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    Exams to Study in Canada for International Students

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert


    Since Canada is a popular destination for Indian students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies, new applicants will want to know what criteria they have to meet in order to migrate temporarily to the country.

    Language proficiency is required for a Canadian student visa, while language proficiency and academic knowledge are required by educational institutions. As proof of these factors, there are several tests available to students that can certify their proficiency in English, French or both, and in subjects like science, mathematics, and medicine.

    English Language Tests

    Since Canada is recognized as a majority English-speaking country, any non-native person who is studying, working and/or living there must prove themselves to have sufficient language skills. Most Canadian universities prefer IELTS certification, but some also allow TOEFL, PTE, etc. There are certain tests that are specific to Canada too, like CAEL and CELPIP.

    Given below is the test requirements to get into top ranking universities in Canada:

    University IELTS TOEFL PTE CAEL MELAB
    University of Toronto 6.5, with no band below 6.0 100, with 22 in Writing N/A 70, with no part below 60 N/A
    McGill University 6.5 86, with 20 in each component 65, with 60 in each component 70, with no part below 60 N/A
    University of British Columbia 6.5, with no band below 6.0 90 65, with 60 in each component 70 85
    University of Alberta 6.5, with no band below 5.5 90, with 21 in each component 59 70 85
    McMaster University 6.5 86, with 20 in each component 60 70, with no part below 60 85

    For visa purposes, you must meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) standards.

    IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

    All institutions in Canada accept IELTS as a certification of English proficiency. It costs INR 14,000 to sit the exam, and the IELTS scores will expire after two years.

    The General Training test is done for immigration or work purposes, while the Academic test is done by students to study overseas. After getting the results for the IELTS Academic test, you can select up to five institutions to automatically send the scores to, free of charge.

    You may NOT have to give the test if:

    • You have resided in a majority English-speaking nation for a minimum of 4 years.
    • You are a citizen of a country that has English as the official language.
    • You have attended an English-medium educational institution for at least 3 years.

    To get a Canadian visa, you need a minimum overall score of 6.0, but on an average, educational institutions ask for a score of 6.5.

    TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

    Costing INR 13,617 to take, TOEFL is accepted by 100% of Canadian universities. You can do either the internet-based test or the paper-delivered test, although the TOEFL iBT is generally preferred over PDT. Once you get the results, you have to apply and be accepted to a university of your choice within two years, that is before it expires.

    You do NOT have to give the test if:

    • You have scored a minimum of 35 in the SAT reading test.
    • You have scored more than 670 in the critical reading section in the Old SAT exam or have a Reading Test score more than 35.
    • If you have attended an educational institution where English is the official language for at least 4 years.

    The average score requirement in Canadian universities is 80-100.

    PTE (Pearson Test of English)

    PTE is gradually getting recognition in Canada, therefore it may not be accepted by all universities. Students are advised to check with the institution they are planning to apply to before giving the test, as it costs INR 13,300. Moreover, if you have completed at least 3 years of education from any academic institution where English is the official language, you are exempted from the test.

    CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language)

    The CAEL test can be given at a test centre in Canada, USA, India, UAE, Philippines or China for INR 2,864. The exam checks your English proficiency in four components, namely Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. You will read articles, listen to a lecture, answer questions, and write a short essay. You will be evaluated on a scale of 10 to 90. The best thing about CAEL is that you can view the results online within 8 business days of completing the test.

    MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery)

    Offered by University of Michigan’s English Language Institute, MELAB is a test given by non-native English speakers in over 70 countries to qualify the English proficiency standards in countries like Canada, US and UK. It costs INR 12,017 to sit for the exam, and an additional INR 2,861 if you want to take the optional speaking test as well. The scores are valid for two years.

    CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program)

    CELPIP is of two types - the General test which is meant for permanent residence applications and the General LS test which is meant for citizenship applications by IRCC. The General test, which is usually done by students, costs INR 10,845 and the scores are valid for up to two years. A minimum score of 7 is required for visa purposes.

    French Language Tests

    French is spoken by approximately 20.6% of Canadian population, mostly concentrated in the province of Quebec. In certain universities in that area, and even in others, courses are conducted with French as the medium of instruction.

    Therefore, it is important to check that any international students joining those programs know enough French to understand what is being taught. The accepted scores of TEF or TEFAQ wil meet the Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC) standards.

    TEF (Test d’Évaluation de Français)

    TEF Canada evaluates your language proficiency in French using a 7-level scale based on both CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks).

    The exam costs INR 23,940 and includes Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking modules. The scores are considered not only by educational/professional institutions, but also for visa purposes. For example, the University of Quebec at Montreal (QUAM) requires a TEF score of 400.

    TEFAQ (Test de Français Adapté au Québec)

    TEFAQ or TEF in Quebec is similar to TEF, except for the fact that it is applicable only to those migrating to the province of Quebec. Students are advised to opt for TEF over TEFAQ because the former is recognized all over Canada while the latter is only recognized by the Quebec government.

    Subject Aptitude Tests

    Students applying to certain programs may need to qualify the specific subject tests to be eligible for admission, like GMAT and GRE.

    GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

    GRE is not a mandatory test to most Canadian institutions, but oftentimes a GRE score will make your application stand out. There are two kinds of GRE exams - the General Test and the Subject tests.

    The General Test is usually used for business and management programs, while Subject tests are available in areas like Mathematics, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Physics. It costs INR 15,678, and students applying for MS in Canada will most likely have to take it.

    GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

    GMAT is a test that is exclusive for management and business programs, costing INR 18,300 to take. Many MBA programs ask for a GMAT score at the time of admission. The top business schools in Canada have fairly high standards, so you may need to score much more than the minimum cut-off.

    MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

    MCAT is a standardized test conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), used by many top medical schools in Canada. The exam assesses your knowledge of biology, biochemistry, biophysics, socio-psychology, as well as your critical analysis and reasoning skills. It costs INR 30,938 for international students to sit for the exam.

    University/College MCAT Score
    McMaster University 123 in Critical Analysis and Reasoning
    University of British Columbia 496, with 124 in each section
    McGill University Overall 510
    University of Toronto 500, with 125 in each section
    University of Montreal N/A

    The different exams required in order to study in Canada set sufficiently high standards for students to meet. Depending on the university and program you are applying to, you will need to select and write only those exams which are relevant to you.