Monday, March 23, 2020

11. Road Map Update

My spouse finally received her ECA and her degree has been recognized as Master's.  Therefore, this step has concluded and technically, we're ready to create our Express Entry profile! 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

10. IELTS Results!

The tenth post marks a milestone of receiving IELTS results.   Language proficiency is a criterion with room for most flexibility to gain points.   It's much difficult and time consuming to get an additional degree or a year of experience than upping your language score.   

My spouse made it a point to check online for our results every 5 minutes on the day they were supposed to be released.   You may check your results online before the hard copy is delivered to provided address by clicking here (for USA).  You will need your passport number to access results.  Below is a snapshot of my online result! 

I am extremely happy with my score even if it's not perfect.  What matters is the equivalent CLB level. See equivalent CLB levels below from IRCC website. I've highlighted my score on the chart. 

And that's the reason for my happiness - CLB10 in every section!  

Note in the official online result, I've not really shown the entire text below the result line.  That part contains cookie-cutter advice to improve your score.  

Don't ask my why it reads "IDP IELTS AUSTRALIA" when we took our exam on the east coast of US! 

9. Road Map Update

My spouse and I received our IELTS results (online) and are content with it.  Therefore, another milestone in our road map is marked as closed. 

8. Education Credential Assessment Report

WES made an electronic copy of ECA report available as PDF through their portal in ~ 27 business days.  A snail-mail is also en-route, although its pace may be further dampened by COVID-19 situation.  Below is the actual snapshot of my report. 

It's a one-pager report with an equivalency summary on top.   IRCC is not interested in course-by-course evaluation or GPA.   According to IRCC, this report is valid for 5 years.  So, have this step covered as soon as possible.

7. Education Credential Assessment Process

I just received my ECA report from WES and would like to share some thoughts on that.  

Purpose of Education Credential Assessment (ECA) Report

For all academic degrees and diplomas foreign to Canada and for which you wish to claim points, Canada requires an assessment to ensure they meet the country's academic standards and are bona fide.  

Getting ECA 

  • Degrees to be evaluated: Ideally, you want to get the highest level of education assessed.  For example, you may only need to have Master's degree assessed and not underlying bachelor's degree as well.  There are exceptions though. 
Requirements for a Master's degree differ between countries and even disciplines.   A Master's degree in Engineering may be assessed higher than that in Archeology.   

I've come across forums where candidates have expressed disappointment when their MBA (Masters in Business Administration) was assessed as a diploma and not a full Masters.   This is especially true with candidates from Asian countries like India where number of semesters required to achieve MBA is often less than that in Americas.   In such a case, the candidate MUST have BOTH bachelors degree and masters degree assessed to get maximum points of 128 or 119 (w/o or w/ spouse, respectively) under the following criteria: 

Two or more certificates, diplomas, or degrees. One must be for a program of three or more years

The highlighted sentence stipulates that one of the degrees MUST be a bachelors degree.  But it's still better if Masters degree is assessed as such because that holds 135 or 128 maximum points (w/o or w/ spouse). 

Important: if you are a candidate from Africa or Asia and hold a Masters degree from a University in your home country, I strongly recommend having both Masters and Bachelors assessed AT THE SAME TIME.  Doing so, agency will assess BOTH degrees as part of one application for no extra charges.  Otherwise, if Masters is assessed as a diploma, and you THEN wish to have Bachelors assessed, that would count as a new application with applicable charges! 

I do not have a reason to believe that candidates with American degrees need to be concerned of devaluation.  
  • Documents Needed: It is applicant's responsibility to arrange official records from their alma mater.   From colleges in US, on an average, it may take up to 10-15 business days for ECA agency to receive credentials.  From other countries, this period maybe more than a month.
Note: if you choose to use e-delivery method, make sure that electronic access to your documents is unrestricted (no password or time-limit).  For most US colleges, this is not the case (including mine).  Therefore, I decided to send both through snail mail and electronically.  Although, going by the timeline provided by the agency, hard copy version was the one which was considered. 

After ECA agency receives credentials, allow at least 30-60 business days for production of ECA report. 

In the next post, I will share my ECA report to familiarize with its format. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

6. Road Map Update

I received ECA (Education Credential Assessment) report from WES as PDF, in addition to a hard copy en route to my address.   

No updates in the cost.  Refer to previous update.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

5. IELTS Experience

My spouse and I gave the IELTS exam and would like to share few words about our experience of the process.


Available slots and locations may be accessed through IELTS US site.  As part of the online registration process, applicants must upload a copy of their government issued ID (a passport) before they may be allowed to book a slot.  After you've registered, IELTS may take a few days to verify copy of your ID before they approve your registration.  With approval notice, you receive links to one practice test on their official site.  You may pay extra for additional practice tests.   

To be accurate, you book a slot for the writing piece of the test (Listening, Writing, Reading Sections), based on which you're assigned a slot for Speaking test by the agency.  It is natural the agency attempts to avoid having the applicant make two trips to test location - but they leave open the possibility of you being given a slot for Speaking section a day before the rest of the test.   You will get to know your Speaking section appointment a few days before the slot you booked for rest of the test.

Day of Test

You are asked to check-in all valuables / belongings other than a water bottle if there is no label on it (staff actually took off the label for one of the applicants who came with a water bottle).   Your passport is checked and a sticker with your candidate number is pasted to its back.  

IELTS in USA is paper-based, with no exception at the time of drafting of this post.  Written piece - Writing, Listening, and Reading sections - is taken in one shot, consecutively without any official break.   You are assigned a particular classroom (with ~10 other applicants) and a desk as well with your name and candidate number on it.   

The room is not hermetically sealed from outside.   So, additional attention needs to be paid to a class CD player (no personal headphones) during listening section.  "No-disruption during test" policy is strictly enforced. 

Speaking test is a 10-15 minute conversation with an IELTS instructor.   Individual slots are allotted to each tester and test is conducted behind closed doors.   We had a good 2-3 hours of break between our written piece and the speaking one.   You are allowed to be free and do as you wish during that time - a good time to grab food.

All in all, the experience was uneventful - which is what we hoped for.   I will indulge into complexities of the exam once I get my score.