Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General

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  • Last Update August 9, 2020


This exam is exclusively designed for professionals willing to prove their English Proficiency for migration to Canada. The test is completely computer-delivered, and consists of four sections: listeningreading, and writing and speaking. The Listening component is composed of eight parts, but only seven parts will be given during the test. The test taker will not be informed which part is to be omitted. The unscored items in the Reading and Listening section are used for test development. These unscored items can be found anywhere within the component and the test taker will not know which items will be unscored.

The total length of all four sections is 180 minutes ( 3 hours)

Unlike on the IELTS, there are no half-band scores allotted. Band scores are only reported in increments of 1.

Details of the individual sections can be found on the CELPIP website.

We will attempt to respond to most frequently asked questions by our candidates here.


There are two options to meet English language skills requirements: taking the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. Both tests are accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Which test should you pick?

Key Test Components

Making Your Choice

There are several factors to consider when choosing which test to take. The table highlighting those factors is included below.

1. Location and Availability

Both CELPIP and IELTs are very accessible in Canada. CELPIP has 33 locations across Canada, in all provinces except Prince Edward Island (the test locations are currently unavailable in the three Canadian territories YT, NU, NT). They have also recently opened a location in the UAE in Dubai. IELTS has 119 locations, but only in five Canadian provinces (ON, QC, MB, AB and BC). It is important to remember that some locations only offer IELTs Academic, which is not accepted for Express Entry. On the other hand, only IELTS is available outside of Canada.

The availability of both tests is given months in advance, so it is easy to plan ahead. The frequency of the tests offered depends on the specific province and the city.

2. Price

CELPIP exam price is less than IELTS. The cost of CELPIP-General test is $265 plus tax. IELTS price in Canada is $309 (including tax); however, certain places in Canada have a higher fee (e.g. $319 in Niagara Region and Windsor). Outside of Canada, IELTS has different prices, depending on the country in which it is offered.

3. Test and Result Times

The time it takes to complete all the sections of the CELPIP and IELTS tests is approximately the same: around 3 hours. However, the duration of the actual tests differs.

· CELPIP is conducted in one 3-hour sitting. Since it is done on the computer, it is easy to keep track of how much time is left for each of the tasks. When going by sections, CELPIP seems to have longer Listening and Speaking sections and a slightly shorter Writing section. However, keep in mind that the CELPIP time breakdowns include the question, answer and transition times.

· IELTS test takers, on the other hand, do not necessarily complete all the test components on the same day. Although three of the test sections are completed in the same test room, the Speaking section is done separately at a different time, day and possibly location (it can be taken up to a week before or after the other sections). There is also no automatic computerized time tracking, and the times presented in the table above may not include the transition times between the test sections and components.

The results take 13 calendar days for IELTs and 10-12 calendar days for CELPIP. If you are short on time and money is not an issue, CELPIP also has an express rating system: the score is available in three (3) business days for an extra $100 fee (plus applicable taxes).

4. Difficulty

Both IELTS and CELPIP were designed to measuring English language proficiency; the level of difficulty is approximately the same in both tests. However, certain sections can be viewed as easier or more difficult by individual test-takers. Here are a few differences that can be noted:

· IELTS is a paper-based exam ( Computer -Testing has been recently introduced), while CELPIP is completely computerized. It may be more comforting for some people to do the writing section on paper and to keep track of their own time. Others, on the other hand, feel less pressure by the computer and prefer typing and being able to see their timing and word count. Also, the CELPIP test includes spell check in the writing component, which could be found useful by some applicants.

· CELPIP test uses Canadian speakers, while IELTS test includes native speakers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in their Listening section. Some non-native speakers may find the CELPIP Listening section more understandable. Also, when taking CELPIP, one is able to adjust the volume in the headphones for the Listening section to suit their needs.

· IELTS Speaking section includes a live conversation with an examiner, while during CELPIP you record your voice on the computer. Some non-native speakers prefer talking to an examinator, while others feel more comfortable without the face-to-face interaction.

5. Preparation

Both exams, offer online samples of their work and have prep courses across Canada. It may still be easier to find preparation materials for IELTS General Training, since CELPIP is still relatively new.


Both of the tests are equally appropriate to be used for your immigration application, and choosing one over the other can be a matter of personal preference. IELTS is a good choice for the test-takers who prefer paper-based exams and separate face-to-face speaking components, or those applying from outside of Canada. However, based on the analysis above, CELPIP is a better choice for those who prefer a computer-based exam and are looking for a faster and less stressful test experience.

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