Correlation between IELTS and the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)

No matter which language test you write to claim points for your Canadian immigration, they are converted to CLB levels while calculating your immigration scores. Because of this, understanding the correlation between the various language tests and CLB levels is vital.


Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes only three language tests for immigration to Canada. They are:


CELPIP is Canada’s own English language test that was developed and deployed by the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. However, it is available in select countries only. Every year, around 2.9 million candidates take the IELTS examination, making IELTS the most widely taken examination for Canadian immigration. However, the majority of IELTS aspirants are unaware of the fact that their IELTS band scores are always converted to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels when it comes to immigration to Canada. Because of this, understanding the correlation between the IELTS band scores and CLB levels is vital.


The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB) is the centre of expertise in support of the national standards in English and French for describing, measuring and recognizing second language proficiency of adult as well as prospective immigrants for living and working in Canada. It observes, conducts periodic research, assess and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness with which adult and prospective immigrants communicate to each other in English as well as French.


When it comes to the widely popular Express Entry selection system for Canadian immigration, the candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is not calculated directly from the IELTS bands secured by the candidate. In fact, it is calculated based on the CLB level of the candidate's individual IELTS band scores. That is, in listening, reading, writing and speaking.


This can be demonstrated by an example. Let us assume that a candidate scored IELTS band 8.5 in listening, 9.0 in reading, 7.5 in writing and 8 in speaking. Now, the overall IELTS band score for this candidate is clearly 8.5. However, when it comes to Canadian immigration, these individual IELTS bands need to be first converted to their CLB counterparts. Referring to the table below, we can say that the candidates has scored:

Listening IELTS band 8.5 = CLB level 10

Reading IELTS band 9.0 = CLB level 12

Writing IELTS band 7.5 = CLB level 10

Speaking IELTS band 8 = CLB level 11


To know more about Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), click here.


It is clearly a lack of guidance that only a very few are aware of this fact. To help you understand (and assess effectively) from a Canadian immigration perspective, we have given the correlation between IELTS and CLB at the bottom of this page. At Westword IELTS, IELTS training is designed and deployed for Canadian immigration only. Because of this reason, our English and IELTS training are CLB centric.


This chart exhibits the correlation between IELTS band scores and the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels:

IELTS Band Scores to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels Equivalency Chart
CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
12 9 9 9 9
11 8.5 8 9 8
10 8 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7 7 8 7
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6 6 6 6
6 5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5 4 5 5 5
4 3.5 4 4.5 5


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