Accepted Language Proficiency Tests

Communicating effectively in English or French is a critical factor to provide safe nursing practice. All applicants are required to demonstrate language proficiently prior to becoming registered.

French and English language tests are one way CNO assesses language proficiency required for registration.

As of Nov. 14, 2022, the Canadian Nurse Regulators Collaborative updated the minimum language proficiency scores required for registration. The benchmark scores are scientifically defensible and better aligned with language demands required for safe, ethical and effective nursing practice.

Applicants can meet the language proficiency requirement by achieving the minimum scores for one of the following tests. 

Applicants must achieve the test scores for all test components during one complete attempt of the test. If necessary, applicants can re-take tests to demonstrate language proficiency.

Visit the examination websites below to learn more about testing locations and times, fees and re-takes.

Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)
Test Component CELBAN Scores
Writing 7
Speaking 8
Listening 9 (formally 10)
Reading 8

These are the minimum benchmark scores that must be achieved and includes the standard error of measurement.

NOTE: CNO accepts scores from a CELBAN test at a CELBAN administration site as well as tests done virtually. CNO does not accept results from CELBAN tests administered by educational institutions for educational purposes.

Website: Canadian English Language Benchmarks Assessment for Nurses

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Test Component IELTS Scores
Writing 6.5 (formally 7)
Speaking 7
Listening 7 (formally 7.5)
Reading 6.5
Total 7

These are the minimum benchmark scores that must be achieved and includes the standard error of measurement of 0.5.

NOTE: CNO will only accept scores from the Academic format of the IELTS test.

Website: International English Language Testing System  

Test d'evaluation de francais (TEF)
Component Minimum benchmark scores
Writing 400
Speaking 500
Listening 400
Reading 400
Total Not applicable

These scores are the minimum benchmark scores that must be achieved. This is the only French language proficiency test that applicants can use to meet the language proficiency requirement for registration.

Website: Test d’évaluation de français

Page last reviewed November 24, 2022