CELPIP VS. IELTS: Which is Better for Canada Immigration?

Determine the best option for proving your proficiency in English Language as a Canadian immigrant.

Usually, to immigrate to Canada, the IRCC will require you to take a language proficiency test such as CELPIP and IELTS. It is only on certain occasions that some immigrants may not need to take such tests.

There are two accepted official languages in Canada – English, and French Languages and there are recognized tests for proving proficiency in them.

To make things easier for foreigners who wish to immigrate to the English-speaking regions of Canada, we have discussed the topic CELPIP vs. IELTS: which is better for Canada Immigration.

To approach this concern, we will look into the features of each test and compare them with each other.

This includes the bands, the score allocation, difficulty, and other peculiarities of each test. But before that, knowing important details about each test is essential and can prove useful in deciding which out of CELPIP and IELTS is better for Canada Immigration.

What is IELTS?

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

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

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

The General Training Exam is for other immigration purposes asides from studying in an English-speaking country, while the UKVI IELTS exam is for persons who want to obtain 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.

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

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

There are two versions of the CELPIP TEST: CELPIP-General and CELPIP-General LS. The IRCC recognizes CELPIP-General alongside IELTS as the English Language tests for applying for Canadian permanent residency and most other immigration options.

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

CELPIP vs. IELTS: Which is Better for Canada Immigration?


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

In the writing section of IELTS, candidates will need to write an essay and analyze diagrams, which they may likely have 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 the essay and analyzing the style of IELTS.

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

CELPIP test takes about 3 hours to complete and will be done in one sitting.

The IELTS reading, writing, and listening sections last for an hour, while the in-person speaking test may last for up to an hour or more.

See the section comparison between CELPIP and IELTS exams

Here is a simple comparison of the sections in the CELPIP and IELTS exams:

Reading 4 components (38 questions) 3 components (40 questions)
Writing Composing an email and answering survey questions Writing a letter or another essay and analyzing a subject matter
Listening 7 components (40 questions) 4 components (40 questions)
Speaking 8 components 3 components

CELPIP Vs. IELTS Score Comparison

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

For the CELPIP test, a score of 12 is the highest obtainable score. CELPIP scoring pattern follows the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)

CELPIP Vs. IELTS: Which is Easier?

Is CELPIP harder than IELTS? This is another question many immigrants have been itching to find answers to.

Since the IRCC recognizes both tests as proof of proficiency in the English Language, it makes good sense to go for the one that is easier to pass.

Deciding which is more difficult between CELPIP and IELTS is a relative question as many persons have shared different views about 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 find this approach in IELTS exams too but not as much as it occurs in CELPIP tests.

With regards to grammar, both tests accept the British and American styles of writing and spelling.

Nevertheless, it may be safer to write CELPIP using the Canadian English style. You don’t need to work yourself up with this though as there are laid down structures for marking the exam irrespective of the differences in language style from one candidate to the other.

In spite of the obvious differences, it is still hard to decide which out of CELPIP and IELTS is more difficult.

We advise all prospective immigrants to Canada to prepare well for any language test 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 pointing out an immigrant’s level of understanding of the English Language.

Most schools, corporations, and Canadian immigration pathways accept both tests. The similarities between CELPIP and IELTS have been outlined below:

  • They both test level of proficiency in the English Language
  • Canada recognizes both tests for work, study, and residential purposes
  • When writing any of the tests, you may use either American or British English

What are the Differences Between CELPIP and IELTS?

There are quite a couple of 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 major differences are:

  • IELTS is an internationally recognized test accepted by most English-speaking countries of the world for immigration purposes. Whereas, CELPIP is a proficiency test organized by the University of British Columbia and is usually recognized in Canada only.
  • Initially, IELTS was strictly a paper-based exam, with the speaking test done in person. Now, you may take the writing, reading, and listening sections of IELTS as a computer-based test through Computer Delivered IELTS (CD IELTS). CELPIP is strictly a computer-based English proficiency test.
  • The CELPIP test takes place in one sitting while IELTS requires two sittings
  • Although both tests recognize the American and British grammar, IELTS was designed for British English, while CELPIP was designed for Canadian English.

CELPIP Vs. IELTS: Which is Better for Canada Immigration?

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

Mind you, both tests require a good knowledge of reading and communicating in the English Language.

Therefore, if you are able to master your understanding of the language, you should do well in either of them.

However, considering some factors, you may prefer to take one test over the other. For example, if you wish to sit for a strictly computer-based test, CELPIP maybe your best option.

This is because even if you take the computer-delivered, IELTS, you will still need to have the speaking test done in person.

For some persons, writing a paper-based test is better, friendlier, and more comfortable.

Also, if you have other countries in mind to immigrate to aside from Canada, you may opt for IELTS since it is an internationally recognized English language proficiency exam.

CELPIP is a Canadian Exam

CELPIP exam tests the language skill of candidates in accordance with the way of life in Canada.

Therefore, if you have had experience residing in Canada before, taking the CELPIP test may be of more advantage to you. It takes about 8 days to obtain your CELPIP test results while it is about 13 days for IELTS.

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

Meanwhile, there are other language tests other than CELPIP and IELTS that you may want to take to assess your proficiency in the English Language.

These tests include TOEFL and the Cambridge English tests. If you are applying to study in a Canadian institution, you may find a list of other language proficiency exams accepted by the school on the school’s website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CLB 9 in CELPIP?

CELPIP scores are graded in accordance with the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). Therefore, a score of 9 in CELPIP means Level 9 in the Canadian Language Benchmark Levels.

The IRCC recognizes CLB 9 as highly proficient knowledge of the Language for effectiveness at the workplace and the community.

What is CLB 7 in CELPIP?
CLB 7 implies a score of 7 in the CELPIP test. The Canadian Government accepts CLB 7 as an adequate language proficiency level for the workplace and the community.