Which Test To Take: CELPIP or IELTS?

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also known as IRPA) requires all applicants for permanent residency to take an English language test. There are two tests you can take: CELPIP or IELTS. 


IELTS and CELPIP are great tests, and both have advantages and drawbacks for different people. In general, the IELTS is a bit more widely accepted, so if you have the resources to prepare for it, that’s a good choice, but either of them will work well to apply for Canadian immigration. 

If your goal is simply getting into Canada as soon as possible, then taking both tests will give you more opportunities than taking just one or the other. Below are factors that will help you determine the test to take:

1. Cost

Suppose you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; CELPIP is significantly cheaper than IELTS. The fee is $250 for the General Training (G) module and $300 for the Academic (A) module. For non-Canadian citizens or non-permanent residents, it costs $400 to sit for both exams.

If you decide to study English as a second option language while living in Canada, then CELPIP may be your best option because it will cost less than both IELTS and TOEFL tests:

To get started with this course, you will require an application form which can be completed online; once you submit your request, it will be processed within 24 hours by their staff.

They will explain how this program works before being sent off to further training courses such as those offered by Pearson VUE International Education Services Inc., which is based out of British Columbia but also offers courses throughout North America. 

2. Test Format

The format of the test varies between CELPIP and IELTS.

CELPIP is a computer-based test, meaning you will complete your exam in a single sitting on the computer.

You don’t have to do any paperwork or write anything down for this exam; instead, all questions are presented on screen and must be answered by clicking on an option from the list provided (e.g., “No,” “Yes,” “Maybe”).

The speaking section consists of two parts: one where you learn how to say certain phrases in English (e.g., “I am”) and another where you read aloud passages written by native speakers (in their own words).

IELTS also has a paper-based format but only requires that you write down answers in response to questions during the listening part; no speaking is required. However, when taking this exam which takes place over two days.

You’ll need more time than usual because there are multiple sections. Reading comprehension/writing tasks first thing Sunday morning, followed by listening exercises starting Monday morning at 9 am EST/6 pm BST. 

Read Also: Manitoba Provincial Overview Of Nominee Program Eligibility Requirements 

3. Test Scores

After you’ve taken the test, it’s time to get your scores. You can expect to receive your CELPIP scores in 15 days and IELTS scores in 3 weeks.

4. Test Timing

CELPIP is offered in more locations than IELTS and is offered more often. The test duration for both tests is four hours, but CELPIP’s writing section can last up to five hours if you can take it later.

5. Test Content

This is among the biggest differences between CELPIP and IELTS. CELPIP focuses more on listening and speaking skills, while IELTS has a reading test that isn’t as important to your future career or language learning goals as what you’ll learn in class.

The reading section on CELPIP focuses on everyday life situations, while the one on IELTS focuses more on academic texts such as novels or newspaper articles about current events around the world.

6. Registration Process

CELPIP and IELTS are registered tests, meaning you will be required to pay a fee before registering for either test. The registration cost varies according to your location, but it’s usually about $50 for each exam.

You have two options when registering for these tests: online or in-person at one of our testing centers (which may require an additional fee).

Online registrations are available on the official website for each exam, but those who prefer to take their time selecting from multiple locations will find themselves out of luck unless they have access to the internet in their area or can afford to pay someone else with a computer nearby if they don’t want/need one themselves anymore after taking both exams.

7. Preparation And Study Material

You can find IELTS materials in bookshops, on the internet, and in your local library. If you live outside of Canada, then it’s highly likely that there will be some equivalent test available instead of CELPIP.

If you’re interested in taking CELPIP instead of IELTS, then make sure to research what materials are available before choosing which test to take.

The good part is that there are many different versions of both tests available: one-on-one tutoring sessions, online courses such as eCampus, or even paper-and-pencil tests like those offered by Pearson VUE (the company behind all three permits).

8. Test Flexibility And Availability

CELPIP is offered in more locations than IELTS. CELPIP is available in Canada, whereas IELTS is only offered in over 100 countries.

In terms of flexibility, IELTS tends to be slightly more flexible—you can take your test at any one of over 1,300 testing centers worldwide.

On top of that, there are no requirements regarding where you’re located or what time zone you live in (though we recommend scheduling your exam as soon as possible).

If this sounds like too much work for something as simple as taking an English language proficiency exam, though.

The number of locations offering the test varies widely between the two tests. For example, there are five testing centers for CELPIP (one each in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto) but only one for IELTS (in Hong Kong).

This means that if you’re planning on taking your test somewhere other than where it’s offered at your country’s embassy or consulate general, then you will have an easier time getting into one of these places.

9. Test Result Timing And Validity Period

The validity period for CELPIP results in two years. If you decide to use your test results for employment purposes, you will need to get them within two years of taking the test.

IELTS applicants can expect their results in about four weeks if they apply online or five weeks if they apply by post (or six weeks if sent by courier).

10. Applicant Support And Experience

The CELPIP exam is more expensive than the IELTS test, so you may want to consider other factors when deciding which test to take.

While there are many reasons why someone might decide to choose one over the other, here are some things that can help you decide:

  • The CELPIP exam is only available in Canada and the United States (the US), whereas IELTS is available worldwide. If you’re looking for a way to study abroad or travel more widely while studying abroad, this could be an issue for you.
  • If English isn’t your first language and/or if it’s not your mother tongue but rather a secondary language instead (like Spanish), then taking an English-only test like CELPIP may be much easier.

11. Acceptability 

The IELTS is a more widely accepted test, but the CELPIP is also a good choice if you have the resources to prepare for it. In general, however, if you’re applying for Canadian immigration and can only afford one test, then that should be IELTS because it’s easier to get into Canada with an IELTS score (you’ll need at least 730 points).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which Test Is Easier, CELPIP or IELTS?

IELTS and CELPIP were designed to measure English language proficiency; the difficulty level is approximately the same in both tests.

2. Can I Give CELPIP Instead Of IELTS?

CELPIP tests your English skills according to the English language used in Canada, and it is a combination of American and British English. 

3. Which English Test Is Best For Canada PR?


Is CELPIP Accepted For Canada PR?

The CELPIP Tests are validated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for many permanent residency and immigration streams and for professional certification for different organizations.

5. Which Is Best For Canada, PR IELTS Or CELPIP?

They are on the same level, but you can choose one or the other. The CELPIP test has a longer speaking and listening part than the IELTS. If these are not your strength, then the IELTS exam is a better chance of success for you.

6. Is CELPIP Valid For 2 Years?

They ensure that your scores are available to you for two years from the day of the test.

7. Is CELPIP General For PR?

The CELPIP – General examines the test taker’s English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills and is officially designated for permanent residence applications by IRCC and is also accepted for professional designations.

8. Can I Retake CELPIP Speaking Only?

No, you can’t retake the speaking evaluation test and must take the complete examination.

9. Which Exam Is Easy For Canada PR?

For Canadian immigration, you should take the IELTS – General Training. 

10. Is The CELPIP Test Hard?

There is no proof that CELPIP scoring or the CELPIP test is any harder than IELTS. In fact, it is commonly said they are both very similar in difficulty.


We hope to have helped you know which test to take: CELPIP or IELTS. The difference between the two is that CELPIP focuses on academic writing, while IELTS is more of a standardized test suited for job applications or grad school admissions committees where they want candidates who don’t have exceptional writing skills.

IELTS is a great test to prepare for, and the government of Canada has used it since 1991, but CELPIP has only been around since 2000, so it’s important to consider what your goals are before choosing which test to take. IELTS might be right for you if you’re ready for some tough preparation. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section. 

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