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Study in Canada without IELTS

Study in Canada without IELTS 2020 – Exemptions, Universities

by Dushyant Patni
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The IELTS or International English Language Testing System is an international examination which uses four distinct exam modules i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking to gauge an applicant’s linguistic ability. IELTS scores are a necessary part of the admission requirements in popular study abroad destinations like the USA, UK, Australia etc. Canada, being an English-speaking nation, also requires IELTS scores. However, there are certain provisions which allow prospective students to secure admission in Canadian institutes of higher education without having to take the IELTS exam. 

Some of the reasons why students would consider not taking the IELTS exam are:

  • The price for an IELTS exam application is INR 13,250 which can be daunting for some candidates.
  • IELTS exam structure involves writing short and long essays, which makes it difficult for students who aren’t confident in their writing abilities. 
  • IELTS may take more than one day to complete as the speaking section with the instructor is separate from the other parts of the exam. 
  • IELTS speaking section exam is conducted face-to-face which may intimidate some candidates who might get nervous answering questions in person. 

As such, many students do not wish to take the IELTS exam as they  feel it would hinder their chances of scoring admission into a Canadian university. The following article seeks to provide students with the information they need to apply to study in Canada without IELTS scores. Study Abroad

Study in Canada without IELTS – Alternatives

There are certain exceptions to the rule when it comes to IELTS requirements for admission. The following list contains all exemptions and options available to students who do not wish to take the IELTS test: 

  1. Other English proficiency tests like TOEFL and PTE
  2. Proof of study in an English-medium school for 4 years
  3. Proof that the official language of your country is English
  4. Attending a Canadian English language school for a semester or a year

If you meet any one or multiple of the above criteria, you will be eligible to study  in Canada without IELTS, provided your chosen Canadian university is flexible to do so. 

In addition to the IELTS exam, many Canadian institutes of higher education also accept test results from any of the following English proficiency tests – 

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) 
  • CAEL assessment (Canadian Academic English Language)
  • PTE (Pearson English Language Test)
  • CanTEST (Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Trainees)

NOTE: Exemptions are determined by each school individually, so make sure you check the requirements on the official websites of the institutes before applying. 

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Study in Canada without IELTS – Canadian Universities without IELTS requirements

Universities in Canada have different admission requirements and there is no singular standard for admission that is followed by all. The following is a list of some of the universities that will allow you to apply for a course without the requirement for IELTS scores: 

1. University of Winnipeg: IELTS certification credentials are not necessary for the University of Winnipeg. However, proof of proficiency in the English language is a mandatory requirement. They offer their own proprietary ELP or English Language Program, which you can attend prior to applying to or starting your course. You can find the full details of the language program exemptions and requirements on the official manual of the University of Winnipeg. This will allow you to skip the IELTS requirements during the process of application.

2. Brock University: IELTS will help you get an admission into this institute but it is not a compulsion. Brock University accepts TOEFL scores (88 iBT with a minimum of 21 on Speaking and Writing 237 CBT (TSE 4.5) 580 PBT (TWE 4.5) and they also offer the Brock Intensive English Language Program, specifically designed to help international students increase their proficiency in the English language. If you have finished an International Baccalaureate diploma or its equivalent with English as the medium of instruction you are eligible to apply for admission into any of the UG and PG courses they offer.

3. University of Saskatchewan: The University of Saskatchewan is home to a growing number of international students.  They accept TOEFL (Overall score of 86 with minimum scores of 19 in each area) as an alternative to the IELTS exam.

They also allow candidates to take the CanTEST, which is the Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Trainees, and if you wish, you can also attend the university’s own English Language Training program. CanTEST is similar to IELTS in that it tests the 4 sub-skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking), is not a computerized test, does have a face to face speaking exam. In this sense, it is much different from TOEFL or CELPIP. Notably different from IELTS, however, is that the listening section is longer, while the writing section is shorter.Study Abroad

4. Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador: The Memorial University has maintained a reputation for offering courses in engineering, business and medicine, which makes it an attractive destination for international students. 

The university offers students alternatives to IELTS scores like:

  • TOEFL scores – A minimum score of 90, with at least 20 in each of Reading and Listening, and no less than 25 in Speaking and Writing, is required in the TOEFL.
  • CanTEST scoresMinimum band scores of 4.5 in the listening comprehension and reading comprehension subtests and a score of 4 in writing are required in the CanTEST.
  • CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language) scoresA minimum overall score of 70, with at least 60 per band, and no less than 70 in Writing and Speaking is required in the CAEL. 
  • The university will also grant you an exemption if you can provide proof that you are proficient in English by showing your grades over the last 4 years of your academic career. However, this is rare and students should verify the exemptions thoroughly by contacting the university directly. 

5. Cambrian College: This institute focuses on research and prides itself on providing excellent post-degree employment opportunities to the students. According to information listed on their website, international students are assessed on their English language proficiency which will  include reading, writing and speaking skills once they arrive in the university.

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Given below is a list of some other universities which have unique requirements for international students that do not involve taking the IELTS exam:

NOTE: Please visit the websites of the relevant universities to ensure that you meet all the English language requirements and all the other necessary conditions to get enrolment in your chosen institute.  

For the full list of college and courses in Canada, check Canada Course page.

Study in Canada without IELTS – FAQs

Q. Why do international universities require IELTS scores?

A. IELTS is a test designed to comprehensively evaluate a candidate’s proficiency in the English language. These scores are a necessity as they allow universities to gauge whether a prospective candidate can keep up with the coursework and if they will be able to adjust to an environment where English is the primary method of interaction in all aspects of their daily life.

Q. What are the alternatives to the IELTS exam?

A. Depending upon the university you choose to apply to, you have the option of taking any of the following tests as a proof of your proficiency in the English language:
TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language
CanTEST – Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Trainees
CAEL – Canadian Academic English Language
PTE – Pearson English Language Test

Q. Is it mandatory for international students to take the IELTS exam?

A. No, it is not. However, you should know that not taking the IELTS exam will make it significantly harder for you to study abroad as it will limit the pool of universities you can choose from. There are exemptions listed above in the article which will allow you to skip the IELTS exam if you wish to study in Canada.

Q. Can I attend English language courses in Canada prior to my university course?

A. Yes, certain universities like the University of Saskatchewan offer proprietary programs designed to ensure that international students attain a high level of proficiency in the English language. You can attend these courses before you transition to your chosen programs for full-time study.

Q. Are there other languages that I can use to apply to universities in Canada?

A. If you are applying to study in areas of Canada like Quebec where French is a primary language, you will be required to show proficiency in the French language instead. You can visit the university websites of the relevant institutes to find out which tests you will have to take.

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