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January 11, 2021

CELPIP or IELTS: Which Language Test Should you Choose?


Moving to a new country isn’t easy. It requires a lot of organization and, as such, an immeasurable amount of paperwork. Canada is no exception, and when it comes to immigration, the process can be quite challenging and lengthy. Each work/study permit has its list of requirements, making it quite laborious to deliver a successful application.

Luckily, the online world offers all sorts of resources on the matter, making it easier for newcomers to find the answers they seek. So, if you plan to move to the True North or become an official citizen, we’re here to help with one of the most important requirements: your language proficiency level.

By now, you are probably familiar with these two acronyms: CELPIP and IELTS. These exams can mean a great deal to your application, which is why you should devote some time to understand how they work. These are some of the things you need to know:

What are the language requirements to immigrate to Canada?

Unless you come to Canada with a Working Holiday Visa (known as IEC), you must prove language ability in one of Canada’s two official languages: French and/or English.

For instance, if you want to be eligible for Express Entry, you must prove your English or French language abilities by taking an approved language test and getting the minimum results required by the program.

Currently, the approved tests are the following:

For English

CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program.

IELTS: International English Language Testing System.

For French

TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français.

As you probably know by now, to have a successful application, you need to have a good rank (and that means: many points). Each immigration program has a different score, which is why you must determine which category you are qualifying for in advance.

Amongst several other factors, language ability is key to provide you points. That is why all applicants must include their test results with their application to claim points under the language skills selection. Said test must showcase your writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills.

Being able to communicate effectively in one or both of Canada’s official languages is key to the application process, but also for your integration in the country. As such, we strongly recommend you to try to get a good score instead of just aiming to pass with minimum effort.

CELPIP and IELTS: how different are these exams?

Right now, you are probably wondering: but should I take a CELPIP or IELTS test? Do both of them serve the same purpose?

Like we have already mentioned, both tests are designed to test your language proficiency through reading, writing, speaking, and listening exercises. The main difference between the two exams is that CELPIP is an entirely computer-based test, while IELTS is only partially made on the PC. In this exam, the reading, writing, and listening sections are usually paper-based, while the speaking test is done in person.

It is also important to note that the CELPIP was specifically conceived for Canadian English assessment (in fact, CELPIP stands for Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program). Considering that, if you are a working immigrant that wants to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, it might be a good idea to take the CELPIP exam.

On the other hand, if you wish to use the results to immigrate to other countries in the future (outside of the US and Canada), the IELTS exam is known for being widely accepted. Besides, IELTS is also more advisable for students. As such, if your goal is to study in a Canadian university, the IELTS test is probably the smartest choice.

Quick Comparison Table:


Choosing the right test

At Language Advantage, we usually advise our clients to prepare for the CELPIP exam, as the structure is less intense than the IELTS exam. In any case, the final decision is up to you depending on your particular situation, and these are the main factor you should take into account:

1.Location and Price

Both CELPIP and IELTS are very accessible in Canada. CELPIP has over 30 locations across Canada, while IELTS has more than 100. In fact, you can even take the desired exam in Whitehorse, Yukon. In short, location will hardly be a problem for a newcomer!

The availability for both tests is given months in advance, which allows you to plan ahead and get adequately prepared. If you want to have a better idea of availability, you can check the CELPIP and IELTS schedule pages and compare them.

As for the price, both tests cost about the same. The CELPIP is around $280, while the IELTS costs between 300$ and 320$, depending on the location.

2. Test Duration and Structure

Both IELTS and CELPIP have different versions. Depending on your goals, language skills, and desired immigration program, you might find that an exam is more suitable than the others. In either case, the most popular and generally accepted for immigration purposes are the IELTS General Training and the CELPIP General.

While they are both similar in terms of tasks, there are a couple of differences that might be determinant in your choosing. While CELPIP is conducted in one 3-hour sitting, IELTS might require you to be tested on more than one day. Generally, the IELTS speaking section is done separately at a different time, day, and possibly location.

As for the results, both exam centers take about 10-15 days to share the outcome. If you need the results urgently, CELPIP offers an express rating system in which the score is available in three business days for an extra $100 fee.

3. Difficulty

The truth is, both tests can be somewhat difficult if you are not properly prepared. The tasks are quite similar, as they encompass sections of reading, writing, listening, and talking. In both, you must meet or exceed Canada’s minimum threshold for language proficiency.

Still, there are a few differences worth contemplating. For example, in the writing section of the CELPIP exam, you will be asked to write an email. On the other hand, if you take the IELTS Academic exam, you will have to write a report about a diagram and an essay. Needless to say, if you are not feeling confident about your writing skills, CELPIP might be the most suitable option for you.

How to prepare for the exam

 Regardless of your choice, one thing is for granted: you need to study a lot. Both exams are reasonably expensive and represent a unique opportunity to get the required points for your application.

Considering that, it is advisable that you dedicate at least three weeks to study. Depending on your English skills, you might even need a few extra weeks to feel adequately comfortable with your listening, reading, writing, and speaking abilities.

While it is possible to find all sorts of resources online (from YouTube Videos to free apps and manuals), we recommend you to seek professional guidance to get adequately prepared.

Think about it. You need to familiarize yourself with all the test sections, practice your writing, listening, talking, and reading skills throughout the right type of exercises, and find reliable feedback on your progress. How easy would it be to go through all of this with an experienced language instructor?

That is what we can do for you at Language Advantage. We have many years of experience preparing students for all language levels for their CELPIP and IELTS exams. We know perfectly well how these tests work and what you need to practice to achieve a good result.

Regardless of your needs and language abilities, our team can provide you with the materials and support you require for this crucial step in your application process.

If you want to know more about our customized plans, prices, and schedules, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of instructors will be more than happy to design a program to fit your needs!