By IELTS Expert

31 October 2022 - 10:10

Two girls walk in the streets of Toronto

In this article, you’ll find out about study and work opportunities in Canada, and how the IELTS test can help you if you've decided to immigrate. You’ll also learn about the various scholarships available in Canada and how to apply for them:

If you want to live in a country that embraces multiculturalism, has a booming economy, offers a high quality of life and has the reputation of being one of the safest places on earth, then Canada will be an obvious choice.  

It is hardly surprising then that in 2021 alone, the country welcomed over 400,000 new permanent residents in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic’s many challenges (, 2022). In fact, the Canadian government set a new record by welcoming the most immigrants in a single year in its history, surpassing the previous best recorded in 1913. This is good news for anyone wanting to move there, as it is a clear indication that the government will continue prioritising immigration as they build the Canada of tomorrow.

The IELTS test for Canada 

The IELTS test assesses your English proficiency on a scale from 1 to 9 in four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Its reputation as one of the world’s most popular high-stakes English language tests makes IELTS ideal for completing the immigration process or for obtaining a study or work visa. Therefore, IELTS is all you will need to demonstrate your English abilities to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in order to obtain a Canadian visa.  

The IELTS score you need will depend on the requirements of your visa and the requirements set by the organisation where you plan to study or work. These requirements will also help you decide which test you should take – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.  

The best way to sit IELTS is by registering with the British Council, the world’s English experts. The test can be taken at one of British Council’s official test centres in your country. All you need to do is check the IELTS test dates online and choose one that is convenient.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made IELTS an approved language test you can take to prove your language ability. Producing good IELTS scores will automatically improve your chances of moving to Canada to study or work, or to immigrate with your family. 

Although you’ll find some general guidance in this article, you should ideally check whether you need to sit IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training before you book your test. Click here to find out more about the two tests so that you can decide which one is right for you. When you take the IELTS test with the British Council, you also get to choose how you take your test – on paper or on computer.

Book your IELTS test with the British Council now!

How IELTS can help you study in Canada 

If you intend to study in Canada, you must apply for a study permit, and to do this, you will need to demonstrate your English abilities to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Across Canada, universities and colleges accept IELTS, as well as professional associations that have set minimum language requirements for professional registration.  

The Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is the Canadian standard used by institutions there to describe, measure, and recognise the language ability of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants who plan to live and work in Canada. You can find out more about the CLB scores by visiting the CLB to IELTS web page.

The education system in Canada is ranked among the best in the world. In fact, in 2021 Canada’s world-class educational system was ranked fourth best in the world (US News, 2021). Each of Canada’s ten provinces has educational institutions that are recognised worldwide for their academic excellence.  

People from across the world enrol on both its technical employment and vocational programmes. Regardless of the level of education, these programmes are highly regarded internationally.

Once you successfully complete a course of study in Canada, you obtain a qualification that is accepted worldwide. For admission to a career college, which is how institutions offering technical programmes are known in Canada, you must have a CLB score of 6, which is equivalent to a score of 5.5 in the IELTS test. The programmes offered by such institutions are highly desirable, as they focus on equipping students with practical skills for the job market. Another advantage of studying at a career college is that the fee structure tends to be highly competitive.

If your aim is to enrol on a vocational programme, the average language requirement is between CLB levels 7 and 8, depending on the institution where you want to study. The IELTS equivalent would be a score of between bands 6.0 and 7.5. By comparison, completing a postgraduate qualification in Canada will need you to exhibit greater language ability – the IELTS Score required is 7.0 (from CLB level 8 upwards). 

To get admitted to a Canadian educational institution of your choice, you should sit the IELTS Academic test. This is because the test measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. Over 350 educational institutions that accept the IELTS test for Canada are among the best in the country. 

How IELTS can help you work and live in Canada 

In order to seek employment in Canada, you will need to demonstrate your English abilities to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you would like to work in, or immigrate to, an English-speaking country such as Canada, you should take the IELTS General Training test.  

If you are a skilled worker, you could apply for the Express Entry visa, an online system that the Canadian government uses to manage immigration applications from skilled workers. 

Another way to begin employment in Canada is to arrive with a work permit, which assures you of a permanent job in a sector that is experiencing a shortage of talent. For this, you must have a letter from your prospective employer, who will have to officially verify that no Canadian worker is available to do the job you are being offered. Depending on the type of work you are offered, you may be required to exhibit language proficiency upwards of CLB level 4, which is equivalent to an IELTS score of 4.5 (, 2018).  

However, arriving in Canada with a work permit is easier said than done. This is because obtaining a work permit involves an enormous amount of paperwork. As you might imagine, it is a difficult and time-consuming process, so many find it a daunting prospect.  

Perhaps, the easiest way of finding full-time employment in Canada is to opt for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program, which allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience. 

Upon graduation, this permit is offered for a period of anywhere between eight months and three years, depending on the length of the study program you have completed. Once you have gained enough work experience, it opens up a lot of opportunities to obtain Canadian permanent residence. Depending on the circumstances, you can also apply for Express Entry visa so as to ensure there is no disruption to your employment in Canada.  

If you want to apply for permanent residency or Canadian citizenship, look no further than the IELTS test , the first test to be recognised by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Immigration Quebec as proof of English language proficiency for Express Entry (Skilled Immigrants), Quebec-selected skilled workers and Provincial Nominee program. 

Scholarships to study in Canada 

Obtaining a scholarship to study in Canada is a top priority for many international students who apply to educational institutions there.  

Home to more than 96 universities, Canada offers a wide variety of scholarships, fellowships and funding opportunities to international students. Every year, the country welcomes more than 600,000 students from different parts of the world. Many among them arrive with the help of Canadian scholarship programmes and obtain financial support to meet the general admission requirements.  

Almost all universities and colleges in Canada offer internal scholarships covering all or part of the admission fee. If you have an exceptional academic profile, or if you have a proven track record of excellence in the arts or sport, you stand a good chance of winning a scholarship.  

 Although Canadian educational institutions share information about scholarships on their official websites, they prefer not to widely publicise it. The underlying assumption is that highly motivated students will rise to the challenge, making every effort to find out about scholarships to study in Canada and apply for them. Therefore, see to it that you look very carefully at all the information about scholarships in Canada and what they offer.

Types of scholarships available 

There are many types of programmes and scholarships to study in Canada that are available to international students. As long as you have the right qualifications and fit the requirements, you’ll be able to apply for them. Here are five of the best available scholarships to study in Canada. 

Exchange scholarships in Canada: 

If you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral student, you may apply for periods of between four and six months. Undergraduate students will receive a scholarship of CAD 7,200, while postgraduate and doctoral students will receive CAD 9,700. Click here for more information.

York University scholarships: 

You can complete your vocational studies at this university in Toronto with a grant of between CAD 2,000 and 140,000, awarded in accordance with your needs and academic achievements. Click here for more information.

Carleton University scholarships: 

This university located in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, has about 65 degree programmes on offer. Qualified applicants can win scholarships ranging from CAD 4,000 to 16,000 over four years. Click here for more information.

Humber College scholarships: 

Being one of Canada’s largest institutions, Humber offers over CAD 10 million in scholarships every year. Each successful applicant receives a grant of between CAD 2,000 and 4,000, which they can use to offset course fee and other essential expenses. Click here for more information. 

University of British Columbia scholarships: 

This is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Canada, welcoming students from more than 140 countries each year. To apply for a scholarship here, you need to have an outstanding grade point average and must have taken part in community service activities. Click here for more information.

How to apply for a Canadian scholarship 

Once you begin searching for scholarships in Canada, you’ll quickly realise that application windows vary greatly – some open in June, while others open in December. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you have the required documents at the ready to avoid the last-minute rush. 

Given below is a list of essential immigration and academic documents that you will need in order to demonstrate your suitability. Universities in Canada generally require them to process your scholarship application. 

Proof of identity

You must have a valid passport or travel document as you will have to apply for a temporary visa in order to study in Canada.

Proof of sufficient financial resources 

As a foreigner wanting to live in Canada, even if temporarily, you will need to prove that you can support yourself while you are there.

Proof of language proficiency

With two official languages, French and English, Canada is an officially bilingual nation. However, English is the most spoken language, so you will have to do an English test to prove your language ability

Remember, IELTS Academic is the test you need to take if you want to study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level in Canada, irrespective of whether you win a scholarship or not.

How the IELTS test is assessed  

IELTS tests the full range of English skills needed for success in a new job or study placement abroad. You are tested on all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking – and results are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest). Examiners use detailed performance descriptors when marking the Writing and Speaking sections of IELTS. You can find all the information you’ll need on the IELTS assessment process here  

Preparing for the IELTS test   

The British Council offers a wide range of free IELTS preparation materials to help with your test preparation journey and ensure you do your best on your test day. The newly launched IELTS Ready is an IELTS preparation resource offered by the British Council to help you feel fully prepared on your test day. IELTS Ready includes free practice tests, personalised study plans, live and recorded lessons as well as tips and videos for score improvement. Learn more about it here.

You can also join our free IELTS preparation webinars to get tips and advice about each section of the test from our IELTS experts, or join the IELTS Expert Facebook Live sessions and ask our IELTS expert all your IELTS and English questions. 

Final thoughts 

Millions of people are expected to move to Canada in the next couple of decades (CTV News, 2021), as the country turns to immigration in order to power its population growth. In the light of this new development, the dream to live in Canada appears more attainable than ever before. This also means you have a window of opportunity in which to start life anew in Canada.

IELTS, the world-leading English test, is accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and by universities and colleges across the country. So, if Canada is where you would like to move to, IELTS is the right test for you. 

Book your IELTS test with the British Council now!