How to study in Canada without IELTS: Your complete guide

How to Study in Canada without IELTS

If you’re living outside of Canada and want to study here, there are two tests you need to take before you can apply. The first is the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), which we discuss in detail below; the second is the Canadian Academic English Language Test (CAEL). CAEL was created specifically for non-native English speakers who want to study at an academic level in Canada, and it covers everything from reading and writing to listening and speaking. Here’s your complete guide — how to study in Canada without IELTS.

What is An International English Language Testing System (IELTS)?

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardized test that assesses language proficiency by measuring your ability to understand and communicate during practical, everyday tasks. The exam comprises four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

The IELTS is a testing system designed to assess a person’s English language proficiency. The test has four sections that focus on reading, writing, listening and speaking skills and is designed to be a standardized measure of these skills.

The test can be taken by both people studying outside their native country or individuals who are already working abroad. It can also be used as an employment screening process for non-native English speakers seeking work in companies located within countries where English is not commonly spoken as a primary language.

Choosing a Program:

There are hundreds of study abroad programs offered by universities and colleges across Canada, so finding one that fits with your interests can be difficult. In order to do so, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions.

What kind of degree are you looking for? Do you want to study abroad for one or two semesters? Or will you spend an entire year abroad? Can your school afford to send you on an exchange program? Do they have a branch campus there already?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start looking at specific programs. The first thing to consider is what type of degree program you want to go on. You have four options: general studies, work exchange, technical or practical training, and academic exchange. There are pros and cons to each option so be sure to make an informed decision before you apply.

Academic exchanges allow you to get a Canadian degree, while also studying at a Canadian university. You’ll take standard courses at your home institution while taking others at your host school.

You’ll usually have to pay tuition fees to both institutions, but they may be significantly lower than they would be if you went on a standard study abroad program.

Applying for A VISA:

The first step to getting into school is applying for a VISA. You’ll need a student VISA if you plan on studying at a college or university, or if you’re going to study English as a second language.

If you plan on attending a school with English-only instruction, you can apply for a study permit. It’s important to know that even if you hold a student VISA, you still have to pay tuition. Student VISAs don’t cover school fees and living expenses — they only allow you to study at an approved institution. If your course is offered in English, then apply for a study permit. If it isn’t, make sure your program is still eligible for one before submitting your application.

Regardless of whether you apply for a study permit or a student VISA, you’ll need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself while studying. The amount depends on your circumstances and it might change over time, but you typically need at least $12,000 per year. Don’t wait until your student VISA interview to figure out how much money you’ll need — leave some room for unexpected expenses so that your application is stronger overall.

If you’re under 18, you might be able to get a student VISA even if your school doesn’t teach in English. To qualify, you’ll need to prove that your school offers full-time instruction.

You also need to be a bona fide student, which means that you plan on attending classes on a regular basis and are making progress towards an academic degree or diploma.

Arranging Health Care:

Before you come to Canada, make sure your health insurance is arranged. If you’re not Canadian or a citizen of another country with a reciprocal agreement, getting coverage can be tricky. Find out what your options are before you arrive and ensure you have a plan in place.

A good first step is to visit Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) website where you can find information on health insurance requirements for work-related immigration, family sponsorship or study permits.

When you apply for a study permit, you’ll need to show proof of health insurance with basic coverage. Students studying at a private school or at an institution on Québec’s Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) are exempt from having to show proof of health insurance and are automatically covered by their school during the length of their study program. If you aren’t sure what to do, contact Service Canada.

After you’ve taken care of health insurance, make sure to find out where your nearest doctor or hospital is located and make any necessary appointments. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with basic medical terminology so you know what doctors and pharmacists are talking about.

Learning more about Canadian health care before your move can help minimize confusion when it comes time to receive treatment.

Settling In:

Once you’ve got your passport, remember to apply for a SIN (Social Insurance Number) card. This is a tax number that every Canadian must have, and it lets you work and claim benefits. Apply for a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), which can save any income earned outside of employment taxes — great for future tuition!

The next thing you’ll need to consider is where you want to study. Ask yourself these questions about your top three choices:

Is it a reputable, well-respected university? What is its specialization and ranking? Is it affordable or will student loans be required? Where are students from my country studying?

Asking friends who have already studied abroad can help you find out all of these answers. If they have studied in English, try to speak with them directly.

Next, visit your chosen university’s website to get information about housing and living costs. The requirements will vary based on whether you are an international student or a local one (most provinces have residency requirements).

Also, find out if English is a requirement for studying there. If it is not, ask yourself if you’re willing to learn and speak French or another language commonly spoken at that school.

Once you have found a university and a city to study in, now it’s time to buy your ticket!

What country are you from? Are you moving from one Canadian province to another or from your home country? What city do you want to study in, and what universities are there? Getting all of these answers will help narrow down your options.

The Ultimate Canadian Packing List:

The following is a sample of what you should bring. This list is not definitive and it does not require you to bring all of these items. Please make sure to consult other sources (websites, friends, family) when it comes to planning your trip.

If you plan on studying English or French in a Canadian school, then most likely you will not need an IELTS score! But check with your respective schools first before packing and shipping off for Canada.

Be aware that most summer camps require students to carry an IELTS score of 7.0 (or higher) so if you’re planning on attending a summer camp and applying for courses, you may need to have your English skills assessed.

In order to book your exam, contact any participating testing center near you. You can also visit for more information about locations and schedules of upcoming exams. What happens after receiving my results?


You’ve taken an important step towards obtaining your academic goals and now you can rest easy as you jet off to a new country. But before you book that flight, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. If you plan on studying English or French while in Canada, your school will usually provide instruction and prepare students for their exams onsite.

If you’re planning on entering into a professional program, your school will also recommend that you complete an English assessment before applying.

We hope you find our Ultimate Canadian Packing List helpful.


The most important things to remember are that you can make your own decisions, and you can always change your mind. The right study option for one person may not be right for another. Good Luck!


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