Canada Drops 6 Band Requirement in Individual IELTS Sections for SDS

In a significant development, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test-takers applying for Canadian study permits through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) category will no longer need to score a minimum of 6.0 bands in all individual sections of the test. This change will be effective from August 10.

The New Rule

According to IDP Education, the co-owner of IELTS, the IRCC has made changes to the IELTS requirement for SDS applicants. Piyush Kumar, Regional Director, South Asia and Mauritius, IDP Education, expressed delight over the decision, stating that IELTS Academic test takers applying through the SDS programme will now only require an overall 6 band score.

There is no longer any requirement to achieve a minimum score of 6 bands in each section.

Implications of the Change

This update signifies a shift towards recognizing the comprehensive abilities of test takers rather than focusing solely on individual band scores. It is believed that this change will provide greater opportunities for talented students worldwide to pursue their educational goals in Canada. It also reflects authorities’ confidence in IELTS.


IELTS is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests for study, migration, or work. It is taken by over three million people every year and is accepted by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools, and immigration bodies around the world.

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an expedited study permit processing programme for those applying to study in Canada at a post-secondary designated learning institution. The SDS programme has consistently served as a streamlined and expedited pathway for eligible students to study in Canada.

This development comes after Canada recently allowed TOEFL and PTE Academic test to be accepted for Student Direct Stream. Students can begin sending Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT scores as part of their SDS application beginning August 10, 2023. The SDS is available for students applying from various countries including India, China, Brazil, and more.

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