CELPIP or IELTS: What's Best for Canadian Immigration?

In 2019, CIC News reported that immigrants with a strong set of English skills were more successful in integrating into the Canadian market.

The most popular immigration programs for trained professionals are those that rely on the Express Entry system and use language skills as a requirement to filter and rank the most suitable candidates, along with other factors.

Candidates who score highest in the four language skills assessed in the program (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) could score up to 290 points on the Comprehensive Ranking System.

One of the ways to become an eligible candidate for Canadian immigration is to demonstrate your proficiency in English through a certified exam. There are two institutions authorized by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship of Canada: IELTS and CELPIP.

IELTS and CELPIP tests can certify that you have adequate language skills. We recommend that before going ahead and applying for your test, make sure what your migration route will be, when will you need an English test, it is important to be able to organize yourself better.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is the acronym for International English Language Testing System. The language test is internationally recognized as proof of English language proficiency.

Currently, it is accepted by most of the English-speaking countries of the world, including Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK, and some other European countries.

There are different versions of IELTS for various purposes. The very common Academic IELTS is for people who want to study in English-speaking countries abroad.

The general training test is for immigration purposes other than studying in an English-speaking country, while the UKVI IELTS test is for people who want to obtain a UK visa.

What is CELPIP?

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, CELPIP is an English language proficiency test structured by a subsidiary of the University of British Columbia.

The test assesses your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. The total time of the test is 3 hours. All modules are done the same day, without intervals.

Initially, the university designed the test strictly for English assessment purposes only.

However, you can now use the test to assess your level of proficiency in the English language when applying for permanent residence or Canadian citizenship.

There are two versions of CELPIP TEST: CELPIP-General and CELPIP-General LS. The IRCC recognizes CELPIP-General along with IELTS as the English language test to apply for permanent residence in Canada and most other immigration options.

The CELPIP-General LS is used as a test of speaking and listening skills when applying for Canadian citizenship.

Read below to draw your own conclusion on which type of test you should choose.

CELPIP vs. IELTS: What\'s Best for Canadian Immigration?


For both CELPIP and IELTS, there are listening, reading, writing, and speaking bands or sections. However, the assessment style for each section is different for both tests.

In the writing section of the IELTS, candidates will be required to write an essay and analyze diagrams, which they have probably never done in the past. In the CELPIP writing section, candidates may need to write an email and answer other questions. This is considered relatively easy to write and analyze in the IELTS style.

All other sections of the tests have similarities and differences and can be divided into more subsections or components.

The CELPIP test takes approximately 3 hours to complete and will be done in a single session.

The IELTS Reading, Writing, and Listening sections last one hour, while the in-person speaking test can last up to an hour or more.

See the comparison chart between CELPIP and IELTS exams

CELPIP vs. IELTS: Which is easier?

Is CELPIP more difficult than IELTS? ? This is another question that many immigrants have been eager to find answers to.

Since the IRCC recognizes both tests as proof of English language proficiency, it makes sense to opt for the one that is easier to pass.

Deciding which is more difficult between CELPIP and IELTS is a relative matter, as many people have shared different views on both tests.

Essentially, CELPIP is a more practical test than IETLS. It includes questions that address the peculiarities of a person residing in an English-speaking country.

You will also find this focus on the IELTS tests, but not as much as the CELPIP tests.

When it comes to grammar, both tests accept British and American spelling and writing styles.

However, it may be safer to write CELPIP using the Canadian English style. However, you do not need to work with this as there are established structures for scoring the exam regardless of differences in language style from one candidate to another.

Despite the obvious differences, it is still difficult to decide which of CELPIP and IELTS is more difficult.

We advise all prospective immigrants to Canada to prepare well for whatever language exam they decide to opt for. After all, proper preparation is what precedes success.

What are the Similarities Between CELPIP and IELTS

Generally speaking, both IELTS and CELPIP are English proficiency tests and serve the same purpose of signaling an immigrant\'s level of understanding of the English language.

Most Canadian schools, corporations, and immigration routes accept both tests. The similarities between CELPIP and IELTS are described below:

  • Both assess the level of proficiency in the English language.
  • Canada recognizes both tests for work, study, and residential purposes
  • When writing any of the tests, you can use American or British English

CELPIP vs. IELTS score comparison

The CELPIP and IELTS scoring patterns are a bit different. For each IELTS section, a candidate can get a score between 1 and 9.

For the CELPIP test, a score of 12 is the highest score that can be obtained. The CELPIP scoring pattern follows the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) (see image below to understand CLB)

What are the differences between CELPIP and IELTS?

There are quite a few differences between CELPIP and IELTS and these differences are worth considering when deciding which of the tests is better for Canadian immigration. Some of the main differences are:

Format - CELPIP can only be taken using a computer. IELTS offers two formats it can be taken on paper or using a computer.

Locality - CELPIP is only offered in 6 countries including Canada, that is, if you need to start your immigration process from abroad, you will only have the option of taking the General IELTS.

Grade range - In CELPIP, the maximum score is 12. In IELTS, the maximum score is 9. Therefore, to calculate the CLB of Canadian immigration processes, different marks are considered for each exam (see below for the equivalent CLB).


GRADE AND LEVEL - This is for many people, the most relevant difference in choosing which test to take. On the CELPIP, the lowest score obtained in any of the 4 modules will be your CLB (for example Listening 10, Speaking 7, Writing 9, and Reading 12 - your overall final score - and CLB - will be 7). On the IELTS, your overall final score will be the average of the grades obtained in the 4 modules, but individual module grades are also considered for immigration. Some people also compare the requirement level of the CELPIP x IELTS examiners in the more subjective modules (which are not objectively assessed by a right/ wrong answer), such as Speaking and Writing.


Writing - CELPIP has word counting and spell checking. IELTS in electronic format offers word counts but no spell checking.

Reading - There are no major differences in this module.

Listening - CELPIP, you will hear only a Canadian accent and questions will be answered after finishing the audio. In IELTS, the accent can be from an English-speaking country, and questions are answered while the audio is played.

Speaking - This module characterizes one of the big differences. In CELPIP, the person who talks to the computer can see the time on the screen and the test has 8 tasks. In IELTS, the test is individual, the examiner asks the questions personally and there is no notion of time, and clocks are not allowed.

Sessions - The CELPIP test is done in a single session, while the IELTS requires two sessions.

Although both tests recognize American and British grammar, IELTS was designed for British English, while CELPIP was designed for Canadian English.

CELPIP vs. IELTS: What\'s Best for Canadian Immigration?

Is CELPIP better than IELTS? That question is quite difficult to answer. Now that we have explored the characteristics of each test, including the similarities and differences between them, it will be up to you to choose which test you prefer.

Of course, both tests require a good knowledge of reading and communication in the English language.

So, if you can master your understanding of the language, you should be good at any of them.

However, taking into account some factors, you may prefer to run one test over the other. For example, if you want to take a strictly computer-based test, CELPIP maybe your best option.

This is because even if you take the computer-delivered IELTS, you will still have to take the oral exam in person.

For some people, writing a paper test is better, friendlier, and more comfortable while it is opposite for the others.

Also, if you have other countries in mind to immigrate besides Canada, you can opt for IELTS as it is an internationally recognized English language proficiency test.

CELPIP is a Canadian Exam

The CELPIP exam assesses the language skills of candidates according to the way of life in Canada.

Therefore, if you have had experience living in Canada before, taking the CELPIP test may be more advantageous for you. It takes about 8 days to get the CELPIP test results, while the IELTS takes about 13 days.

Do not forget also, for any of the tests you want to take, that there are different versions available for different types of immigrants.

In the meantime, there are other language tests besides CELPIP and IELTS that you may want to take to assess your proficiency in the English language.

Which is easier, better, more strict, or generous for grades?

What test to choose depends on your style and the note you need. We hope that with the above information you will be able to draw your own conclusions.

Regardless of your choice, count on us to guide you through the steps to follow to prepare for your CELPIP exam.