Starting from August 10, 2023, the language proficiency requirements of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program will see several changes in its conditions and the acceptance of new language proficiency assessments.
IRCC recently announced the acceptance of several English proficiency tests for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) expedited study permit program. The English assessments that have been accepted include TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic, and CAEL. International students now have more options to satisfy their study permit requirements for SDS.
Source: IDP Canada
The IELTS Academic have long been accepted by IRCC, however, international students will no longer be required to achieve a band score of 6.0 in each component skill (Reading, Speaking, Writing, and Listening). Instead, the test taker only needs to achieve a overall IELTS score of 6.0. For example, international students scoring 5.5 for Speaking and Writing skills and 6.5 for Reading and Listening skills now meet the program requirements with a overall score at band 6. This is a significant change, reducing the score burden in a specific skill for international students in rural regions, while balancing IELTS with other language assessment tests such as the UK’s PTE or Canada’s CAEL.
International students using the PTE Academic or CAEL assessments will need to score a minimum of 60, while the TOEFL iBT requirement is 83 points. A PTE Academic score of 60 is equivalent to IELTS from band 6.5 to 7, nearly one point higher than the IELTS requirement, as Pearson views a PTE score of 46 equivalent to an IELTS band 6.0. However, the online versions of these assessments are not accepted at this time.
|IELTS||TOEFL iBT||PTE Academic||CAEL|
Paper or Computer Online
|Online / Offline
|Cost||300-310 + tax||240 USD||300||280 + tax|
|Length||2 hours 45 minutes||3 hours||2 hours||3 hours 30 minutes|
|Result||3 days||4 – 8 days||2 days||8 days|
|SDS Requirement||6.0 / 9.0||83 / 120||60 / 90||60 / 90|
TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test)
Originating from the US, it includes four separate sections testing the Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing skills. TOEFL iBT requires in-depth understanding of academic contexts, especially English speaking and listening skills.
- Reading: Includes 3-4 passages with a total of 30-40 questions, lasting from 54-72 minutes.
- Listening: Includes 6-9 conversations and lectures with a total of 28-39 questions, lasting from 41-57 minutes.
- Speaking: Includes 4 tasks, lasting 17 minutes.
- Writing: Includes 2 tasks, lasting 50 minutes.
PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic)
Originating from the UK, it can be taken online, includes four sections: Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. PTE Academic assesses English skills through academic tasks, requiring test takers to classify and synthesize information.
- Combined Speaking and Writing with either Listening or Reading: lasts from 54 to 67 minutes, includes combined tasks like short answers, personal opinion presentations, and writing an essay based on reading or listening.
- Combined Reading with Writing: lasts from 29 to 30 minutes, includes multiple types of questions like reading comprehension, multiple-choice selection, and sentence arranging.
- Combined Listening with either Reading or Writing: lasts from 29 to 30 minutes, includes multiple types of questions like sentence correction, completing the diagram, and multiple-choice selection.
CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language Test)
CAEL is focused on the academic context in Canada, assessing English skills through comprehensive tasks that reflect the academic environment.
- Listening combined with Speaking: This involves listening to a lecture and answering 14 – 25 questions, lasting 25 – 35 minutes, and includes a speaking skills test.
- Reading combined with Speaking: There are several short passages with 14 – 25 related questions, taking 30-50 minutes, and including a speaking skills test.
- Reading and Listening combined with Writing: This requires writing an essay based on information from the listening and reading sections, lasting for 50 minutes.
About the Student Direct Stream (SDS) Program
The SDS Program is a fast-track visa and study permit process that aim to process the application within 20 days. This program is currently only available to applicants in certain countries. Besides language and background requirements, acceptance letter from an eligible institution, the applicant must have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) worth $10,000 CAD from designated financial institutions in Canada, which will be returned to the applicant in installments over their study period. In return, candidates do not need to prove their financial capabilities as compared to regular study permit applications.