CLB to IELTS conversion: do you have a sufficient English level to immigrate to Canada?

CLB to IELTS conversion: do you have a sufficient English level to immigrate to Canada?

Learn about the Canadian CLB scoring system and understand how and why CLB level can be converted to IELTS and vice versa.

If you want to immigrate to Canada or enter a Canadian institution, you have to pass an English or French language test. In this article, you will learn about English tests, but you can apply the same principles to the French test.

First, let's understand what IELTS and CLB are and their differences.

IELTS English language test

IELTS is an international English language assessment system used for study and immigration, including to Canada. IELTS assesses English proficiency in four categories:

  • listening;
  • reading;
  • writing;
  • speaking.

You can get from 1 to 9 points for each area. The point step is 0.5. For example, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, etc.

CLB levels

In Canadian immigration programs, the required language level is indicated on the CLB scale. CLB, or Canadian Language Benchmark, is a Canadian English language assessment system. The CLB level can be from 1 to 10. For example, CLB 7, CLB 8, etc.

The IELTS scores are different from CLB levels! Therefore, it is important to understand which score you need to get when taking the test.

CLB to IELTS conversion

Use the special table to convert the IELTS test results to the Canadian CLB level:

CLB level IELTS reading IELTS writing IELTS listening IELTS speaking
10 8.0 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7.0 7.0 8.0 7.0
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0
6 5.0 5.5 5.5 5.5
5 4.0 5.0 5.0 5.0
4 3.5 4.0 4.5 4.0

Example of using the table

Let's say an immigration program requires English proficiency at CLB 4, this means that when you take IELTS you must score a minimum of:

  • 3.5 points for reading;
  • 4.0 points for writing;
  • 4.5 points for listening;
  • 4.0 points for speaking.

If you get IELTS 4.0 for all skills, this will not be enough, since 4.5 points are needed for listening.

It is considered that if you demonstrate knowledge of English at CLB 9, you will have a very high chance of immigration since good knowledge of the language in combination with education or work experience gives additional points in the Express Entry system.

To get CLB 9, you do not need to get IELTS 9.0. You need to pass IELTS for a combination of scores of 8777: listening, reading, writing, and speaking, respectively.

Important to remember

The overall level is calculated by the lowest score. If you get, for example, CLB 8 for three of four IELTS scores, and CLB 7 for one, the overall level will be CLB 7.

Note that each immigration program has its own language requirements. The higher is your English score, the more points you gain in immigration programs.

Minimum CLB level for Express Entry

To apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program in the Express Entry system, you have to get CLB level 7, which corresponds to IELTS 6.0 for each skill.

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