English language competency

English is the primary language of instruction at UBC. All prospective students are required to demonstrate a minimum level of English before they’re admitted.

There are nine ways to meet UBC’s minimum English Language Admission Standard (ELAS) for an undergraduate degree at UBC.

The deadline to submit documents showing you meet the ELAS is February 15. If you do not meet this requirement, you may be interested in one of our academic English development programs.

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Vancouver campus

Nine ways to meet UBC’s English language admission requirement

  1. Complete four or more consecutive years of recognized, full-time education in English within Canada immediately prior to attending UBC.
  2. Complete four or more consecutive years of full-time education in English in a country other than Canada where English is the principal language. These four years must be immediately prior to attending UBC.
  3. Achieve a grade of 70% or better on the provincial examination portion of BC English 12 or the equivalent.
  4. Achieve a final grade of 4 or better on Advanced Placement (AP) English Language & Composition or AP Literature & Composition; or achieve a final grade of 5 or better on International Baccalaureate English A (higher-level or standard-level).
  5. Achieve the competence standard indicated by one of the tests of English language proficiency that evaluates skills in listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
  6. Successfully complete six credits of post-secondary first-year English studies at a recognized university in an English-speaking country. You must submit a transcript showing completion of these courses by February 15. For students at North American post-secondary institutions registered in English courses in the January to April term, we will accept a final transcript showing completion of these courses until May 15, if there are spaces left in your degree.
  7. Graduate from a recognized degree program at an accredited university at which English is the primary language of instruction in a country where English is the principal language.
  8. Attend four or more years at an eligible international secondary school that uses English as the language of instruction but operates in a country where the primary language is not English. These four years must be immediately prior to attending UBC. You will need to submit a transcript as soon as possible to UBC’s Undergraduate Admissions Office.
  9. Achieve a UBC Certificate in English Language or CEL by completing Level 600 of the UBC English Language Institute’s English for Academic Purposes program on UBC’s Vancouver campus.

If you are fully proficient in English but do not meet any of the nine options listed above, you may request a waiver for the English Language Admission Standard.

Submitting your ELAS documentation

If you need to submit evidence of English language proficiency, you will receive an email from UBC. If you submit an application that does not have proof of English language proficiency, you will not be evaluated until we receive proof or until a waiver is granted.

One of the ways you can do this is to achieve the minimum score on one of the tests listed below. We will accept test results taken no more than two years before you apply to UBC. These test results need to be mailed to UBC, by your testing agency, before the document deadline to:

The University of British Columbia
Undergraduate Admissions
2016 – 1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1

Tests that satisfy UBC’s English Language Admission Standard

Unless otherwise stated, the score is the minimum on each part of the examination. You must achieve these minimum scores in a single sitting of the test (scores across multiple instances of a test cannot be used to satisfy minimum component requirements). We will not consider tests taken more than two years prior to application for admission.

Test Minimum score [1]
CAEL Canadian Academic English Language assessment Overall 70
Cambridge English Qualifications B2 First
C1 Advanced
C2 Proficiency
180
CEL UBC Certificate in English 600
IELTS International English Language Testing System (Academic) 6.5, with no part less than 6.0
PTE Pearson Test of English (Academic) Overall: 65
Reading: 60
Listening: 60
Writing: 60
Speaking: 60
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test (UBC’s institution code is 0965) Overall: 90
Reading: 22
Listening: 22
Writing: 21
Speaking: 21

 

 

[1] Unless otherwise stated, the score is the minimum on each part of the examination. Minimum scores must be achieved in a single sitting of the test (i.e., scores across multiple instances of a test may not be used to satisfy minimum component requirements). Tests taken more than two years prior to application for admission will not be considered.

International curricula that satisfy the English Language Admission Standard

You may meet the English Language Admission Standard if you attended a school outside Canada that uses English as the language of instruction and falls into one of the following categories. If you attend a bilingual school, you will need to complete an English waiver request.

  1. International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

    • You are currently completing the IB diploma program.
    • You have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and are completing IB higher-level or standard-level English A1 or A2.
    • You’ve studied fewer than four years, but your final grade in IB English A1 or A2 is 5 or higher.
  2. Council of international schools

    • Your school is an accredited member of the Council of International Schools.
    • You have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and are completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
  3. Schools that offer regionally accredited US curricula

    • Your school has appropriate US regional accreditation.
    • You have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and are completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
    • You’ve studied fewer than four years, but your exam grade in Advanced Placement English Language & Composition or Literature & Composition is 4 or higher, or your final grade in IB English A1 and A2, higher-level or standard-level, is 5 or higher.
  4. Schools that offer full Canadian curricula

    • Your school is provincially authorized to offer the Canadian high school curricula.
    • You have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completed the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
    • You’ve studied fewer than four years, but your exam grade in Advanced Placement English Language & Composition or Literature & Composition is 4 or higher, or your final grade in IB English A1 or A2, higher-level or standard-level, is 5 or higher.
  5. British curriculum (A Levels and GCSEs)

    • You achieved a final grade of A or B in A Level English (non-ESL)
  6. Indian secondary school curricula

    • Your school is affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education or the Council for the Indian School Certificate.
    • You are pursuing or have completed the curriculum leading to either the Indian Senior School Certificate (SSC) or the Indian School Certificate (ISC).
    • You have achieved a minimum grade of 75% (Indian grading scale) on your senior English subject. UBC will use interim grades (e.g., pre-board exam results) if you are currently attending secondary school. UBC will use final Class XII grades if you’ve graduated from secondary school.

UBC reserves the right to exclude schools from exemption. 

ELAS waiver request process

If you do not meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard but believe that you have the proficiency of a native English speaker, you may request to have the requirement waived.

Your waiver request must include:

  1. Your student number.
  2. A brief letter explaining why you believe the requirement should be waived.
  3. An official letter of recommendation from your school’s English teacher, guidance counsellor, principal, or headmaster, which attests that your level of English proficiency is close to or equal to that of a native speaker. The recommendation should be submitted via email and include the writer’s contact information (phone number and email address preferred).
  4. An official transcript of grades, including courses in progress and anticipated grades. In order for the transcript to be official, it must be submitted in a sealed school envelope and mailed directly to UBC from your school.

You may also include any additional evidence demonstrating your English competence, such as achievement test scores (e.g., Scholastic Aptitude Test [SAT] scores).

Please note: Completed waiver request packages must be emailed to elas.waivers@ubc.ca by February 15. We strongly suggest that you try to meet the requirement through one of the specified means, in case your waiver request cannot be granted.

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