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When looking to relocate to Canada, IELTS and the CELPIP are both accepted by immigration authorities. However, IELTS opens you up to a world of opportunity, with greater acceptance and recognition worldwide.

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IELTS or CELPIP: Understand the difference

The CELPIP test covers the same 4 skills as IELTS: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The main difference is a focus on North American language e.g. the listening and reading sections will contain more Canadian content.

As IELTS is an internationally recognised test, you will hear a variety of accents in the listening sections. However, all content can be clearly understood, and does not include slang or unfamiliar vocabulary or expressions.

Advantages and disadvantages of CELPIP



CELPIP is recognised in Canada by the IRCC and other Canadian based organisation, universities, vocational programs and colleges.

CELPIP is not as widely accepted for study and migration purposes in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and USA

CELPIP has a tailored 1 hour test available for Citizenship purposes.

CELPIP is currently only available on computer in a test centre.

CELPIP's General Training 3 hour test is tailored to PR applications and professional registration.

CELPIP does not have a dedicated test tailored to academic testing for university acceptance.

IELTS and CELPIP test format comparison

CELPIP is only available on computer, whereas IELTS has a computer and paper-based option, as well as the recent introduction of IELTS Online. This gives you the flexibility to take an academic test in the comfort of your home. The CELPIP General Test has a total test time of about 3 hours and is all completed in one sitting. Listening, reading, and writing sections all have approximately 60 minutes each, with a range of passages or questions that need written answers. The speaking section is up to 20 minutes long, requiring test takers to reply to on-screen prompts verbally.

The equivalent test in IELTS is slightly shorter with a very similar structure for reading and writing. However, the listening portion is only 30 minutes long, and the speaking section is cut down to 14 minutes. The Speaking section of IELTS is a face-to-face interview with an examiner, which may be either in person, or virtually via video conference. This test uses everyday English in everyday scenarios as it is intended not to be for academic purposes.

A separate academic test is also available with a similar duration and format; however, test content has been tailored to books, academic journals, magazines, and newspapers that you would be exposed to in a university environment.

CELPIP recognition in Canada vs worldwide

CELPIP is recognised and tailored to Canada therefore is not as universally accepted worldwide. IELTS has been accepted by the IRCC since 2005 but is also the most trusted English language test by all four major governments who require it.

IELTS is Trusted Worldwide

IELTS is accepted by over 11,500 universities, immigration authorities, government agencies and employers in over 140 countries. Most importantly it is accepted for study, work and migration in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA.

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IELTS or CELPIP: Fairness in testing

The listening and reading components of a CELPIP test are marked by a computer however the other two sections are marked by an examiner. With IELTS all four components are marked by a human examiner with the same examiner for your listening, reading and writing sections and an alternate examiner for your speaking test.

Having a real person conduct your speaking test means that you will be heard clearly by someone who is trained to understand your accent. You as the test taker can view their facial expressions and social cues to better your result.

"With practice and regular coaching, it is possible to achieve a good IELTS score, making it a trustworthy option for those who wish to study abroad." Jalaj from New Delhi, India.

Even for studying in Canada, IELTS is the obvious choice

Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the English test requirements for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit. Under the new changes that go live on 10 August 2023, IELTS Academic test takers no longer need a 6.0 score on all individual skills. Instead, only a 6.0 overall score is sufficient to help them meet the English proficiency requirement for SDS.

Alternatives to CELPIP General and General LS

Whilst CELPIP is well suited for those looking to obtain PR, citizenship and professional registration in Canada it is not as globally recognised and trusted as IELTS.

IELTS Academic and General Training are both already accepted by the Canadian Government and various academic institutions for immigration and academic acceptance. In addition to Canada, it is also widely accepted for study, work and migration across Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

By taking IELTS, you’ll have access to a wider range of opportunities, both domestically and internationally. Overall, while both CELPIP and IELTS are valid options, we often find IELTS is a better fit for worldwide acceptance and recognition.

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