Information for

English language requirements

The following English language scores are in addition to Grade 12 English (or equivalent) if that is required for the program you're applying to.

You need to provide an English language test score if

  • your first language is not English AND
  • your 4 most recent years of full-time education have not been in an English-language school system


You are not required to provide an English proficiency test score if you meet one of the following exceptions.

Exception A

  • You have been educated in Canada and your first language is English or
  • You are a bilingual Francophone Canadian or
  • Your first language is French and you have completed 4 or more years of full-time studies in a high school in Canada. 

Exception B

Your first language is not English and your 4 most recent years of full-time education have been taught in an entirely English-language school system either in Canada or in another country.

  • If your 4 most recent years of full-time education have been in a country other than Canada, the following conditions apply.
    • Official transcripts indicating subjects taught, grades achieved, and language of instruction must be provided by your high school and/or post-secondary institution(s) to support your claim.
    • We will also consider official letters from your school’s principal or head of guidance verifying that all subjects (excluding language courses) are taught in English.
    • Official documents must arrive by Waterloo's document deadline.
    • English as a Second Language programs do not qualify you for this exemption and cannot be included in the number of years of full-time education in an English-language school system.

Required English language scores

Tests that do not appear on this chart are not accepted for admission consideration. Choose one of the test options and register for a test date well in advance of Waterloo's document deadlines.

Test Minimum score
Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) - Test Of English as a Foreign Language 90 overall
25 writing, 25 speaking
IELTS Academic - International English Language Testing System 6.5 overall
6.5 writing, 6.5 speaking, 6.0 reading, 6.0 listening
MELAB - Michigan English Language Assessment Battery 85 overall
80 per section
if you're applying to a co-op program: 3 speaking
CAEL - Canadian Academic English Language Assessment 70 overall
60 per band
70 writing, 70 speaking
PTE Academic - Pearson Test of English 63 overall
65 writing, 65 speaking
EFAS - English for Academic Success 75% overall in 400 levels
75% in each of academic, oral, and writing

Study at Waterloo through an English pathway program

If you meet Waterloo's admission requirements but fall below our English language requirements, you may receive a conditional offer of admission to one of our English pathway programs. You don't apply directly to these programs; you will receive an offer of admission if you qualify.

You can also apply to English for Academic Success (EFAS), an intensive full-term English language program offered by Waterloo's English Language Institute. EFAS is designed to help students meet Waterloo's English language requirements or prepare for university where English is the language of instruction. 

How recent do your test scores need to be?

English language scores are valid if completed within 2 years of when we review your application. Because applications are evaluated at different times throughout the admissions process, we strongly recommend that your test be completed on or after September 1, 2017 to guarantee that your test will be eligible for September 2019 admission.

If you're applying to start in January 2019, we strongly recommend that your test be completed on or after January 1, 2017.

Important notes

  • Your 4 most recent years of full-time education must be immediately before the beginning of the month you start your studies at Waterloo.
  • The English language requirements stated above are minimum required scores. Applicants with higher scores may be given preference for some programs.
  • Paper-based TOEFL will be considered on an individual case-by-case basis.
  • Students achieving an overall IELTS score of 7.0 and no band score below 6.0 may be given individual consideration for admission to full-time undergraduate studies.
  • For some programs, individual consideration may be given for an iBT overall score of 90 (writing and/or speaking of 23 or 24).
  • The University reserves the right to withdraw any offer of admission if an applicant fails to meet the minimum English language requirements for the program to which he or she has applied.
  • If you have completed your 4 most recent years of full-time education in an English-language school system and you also provide a failing English language test score, the University reserves the right to withdraw your Offer of Admission or refuse admission.
  • The University reserves the right to request an English language test result from any applicant.

    How to submit your test scores

    We require official test scores sent by the testing agency directly to Waterloo's Office of the Registrar. Faxes and student copies of test scores are NOT accepted for admission.

    Request that the test centre forward your test scores directly to the University of Waterloo.

    • For TOEFL:
      • Waterloo's institution code is 0996 and our department code is 00
    • For IELTS, we accept the electronic Test Report Form (TRF)*
      • Waterloo's e-Transfer Institution is University of Waterloo – Admissions
      • Due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot individually review scores on the IELTS website. However, we download results on a regular basis for students who have requested that their results be sent to us electronically. 

    Waterloo's mailing address

    ELR requirements
    Office of the Registrar
    University of Waterloo
    200 University Ave W
    Waterloo ON N2L 3G1 CANADA

    Questions can be sent to


      • Complete your test at least 2 months before the deadline to ensure your scores reach us in time. It will take 4-6 weeks for your official test score to reach Waterloo.
      • Exemptions will not be granted because test dates have become full.
      • If a TOEFL test date is full, you are encouraged to register for CAEL, IELTS, or MELAB.

      Improving your English

      Visit the Waterloo International website to learn about ways to improve your English before attending Waterloo or while you're a student here.