations issued
December 6th, 7th, 8th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 23rd 4,750, 1,000, 5,900, 1,325, 1,000, 670, and 400 invitations were issued, respectively, on each date.
January 11th and 18th 5,500 invitations issued on each date.
February 1st, 2nd, and 15th 893, 3,300 and 699 invitations were issued, respectively, on each date.
March 1st, 25th, 23rd, and 29th 667 invitations were issued on the first date and 7,000 on each of the other three.
April 12th, and 26th 3,500 invitations were issued on each of both dates.

Here is a graph to have a better comprehension of the data all year long:

British Council

It appears that March had the highest number of invitations issued, with over 21,000, while in November there weren’t invitations. You should note that these numbers, dates, and frequency vary depending on various factors related to IRCC such as backlog, market assessment, needs, etc.

Even though there is no way of predicting upcoming draws, it is useful to have a general overview of the frequency and trend of invitations.

What about CRS scores?

The CRS score is considered in immigration processes in Canada to be invited to any of the draws. To give you a general idea, here are the minimum CRS cutoff scores from 2023 for non-program specific or general draws.

British Council 2

And while the general draws average between 481 after large consecutive draws in March to 542 in December after a pause in November. Other program specific draws targeting certain occupations or skills had variable CRS scores with the lowest being:

  • Provincial Nominees (PNP): 691
  • Agriculture and agri-food occupations: 354
  • Foreign Skilled Worker Program nominees (FSWP): 489
  • Healthcare occupations: 431
  • STEM occupations: 481
  • Transport occupations: 435
  • Trades occupations: 388
  • French language proficiency: 435

You should note that Language proficiency also adds points to your overall score, which is why you must be prepared to take the IELTS test.

Prepare for the IELTS test with the British Council and receive free and exclusive material

When would be the best time to take the IELTS test?

If we refer to the first chart and follow last year's pattern, it becomes evident that March had the highest number of invitations issued. With this in mind, you shouldn’t leave your IELTS preparation until the last minute.

It is recommended to prepare for the test at least one or two months in advance before taking it, considering your current English language proficiency and your target score. So, if you want to apply for any Canadian immigration program in the first four months of 2024, January and February are the best months to start studying.

However, you should check the application deadlines of the institutions or immigration authorities you are applying to. You should also know that all IELTS tests have a two-year expiry date from the time you take them. Make sure you'll have your results on time, don't leave your booking for the last minute.

How to prepare for the IELTS test?

Now that you know the importance of practicing for the IELTS test, here are materials and options that the British Council provides:

  • IELTS Ready Member: this is a free resource that allows you to start preparing for the test without booking it. You will access 6 mock exams, practice exercises, tips and videos, and webinars.
  • IELTS Ready Premium: it’s a free tool, available exclusively to all British Council IELTS test takers after booking it. It includes comments and feedback from exam experts, 40 mock exams, question-and-answer models, masterclasses, and practice exercises regarding the four sections.
  • IELTS prep app: downloaded on your phone to help you practice on the go, it allows you to familiarize yourself with the test format, get grammar tips for the test day, and access free practice tests and sample questions, among other things.
  • Webinars: these free webinars take place every week. You will explore the test format, get advice to obtain a successful score, and ask any questions you may have to the exam experts.
  • Practice tests: you can take them as many times as you want. They will help you build your confidence, get familiar with time conditions, and detect your improvement areas.
  • IELTS practice online and 1-1 tutoring: you will get a more personalized experience and you have two options: rapid revision, which includes 5 sessions, and advanced study, which includes 20 sessions.

Why should you take the IELTS exam with the British Council?

If you are wondering why this is your best option, it's worth noting that it is one of the IRCC-approved language tests and is recognized by over 12,000 organizations and institutions in approximately 150 countries.

As you can see, it is applicable to Canadian immigration processes, such as the Permanent Residence application. Keep in mind that the IELTS General Training is the suitable test for this purpose.

Unlock your Canadian dream: now is the perfect time to begin your IELTS journey on the path to permanent residency!


CanadaVisa. (2024, January 16). Express Entry: Every Canada Immigration Visa draw result.

Robitaille, E. (2023, December 22). 2023 Express Entry Year in review. CIC News.

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