Score Interpretation, Requirements and Reporting

Score Interpretation

Candidates receive a separate score for each of the four skills. These scores, called band levels, range from 1.0 to 5.0.

Descriptions of the level of performance corresponding to each band are found below.

The scores received for the Listening and Reading tests are based on the number of questions that were answered correctly. As a general example, candidates need to answer about 60% or 65% of the questions correctly to achieve a band level of 4.0.

In Writing and Speaking, the candidate’s performance is described by the test evaluators and compared to the band level descriptions. For example, a moderately fluent speaker with good pronunciation whose errors are not confusing to the interviewer would receive a band score of 4.0 or 4.5.

[5.0+]Fluent User. Consistently effective command of the language in demanding familiar and unfamiliar contexts of language use. Full comprehension. No language problems that would impede academic or professional success. (This band is awarded only in the productive skills.)
[5.0]Very Good User. Very good command of the language, even in demanding contexts. High degree of comprehension. Only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate language use in communication, which very rarely impede communication. Level of proficiency considered adequate for full time academic study.
[4.0]Competent User. Generally effective command of the language in fairly demanding contexts, with a satisfactory level of comprehension. Some inaccuracy and misunderstandings in less familiar contexts with more complex language. Weaknesses exist which sometimes impede communication, and could affect performance in an academic program. Additional language training would be helpful to improve accuracy, speed and overall proficiency.
[3.0]Limited User. Fair command of the language only in familiar language contexts or in interactions with a sympathetic speaker. Limited comprehension. Markedly reduced effectiveness in demanding or unfamiliar situations. Systematic inaccuracies and misunderstandings significantly impede communication and comprehension. Requires additional language training before being considered for academic placement.
[2.0]Very Basic User. Some ability to function in highly contextualized, familiar situations, but no real command of the language. Frequent breakdowns in communication.
[1.0]Novice. Extremely limited command of the language.

Half-bands (e.g., 3.5) are awarded where the candidate's performance exceeds that described in one band but does not fully meet the next higher level.

Score Requirements

  • The University of Ottawa generally requires an average 4.5 in Listening and Reading and a 4.0 in Writing. 
  • Candidates submitting TESTCan scores to other universities should verify the scores required. The usual practice is to demand an average of 4.5 and nothing lower than a 4.0.
  • Professional organizations, including licensing boards, generally require a minimum score of 4.5 in Listening, Reading and Speaking and a 4.0 in Writing.

You should always verify the scores required with the organization to which you are applying.

Score Reporting

All candidates are emailed an Unofficial Score Report within ten business days of the test session. Official Score Reports are sent to one university or certifying institution. The test candidate must specify the receiving institution at the time of registration; requests received later are subject to a $45.00 fee. If candidates need scores sent to more than one institution, they must pay for a second official score report. Official score reports are only sent directly to recognized academic institutions or professional organizations. Official score reports will not be sent to candidates.


Candidates who wish to have their scores re-evaluated must submit the request form with payment within 20 business days of the test. Telephone requests are NOT accepted. Request re-evaluation.

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