How to Improve Your CRS Score for Express Entry

To find out the CRS score required to receive an invitation to apply, check out the figures from the latest Express Entry draw.

Understanding the Comprehensive Ranking System: How are CRS points calculated?

You’ve determined your eligibility for one of the Express Entry-aligned programs, created an Express Entry profile, and been assigned a CRS score… now you just sit back and wait to be invited to apply, right? Well, unless you have been assigned a high CRS score, this is indisputably the wrong approach!

By adopting a passive attitude towards your Express Entry profile, you may not be awarded all of the points you may be entitled to, and you may be missing opportunities to improve your rank among the candidates under the Comprehensive Ranking System. You have created a profile, but the CRS is a dynamic system and your score is not “locked in” — you can take steps to improve it.

Some improvements may only nudge your CRS score up a few points, but these points could make all the difference. Other improvements can bring as many as 600 additional CRS points, essentially guaranteeing that you would be invited to apply in a subsequent draw from the pool.

Checklist: Have you claimed all the points you’re eligible for?

There are a few areas of the CRS score where you may not have claimed all of the points you can get. Take a look at this list and make sure that you’ve claimed all the factors that apply to your situation.

Sibling in Canada

Do you, or your spouse/common-law partner, have a brother or sister living in Canada as a citizen or permanent resident? This relationship can be through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership. If so, just prove the relationship and watch your CRS score increase by 15 points.

Education

This tip is aimed particularly at Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) candidates. Unlike Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) candidates, CEC and FSTC candidates do not have to provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) or Canadian credential upon entry to the pool. What might that mean? It might mean that you are leaving up to 200 CRS points on the table, unclaimed. Education is worth 150 points in its own right, and up to 50 more in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.

As well, on your Express Entry profile you should mention all eligible education you’ve completed. You did a one-year diploma eight years ago that wasn’t related to your current job? It doesn’t matter, you should still claim this on your Express Entry profile and obtain an ECA for the credential (unless it was completed in Canada). Express Entry awards points for education regardless of the area of study and whether or not it relates to your current work.

Second Language

You can claim points for both English and French under the CRS. If you are capable in both languages, make sure that you take an approved language test in both English and French to ensure that you’re getting as many points as possible. Plus, there are bonus points available to bilingual candidates and certain PNP streams that are only open to French-speakers.

If you are competent in both English and French, don’t miss out on the opportunity this affords you.

If you’ve claimed all the points that you’re eligible for and your score is still below the competitive range, you should consider making an effort to increase your score using the methods described below.

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Faster Options: Short-term ways to increase your CRS score

Here is our top recommendation for a fast way to improve your CRS score. This can be completed in a matter of weeks, if you put in the time and effort required to succeed.

Retake your language test

If you haven’t maximized your approved language test scores, then this option could be the key to you getting a competitive CRS score.

Did you know that language ability is worth up to 260 CRS points in total for a single candidate, or up to 270 points for a couple? Not only is language ability the most valued human capital factor under the Comprehensive Ranking System, but it is also a factor where incremental gains can make a huge difference.

Extra points are accumulated for each improvement in test results across the four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, writing), but the magic threshold is when a candidate achieves a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 9 in each ability. Why? Because in addition to the points gained for improvements to that level, getting a CLB 9 in each ability also triggers a jump in points under the skills transferability factors (the exact jump depends on your levels of education and work experience). One small step in your language ability, one giant leap for your CRS score.

Skill transferability factors can result in a maximum of 100 points, so be sure you get as many of these points as you can.

To reach CLB 9 on the IELTS General Training exam, you have to achieve the following minimum scores:

  • Listening: 8.0
  • Speaking 7.0
  • Reading: 7.0
  • Writing: 7.0

To reach CLB 9 on the CELPIP general exam, you must achieve a minimum score of 9 in each of the four abilities.

In summary

Everything is summarized in the table below.

FactorSub-factorAdditional informationProof requiredPotential points increase
Sibling in CanadaN/ASibling must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in CanadaPassport/PR card; proof of residence in Canada; proof of relation between siblings15 points
EducationObtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)Applicable to CEC and FSTC candidates onlyECA document250 points (Up to 150 for education alone; Up to 100 within skills transferability)
Previous study in Canada (1 or 2-year study program)Must have completed the study programDegree / diploma / certificate15 points
Previous study in Canada, either 3 years or longer in duration / Master’s degree / entry-to-practice professional degree / Doctorate.Must have completed the study programDegree / diploma / certificate30 points
LanguageProve a higher first language abilityRe-take a language test and improve your resultsIELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF162 points (Up to 112 points for improved results; Up to 50 within skills transferability)
Prove ability in a second official languageFrench speakers obtain additional bonus, as well as points for second languageIELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF54 points (Up to 24 for second language ability; 15/30-point bonus for French speakers)
WorkComplete extra skilled work experience outside CanadaAccumulate points under skills transferability in combination with language ability and/or Canadian work experienceSelf-declared (must be proven later by a reference letter)100 points
Complete skilled work experience in CanadaFor every year (up to 5 years), you accumulate points; even 1 year can bring lots of pointsEmployment records; tax documents180 points (80 for Canadian work alone; up to 100 within skills transferability)
Job offerSkilled occupation (NOC 0, A or B)A job offer in a professional, managerial, or technical positionLMIA / job offer letter from current employer in Canada while on a closed work permit (other conditions apply)50 points
Senior Managerial Position (NOC Major Group 00)These positions are generally for highly skilled, experienced candidates in select occupationsLMIA / job offer letter from current employer in Canada while on a closed work permit (other conditions apply)200 points
Provincial nominationN/AProvinces & territories can nominate candidates in the pool through the PNPs – the single most valuable factor under the CRS!Provincial Nomination Certificate600 points
Spouse / Partner factorsEducationThis can be outside or inside CanadaECA / proof of study in Canada10 points
LanguageN/AIELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF20 points
Canadian work experienceEven 1 year gives you 5 extra pointsEmployment records; tax documents10 points
Make the spouse / partner the principal applicantDouble-check who would have the higher CRS scoreSubmit a new Express Entry profileVariable

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