Can I give the IELTS online in Canada?

Whether you live in Canada or are moving to Canada and are looking to take the IELTS, you are here because you want to know if you can take the test online. Drumroll, please…

In Canada, you can’t currently take the IELTS exam online (called the IELTS Indicator, an online version of the IELTS launched during the pandemic), but the makers of IELTS will be launching a new test in early 2022, called IELTS Online, which you will likely be able to take online from anywhere in the world.

So if you live in Canada and need or want to take an English exam to prove your proficiency now or if you want to explore your options other than IELTS, we will help you do just that in this post.

The IELTS Indicator and the all-new IELTS Online

The IELTS Indicator was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to help test takers still take their IELTS exam during the lockdowns, during which many IELTS testing centers were temporarily closed. 

Like the traditional IELTS test, the IELTS Indicator covers all four areas of communication typically tested on English proficiency exams: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. As the name suggests, the IELTS Indicator gives an indication of what your IELTS test score would be if you were to take it under normal circumstances. Some universities accept the IELTS Indicator as proof of your English proficiency, whereas others do not.

Now that the world is opening up again in general, many test makers have come up with online tests to compete in this space, as many universities are starting to accept tests that have always been online, such as Duolingo. For this reason, IELTS has created IELTS Online, a test designed to be taken online at home to assess your English proficiency more effectively than the IELTS Indicator would.

IELTS Online will be available from early 2022 so if you don’t need to make a decision yet as to which test to take, it would probably be a good idea to wait and see what this test offers and which institutions accept it as proof for English proficiency. For example, TOEFL® has an online version of their English proficiency test, however, not all institutions accept it. For this reason, it would be good to wait and see which institutions will accept IELTS Online.

The concern with online tests at home is that one student may have an unfair advantage over another (or have problems with integrity, which a university doesn’t want) if something were to slip past the proctor, such as a piece of paper on the desk that he or she doesn’t see. With experience during the pandemic, online proctors will be able to guarantee more and more a testing experience that would be equal for all. This will give universities peace of mind that all students are on equal footing and that no student misrepresents their English proficiency level by cheating on the test.

A word on online tests

Before going further about other online options for English proficiency tests in Canada, you should double-check that your computer and environment meet the requirements for online testing. While you should check the specific requirements for each of the tests that are possibilities for you, in general, you will need a webcam, a microphone, an empty desk, and a room that can be observed in its entirety by the Proctor who is administering the test.

Online options for Canada

TOEFL Home Edition

The TOEFL Home Edition is similar to the IELTS Indicator in that it was also launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an exact replica of the TOEFL iBT and takes about three hours to finish. It is administered by an online proctor and the proctor is present via webcam throughout the duration of the test.

Like the IELTS Indicator this test is not accepted by all universities, however, it is accepted on a temporary basis by many universities due to the pandemic.

Available in Canada: Yes

Cost: $245

TOEFL Essentials

The TOEFL Essentials exam is a recent addition to the TOEFL family of assessments. It is designed to help test takers evaluate their level of proficiency for the English language from anywhere in the world in the comfort of their own homes.

While the TOEFL Essentials tests all four areas of English proficiency, the test is a lot shorter than most other tests, in that it lasts only about 1 1/2 hours. It also costs only about half of what the traditional TOEFL iBT costs.

Since it is a new test, it is not always accepted by universities, and it is certainly not as accepted as the traditional TOEFL iBT test. For this reason, it would be a good idea to check with the university you intend to apply to to see if they accept the TOEFL Essentials.

Available in Canada: Yes

Cost: $100


During the pandemic, Duolingo was more ready than most other English exam creators. Not only that, but their test is a lot less expensive and is a lot shorter than any other test. Because many universities were starting to accept it as proof of proficiency during the pandemic, it became an attractive option for many test takers.

A big difference between Duolingo and other tests is that, rather than grading the four traditional areas, it assesses your proficiency in a combination of those skills: literacy (reading and writing), comprehension (listening and reading), conversation (speaking and listening), and production (writing and speaking).

Available in Canada: Yes

Cost: $49 + applicable taxes

PTE Academic Online

Pearson Test of English (PTE) has announced that they will also have an online option of the PTE Academic, called the PTE Academic Online, which you will be able to take from the comfort of your own home.

This test hasn’t been launched yet, but you check the PTE website periodically to discover more information about this test.

Hopefully, this post will help you make a good decision about what English proficiency exam you can take to suit your own needs.

Happy studying!