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Can you Study in Canada Without Taking the IELTS?

Most colleges and universities require international students to show they are comfortable working in English or French, but there are some exceptions. Hopeful international students should familiarize themselves with the language requirements before applying to study in Canada.

Requirements set by schools

In Canada, post-secondary schools set their own requirements for the language proficiency of international students. Some schools have very strict requirements for English proficiency and other schools have very relaxed requirements for English proficiency.

If you are planning to study in Canada, you should research the requirements for the colleges and universities where you want to study. Some schools, like Concordia University and Memorial University, have very low IELTS requirements for some programs, allowing students to complete some English courses after they start at the school.

Exemptions for English speakers

In certain cases, international students are exempt from needing a test to prove their English proficiency. If you can prove that you come from an English-speaking country or that you’ve already completed study in English, then you might be exempt from the IELTS requirement.

Again, exemptions are determined by each school, so make sure you check the requirements of the schools where you want to apply!

Usually exemptions fall under one of these two categories:

English dominant countries: If you come from a country where the dominant language is English, then chances are you will be exempt from needing to take the IELTS. However, you will likely be asked to submit copies of your grades from English class in high school (also known as secondary school).


Previous education in English or French: If you have previously completed education in English at the post-secondary level, then you may be exempt from needing a language test. Many schools offer an IELTS-exemption to those who have already shown they can study in English.

Accepted tests

Most schools in Canada will accept the IELTS exam in order to prove English proficiency. However, it is important to note that schools usually only accept the Academic IELTS exam. There is another type of IELTS, known as the General IELTS exam, but this is usually not accepted by academic institutions.

In addition to the IELTS exam, many Canadian schools also accept test results from both the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) assessment.

Interested in studying in Canada? Complete our free assessment for international students! We’ll take a look at your eligibility for Canadian studies and contact you to discuss your options.

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