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CELPIP vs IELTS: Which is Better for Canada Visa?

For you to be able to come to Canada, most Canada immigration visas require proof of English or French language skills. In this article we are going to look at CELPIP and IELTS – the only two English tests that are accepted by Canada Immigration and Citizenship.celpip vs ielts ronen kurzfeld immigrationway blogNot long ago IELTS used to be the only option you had for an English language test. But CELPIP has now become available in many countries other than Canada, such as India, the Philippines, America and the UAE. No wonder so many immigration applicants are asking, ‘CELPIP vs IELTS, which is easier?’

Virtually every category of immigrant (worker, businessman, spouse or family) and international student in Canada is required to give a language test. CIC wants to know how fluent you are in English (or French).

No, you don’t have to be bilingual. You only need to show language proficiency for one of the languages. Most parts of Canada speak English – and that’s why English tests are the most popular ones.

Importance of CELPIP and IELTS

Your English test is crucial for your application, whether you are applying through Express Entry or as a student. The higher your score, the more points you get for your visa application. That’s why you must choose the right test to give.

As an example, here is how points are allotted in Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker) for IELTS scores.

CLB Level Speaking Listening Reading


Points per ability

10+ 7.5 – 9.0 8.5 – 9.0 8.0 – 9.0 7.5 – 9.0


9 7.0 8.0 7.0 7.0 6
8 6.5 7.5 6.5 6.5 5
7 6.0 6.0 – 7.0 6.0 6.0


Note that the maximum number of CRS points you can get on the basis of your IELTS test is 24. These are points that you can guarantee if you score the maximum marks in your English test.

Therefore, perform your test well and you can improve your application’s chances. And that’s why answering the CELPIP vs IELTS question is so important. CELPIP and IELTS are administered quite differently and emphasize different language skills. Depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are, you should select the correct one.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. IELTS has been one of the most popular English language tests around the world. Many countries use IELTS for their immigration requirements, including Canada; hundreds of thousands of people sit for IELTS every year.

There are two types of IELTS tests: General Training and Academic. For Canada immigration, you have to take IELTS General Training. CIC does not accept Academic scores for immigration. Normally, it is students who take the IELTS Academic test.

IELTS General Training is designed to test how well you are able to communicate in English. It uses a nine point scale to identify levels of proficiency. It has four tests for:

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking

test mcq ronen kurzfeld immigrationway blog celpip vs ieltsThe test is paper-based and conducted over two sittings. The reading, listening and writing sections are completed in one session lasting 2 hours 30 minutes.

The speaking test has to be taken on a different date. It lasts between 11-14 minutes. In it you must converse with a human examiner, speak about a particular topic and then answer questions on what you have said.

What is CELPIP?

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, or CELPIP, is a newer test than IELTS. It is made in Canada for immigrants and international students. CELPIP is accepted by the Canadian and provincial governments, universities, colleges and employers in Canada. CIC accepts CELPIP for Canada immigration in:

  • Permanent residence
  • Canadian citizenship
  • Express Entry
    • Federal Skilled Worker Program
    • Federal Skilled Trades Program
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • Start-up visas
  • Most Provincial Nominee Programs

Like IELTS, there are two versions of CELPIP – General Test and General LS Test. For Canada immigration CELPIP General Test is the one to take. The General LS Test only covers Listening and Speaking and will not be accepted.

The CELPIP test format is also like that of IELTS. There are four sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. However, unlike IELTS, all of these are completed in around 3 hours on one day itself.

What is the CELPIP passing score?

CELPIP scoring gives you up to 12 points for each section. And CELPIP scoring is aligned to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). This means each CELPIP level is equal to the CLB level, unlike IELTS.

Continuing with the same example of Express Entry through the Federal Skilled Worker program, this is how CELPIP scoring will give you CRS points.

CLB Level (=CELPIP Level) Speaking Listening Reading Writing Points per ability
10+ 10+ 10+ 10+ 10+ 6
9 9 9 9 9 6
8 8 8 8 8 5
7 7 7 7 7 4

The CELPIP passing score depends on the requirements of your Canada immigration application. For example, a minimum of 7 points in each category would be the CELPIP ‘passing score’ for Express Entry. Again, the maximum score you can get for your language is 24 points.

The CELPIP vs IELTS score explained, you can see there is not much difference between them for your visa application. What it comes down to is if the CELPIP test format is something you will be better at.

How is CELPIP better than IELTS?

Just because CELPIP is a Canadian test does not mean CELPIP scoring will be more beneficial for your application. But there are advantages to the CELPIP test format if:

  • You are giving the English language test for Canada immigration only; or
  • You have spent any time in Canada, as a worker, student or visitor.

CELPIP tests your English according to the English language used in Canada. This is a mix of American and British English. It is possible that employers will be more satisfied with CELPIP than IELTS because it is a better test of how they speak in Canada.

Moreover, if you have spent time in Canada, you will already understand how people here converse and write. It will make more sense to give a Canada-focused test in that case.

The CELPIP test format has a number of other advantages over IELTS:

  • The CELPIP test format is more modern because it is taken completely on a computer.
  • You will receive CELPIP results in 8 days, compared to 13 days for IELTS.
  • If you pay extra for ‘Express Rating’, you can get your results in 3 days!
  • The entire test is completed in one sitting (people with jobs and those who have to travel long distances only have to come to the test centre once).
  • You don’t need to take additional interview dates.
  • CELPIP fee is less than that of IELTS (at the time of writing).

Is CELPIP harder than IELTS?

There is no indication that CELPIP scoring or the CELPIP test is any harder than IELTS. In fact, it is commonly said they are both very similar in difficulty. The difference lies in the CELPIP vs IELTS test formats.

CELPIP tests Canadian English, however accepts both British and American spellings. This gives the test-taker a big advantage.

CELPIP is said to have a slightly longer listening and speaking section than IELTS. Therefore, the writing section is smaller. This is of big help for those who are not comfortable in their writing (something even native English speakers can struggle with).

Is IELTS harder than CELPIP?

Again, in the quest for maximum CELPIP vs IELTS score, you have to ask if IELTS is harder than CELPIP, even if it is the more popular option. Again, there is no indication that IELTS as a test is any harder than CELPIP. However, the differences in how the test is conducted can affect your score.celpip vs ielts preparation ronen kurzfeld immigrationway blog

The IELTS test is performed on paper and many people are more comfortable with that. This may be the case especially if you are not proficient at using computers.

Some people also prefer the test being split over two days. It gives you a break between the sections and a chance to relax and prepare. Also, people who think they may struggle with the speaking and listening parts of the test may prefer IELTS over CELPIP.

What is a good IELTS score?

That’s a simple answer. The higher your score the better it is. Like CELPIP scoring, the Canada immigration program you are applying through will determine what is a good IELTS score. Read our tips to find out how you can maximize your IELTS score. Also, like the ‘CELPIP passing score’, the minimum IELTS score you want to achieve will depend on your immigration program or student visa.

CELPIP vs IELTS – Both great choices for candidates

The CELPIP vs IELTS score debate is one that is about to become much bigger. The CELPIP test format has become extremely popular in the last few years. There are test centres easily accessible across Canada, of course. But now their presence has grown to major Canada immigration countries too.

To choose between CELPIP vs IELTS, start by giving sample tests. You will understand how both tests are conducted and which you are more comfortable with. Regardless of which you choose nothing will beat good preparation. You know what they say, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail!’ So study hard to get the highest marks in whichever test you give.

If you are looking to apply for Canada immigration get in touch with the Immigration Law Office of Ronen Kurzfeld. We will maximize your application’s chances of getting the stamp of approval.

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