CELPIP vs IELTS: What's the Difference?

One of the first things you have to do before you can immigrate to Canada is to take a language test. This test is used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine how well you can adjust and integrate into the country.

Canada has two official languages: English and French, but we’ll be focusing on the English tests you can take that are recognized by the Canadian Government. There are two main English Langauge tests recognized Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) International English Language Testing System (IELTS). WE can’t mention CELPIP vs IELTS without breaking down each testing system so you can choose the right one for you.

While both tests are accepted to do your visa application, there are various similarities and differences between the two. The most crucial similarity is that they are both English Language Competency tests. They grade your language skills based on four vital components:

  1. Speaking
  2. Listening
  3. Writing
  4. Reading
If you’re more competent in French, you can take the Test d'évaluation de français (TEF) to prove your French skills. You can also take this test in addition to your English test to boost your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, giving you a higher chance of getting Canadian permanent residency.

Here is our take on CELPIP vs IELTS: What's the Difference?

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

The CELPIP Test allows you to demonstrate their grasp of the English language. The exam measures your English abilities in several everyday scenarios, including speaking with coworkers and superiors at work, conversing with friends, reading, interpreting and reacting to written materials.

Take note that there are two types of CELPIP tests: the General CELPIP test and the General-LS test. The Canadian Government does not recognize the LS test as it only tests two out of the four skills needed to be accessed to move to Canada. The results of this test will not be accepted.

Price: CAD$300

Length: three hours


  • Listen to passages and answer questions
  • 47–55 minutes


  • Read passages and answer questions
  • 55–60 minutes


  • Respond to questions with written answers
  • 53–60 minutes


  • Reply to on-screen prompts verbally
  • 15–20 minutes

Taking the test

You can register for a CELPIP test online and sit the test in your own country. Make sure you find out where in your country you can take the test. You can find a testing center for CELPIP in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • India
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Nigeria
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • United Kingdom


Check your results online after you register. You can view these on your account five days after taking the test. Your results will vary depending on how much you prepared and how well you performed. They work on a point system ranging from codes to 12 points. For example:

  • NA- Not administered, meaning that the test component was not received
  • M- Minimal proficiency, that not enough information was presented to access the results
  • 3-12 ranges from some proficiency to advanced proficiency

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The second half of CELPIP vs IELTS debate is actually the more wider used examination. This test is an international standard for assessing your proficiency in the English language. It's currently the most popular language test in the world. Not only do you need this test to immigrate to Canada but also to study and work. There are two types of tests you can take:

  • IELTS Academic
  • IELTS General

Please note that the Canadian Government doesn’t accept the academic option for Express Entry and only accepts it for the study if you’re applying for the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

Individuals and organizations throughout the world rely on IELTS for its impartiality, dependability, and high-quality standards. It’s fair to all test takers, regardless of nationality, cultural background, gender, or special requirements.

The General IELTS test focuses on common English language abilities that you will require in social and professional settings.

Price: $140-310 (Country-Specific)

Length: 2h45m

Taking the test


  • Conversation between people tested with multiple-choice, short answer questions and other standard test formats
  • 30 minutes


  • You’ll be given short texts to read analyzed and relevant questions will be asked in different formats to show how you identify information and comprehend what you’ve read
  • 60 minutes


  • Writing tasks are based on various scenarios and situations. You just have to write a personal response in the form of short letters and essays
  • 60 minutes


  • You’ll be asked general questions about yourself, and given a card as a prompt to converse about a topic. The point is to give you an opportunity to discuss different topics and showcase your oral skills
  • 11–14 minutes


You may preview your results by logging in to the Test Taker Portal. Although IELTS results are available online for 28 days, they shouldn’t be regarded as official certification of your performance.

Paper-based test

  • View your results 13 calendar days following the test date.

Online Test

  • View your results 3 to 5 calendar days following the test date.

By proving your competency in these four sections, you can apply for Canadian permanent residency and be confident that your scores will help the IRCC decide in your favour.

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)

The Canadian Language Benchmarks are used by immigration programs to guarantee that persons develop the communication skills required for daily living in Canada. If you intend to relocate to Canada, you must understand the significance of your CLB level.

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) define 12 levels of proficiency in four primary language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In Canada, the CLB is used to describe the linguistic abilities of those learning English. You will be given a different benchmark for each language skill, which will show how well you can operate in that language skill.

The CLB is divided into three phases. Stage I focuses on fundamental linguistic skills (benchmarks 1 to 4). Stage II focuses on intermediate language skills (benchmarks 5 to 8). Finally, Stage III focuses on advanced language skills (benchmarks 9 to 12).

How do I convert my result from IELTS/CELPIP to CLB?

The Canadian Language Benchmark is a standardized way to access your language results whether you take the CELPIP or IELTS test. Every year, about three million people take this exam. IELTS is recognized by many organizations and over 11,000 businesses, colleges, institutions, and immigration authorities worldwide. By using this official guide, you can convert your test results.

Preparing For Your Language Test

One of the most asked questions with English language tests is whether they are easy, and this generally depends on preparation. Whether English is your first language or not, you should always prepare for your language test.

One of the biggest reasons why even native English speakers fail the test is being unsure how to answer the questions and not understanding the system these English tests use to find out your language proficiency.

Both CELPIP and IELTS have practice tests you can look for, although these may not be entire tests, as well as Youtube videos that guide you through answering the questions.

The best thing for you to do is to do a preparation course that’ll not only guide you through what the test will be like but prepare you for every section. Test-taking is a skill that can always be improved.

Here at CanadianVisa.org, we offer a course that will ensure you are adequately prepared to take your test and boost your chances of getting the points you want.

How Many Points Do I Need to Pass?

Passing may not be the issue here. You may pass the exam, but these marks might not be sufficient to get accepted into your desired immigration program. Your ‘pass marks’ will depend on your goal.

If you want to immigrate to Canada using the Federal Skilled Trades Program, you need a level 4 CLB for Reading and writing and a level 5 CLB for Speaking and listening. If you want to immigrate using the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you need a minimum of 7 CLB in all four categories.

What Language Test Should I take?

When it comes to the preference of the Canadian government, RCIC David Allon says that

“there is no real difference; they just have different kinds of questions”, which means both will be accepted as legitimate English Language Tests.

If you intend to move to Canada from outside the country, you must first take an authorized English exam. While CELPIP is only available in very few countries, IELTS has test centres worldwide. They have over 1,000 test centres in over 140 countries!

Because we offer our IELTS course, we know that by signing up with us, your chances of getting better marks increase, which can mean the difference between starting your application to move to Canada or having to repay and retake the language test.

What do I do Next?

Now that you know more about CELPIP vs IELTS You can take the next step in your journey to immigrate to Canada. The Canadian Language test is a vital part of this process.

By making sure that you’re prepared enough when you talk into the testing centre, you can write the test with the confidence that you’ll get the points to apply for the Canadian permanent residency program you want.

Start by applying now to see if you’re eligible to move to Canada. Once you receive the results of your evaluation and know exactly how many language points you need to aim for to move to Canada, you can start a course to assist you in writing the IELTS test.


FAQ: How long is my English Language Test Valid for?

Both the IELTS and CELPIP tests are valid for two years. Your results must be valid when you open your application for Express Entry as well as when you apply.

How do I present my result to the Canadian authorities?

When you open your Express Entry profile you’ll have to input your results correctly If your results are high enough, based on the program you applied for, then you’ll receive an Invitation to Apply. When you submit your supporting documents you must also submit your language results.