The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have recently implemented significant changes to the English test requirements for students applying through the Study Direct Stream (SDS) program. These changes, which will take effect from August 10, 2023, offer applicants a wider range of options when submitting their English language proficiency results. In this article, we will explore the expanded list of acceptable language proficiency exams and discuss how these changes aim to provide international students with greater flexibility and choices.

Expanded Options for English Language Proficiency Exams

Under the revised guidelines, applicants to the Study Direct Stream (SDS) program now have the option to submit English language results from a variety of tests. The acceptable language proficiency exams include the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General, Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Test, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT.

Enhanced Flexibility for International Students

This expansion in the range of accepted English language proficiency exams offers international students greater flexibility when applying to study in Canada. By allowing applicants to choose from multiple tests, the IRCC acknowledges the diverse linguistic backgrounds of students and aims to make the application process more inclusive and accessible.

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Recognition of PTE and TOEFL

Among the newly accepted tests, PTE and TOEFL are particularly well-known and recognized not only in Canada but also in other countries. PTE is especially beneficial for students planning to pursue their studies in Australia, while TOEFL is widely accepted by destinations such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and the majority of universities in the UK. This recognition of widely established language proficiency exams further expands the options available to international students and facilitates their academic journey.

Revised Requirement for IELTS Academic Test Takers

In addition to the expansion of acceptable exams, the IRCC has also modified the requirement for IELTS Academic test takers. Previously, individuals were required to achieve a minimum score of 6.0 in all individual bands of the test. However, this specific requirement has been eliminated. Now, the only requirement is a minimum overall band score of 6.0, without any specific minimum scores for the individual skills (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking). This change aims to simplify the application process and remove potential barriers for international students who possess strong overall language proficiency, even if they may have varying levels of proficiency in specific skills.


The recent changes made by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to the English test requirements for students applying through the Study Direct Stream (SDS) program are designed to enhance flexibility and provide international students with more choices. By expanding the range of acceptable language proficiency exams, including widely recognized tests such as PTE and TOEFL, and revising the requirements for IELTS Academic test takers, the IRCC aims to ensure that the application process is accessible and accommodating for students seeking to pursue their studies in Canada. These changes reflect the commitment of the IRCC to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic environment for international students.


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