Determination of appropriate IELTS band score for admission into a program at a Canadian post-secondary polytechnic institution


Katherine Golder

Kenneth Reeder

Sarah Fleming

Date Published:

12th April 2009

This research project aims to determine the appropriate IELTS band score for admission to, and ideally success in, the Computer Systems Technology (CST) and Computer Information Technology (CIT) programs at a large Canadian polytechnic post-secondary institute.

This was done by examining typical instances, such as course materials, activities and assignments, in which students are required to read, write, speak and listen in English and then comparing the required proficiency in English to IELTS band score descriptors. Data were collected through interviews with students, interviews with faculty members, observations of lectures and labs, and content analyses of documents used in the courses. Due to the small number of interviewees, the limited depth of content analysis and the limited resources available, the results of this study should be viewed as indicative rather than conclusive.

IELTS band descriptors for Reading and Listening are not available so the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) were consulted. Language tasks (reading, writing, listening and speaking) that students are required to do in the CIT/CST programs were benchmarked to the CLB. Then, the CLB performance indicators were correlated to IELTS band scores based on the publicly available IELTS band descriptors for Speaking and Writing. This rough-and-ready approach allowed the researchers to extrapolate the Speaking and Writing correlations between CLB and IELTS to estimate the IELTS band score which would be required for reading and listening tasks in CST/CIT.

The findings showed that the appropriate band score for entrance into CST/CIT at the institute is 6.5. This is based on the following:

  • A Reading score of 7 is required to manage the high-level documents required in Programming and Business classes.
  • A Writing score of 6.5 is required to meet the standards for professionalism in Business Communication.
  • A Speaking score of 6 is required to contribute fully in group work and in teams to complete assignments in many classes.
  • A Listening score of 6.5 is required to understand complex and fast-paced conversations that take place among team-mates.