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 focus on the English tests you can take that are recognized by the Canadian government. The three main English Language tests are the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) International English Language Testing System (IELTS). 2023 IRCC will accept the Pearson Test of English (PTE), a new language test. We can't mention CELPIP vs. IELTS vs. PTE without breaking down each testing system so you can choose the right one.

While all three tests are accepted to make your visa application, there are various similarities and differences. The most crucial similarity is that they are all 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 vs. PTE

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

The CELPIP Test allows you to demonstrate your 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.

Note that there are two 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. Therefore, the IRCC will not accept the results of this test.

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. Ensure you find out where you can take the test in your country. 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 wider-used examination is the second half of the CELPIP vs. IELTS vs. PTE debate. 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 worldwide rely on IELTS for its impartiality, dependability, and high-quality standards. Therefore, it's fair to all test takers, regardless of nationality, cultural background, gender, or special requirements.

The General IELTS test focuses on standard English language abilities 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 and analyze, 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 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 allow you to discuss different issues 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 favor.

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

Pearson Test of English(PTE)

As of 2023, IRCC will accept a new CLB test: the PTE Essential. This test will prove English language proficiency for Canadian permanent residency or citizenship. It's a variation of PTE Academic with a more vocational, real-life, and non-academic focus to meet IRCC's language proficiency requirements.

The PTE is primarily focused on testing English internationally, which will help you function in Canada and on many levels with other English-speaking nations. This test provides highly detailed scores marked out of 90.

The metric of how IRCC will convert this to a CLB is still yet to be announced. Please note that while there are multiple PTEs, the only one IRCC will accept is PTE Essential.

Price: TBD

Length: 1h53m - 2h20m

Speaking & Writing

  • You will be introduced to the test and asked to read aloud, repeat sentences, describe images, answer short questions, summarize written texts, and write essays.
  • 54–67 minutes


  • In this section, you will fill in the blanks in a written text, answer multiple-choice questions based on a reader, and re-order paragraphs to make.
  • 29–30 minutes


  • This section is based on audio or video clips, which you only hear once but can take notes. After that, you must summarize spoken text, answer multiple-choice questions, fill in the blanks, highlight the correct summary, select the missing word in a text or sentence, highlight incorrect words, and write from dictation.
  • 30–43 minutes

Taking the Test

Despite being a computer-based test, you cannot take the PTE online. All tests must take place in official testing centers. PTE test centers are currently in 239 countries, with varying prices depending on your country. You must visit the PTE website to book your test.


As this test is entirely computer-based, it can provide results within 48 hours of completing the test.

Suppose you want to ensure you've taken advantage of all the preparation materials available and can get the test score you need. In that case, you should speak to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). Our RCICs can provide you with courses and preparation tactics to get the most out of your English language proficiency tests.

On top of that, they can fill out your application forms, help you source your documentation, ensure your eligibility for your chosen program, keep track of your application once you've submitted it, and provide you with the advice and support you need through every step of your application process.

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) defines 12 levels of proficiency in four primary language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In Canada, the CLB describes the linguistic abilities of those learning English. You will be given a different benchmark for each language skill, showing 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 IELTS/CELPIP/PTE Result 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 also 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

Preparing For Your Language Test

One of the most asked questions with English language tests is whether they are easy, which 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 determine your language proficiency.

CELPIP, IELTS,  and PTE have practice tests you can look for, although these may not be entire tests, as well as YouTube videos guiding you through answering the questions.

The best thing for you is to do a preparation course to guide you through the test and prepare you for every section. Test-taking is a skill that you can continuously improve.

Here at CanadianVisa.org, we offer an IELTS preparation course to ensure you adequately prepare for your test and boost your chances of getting the points you want.


How Long is My English Language Test Valid For?

All three tests are valid for two years. Your results must be valid when you open your application for Express Entry and when you apply.

How do I Present My Result to the Canadian Authorities?

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

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. 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,"

This means all three 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 and PTE have test centers worldwide.

However, you can take a fourth test if you plan to study in Canada via the Student Direct Stream. Starting August 10, 2023, the Student Direct Stream will now accept scores from the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Test as proof of English language proficiency. This standardized test is tailor-made for college and university admissions and professional association memberships. Unlike other tests, CAEL focuses on assessing the English language abilities of students who plan to study in Canadian post-secondary institutions, providing an accurate evaluation of language use in a Canadian academic context.

CAEL is a comprehensive and topic-based performance test that evaluates test takers' academic English speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills. In contrast, other tests may concentrate on particular language skills or abilities. They may not be specific to Canadian English and accents used in Canadian academic contexts and post-secondary institutions. CAEL is created entirely in Canada, ensuring its authenticity and alignment with Canadian academic standards. In contrast, other organizations or institutions may develop other tests.

Learn more about the CAEL test here.

However, 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 vs PTE, 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 ensuring you're prepared enough when you talk into the testing center, 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 applying now to see if you can move to Canada. Once you receive the evaluation results and know 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.