CLB vs PTE Core: Pearson Test of English- Equivalency Table

CLB vs IELTS

Nadia is from Uganda. Despite English being her first language, she has learned she needs to take an English test to immigrate to Canada. Of course, Canada accepts three English tests: IELTS General, PTE Core, and CELPIP General. Unfortunately, the requirements are confusing to Nadia. They indicate you need to achieve a specific CLB score. However, the test Nadia is interested in is the PTE Core. She wonders what the relationship between PTE scores and CLB levels is. In fact, Nadia is searching for an equivalency table that compares CLB with PTE scores.

PTE and other language tests for immigration to Canada

If you intend to immigrate to Canada, you must take a language test. Canadian immigration authorities currently accept the following tests:

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program  (Only CELPIP General)
  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System (Only IELTS General)
  • PTE Core: Pearson Test of English
  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

The last two tests are for those who know French. However, if you intend to prove your English language knowledge, you must take one of the first three tests: CELPIP General, IELTS General, or PTE Core.

What is PTE?

PTE stands for the Pearson Test of English. Pearson PLC Group owns PTE, a computer-based English language test aimed at non-native English speakers who wish to study abroad or immigrate. PTE provides several assessments, but the primary one for immigration and work in English-speaking countries is the PTE Core.

The PTE Core test comprehensively assesses individuals’ English language skills, covering speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Unlike IELTS, PTE is entirely computer-based, offering a fast and flexible testing process. The results are typically available within 48 hours, making it a convenient option for those needing them promptly.

The PTE Core is recognized by numerous academic institutions worldwide and is also accepted for visa and immigration purposes in various countries, including Canada. Its precise, objective scoring system and the use of real-life language scenarios are designed to accurately reflect the test taker’s English language proficiency in an academic or professional environment.

IELTS, CELPIP, PTE: Which is Right for You?

PTE band scores table

A detailed explanation table for PTE Core score ranges can help clarify what each score signifies regarding English language proficiency. Here’s an illustrative table that explains the capabilities of a test taker at various PTE Core score ranges:

PTE Core Score RangeProficiency LevelDescription
86-90ExpertThe person handles complex, detailed argumentation well. They understand detailed reasoning and can discuss complex issues fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
83-85Very GoodThe person handles complex, detailed argumentation well. They understand detailed reasoning and can discuss complex issues fluently and spontaneously without much evident searching for expressions.
74-82GoodIn some situations, the person has an operational command of the language, with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness, and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
65-73CompetentNo real ability to communicate in English beyond possibly a few isolated words.
58-64ModestNo real ability to communicate in English beyond possibly a few isolated words.
50-57LimitedBasic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
42-49BasicConveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
36-41WeakGreat difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
30-35Very WeakLimited understanding of simple language. Communication is extremely difficult.
10-30Extremely LimitedNo real ability to communicate in English, beyond possibly a few isolated words.

This table provides a general guide to interpreting PTE Core scores. However, It’s important to remember that these descriptions are indicative, and actual communicative abilities can vary based on the individual and the context in which they use the language.

Immigration authorities do not consider your overall band score but your score for every ability.

What is CLB?

CLB stands for the Canadian Language Benchmark. The government of Canada uses CLB to identify your mastery of the English language. The French language equivalent to CLB is the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC).

The CLB table

CLB offers scores between 1 and 12. The following tables show the meaning of each score (source: canada.ca).

Stage I – Basic Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
ListeningSpeakingReadingWriting
CLB 1: Initial
CLB 2: Developing
CLB 3: Adequate
CLB 4: Fluent
Interpreting simple
spoken communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.
Creating simple spoken communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Interpreting simple written communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Creating simple written communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

Stage II – Intermediate Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
ListeningSpeakingReadingWriting
CLB 5: Initial
CLB 6: Developing
CLB 7: Adequate
CLB 8: Fluent
Interpreting moderately complex spoken communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Creating moderately complex spoken communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Interpreting moderately complex written communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Creating moderately complex written communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

Stage III – Advanced Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
ListeningSpeakingReadingWriting
CLB 9: Initial
CLB 10: Developing
CLB 11: Adequate
CLB 12: Fluent
Interpreting complex spoken communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Creating complex spoken communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Interpreting complex written communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.Creating complex written communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

CLB vs PTE Core table

As you can see, the PTE scores range from 10 to 90 to 12, while the CLB levels range from 1 to 12. Consequently, we need to refer to reliable sources to find their equivalency. I have used the IRCC and PTE website to develop the CLB/PTE table.

CLB levelReadingWritingListeningSpeaking
1088-909089-9089-90
978-8788-8982-8884-88
869-7779-8771-8176-83
760-6869-7860-7068-75
651-5960-6850-5959-67
542-5051-5939-4951-58
433-4141-5028-3842-50
324-3232-4018-2734-41

While I have tried to avoid mistakes, this table is not the official conversion table. Consult with other sources as well. You may also consider reading the following articles:

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.