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CELPIP vs IELTS: A Comprehensive Comparison


English-language proficiency tests are often required for people who want to migrate to Canada or study at a higher level in an English-speaking country when English is not their first language. 

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are two of the most widely recognized English-language proficiency tests in the world.

Versions of CELPIP and IELTS

The IELTS is available in two versions: the Academic version and the General Training version. The Academic version is for those who want to study at a higher level or register with a professional regulatory body (e.g. Doctors, Nurses, etc), while the General Training version is for those who want to migrate to an English-speaking country. The General Training version is accepted for both PR and citizenship applications.

The CELPIP is slightly more complex. It is available in two versions as well – the CELPIP-General and the CELPIP-General LS. The General version assesses the candidate’s ability to use English for everyday purposes, while the General LS version is only recognized for citizenship applications (it is not approved for PR applications to IRCC).

Paragon Testing Enterprises, who own CELPIP, created a separate test to compete with the IELTS Academic test. The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment is the English-language proficiency test they created for admission to Canadian universities and colleges.

Format of the Exams

Unlike the CELPIP, the IELTS is available on both computer and paper. This is often quite attractive to people who are uncomfortable testing on a computer

The IELTS has four components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Listening and Reading components have 40 questions each, the Writing component has two tasks, and the Speaking component has three tasks.

The IELTS test takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete, plus 15 minutes for the speaking test.

The CELPIP is only available on computer. It too has four components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Listening and Reading components have a total of 46 questions, while the Writing component has two tasks and the Speaking component has nine tasks. 

The test takes approximately three hours to complete.

The main difference is how the Speaking portion of the test is conducted, The IELTS Speaking component is completed face-to-face with an IELTS Speaking Examiner. The CELPIP Speaking component is delivered via a computer program where the test taker responds to voice prompts.

Scoring System

Neither test is considered pass or fail. Both CELPIP and IELTS use a band-scoring system, with scores ranging from 0 to 9. However, the scoring systems of both exams are slightly different. 

The CELPIP has a score range of 10 to 12 for each of the four components, while IELTS has a score range of 0 to 9 for each of the four components. Additionally, CELPIP has a total score range of 40 to 48, while IELTS has a total score range of 0 to 9.

While the scoring systems are different, test takers won’t notice any changes in difficulty.

Availability & Acceptance

Where the two tests differ significantly is global appeal. CELPIP is primarily only used in Canada, while IELTS is used in more than 140 countries worldwide

Both CELPIP and IELTS are widely accepted by Canadian immigration authorities and universities as proof of English-language proficiency. However, it’s important to note that some institutions may have specific requirements and may accept only one of the two tests. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, the CELPIP General LS is accepted for citizenship applications, but not for PR applications.

The IELTS is generally considered the more recognized and accepted test worldwide.


In conclusion, while both the IELTS and CELPIP have versions accepted by IRCC and higher education institutions, the IELTS is not only more widely recognized but also more accessible with the test available on paper and computer.

Both exams use a band-scoring system and have a score range of 0 to 9, but their scoring systems are slightly different. 

When choosing between CELPIP and IELTS, it’s important to consider your specific needs and requirements, as well as the acceptance and cost of the tests. Before making a decision, it’s advisable to research the requirements of the institutions or organisations you plan to apply to and choose the test that best suits your needs.

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