Canadian Universities Accepting Low IELTS Scores


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 03:28 PM IST

Often low IELTS exam scores serve as a roadblock in the path to studying at premier Canadian institutes. Read on to know which top universities and colleges in Canada accept low IELTS scores.

Canadian Universities Accepting Low IELTS Scores

Canadian universities accepting low IELTS scores: Canada has an excellent academic portfolio that draws thousands of international students every year to study in the country. Besides its scenic beauty, its world-class universities provide quality education and research excellence. The distinctive approach to education has helped colleges in the country carve its niche on the study abroad map.

In spite of these factors, students often face the hurdle of joining their desired universities in Canada because of their low IELTS scores.. Notwithstanding that Canadian universities require high IELTS scores, there are universities that accept students even if they have as low as 5.5 band scores.

In this article, we will lift the spirits of students by digging deep into a comprehensive list of colleges where they can apply even if their IELTS scores are not satisfactory.

How is the Overall IELTS Band Score Calculated?

The overall IELTS band score is calculated by summing up the scores received by the students in each component. The four main components of IELTS are reading, writing, listening and speaking. While the first three components are taken on one day, the speaking section test is taken on another date and is separately evaluated by a trainer IELTS examiner.

The scores obtained in each subsection are added and rounded off to the nearest half or whole bands. For example, if a student gets 6.25, then the score is rounded to 6.5 or if they get 6.75, it is rounded off to 7.

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Minimum IELTS Score for Canadian Universities

Each Canadian university sets its own IELTS score requirement and some universities even set a sectional cutoff which students must clear to get admission into their desired college. The minimum IELTS score requirement, therefore, keeps varying. However, students must know that a score of 7 bands and above is considered high for Canada and in order to get a Canadian study permit, it is necessary to get at least 6 bands with 5.5 in each component.

Regardless of the above facts, there are Canadian universities accepting low IELTS scores. These universities welcome students who have IELTS scores between 5.5 and 6.5 to study with them. For advanced graduate courses, the IELTS requirement may be more but for diploma and undergraduate courses, low scores may also be accepted.

IELTS Low Band Score Descriptors

IELTS results are reported on a scale of 0-9. They are scientifically designed to accurately measure the test-takers ability in speaking and understanding the English language, especially in an academic setting. Here, we will dissect the meaning of low band scores for a better understanding of the skill levels of students:

Band Score

Skill Level




Can communicate in familiar situations. They are unable to use complex language and show problems to understand and express.



Has partial command of the language and copes with meaning in most situations despite making some mistakes. Can communicate in situations in their own fields.



Has command over language in spite of some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. Also, can understand and use complex language.

IELTS 5.5 Band Colleges in Canada

Students who have very low scores often wonder if they can study in Canada with IELTS 5.5 bands. The answer is yes. Though it is clearly evident that most universities and programmes will not accept scores, there are few Canadian universities that do admit students despite their low 5.5 band in IELTS. The list of such universities is given below:

Canadian Universities

Accepted Scores

St. Claire College

6.0 with no scores below 5.5

Sault College

6.0 with no band lower than 5.5

Algonquin College

6.0 with no band lower than 5.5

Niagara College

6.0 with no band lower than 5.5

Capilano University

5.5 scores with no band lower than 5.0

IELTS 6 Band Colleges in Canada

The minimum IELTS score in most Canadian colleges is 6.0 with a subscore of 5.5 or 6 in each component. The list of popular universities in Canada accepting as low scores as 6.0 are:

Canadian Universities

Accepted Scores

Athabasca University

Minimum score of 6

Charles Sturt University

Score of 6.5 with no score less than 6

Brock University

Score of 6.5 with no less than 6

Lethbridge College

Minimum score of 6

Durham College

6.0 is the minimum score accepted

College of New Caledonia

Score of 6.0

Fleming College

6.0 with no score less than 5.5

Lambton College


Canadore College

6 with no band less than 5.5

Fairleigh Dickinson University


IELTS 6.5 Band Colleges in Canada

Though a low score, 6.5 in IELTS, is accepted by a good number of leading colleges and universities in Canada. Often it is seen that masters programmes have a higher requirement than bachelors programmes. So, one may find many IELTS band 6.5 universities in Canada and here we provide a list of such universities.

Canadian Universities

Accepted IELTS Scores

University of British Columbia

6.5 with no component score less than 6

University of Toronto

6.5 with no score below 6

McGill University


McMaster University

6.5 with atleast 5.5 in each section

University of Alberta

6.5 with no score less than 6.0

University of Ottawa


University of Waterloo

6.5 with a sectional score of 6.0

University of Manitoba

6.5 overall

University of Guelph


University of Saskatchewan

Overall score of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component

IELTS Alternatives to Study in Canada

Students who want to study in Canada without IELTS can opt for other language proficiency tests whose results are equally accurate and accepted by the top universities in Canada. The IELTS alternative English language tests are:


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is accepted by almost all the universities in Canada. Just like the IELTS, the TOEFL exam also measures the four skills of the English language: reading, writing, listening and speaking. TOEFL scores accepted in Canadian universities are above 90 and any score of about 100 is considered a good score.


Pearson Test of English language (PTE) is conducted by Pearson VUE. It tests the fluency of the English language of non-native speakers in online mode. All four components of the exam are held on the same day and the results are declared within 48 hours. The PTE score accepted in Canada is above 50 with 45 or more in each module.


Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, Canadian universities have started accepting Duolingo scores. Duolingo is a computer adaptive test that can be taken from home. At universities of Canada, a score of 120 and above is considered good whereas other universities accept scores between 100 and 120.

Other Alternatives

Students who do not want to appear for any English language proficiency tests can make use of one of the following options:

  • CanTest: CanTest is a placement test developed especially for university education for students who do not have any English language score reports. The test comprises four parts: listening, reading, writing and oral interview.

  • ESL Program: ESL or English as Second Language is a type of bridge programme for students who have low IELTS scores. They can take up this programme before the beginning of their academic studies to be proficient in the English language.

  • Medium of Instruction Certificate: Students who have done their previous studies in the English language can submit an MOI proving that their medium of instruction in the previous institution was in English.

Can I Get Canada Visa with Low IELTS Scores?

Yes, it is possible to get a Canada visa with low IELTS scores. One has to score at least 6 bands in IELTS to be eligible to apply for a study permit for Canada. The scoresin each component also should be a minimum of 5.5 for non-SDS or General Category Visa.

For Student Direct Stream (SDS), the IELTS score requirement is overall 6 bands with 6 in each subsection. Therefore, it is necessary that students acquire at least 6 bands in the IELTS exam to complete the Canada study permit application process smoothly.

It is not difficult to get into Canadian colleges with low IELTS scores but one should strive to give their best in the exam. However, there is no need to feel disheartened even if the scores are low as many top universities in Canada accept low IELTS scores or have alternatives to the IELTS exam.

If you have other questions regarding colleges accepting low IELTS scores in Canada or any other country, you can write to us at abroad@collegedekho.

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Do Canadian universities accept low IELTS scores?

Yes, there are certain Canadian universities that accept low IELTS scores to offer admission to students. Although most universities require an IELTS band of 6 and above, still there are a handful of universities accepting students with scores of 5.5. Students who have scores below that might not be able to find a place at their desired university.

What is the IELTS score requirement of Dalhousie University?

Dalhousie University requires an IELTS score of 6.5 with no lower than 6.0 in each section. Those willing to apply to the university must work hard to score well on the IELTS exam so that they are considered for an offer letter. Alternatively, if the score is not up to the mark then students can take other English proficiency tests to meet the requirements of the university.

Do Canadian universities accept band 5 in IELTS?

No college in Canada accepts students with band 5 in IELTS. It is an extremely low score to fulfil the entry requirements of the universities. Students must target to get at least 6 bands in IELTS with 5.5 in each component of the exam.

Is IELTS band 4 accepted in Canadian universities?

No, IELTS band 4 is not accepted in Canadian universities. Candidates scoring band 4 has limited knowledge of the English language and it is not possible for them to follow the education in a country where the medium of instruction is English. Therefore, band 4 candidates are not accepted.

Which Canadian universities accept 5.5 bands in IELTS?

The Canadian universities that accept 5.5 bands in IELTS are Sault College, Niagara College and Capilano University. In case you do not have sufficient IELTS scores to get into universities that require 6 and 7 bands, you can try to apply to these colleges in Canada.

Are the universities that accept 6 bands in Canada good?

Yes, the universities that accept 6 bands in IELTS in Canada are good in academics and research. Athabasca University, Dickinson Fairleigh University and Lethbridge College are some of the most popular ones in Canada. These colleges rank fairly high in the list of best universities and provide students with excellent educational infrastructure.

Does the University of Victoria accept low IELTS band scores?

No, the University of Victoria does not accept extremely low IELTS band scores such as 6 or 5.5. They accept students who have got at least 6.5 bands in IELTS with no component less than 6. Therefore, students willing to study here must meet the IELTS eligibility requirement before applying.

Where can I study with low IELTS scores besides Canada?

You can study in countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with low IELTS scores. There are plenty of universities that do not have hard and fast requirements for students. Even if you get low scores, you will be asked to enrol on pathway programs or ESL programs that will improve your English proficiency. 

Is it possible to get a study permit with a low IELTS score in Canada?

One must get at least 6 bands in IELTS to be eligible to get a study permit to Canada through Student Direct Stream (SDS). If someone scores below 6, i.e. 5.5, they can apply through Non-SDS or normal category student visa. Also, it is not possible to get a visa with scores lower than 5.5.

Can I study master’s with a low IELTS score in Canada?

For most of the master’s courses in Canada, a high IELTS score is required. However, it should not deter you from applying to universities that accept low scores. There are many universities which accepts score ranging between 6 and 6.5 and they are quite renowned for their master’s courses.

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