If you are planning to study, work, or make Canada your new home and English is not your first language, you may need to take an English-language proficiency test. But which one should you choose?
This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of the three widely accepted tests in Canada:
- The International English Language Testing System (IELTS),
- The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP),
- The Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN), and
- The Pearson Test of English (PTE).
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The IELTS is a by far the most globally recognized English-language test in the world. Universities, professional organizations, and immigration authorities in Canada widely accept it.
There are two types of IELTS: the Academic version for higher education or professional registration, and the General Training version for migration or work in an English-speaking environment. The latter is the most popular version.
The IELTS covers listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. It uses both British and American English, preparing you for different accents and dialects.
IELTS results are valid for two years.
The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
The CELPIP is a test designed for those who want to live in Canada permanently or obtain Canadian citizenship.
Like the IELTS, CELPIP offers two tests: the CELPIP-General Test for listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, and the CELPIP-General LS Test for only listening and speaking.
The test is completely computer-delivered. It’s recognized by the Canadian immigration authority and is also accepted for professional designations.
Newly Approved: Pearson Test of English (PTE) for Canadian Immigration
The IRCC recently announced the support of a new test, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) for Canadian immigration applications starting late 2023. The PTE Essential will be the third English language test option for immigration candidates, joining IELTS and CELPIP.
Specific details on when applicants can submit PTE Essential scores are yet to be released but are expected by the end of 2023.
The Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)
If you’re an internationally educated nurse planning to work in Canada, you may need to take the CELBAN.
This test assesses your English-language skills in a healthcare setting. It covers all the same skills as the previous tests but focuses on nursing. In fact, all the scenarios in CELBAN are based on nursing contexts in Canada.
It’s recognized by nursing licensing bodies across Canada and managed by the Touchstone Institute.
How Your Score is Measured with the CLB
Regardless of the English language proficiency test you choose to take – be it IELTS, CELPIP, PTE, or even a French language test – it’s important to understand that your score will be evaluated against the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB).
The CLB is the national standard used in Canada for describing, measuring, and recognizing the English language proficiency of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants. It outlines the ability levels across four skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each immigration program in Canada has its own minimum CLB requirement, so you must ensure your test results meet or exceed this to be eligible.
Find The Test That is Right for You
Choosing the right English test depends on your specific needs and goals. IELTS is by far the most well-known and recognized globally, while CELPIP is designed for those planning to live in Canada. If you’re a nurse from abroad planning to work in Canada, CELBAN is often a requirement.
Before you choose, make sure to check the requirements of your chosen institution, professional body, or immigration program. And don’t forget to prepare well for the test – not only do you need to show your English skills, but you also need to get familiar with the test format and learn how to manage your time effectively. If you need help, check out our IELTS preparation course or our CELBAN preparation course for helpful information, practice tests, and much more.
And remember, as Canada is a country that recognizes both English and French as official languages, providing proficiency test results in both could potentially enhance your immigration eligibility. It’s important to note however that being bilingual is not a prerequisite for qualifying for immigration to Canada.