English for Academic Success (EFAS)

Begin your Canadian university experience by improving your English

English for Academic Success (EFAS) is a unique program in that it offers students more than just English language instruction in the conventional way.  Students who participate in the EFAS program not only improve their English language competence, but do so in an integrated and dynamic manner that reflects what is truly needed to succeed in an academic and professional environment. The EFAS program is benchmarked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a global standard in English language proficiency. The program has four levels including level 100 (low-intermediate, CEFR A2), level 200 (intermediate, CEFR B1), level 300 (high-intermediate, CEFR B2), and level 400 (advanced, CEFR C1). Successful completion of EFAS level 400, satisfies the English language requirement for studies at the University of Waterloo. It also equips you with the skills and strategies you need to do well on any standardized proficiency test.

EFAS is a great option if you are looking to:

meet the university of waterloo's undergraduate language requirements with three students sitting on grass

meet the university of waterloo's graduate language requirements with student facing a board with papers on it

strengthen your english language proficiency while studying in canada button with group of students crossing a street

Who is the program designed for? (EFAS)

EFAS is designed for individuals who are:

  • prospective undergraduate or graduate students interested in meeting the language requirements for admission to the University of Waterloo, or
  • conditionally admitted to a graduate studies program at the University of Waterloo, but have not met the language requirements, or
  • interested in studying English in Canada at one of the nation’s most innovative universities, or
  • looking to develop test-taking skills and strategies to prepare for a standardized English exam

Program features (EFAS)

The EFAS program includes:

  • 20 hours of English language programming a week
  • multiple levels from low-intermediate to advanced (class availability is dependent on enrolment)
  • language placement/diagnostic test on first day of the program to determine a student’s language level
  • orientation session and campus tour on the first day of the program
  • independently reviewed and professionally accredited curriculum based on CEFR international standards for language proficiency
  • opportunities to meet with instructors during office hours
  • individual feedback sessions with instructors during regularly scheduled sessions
  • final English language assessment and final achievement report (transcript)
  • a certificate from Renison English Language Institute at the University of Waterloo

The EFAS program is recommended for students with a CEFR level ranging from B1 to C1 (low-intermediate to advanced). The student’s program level will be based on their score in Renison’s English level placement test.

What makes the program unique? (EFAS)

  • An integrated approach to teaching and learning which ensures that students are applying all language skills in each of their courses.
  • An exceptional Student Experience team committed to helping you adjust to life in Canada
  • Individualized support from our student advisor to help facilitate your learning success
  • Opportunities to learn beyond the classroom through engaging workshops and participation in social events
  • The option to take advantage of various leadership and volunteer opportunities
  • An active texting community which uses WeChat, Kakao Talk, Line and WhatsApp to connect with peers and ELI staff
  • The opportunity to develop an individualized study plan
  • One-on-one support with applying to university

Program duration and levels (EFAS)

There are three levels in the EFAS program. Each level requires one term to complete. Students can register for one or multiple terms of EFAS.


There are three intakes per year:

  • Fall term (September – December)
  • Winter term (January – April)
  • Spring term (May – August)

EFAS level descriptions

  • Level 200 (low-intermediate, CEFR B1)
    • EFAS level 200 is designed for students whose language proficiency is at IELTS 5.5. Building on skills previously acquired, students in this level will focus on developing a solid foundation of English language proficiency in the areas of vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • Level 300 (high-intermediate, CEFR B2)
    • EFAS level 300 is for students who have successfully completed level 200, or whose language proficiency is at IELTS 6.0. This level is designed to support students as they improve their accuracy and fluency in English. Students will expand their language competence in the areas of vocabulary, critical thinking and research skills.
  • Level 400 (advanced, CEFR C1)
    • EFAS level 400 is designed for students who have successfully completed level 300, or whose language proficiency is at IELTS 6.5. Through active engagement with course readings and lecture material, students will sharpen their language and research skills, and develop an awareness of academic expectations at a Canadian university.  Students who successfully complete EFAS level 400 satisfy the English language requirement for the University of Waterloo.

Placement/diagnostic test

At the beginning of the term, new students will write a diagnostic placement to determine which level of EFAS is appropriate. For an idea of your level, you can complete the following free online test: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/english-level-test.

Results of this test are simply to provide you with an indication of where you may place in EFAS. Your level will be determined by your results on the official placement test.

The chart below indicates the number of terms a student will need to complete the EFAS program at Level 400 (CEFR C1).

CEFR EFAS Level Number of terms needed to complete the EFAS program

A0 – A1

Not available (N/A)



Not available (N/A)



EFAS Level 200

3 terms needed to complete EFAS


EFAS Level 300

2 terms needed to complete EFAS


EFAS Level 400

1 term needed to complete EFAS

Meeting the University of Waterloo language requirements

EFAS Level Language Requirement Satisfied
Level 200 or 300                     

Students who successfully complete EFAS level 200 or EFAS level 300 may be eligible for conditional admission to undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo through the Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) program.

Level 300

Successful completion of EFAS level 300 satisfies the English language requirement for certain graduate studies programs. For more information, please visit the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Level 400

Students who successfully complete level 400 meet the language requirement for the University of Waterloo for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Students may also submit their EFAS transcript as proof of English language proficiency when applying for undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and Ontario Tech University.

Students interested in completing EFAS to satisfy the English language requirement for graduate studies at the University of Waterloo are invited to learn more, visit:

What will you learn? (EFAS)

academic reading and listening with open book pictured

In this course, you will:

  • improve active listening skills through authentic lectures
  • apply note-taking skills and strategies
  • develop vocabulary strategies to decipher unfamiliar vocabulary in context of readings
  • properly paraphrase and summarize texts
  • interpret and analyze information from charts, graphs, and other visuals
  • analyze and respond to academic reports and literature reviews
writing and research in academic contexts with man writing at desk pictured

In this course, you will:

  • improve their knowledge of grammar
  • improve their essay writing skills
  • apply the process approach to writing (organize, draft, revise, and edit) to craft essays using various rhetorical patterns
  • apply critical thinking skills to develop an argument
  • develop self-editing skills
  • write an annotated bibliography
  • improve research skills
  • learn how to apply referencing techniques to avoid plagiarism
academic communication through conversation and presentation with a woman pictured in front of white board facing another person in conversation

In this course, you will:

  • improve their pronunciation and speaking skills
  • develop confidence in various speaking situations
  • participate in small group discussions
  • identify and use appropriate register in various speaking situations
  • distinguish between, and correctly use, formal and informal vocabulary
  • prepare and deliver an academic presentation

Sample Class Schedule (EFAS)

Student Experience (EFAS)

Our Student Experience team is here to help you reach your goals. You will be offered a variety of opportunities for support such as one-on-one meetups and access to program peer leaders who are here to support your English language development. As an EFAS student, you will:

Experience life in Canada

  • Social events and activities offered each term
  • Explore southern Ontario, including Toronto, Niagara Falls, and St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market

Practice your social and English skills

  • Speed Friending and video game parties         
  • Weekly conversation lunches
  • One-on-one meet-ups with your Peer Leaders

Be a successful student

  • Support with adjusting to academic life in Canada
  • Individual check-in meetings with every student
  • Informative workshops

Transition to university studies

  • Individualized support to help you research university programs
  • University application assistance, including proofreading your application
  • Help with searching for a graduate program supervisor

Build your leadership skills through volunteering

  • Join EFAS student council to plan community events
  • Attend leadership workshops to build your 21st century skills
  • Make a difference in the community through local food drives

Stay connected

  • Helpful emails to prepare for your studies
  • Weekly email newsletters about upcoming events and program reminders
  • Texting app communities where you can ask questions and connect with your classmates
  • Ongoing invitations to our events and workshops even after you finish the program

Participate in the Conversation Partner Program

  • Meet each week with a University of Waterloo student to practice your English

Dates, fees, and application process (EFAS)

Dates and fees

EFAS term Dates Program fees Notes
Spring 2024 May 6 - August 16, 2024 $5652 Registration closed
Fall 2024 September 5 – December 13, 2024 $5812 Registration open
Winter 2025 January 6 - April 17, 2025 $5812 Registration open
Spring 2025 May 5 - August 15, 2025 $5812 Registration open

NOTE: Fees are listed in Canadian dollars (CAD) and are subject to change at any time.

Program fees include registration, tuition, student services and mandatory health insurance coverage. Additional textbook fees may apply. For fees details, please visit the tuition fees page.

University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) coverage must be purchased regardless of medical coverage from your home country. Dependents (spouse and/or children) must also be enrolled in UHIP upon arrival in Canada for an additional cost. UHIP fees are subject to change September 1 each year. Renison ELI staff will assist with your enrollment.

The student services fee includes a student ID card, on campus activities, academic excursions, and social events organized by Renison ELI Peer Leaders.

Not included in program fees: travel costs, airport transfer, and accommodations. If you require assistance, please e-mail us at eli@uwaterloo.ca.

Application process

Applications must be submitted through our student portal. Follow these steps to apply for the EFAS program:

Step 1: Visit the student portal to submit your application; if you are not signed in to or signed up for a portal account, you will be prompted to do so now.

Step 2: Once signed in, you will be directed to the Program Applications page; select the blue ‘Submit Program Application’ button.

Step 3: Proceed with preparing and submitting your application.

Step 4: You will receive confirmation of your application through e-mail to the e-mail address attached to your account.

Step 5: Pay the application fee and tuition deposit(s) to secure your registration.

Step 6: Receive your Letter of Acceptance within 3 business days of payment receipt.

Step 7: Pay your remaining fees two weeks before the start of the program.

Payment options

You may pay your fees through Convera GlobalPay for Students, online by credit card through your student portal, through online banking (only available from a Canadian bank account), or in person at Renison.

For detailed instructions, visit our Payment Instructions page.

Residence and homestay (EFAS)

Accommodation options include on campus university residence and homestay. You may indicate your accommodation preference in your ELI program application form (please use the additional comments box to indicate this). Based on the information you submit, our team will look into accommodation availability for you.

NOTE: Fees below are listed in Canadian dollars (CAD) and are subject to change at any time.

On campus university residence

Double room, shared washroom facilities, on-site laundry facilities, lounge space, full meal plan, Internet access, linens included

One term residence fees: $4865 - $7660 CAD


In order to provide an opportunity to experience Canadian culture and community living in the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener, students may stay with a local, homestay family. Homestay is provided by a third party provider, Homestay Plus, and includes a private bedroom, Internet access, and 3 meals per day. Homestay families are generally located within a 20 to 50-minute bus ride from the University of Waterloo campus. 

One term homestay fees: $4425 CAD

Homestay fees can be paid through Renison. Prices listed are based on homestay registration assistance provided by Renison, a single room in homestay, and 3 meals per day. Additional fees apply for additional days, if available, and for special dietary requirements in homestay (example: Halal, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).

Student Stories (EFAS)


English is the first building block towards this Engineers dream

Basel Shoueb had begun his first year of his PhD program when the ongoing war conflict in his home country of Syria left him no choice but to leave.

I left Syria because of the war that is taking place there, Basel explained. At some point, I felt there was no hope but I still have my dreams I needed to pursue, which left me with no choice except to leave.



The story of ApplyBoard

From arriving in a new country barely able to speak the language to co-founding Canadas fastest-growing tech company, the story of brothers Meti and Massi Basiri is no small success.

The name ApplyBoard has become synonymous in tech circles with buzzwords like unicorn start-up, entrepreneurial spirit, and rapid growth. These words describe an idea sparked by three brothers that has quickly grown into the worlds largest online international student recruitment portal. Today, more than 150,000 students across 110 different countries have been able to access education globally thanks to ApplyBoard.



From EFAS to emerging artist

When Behnaz Fatemi boarded a plane from Iran to Canada three years ago, she could never have imagined the way her life would change. Fatemi had applied for the English For Academic Success program at Renison, and was on her way to Canada to start her new journey.

Like all students who uproot their lives and move to an entirely new country, Fatemi recalls struggling with homesickness and adapting to Canada.


I chose English for Academic Success because this program provides intensive courses that help students to improve their English language skills. We're not only learning the English language, we are learning a lot of skills that are hard to find anywhere else. It's very helpful and has really made my academic journey less stressful. I'm so happy that I joined the EFAS program. I really recommend any  international student to also join EFAS, because it's going to help us a lot to be successful.

Asma, Past EFAS student