What is CLB, and How to Calculate It

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IELTS to CLB Conversion Explained

Canadian Language Benchmark or CLB standard is a descriptive scale of language ability used by the Canadian Immigration authorities to establish an individual’s language proficiency for immigration. Needless to say, CLB is a term you might have come across during your research on Canadian immigration.

In this blog, you will find answers to:

  • What is CLB?
  • Why is CLB needed?
  • What are the approved language tests used under CLB?
  • How to Calculate the CLB Score?
  • How is a Good CLB score Beneficial?
  • Getting the help of a Licensed Immigration Consultant (RCIC)

What is CLB?

CLB or Canadian Language Benchmark refers to the national standards of evaluating the language proficiency of applicants for immigration by Canadian authorities. Many individuals wishing to immigrate to Canada must prove their language skills by taking an approved language test. To do this, they must:

  • schedule their test with an agency approved by IRCC and pay the costs
  • enter the test results into their Express Entry profile (and the Personal Information Number, if the system asks for it)
  • include the results with their application

CELPIP, IELTS, and TCF (French) are the three English test results usually accepted for immigration purposes. CLB converts the scores achieved in any federally recognized language tests, including IELTS, into equivalencies. The CIC website has more details on equivalency. Your English language proficiency is tested on four different skills – Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing – in three stages and on 12 levels of ability. For each of these language skills, a person is tested and will receive a score which will determine their proficiency.

The three stages in CLB are basic, intermediate and advanced.

  • Basic Language Ability – Benchmarks from 1 to 4
  • Intermediate Language Ability – Benchmarks from 5 to 8
  • Advanced Language Ability – Benchmarks from 9 to 12

Each immigration program has a specific language proficiency benchmark that an individual must meet to qualify under the program. For example, if you are applying through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you should prove a CLB score of 7 or above.

Why is CLB Needed?

CLB is needed to determine your English language competence for performing everyday conversations to live and work in Canada. In fact, having adequate language skills increases the employment probability of immigrants, and eases their access to better-paying jobs.

What are the approved Language Tests used Under CLB?

These are the four approved language tests:

For English –

CELPIP – Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program

IELTS – International English Language Testing System

For French –

TCF Canada – Test de connaissance du français

But it is always recommended that you go with IELTS for English and TEF for French since all countries accept both these tests internationally.

How to Calculate the CLB Score?

The CLB score can be calculated by finding the CLB equivalencies of the test scores you received in either of the approved language tests. It would help if you had the scores of at least one test – either IELTS or TEF – to find your CLB score.


IELTS is one of the internationally recognized English language determining tests. This table will come in handy when you want to determine your equivalent CLB benchmark for IELTS scores.

CLB LevelReadingWritingSpeakingListening
10 and above8 – 97.5 – 97.5 – 98.5 – 9

How is a Good CLB score Beneficial?

To answer this question, you must understand CRS – a Comprehensive Ranking System. To accurately assess and filter immigration applicants, the federal government uses a merit-based ranking system that scores each candidate on various parameters.

In CRS, separate weightage is given to the CLB score. A CLB 9 and above have a significance of its own, and it enhances your CRS points, increasing your chances of getting selected in the draw. So, it is recommended to improve your language proficiency tests, if you need to, keeping in mind the particular requirements for the program you are applying under.

The IRCC has a list of approved agencies that have been approved to conduct language tests. You can look for an approved agency and schedule your tests after paying the required costs. Once you’ve taken the test and gotten the results, you’ll need to include them in your Express Entry profile as well as in your application if you are invited to apply. Failure to include the test results in your application may lead to delays in processing. In fact, the IRCC will not process your application if it doesn’t contain your language test results.

Getting the help of a Licensed Immigration Consultant (RCIC)

A licensed immigration consultant can help you to fill out your profile and check all issues such as the expiry of your language test results to make sure that you have a high chance of being placed in the express entry pool and receiving an invitation to apply. Seek the services of a professional immigration consultant to avoid mistakes in your profile or permanent residence application that could be termed as misrepresentation and ban you from ever applying in future.

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