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Should you take IELTS or CELPIP? This groundbreaking decision can make or break your chances to score well in Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). It’s why you need to do proper research before you select which test you wish to take.

Google ‘IELTS vs. CELPIP and you’ll be bombarded with opinions and suggestions about which one’s better.  In our experience, giving out two cents on the validity of the test is pointless. That’s because both English language tests have their merits. Plus, Citizenship and Immigration Canada accepts both these tests to immigrate to Canada. While IELTS (General) and CELPIP (General) language results are accepted for Canada PR application and IELTS (Academic) is accepted for the study permit.

However, certain factors should be considered before taking a decision. It’s because they have an impact on how easy it is for you to take the test. We’ve rounded up the main aspects to nudge you in the right direction.

The Basics: What Do These Tests Imply?

What Is IELTS?

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a popular language proficiency test used to apply for your study permit, permanent residency, or citizenship of Canada. The test is also accepted in countries other than Canada, which is why it accepts both British and American English spellings for its writing section. 

The test measures your language proficiency by testing your four language skills (writing, reading, listening, and speaking). The overall test takes approximately three hours. 

However, the speaking section is typically taken at a different date.


Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is a Canadian-based test. It’s specially designed for applicants who apply for Canadian permanent residency and citizenship. The test is conducted in Canadian English but they do accept both American and British English for all sections.

Like IELTS it tests you on the four language skills. 

What’s the Difference? 

Despite the same sections and purpose, there are slight differences in the main components of the test.

Here’s an overview:

Format Paper based tests (excluding the speaking test) Computerized test.
Score 1-9 1-12
Speaking Components: 3 sections (Introduction, Speech, and Conversation)

Time: 15 minutes.

Components: 8 short Q & As.

Time: 15-20 minutes.

Writing Components: Letter writing and Essay

Time:  1 hour

Components: Email writing and answering a survey.

Time: 1 hour

Listening Components: 4 sections (10 questions per section)

Time: 30  minutes

Components: 7 components, 40-46 questions

Time: 55 minutes

Reading Components: 3 (total 40 questions)

Time: 1 hour

Components: 4 components (38-45 questions)

Time: 1 hour

The test scores are tallied with the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). You can check the equivalency chart from this link.

The Choice: Which One Should You Choose?


Here are the things that you should consider:

1. What’s Your Budget?

The exam price of IELTS and CELPIP varies from country to country. So you need to make sure that you’ve got the right estimate before you take the test. 

A rough estimate of the price for CELPIP-General is $280 plus tax. On the other hand, the cost of taking IELTS is $300 (inclusive of taxes) in most Canadian regions. According to these numbers, CELPIP is cheaper than IELTS. The low-price makes it feasible for applicants who’re tight on a budget.

2. Is the Test Available in Your Country?

Where can you take these tests?

Applicants living in Canada will have no issues in taking any of these tests. Both CELPIP and IELTS are conducted across Canada.

This is a rundown of where these assessment centers are located:

  • Canadian Centers: 

CELPIP is available in over 40 locations in Canada.

IELTS is conducted in 119 locations.

  • International Centers:

CELPIP only has a handful of centers outside Canada i.e., UAE, India, Philippines, and the USA.

IELTS is available all over the world. It’s usually sponsored by the British Council in the countries that they operate in.

Therefore, if you’re living abroad then taking IELTS might be the only option for you.

Word of Caution: Some locations only offer IELTS Academic exam. You should always make sure which assessment test is required for your immigration pathway.

3. How Much Time Do You Have?

If you need to take the test on an urgent basis then CELPIP is the way to go. The test is conducted in a single sitting in approximately 3 hours.  They usually send out the results within 10-12 days after the test. Moreover, you can access your score via the express rating system within 3 business days. However, that will cost you an additional $100 fee. 

On the other hand, IELTS is conducted in at least two sittings. They usually take the speaking test a few days prior to the remaining sections. The result is received within 13 days.

4. Which One’s Easier?

There’s no right answer to this question. The tests may be designed on a similar scale to assess the language proficiency of the candidate, but they vary in execution.  This factor changes the way individuals view the test. 

As a result, some people find one test easier than the other.

Here are a few things they point out:

  • Speaking: 

The speaking section in IELTS is carried out with an examiner while CELPIP requires you to answer the questions via a recording. Many people find that it’s easier to hold a conversation with an examiner rather than a computer.

  • Listening:

The listening section is IELTS involves native speakers from various regions (Britain, Australia, and New Zealand). The variation in accents and pronunciations may confuse non-native applicants who aren’t used to the accents. On the other hand, CELPIP uses only Canadian speakers. Not only are their words easier to understand, but they are more relevant to the situations immigrants will witness on a day to day basis when they move to Canada.

  • Reading and Writing: 

IELTS is taken on paper while CELPIP uses a computerized format. In this digital age, many applicants will be more comfortable in giving the second test. However, others may prefer doing the test at their own pace.

Our Verdict: IELTS vs. CELPIP

At the end of the day, both tests hold equal value for your Express Entry CRS score and will be accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  The best way to determine which one you should take is by going through the sample tests. The tests will give you an idea of how well you’ll perform in the real test.

Moreover, you should take your budget, time, and overall format of the test before you make your decision. All these factors will ensure that you’ve made the right choice for yourself.

Are you still confused? Then you should think about talking to Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant at Elaar Immigration Consulting Inc., one of the leading immigration firm in the Surrey, Vancouver. We help you choose the right test, refer the right institutions and optimize your application process. With our help, you can move to Canada in record time.

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