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Exams required to study in Canada for international students

Updated on 09 October, 2023

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

If you want to apply to Canadian universities for higher education, it is crucial to know about the exams that you will need to take to complete the process. The exams that you might require to take will depend on the level (graduation, post-graduation, or PhD) you want to study and the kind of course you are applying to. To shed more light on the subject, let us talk in detail about the exams required to study in Canada


Language proficiency tests

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

The IELTS exam is for non-native English speakers who want to study or work in a country where English is the primary language. It assesses students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities. One must dedicate at least 3-4 months to prepare for this exam.

This exam can be taken in two ways:

  • Paper-based (Offline) -:  Results will be provided after 14 days.
  • Computer-based (Online) -: Results will be provided after 3 to 5 days.

The IELTS band score is scored on a scale of 1.0 to 9.0. One needs a band score of at least 7.0 for admission to renowned Canadian universities. Depending on the course and the university, the IELTS score requirement may change and usually ranges between 5.0 to 7.5.  For a Canadian visa, you need to obtain a minimum score of 6.0.

There are various aspects on which the test is based and how marking is done, which is given below:


DurationScoreMode of ExamsNo. of Questions


  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing
2 hours and 45 minutes1-9Online and Offline82 and an oral interviewUSD 245-255 


Duolingo exam is an English language assessment test to evaluate your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the language. It is a computer-based online examination which has gained popularity over TOEFL, and IELTS as an alternate exam. It is mandatory to prove your English language proficiency in countries like the UK, US, and Canada. Compared to other language tests, the Duolingo exam is affordable, and convenient and result declaration is fast.

To take Duolingo, one must be aware of the requirements. It is a computer-based online test, where the candidate needs to be prepared with pre-requisite like Computer, Internet, Microphone, Camera, Speaker etc.

Duolingo exam strictly requires you to –

  • Put your mobile phones away.
  • Text and notebooks should not be there.
  • You must be in the test window for the whole test duration.
  • Fully visible to the proctor, eyes and face should be uncovered for the whole test duration.
  • Don’t use software like predictive text input and camera application.

Duolingo exam fee is around USD 49, which is quite low compared to IELTS, TOEFL and different similar exams.

Duolingo exam pattern is fragmented into given parts –

  1. Introduction and setup (five minutes)
  2. Adaptive test (45 minutes)
  3. Video interview (10 minutes)

Exam Duration



1 Hour



Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking

In Over 3000 Universities globallyIn 2 days10-160USD 49

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is recommended for non-native English speakers as an eligibility exam to study in Canada. Most institutions in Canada make it a prerequisite. It follows a similar pattern as IELTS as it assesses listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the language. 

The sole distinction between IELTS and TOEFL is that IELTS is used in UK colleges, whereas US/Canada colleges use TOEFL.

There are no age criteria to appear for the test, but there is a mandate for applicants to have completed 10+2 or high school equivalent.

The TOEFL examination can be taken in two formats:

  • TOEFL iBT test (Online) – This is an internet-based test that is scored on a scale from 0 to 120. Each section comprises 30 marks. The reading and listening sections are completed first, after which the writing and reading tests are taken. There is a 10-minute recess between the two sections. A total of 203 minutes is given to take the test. The acceptable TOEFL iBT score for admission in Canadian universities ranges between 90 and 100.  
  • Paper-based test (PBT) (Offline)  – This test is scored on a scale of 0 to 677. It comprises three subsections, namely listening (0 to 68), speaking  (0 to 68), and reading (0 to 68). The writing section is scored separately on a scale of 0 to 6. Usually, Canadian universities seek a minimum score of 580 on the TOEFL PBT. 

The TOEFL PBT is only available at those centres that do not have internet access. So, most applicants are likely to give the internet-based test. A TOEFL score is valid for a maximum of two years. 

TOEFL exam pattern is in the table below:

Exam Duration

Total SectionsTotal QuestionsMode


3 and half hours (30 minutes for check-in)



Reading, Listening Speaking and Writing

64-85Online and OfflineUSD 190

Pearson English Language Tests (PTE)

This is also a well-recognized academic test that many Canadian universities accept. PTE stands for the Pearson Test for English. The cost of taking this exam in India is ₹13,300. A PTE score is usually valid for a maximum period of two years. The PTE test is scored on a scale of 0 to 90. Usually, a score between 65 to 75 is accepted by Canadian universities. 

Other exams required to study in Canada:

GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an option for those who desire to pursue their MBA in Canada. The GMAT exam consists of analytical, verbal, and quantitative writing. Quantitative questions are on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation. Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction make up the verbal part.

GMAT exam fee is around USD 250.

Information related to the GMAT exam pattern is listed below:

Analytical Writing30 minutes10-6
Integrating Assessment30 minutes121-8
Quantitative Reasoning62 minutes316-51
Verbal Reasoning65 minutes366-51

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

GRE Test score is a mandate for admissions to master’s, especially in management or business, doctoral programs, and securing fellowships. It is the most acknowledged admissions test for graduate and business school programs. The test assesses verbal, quantitative, critical thinking, and analytical writing abilities. 

The GRE general test is available in both computer and paper format. These abilities are similar to the talents needed to succeed in today’s challenging graduate and business school programs. More than 850 test centers around the world conduct the exam. The duration of the computer-delivered format is roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The paper-based Subject Tests take about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Although there is no set parameter in appearing for the GRE exam test, one must ensure that they have a graduate degree. There is also no age bar for the applicant to appear.

The computer-based GRE exam syllabus is section adaptive, one of the significant differences between the two GREs. The difficulty level of the second segment is determined by your performance in the first section of verbal and quantitative. As a result, a computer-based exam provides a more accurate assessment of your talents than a paper-based exam.

You will also receive your scores at the exam center if you take the computer-based GRE. You must wait around six weeks for the paper-based test.

The GRE score is valid for five years. GRE General Test fee is $213.

Information regarding GRE exam pattern, and how much score you need to acquire for successfully qualifying in the test is given below:


Verbal Reasoning


(Paper based)

(Computer based)









(Paper based)

(Computer based)







Analytical Writing


(Paper based)

(Computer based)









(Paper based)

(Computer based)









(Paper based)

(Computer based)







LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

The LSAT is a three and half hour paper-and-pencil test needed to enter most law schools in the Canada. The test consists of around 125 multiple-choice questions and a writing sample designed to assess critical reading, data management, and analytical thinking skills essential for success in the first year of law school.

The LSAT is the most important admissions test, accounting for up to 50 percent of a candidate’s application at the most competitive schools. The LSAT is taken by around 110,000 students each year. For five years, your LSAT score is valid.

LSAT eligibility criteria for applicant-

  • There is no upper age limit for the candidate and neither are restrictions on the number of attempts.
  • For a 3-year program, one must possess a graduate degree with at least 45% marks.
  • For a 5-year integrated program, applicants should have 10+2 or equivalent with at least 45% marks.
ModeDurationTypes of QuestionsSectionsTotal MarksMediumTotal QuestionsFees
Online Proctored Exam2 hours and 20 minutesObjective4120-180English92 MCQsUSD 200 

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

The MCAT is a computer-based multiple-choice test that medical school admissions officers use to assess the candidate. The exam assesses problem-solving ability, critical thinking abilities, writing skills, and understanding of basic science ideas, among other things.

The three-hour and twenty-minute exams have MCQ format and one hour for a writing sample. The exam might take around 7 hours and 30 minutes with all administrative requirements and breaks.

Every year, about 71,000 people take the MCAT all across the world. MCAT scores are usually valid for three years. This time range, however, varies from school to school. 

To fulfill MCAT eligibility criteria, candidates must have an MBBS degree.


7 hours 30 minutes


(Breaks included)

Section wise( 90-95 minutes)



  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

221 Total


(50,53,59,59 in respective section)

118-132 (Each Section)


472-528 (Total)

USD 310-370

USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Test)

USMLE Exam is an eight-hour test with 310 multiple-choice questions. Anatomy, Physiology, Behavioral Sciences, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Pathology, Microbiology, Biostatistics, and Epidemiology are among the eight medical subjects tested. Genetics, Immunology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Aging, and Nutrition are among the five inter-disciplines included.

If you want to study at a university overseas for undergraduate or graduate programs, you must first examine the university’s test requirements. Universities in various countries have varying criteria, so before applying for either of the international entrance tests listed above, consult the university’s official website.

Steps 1, 2 CK, and 2 CS-related eligibility criteria-

  • Must have graduated from or be enrolled in a programme leading to the MD degree that has been accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in Canada or the United States (LCME)
  • As per accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association, you must be a medical student enrolled legitimately in a US medical school leading to a DO degree or a graduate of one (AOA).
  • A medical student who has received official enrollment or graduation from a medical school that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools but is not located in Canada or the United States.

Step 3 eligibility criteria-

  • Steps 1, 2 CK, and 2 CS must be completed successfully by aspirants.
  • They should hold MD or DO degrees from LCME or AOA-accredited medical schools in Canada or the United States.
  • An equivalent degree to MD from any medical school outside of Canada and the United States with a listing in the World Directory of Medical Schools may be used as an alternative to the above criteria.

USMLE exam fees are divided into 3 steps costing for the first phase 610 USD, the second phase 610 USD, and the third phase 1285 USD

Counselling">Interested to Study In Canada? Apply for Free Counselling

Crack IELTS with upGrad Abroad

You can opt for the upGrad Abroad Booster Program, where you can get help with IELTS preparation and SOP. Students will also benefit in Academic Writing, Profile Building, University Application, Education Loan, Visa Support and other necessary services required for enrolling abroad.

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What exams should be taken for studying abroad?

IELTS, TOEFL, and LSAT  are common eligibility tests taken while applying for admission into Canadian universities. Make sure to read the eligibility criteria required by your desired course.

What are the exams taken for applying to a scholarship in Canadian universities?

GRE and GMAT are among the most commonly taken tests to secure a scholarship in universities as they test general and respective subject knowledge and skills.

What exams are required to study MBA abroad?

GMAT is one of the most common exams for studying MBA in Canadian universities. Some B-schools also accept GRE scores.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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