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Sitting the PTE Core for immigration to Canada can be daunting, but with the right information and preparation, you'll be ready to get the best score possible on your English language test and improve your chances of successfully immigrating to Canada.

The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Core is an international standardised English language ability test that is recognised by the Government of Canada for certain immigration purposes, including Express Entry.

PTE Core English Test for Immigration to Canada

The PTE Core English test is for people applying for a work permit for Canada, or to migrate through Express Entry, the PNP, or any other immigration pathway except for the Student Direct Stream. It is also valid for those looking to get Canadian Citizenship.

About PTE Core

PTE Core is one of five language tests recognized by Canada for immigration purposes. It is the language test that has been most recently approved by the IRCC for immigration purposes. It is being advertised as a ‘faster, fairer, and simpler general English test’.

The test format is as follows:

Part 1: Speaking and Writing

The speaking and writing section will take about 50 minutes.

You may be asked to do the following:

  • Read sentences aloud.
  • Repeat a sentence.
  • Describe an image.
  • Respond to a situation.
  • Answer a short question.
  • Summarize a text.
  • Write an email.

Part 2: Reading

This section of the test will take about 30 minutes.

You may be required to:

  • Fill in the blanks.
  • Answer multiple choice questions.
  • Reorder paragraphs.

Part 3: Listening

The listening section will take around 30 minutes.

You may need to:

  • Summarize spoken text.
  • Answer multiple choice questions.
  • Fill in the blanks.
  • Select missing words.
  • Highlight incorrect words.
  • Write from dictation.

How the PTE Core Test Works

The PTE Core is a computer-based English language test that assesses your general reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills for immigration purposes. It takes about two hours.

Bearing in mind that there are five languages tests recognized by Canada for immigration purposes, and that each test has different results/marking methods, Canada has developed an equivalency scoring system for the different tests. Results of each test are given a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) equivalent, from 1 to 10. This way, people who sit different tests, sometimes in different languages, can be compared and ranked fairly.

PTE Core for Express Entry

All potential immigrants under Express Entry need to prove ability in English or French (or for extra points, both). This includes native English and French speakers, no matter where they come from or which school they went to. Express Entry is a level playing field, and every point matters as candidates compete for that all-important invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

There are different pathways to entering the pool, with Canada offering three separate programs within Express Entry. If you are not sure which program(s) you may be eligible under, see our guides:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC): For workers evaluated under a unique FSWC points system. Eligible individuals must obtain at least 67 points out of 100. Up to 28 points are available for language ability, plus an additional 5 points are available if you apply with a spouse/common-law partner who is proficient in English or French.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC): For tradespersons with relevant experience.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For individuals with ongoing or recent work experience in Canada.

These are the minimum scores you will need to achieve to enter the pool for the Express Entry programs:

To enter the pool*
SpeakingPTE 68+PTE 42+PTE 68+PTE 42+
ReadingPTE 60+PTE 33+PTE 60+PTE 42+
WritingPTE 69+PTE 41+PTE 69+PTE 51+
ListeningPTE 60+PTE 39+PTE 60+PTE 39+

*The above table assumes that the individual is otherwise eligible for the listed program(s). Obtaining PTE Core exam results equal to or better than the results listed above does not guarantee entry to the pool.

PTE Core for immigration to Canada: Important Express Entry thresholds

As you can see, the eligibility requirements for entering the pool are different for FSW, FST, and CEC candidates, respectively. However, once in the pool all candidates are ranked using the same points system, known as the Comprehensive Ranking System, or CRS.

Candidates who entered the pool with PTE Core results equivalent to CLB 8 or below can make incremental gains in their CRS points total if they can prove improvements in their language skills having re-sat an exam.

However, something special can happen if you reach CLB 9, also known as ‘initial advanced’ level. This is because under the ‘skills transferability’ factors of the CRS, language ability is paired separately with education level and work experience gained outside Canada. Up to 100 CRS points are available for these combinations. These bonus points are in addition to the points received for improving language skills under the human capital factors.

In other words, reaching CLB 9 can make or break your prospects for immigration to Canada.

To show this, let’s use a hypothetical example:

John is a candidate in the pool. Upon entry to the pool, he had proven English ability equivalent to CLB 8. He is 30 years old, has a Master’s degree, and three years of work experience outside Canada. He does not have a job offer, a provincial nomination, or any family members living in Canada. This gave him an initial score of 382 CRS points. However, he re-took his English language exam and made marginal improvements across the four abilities, bringing his results to the equivalent of CLB 9 in all four. In doing so, his score increased to a lofty 464 CRS points! Such a score is often enough to secure an ITA in an Express Entry draw.

PTE Core and CLB Equivalency

A full conversion chart showing how PTE Core results translate into CLB levels can be found below:

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (PTE Core)
Language Test Equivalencies
CLB LevelReadingWritingListeningSpeaking
10 and above88-909089-9089-90

How long are PTE Core results valid for?

Your PTE Core results are considered valid by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for two years from the date of issuance of the results.

If your PTE Core results expire while you are in the candidate pool for Express Entry, your candidate profile is removed from the pool and will not be eligible to be issued an ITA for permanent residence. Therefore, candidates whose results may become invalid are encouraged to sit another exam and submit your updated results before your results expire.

Spouse/common-law partner ability

Single candidates and candidates with an accompanying spouse or common-law partner are assessed slightly differently under the Express Entry CRS. For candidates with a spouse or partner, up to 20 points are available for the spouse or partner’s first language ability, with five points available for each of the four language abilities. Therefore, valuable CRS points can be obtained if the spouse or partner also sits a language exam, such as the PTE Core. But how many points, exactly? The table below has the answers.

CLB levelCRS points awarded
9 or higher5

PTE Core and other Canadian immigration options

Express Entry is not the only way to immigrate to Canada as an economic migrant. There are also a range of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), with many PNP streams managed entirely outside Express Entry. In addition, individuals and families wishing to settle in the province of Quebec are subject to different eligibility requirements. And don’t forget all the investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed people who want to make Canada home — there are programs for them too.

No matter which program you pursue, it is nearly certain that a prospective economic immigrant to Canada will need to prove language ability. How language test results affect your eligibility or points totals, if applicable, depends on the program or stream. Suffice to say, language is almost always a crucial factor among Canada’s economic immigration programs. So, potential applicants are encouraged to take the matter seriously, even if they are a native speaker.

As with Express Entry, PNPs will only accept the PTE Core test results.

PTE Academic for study in Canada

International students who wish to study in Canada may need to submit proof of their English language ability in order to be issued a Letter of Acceptance to a Canadian college or university and/or obtain a Canadian study permit. In such cases, the PTE Academic exam may be an option (note: the PTE Academic exam and the PTE Core exam are not the same, the latter being recognized by IRCC for immigration purposes).

Whether or not such proof of language ability is required may depend on the educational institution, the study program, and the background of the student. Potential students should consult the college or university they wish to attend to find out the exact requirements for acceptance.

Sitting a PTE Core Exam

There are PTE Core exam centres around the world, usually in major cities. The PTE Core exam takes about 2 hours tests for speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills.

Arrive Early

You should arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled test time. This gives you time to check in, pass security, and settle your nerves!

Bring Your Passport

When you arrive, the PTE Core exam staff will check your identity. In most cases, you will need to show a valid, physical passport. If you’re taking the test in Canada, you may also show your Canadian Permanent Residence Card (instead of your passport). Digital IDs are not accepted.

If you arrive with the wrong ID, or none, you will not be allowed to take the exam.

During The PTE Core English Test

You will set in a partitioned booth with a computer, QWERTY keyboard, audio headset, chair, notepad, and pencil.

You will only be allowed to have a pen or pencil, an eraser and your ID on your desk (as well as the test equipment).

It is important that you can hear the listening module properly. If you can’t hear properly, raise your hand and let the invigilator know.

If you have asked for special arrangements as a result of a disability or other condition, adjustments will be made for you on the day.

Getting your PTE Core Results

PTE Core results are typically available within 48 hours.

You will get in-depth feedback with a personalized Score Report as part of your PTE Test scoring.

One interesting thing to note is that PTE Core exams are scored using AI, with humans overseeing the scoring process. This makes scoring faster via the PTE exam than some other language testing options.

If you’re ready to book your PTE Core exam, you can find exam locations around the world here.

PTE Core for Canada PR: FAQs

Is PTE Core mandatory for Canada PR?

The short answer is no, PTE Core is not mandatory to obtain PR in Canada. Consider the following two points:

  • Language testing is only a step in the journey to PR in Canada for economic immigration applicants, such as those applying through Express Entry. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are admitted through Family Class programs or as refugees, and these immigrants are not required to submit a language test result in order to immigrate to Canada.
  • Even for economic Canadian immigration applicants who must submit a language test, other language test options are available. For applicants who wish to be tested for English proficiency, the CELPIP test or IELTS test may be an option, and for applicants who wish to be tested for French proficiency, either as an alternative to English or in addition to an IELTS or CELPIP test, the TEF and TCF are both options.

Which language test is required for Canada PR?

Economic Canada immigration applicants may submit language test results from an IELTS, CELPIP, or PTE Core test to show English proficiency, and/or language test results from a TEF or TCF test to show French proficiency.

What is the minimum PTE Core score for Canada PR?

In order to have a chance of being eligible to enter the Express Entry pool of candidates, you will need to show language test results equivalent to or better than Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 if applying as a Federal Skilled Worker candidate or under the Canadian Experience Class for a TEER 0 or 1 occupation.

If applying as a Canadian Experience Class candidate in a TEER 2 or 3 occupation, you need to show a CLB level 5 or higher.

The threshold is lower again for Federal Skilled Trades candidates, who may be able to enter the pool with PTE Core scores equivalent to a CLB level 4 for reading and writing and CLB 5 for speaking and listening.

To enter the pool*
SpeakingPTE 68+PTE 42+PTE 68+PTE 42+
ReadingPTE 60+PTE 33+PTE 60+PTE 42+
WritingPTE 69+PTE 41+PTE 69+PTE 51+
ListeningPTE 60+PTE 39+PTE 60+PTE 39+

Of course, the better you do on your test, the more points you may be awarded and the better your chances may be of immigrating to Canada. See our page on how to improve your Express Entry CRS score for more details.

What is a good PTE Core score for Canada immigration?

This really depends, but you should know a key threshold in the Express Entry CRS: your score can improve a huge amount if you can score a PTE Core result equivalent to or better than a CLB level 9.

To score at least a CLB level 9 with PTE Core, you should achieve:

Reading: 78+

Writing: 88+

Speaking: 84+

Listening: 82+

In addition to the points gained for improvements to that level, getting a CLB 9 in each ability also triggers a jump in points under the skills transferability factors in combination with your level of education and your non-Canadian work experience.

Should I take the PTE Core or PTE academic English Test?

This depends on what you are applying for. Most immigration programs only accept the PTE Core exam. However if you are looking at come to Canada as a student, the academic version of the PTE is accepted.

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About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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