In this article, we’ll see all the details regarding the CLB exam and answer questions like What is CLB?, how to calculate CLB score?, and all the doubts regarding the Canadian Language Benchmark.

What is CLB?

CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) is the national standard used to evaluate Canadian Immigration applications based on describing, measuring, and recognising English language proficiency. It forms a crucial stride for the probable immigrants for working and living in Canada. It is basically structured into three stages and 12 levels in total. These 12 levels describe the person’s language competence in speaking, reading, and writing.

The three stages include Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level has four benchmarks internally, Initial, Developing, Adequate and Fluent. It is always vital to have a high CLB level if you want to study or work in Canada. Lower levels, say CLB 1-4, indicate that the person is a beginner to the language, whereas higher levels of CLB denote greater proficiency in the language.

Is there any CLB Exam?

There is no CLB exam. CLB is not a specific language test like IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). But you can use the results of a language test to estimate your language level in accordance with CLBs. The CLB levels don’t show your grammar or vocabulary efficiency but English competence for everyday tasks. It is really helpful to know and determine your CLB level. If you are applying to immigrate to Canada, you will definitely need to know your CLB levels.

The applicants who are applying for permanent Canadian residency need to show a minimum CLB level. If you are planning to study in Canada, it will come in handy to understand your preferred university’s course and program material. At the end of the day, CLB plays a pivotal role if you decide to study or work or live in Canada.

CLB Eligibility

Most of Canada’s immigration programs require the applicants to have a minimum level of proficiency in English, French, or both. English and French are considered to be Canada’s official languages. This is because the immigrants who are able to communicate with ease in one of the national languages can find it comfortable to study, work or live in the country. The CLB eligibility would require scores from any of the approved language tests. The approved language tests are accepted to evaluate the applicants’ English and French proficiency.

Also Read: Matching Heading Type of Questions in IELTS Reading: Here’s How to do It

Approved Language Tests in CLB

The two most preferred and considered approved language tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test d’évaluation de français (TEF). There are other approved tests like Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), Test de Connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF Canada), and Quebec Immigration – Language Testing. But it is always suggested that immigrants go with IELTS and TEF, which are accepted internationally in all countries. So, the applicant must take any one of the approved language tests to calculate their CLB levels and gain eligibility.

There are various immigration systems in Canada, and one of the most popular systems is Express Entry Immigration System. The applicant should always note that the levels required to immigrate to Canada depending on the class they are applying to. The classes include Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, or Canadian Experiences Classes.

How to Calculate CLB Score?

So, now we know that we need the scores of approved language tests to know our CLB level. But the question arises on how to calculate CLB score?, or how to check CLB level?

This can be done by cross-checking the CLB equivalencies to the test scores you receive in any of the approved language tests. An applicant should have the scores of at least one language test to calculate their CLB level. Let’s consider IELTS and TEF, one for English and one for French.


IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is general training accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). It demonstrates the person’s proficiency in the English language. It is also one of the most accepted and renowned language tests around the globe.

IELTS is an approved language test in ExpressEntry System in Canada. There are two versions for this test, General IELTS and Academic IELTS, but the immigration programs will require the applicant to submit the results of General IELTS. In the following table, you can find the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the IELTS test:

IELTS Language Test Equivalencies
CLB Level  Reading  Writing  Listening  Speaking
10 & above 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 4

So, in this way, one can calculate their CLB level in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking through IELTS results. These levels will be taken into consideration for the immigration application.


TEF, as mentioned earlier, stands for Test de connaissance du français. It is one of the most popularly known language tests for French and is widely accepted in many countries. It is also one of the two approved language tests that determine proficiency in the French language for all provinces and territories other than Quebec. If you wish to immigrate to Quebec, you will need to take the Test de connaissance du français pour le Québec (TEF Québec) or Test d’évaluation du français pour le Canada (TEF Canada).

In the below table, you can find the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the TEF test:

TEF Language Test Equivalencies
CLB Level  Reading  Writing  Listening  Speaking
10 & above 263 – 277 393-415 316-333 393-415
9 248-262 371-392 298-315 371-392
8 233-247 349-370 280-297 349-370
7 207-232 310-348 249-279 310-348
6 181-206 271-309 217-248 271-309
5 151-180 226-270 181-216 226-270
4 121-150 181-225 145-180 181-225

So, in this way, one can calculate their CLB level in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking in French proficiency through TEF results. These scores will be taken into consideration for the immigration application.


Before we know what is CLB 9?, we must know what CRS is. CRS stands for Comprehensive Ranking System. To filter and rank the immigration candidates, the Canadian government developed a merit-based points system that assigns a score to each candidate in the express entry system. This points system or process is known as CRS.

Now, coming to, what is CLB 9? Well, CLB 9 is one of the highest levels in CLB. CLB 9 has its own benefits and significance. In order to score a CLB 9, we require a General IELTS score of 8.0 in listening and 7.0 in reading, speaking, and writing. If you are an applicant with a dream of achieving the Canadian Permanent Residency, having a CLB level of 9 can make it easy. You can also increase your CRS points with CLB 9. So, planning your language test scores accordingly can drop you at CLB 9 and increase your CRS points which in turn puts you at the highest rank in ExpressEntry System.

Is CLB Score or Level Enough to Get Your Immigration?

It is easy for an applicant to conclude that the CLB score or level is adequate to get their immigration approved. But, they forget that the Canadian government doesn’t simply accept the CLB scores. The CLB scores calculated from your approved language tests like IELTS, TEF, TEF Canada, etc., are used to evaluate your application and gain you points in CRS. They don’t actually give a green light on the application. The applicant will be required to do tasks demonstrating reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

For example, an applicant has a CLB score or level of 9 through IELTS (G) language test results. Then the applicant must also prove his proficiency in real everyday use of English. This will demonstrate his competence in English and if the applicant is really qualified for immigration to Canada.

Also Read MCQ Type of Questions in IELTS Reading Exam: Here’s How to do It


At the end of the day, if you are an applicant desperately wanting to immigrate to Canada, the first goal would be to focus on one of the approved language tests of Canada. It is only through these tests that you can calculate and check your CLB level. The immigration application maybe for finding a job or studying in a renowned university of Canada, or settling in the country.

The CLB score is a mandatory criterion for every applicant. As mentioned, it is advised to take IELTS for English proficiency and TEF for French proficiency. These two tests are approved language tests and are accepted around the world. You either calculate your CLB score manually using the table mentioned or various online CLB calculators available, which will come in handy to know your level.

Continue reading IELTS Ninja’s numerous blogs and articles that will help you gain a clear perspective on how to score a good band. For more help, IELTS Ninja‘s personal mentors with years of experience will help you in every step towards your dream of migrating abroad. They will help you solve your doubts, keep track of your progress, and help improve in weak areas. Don’t miss the free demo class and experience the teaching methodology of IELTS Ninja before making the next-best decision to join them. For more details, visit the IELTS Ninja website now.

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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