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Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the English test requirements for SDS applicants. These changes mean applying for a Study Permit in Canada just got easier by choosing IELTS.

  • If you’re applying after the 10th August 2023, all you need is an overall band score of 6.0 on IELTS Academic.

  • If you applied with IELTS Academic before 10th August 2023, you would need IELTS 6.0 in each skill.

  • If you’re applying with IELTS General Training, you will need a 6.0 in each skill, before and after 10th August 2023.

You can apply to SDS with IELTS Academic or General Training test scores that are up to 2 years old. This means you can also use test scores received before 10th August 2023 to apply to SDS after the changes went live on 10th August 2023. For more details on how you can use your test score to apply for SDS, read this article: IELTS Academic Score Requirement changes for SDS Applicants.

What are the new English language proficiency tests accepted by IRCC?

The new academic tests which will now be accepted by the IRCC as proof of English proficiency for SDS include the Pearson PTE Academic, TOEFL internet-Based Test (iBT) and Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL).

What are the minimum CAEL, PTE Academic and TOEFL iBT score requirements for SDS applicants?

Applicants to the SDS visa program will still need to achieve the following minimum scores for their application to be successful. The table below highlights the minimum overall score required for each English proficiency test.

IELTS Academic 



PTE Academic

Min 6 overall score 

Min 60 overall score 

Min 83 overall score

Min 60 overall score

Does the IRCC announcement affect minimum IELTS band score requirements for SDS Applications?

Good news for IELTS test takers is that they will continue to be accepted for SDS applications.  

Applicants who complete IELTS Academic require a minimum overall band score of 6.0 after the 10th August 2023 (no longer requiring a minimum band score of 6.0 in each individual skill). While applicants who sit the IELTS General Training will need a minimum band score of 6.0 in each skill; Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.  

What does the IRCC announcement mean for future SDS Applicants?

While this change provides more options for test takers, it is important to consider the advantages that IELTS provides:   

  • IELTS has been around for 35 years – it’s the world’s most recognised, reliable and secure English language test.  

  • We use both human testing staff and digital technology – so that you get the best experience.  

  • We offer choice in how you take your test, that is unmatched by other tests – IELTS is available in more than 3,000 test locations and online in over 90 countries. In addition, IDP has more than 380 IELTS on Computer test centres.

  • IELTS is widely recognised for study and migration purposes With more than 11,500 organisations accepting IELTS tests. 

To learn more about this announcement, visit IRCC releases new SDS scores for English Language tests.

Frequently asked questions

1) Which colleges or universities accept an overall IELTS band score of 6.0?

Starting from August 10, 2023, you can apply for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) with an overall IELTS Academic band score of 6.0. You don’t need a minimum score for individual test skills.

Several Canadian colleges and universities already accept an IELTS Academic band score of 6.0 in Speaking, Reading, Writing and/or Listening.

To see a list of these institutions, please visit:

2) Have Canadian colleges / universities changed their IELTS requirements?

The band score you need to study abroad is set by the institution you apply to, not by IELTS. You may need different scores for different types of study programs. It depends on the institution and course you're interested in.

If you're not sure what band score you need, we recommend contacting your preferred college or university for more information.

For further details, please visit:

3) Can you share the official link to IRCC?

You can read more about what you need for an SDS application on the IRCC website.

4) Can I use my current IELTS score for the SDS permit application, or is it necessary to retake the test?

You can apply with your current results as long as they’re still valid. Just make sure that you have an official IELTS Academic test result, with a minimum overall band score of 6.0. If you want to use your IELTS General test result, you’ll need a minimum band score of 6.0 in each skill. For both Academic and General tests, your results must not be more than two years old when IRCC receives your SDS application.