CAEL Exam Complete Guide

CAEL is a new and improved standardized English language proficiency exam that is widely used and accepted in different academic institutions all over Canada and other parts of the world. 

This exam is a topic-based performance test that allows its test-takers to showcase their English language abilities and it is also focused on academic topics and situations that usually occur in a Canadian educational institution. 

And also, it is known to provide a quality and accurate language assessment of its test-takers English language proficiency level.

CAEL is a convenient and accessible language exam. To know more about this test, we have come up with a CAEL exam complete guide article.  

What is the Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL)?

It is a standardized language proficiency exam intended to assess the English language abilities of students who want to continue their tertiary level of education. 

And also, for those who want to enroll in universities and colleges, especially in Canada.

CAEL is also needed for those individuals who have plans in applying for membership in any professional organization and association. 

This language exam was first developed by Carleton University in the year 1987. Later on, it was acquired by Paragon Testing Enterprises in June 2015. They are a subsidiary of the University of British Columbia (UBC)

Moreover, CAEL, assesses the four English language skills including reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

In this language exam, the test-takers are tasked to read articles about academic topics, listen to a lecture, and answer related questions. And also, they will be writing essays. 

The tasks given in this language exam are usually what test-takers will experience in a Canadian university or college setting. It will also help determine the preparedness of its test-takers for a higher level of education. 

What is CAEL CE?

This is a newly developed and improved version of the CAEL exam (Paper-based Test) which was released last September 15, 2017, and was conducted in various testing centers in October 2017. 

It is a computer-based version of the test which is known as the CAEL CE (Computer Edition). It is also accepted in all those prominent and major universities and colleges in Canada.

The CAEL CE is also accepted and trusted by professional organizations.

Here are some of the Professional Organizations/Institutions that accept the CAEL and CAEL CE:

  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • Canadian Veterinary Medical Association 
  • College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC)
  • College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia
  • College of Denturists of Ontario (CDO)
  • College of Veterinarians of British Columbia
  • College of Veterinarians of Ontario
  • Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists
  • Professional Business Accountants’ Society of Canada
  • Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA)
  • TESL Ontario

CAEL vs. CAEL CE: What’s the Difference?

There is no significant difference between the CAEL and CAEL CE. And these two exams contain the same format and use the same scoring method and rating scale. 

The CAEL and CAEL CE also have the same test questions, test content, and also both assess the same English language abilities. 

The only difference between these two exams is that the CAEL is taken at their official testing centers while the CAEL CE is the new version of the exam that is a computerized edition and can be taken at home. 

Why Take the CAEL?

This integrated language exam assesses the test-takers ability in using the English language in an academic setting. CAEL is a computerized language proficiency exam that you can either take at home or at their official testing centers

It is also accepted by over 180 Canadian educational institutions which also include those English-speaking universities and colleges. And accepted by professional associations in the country. 

Moreover, CAEL is known as a one sitting exam which means you can finish all the test sections in a day or within the given timeframe. It also has a personal timer and word counter feature when taking the test. 

Aside from its exam feature, CAEL also delivers fast online test results. You can receive your exam result eight days after your scheduled test date and will also be sent to five institutions with no additional charges.  

CAEL also has different study materials for the test that is free and accessible to all of its test-takers. It offers webinars, sample test questions, prep programs, pretest sittings, and other online courses that can help you prepare for it. 

How Much Does the CAEL Cost?

The CAEL costs around CAD 280 and it is the based price used in Canada. However, exam prices differ internationally. 

They also have a transfer fee of CAD 50 plus tax, if you request to transfer your schedule, it is only applicable for the same test type you have registered for. 

The transfer changes are only applicable from an online schedule to another online schedule and from a test center schedule to another test center schedule. 

You cannot request from an online schedule to be transferred to a test center schedule and vice versa.

As for cancelation refund policy, you are entitled to get a 50% refund of the full payment you have paid for the registration. 

Note that you should process your cancelation request 48 hours before your scheduled test date for the CAEL online test. For the CAEL at a test center, you are required to process the request seven days before your test session. 

Also, it has additional taxes depending on your location or country where you will be taking the test.

You can check the table below for the international pricing in certain countries for CAEL. 

CountryCAEL Exam Fee
South KoreaCAD 273
United Arab EmiratesUSD 340
IndiaINR 10845
ChinaCAD 360

Where is the CAEL Exam Accepted?

The CAEL is internationally recognized and accepted in over 180 Canadian universities, colleges, companies, and other international organizations. 

It is also trusted to provide reliable proof of the English language proficiency level of its test-takers.

And it also has around 40 testing centers available located in different countries worldwide. 

Here are some of the countries where the CAEL is accepted. 

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • USA
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • India
  • The United Arab Emirates

Some International Educational Institutions that accept CAEL:

  • England
    • University of East Anglia
    • University of London
  • Scotland
    • University of Edinburgh
  • Sweden
    • Chalmers University of Technology
    • Linkoping University
    • World Maritime University
  • USA
    • Canisius College
    • City University of Seattle
    • Claremont Graduate University
    • Gonzaga University
    • Northwestern University
    • Rice University
    • San Francisco State University
    • Standford University
    • University of Alaska
    • University of Buffalo
    • University of California, San Diego
    • University of Miami
    • The University of Minnesota
    • University of North Texas
    • University of Oregon
    • University of Southern California
    • University of Washington
    • Yale University

Some Canadian Educational Institutions that also accept CAEL:

  • Alberta
    • Alberta College of Art & Design
    • Athabasca University
    • Bow Valley University
    • Burman University
    • Canadian University College
    • Concordia University of Edmonton
    • Keyano College
    • Lakeland College
    • Lethbridge College
    • MacEwan University
    • Mount Royal University
    • NorQuest College
    • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
    • Northern Lakes College
    • Olds College
    • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
    • Taylor University College and Seminary
  • British Columbia
    • British Columbia Institute of Technology
    • Brighton College
    • Canadian Arts & Sciences Institute
    • Capilano University
    • Columbia College
    • Douglas College
    • Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design
    • Fairleigh Dickinson University
    • Langara College
    • North Island College
    • Northern Lights College
    • Simon Fraser University
    • Thompson Rivers University
    • University of the British Columbia
    • University of Victoria
    • Vancouver Island University
  • Manitoba
    • Assiniboine Community College
    • Booth University College
    • Brandon University
    • Canadian Mennonite University
    • Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology
    • Red River College
    • University of Manitoba
    • University of Winnipeg
    • University College of the North
  • New Brunswick
    • Crandall University
    • McKenzie College School of Art and Design
    • Mount Allison University
    • New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
    • New Brunswick Community College
    • Oulton College
    • St. Stephen’s University
    • St. Thomas University
    • University of New Brunswick
    • Yorkville University
  • Newfoundland
    • College of the North Atlantic
    • Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
    • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
    • Acadia University
    • Cape Brenton University
    • Dalhousie University
    • Mount Saint Vincent University
    • NSCAD University
    • Nova Scotia Community College
    • Saint Mary’s University
    • St. Francis Xavier University
    • University of King’s College
  • Ontario
    • Algoma University
    • Algonquin College
    • Brescia University College
    • Brock University
    • Carleton University
    • Centennial College
    • College of Veterinarians of Ontario
    • Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
    • Confederation College
    • Durham College
    • Fanshawe College
    • Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
    • Huron University College
    • Lakehead University
    • Laurentian University
    • McMaster University
    • Niagara College
    • OCAD University
    • Ridgetown Campus-U Guelph
    • Trent University
    • University of Ottawa
    • University of Toronto
    • Victoria University
    • York University
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Holland College
    • University of Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
    • Bishop’s University
    • Canada College
    • Concordia College
    • Heritage College
    • McGill University
  • Saskatchewan
    • Campion College
    • Cumberland College 
    • First Nations University of Canada
    • Great Plains College
    • Lakeland College
    • Luther College
    • Northlands College
    • Saskatchewan Polytechnic
    • St. Peter’s College
    • University of Regina
    • University of Saskatchewan

CAEL Test Structure

This language proficiency exam is highly used for academic purposes, especially in Canadian universities and colleges. CAEL is a computer-delivered language exam that can be easily accomplished in one sitting. 

And also, the test takes only around two to three hours for you to finish.  And it assesses the four English language skills including speaking, writing, listening, and reading. However, there are a variety of tasks that the test-takers must accomplish. 

Test Format:Speaking Test Section/Oral Language Test

Duration: 25 minutes

There are five tasks in this section that you need to accomplish within the time limit. Each speaking task requires you to talk about academic works that are usually encountered in a university or college setup. 

And also, the different tasks involve making short presentations, communicating information, and summarizing the main ideas. It also requires you to listen to and reply to group discussions. 

Reading Response

Duration: 50 minutes

You are tasked to read two reading materials in this section. And you need to pinpoint the main ideas of each reading material given. You also need to understand the language and the expression used in the subject. 

Moreover, you are also tasked to organize the information provided and identify the sequential pattern of events that happened in the context. These reading materials are derived from university textbooks, news articles, academic journals, and others. 

Listening/Lecture Response

Duration: 20 minutes

In this section, you will hear a prerecorded lecture with the same topics in the reading and writing section of the exam. You will only hear the audio once and it is usually based on the first-year university curriculum. 

The tasks are to answer the related questions about the lecture presented. Your listening abilities, note-taking, how to recognize main ideas, and other skills will be evaluated. 


Duration: 45 minutes

You will be given a topic for the essay that you will write about. And you must use and integrate the different information presented in the reading and listening test sections to help you compose this essay. 

And your essay must be one to two pages long, and you should also present in your essay whether you are in favor or against the given topic, and explain your stand on it. It also requires you to show the different advantages and disadvantages of the subject. 

CAEL Scoring and Interpretation

The CAEL uses a band level of 10 to a band level of 90 to assess the different test sections. And each band scores correspond to a certain langauge descriptor. 

Moreover, the band level of 90 to 70 indicates that the individual meets most of the universities and colleges’ langauge proficiency requirements.

While those who have a band level of 60 to 50 show that they may meet entry requirements at some educational institutions. 

And as for those who belong to the band level of 40 to 10 it indicates that their language proficiency level is too low to meet the entry requirements of any institution.

CAEL Band LevelLanguage
Proficiency Level
90 to 80Expert Language User
One demonstrates a level of competency, accuracy, and effectiveness in using the language in both academic and professional settings. 
70Adept Language User
Shows accuracy in using the language in most settings. However, there are some limitations in flexibility. 
60 Advanced Language User
One shows competence in using the language in academic or professional setups. 
50 High Intermediate Language User
One presents some competence in using the language in academic or professional settings. And the communication is not fluent and may break down in some areas.  
40Intermediate Language User
One demonstrates some comprehension skills, presents complex ideas, and engages in arguments using the language. 
30 High Beginner Language User
One knows how to identify basic ideas about familiar topics that are usually encountered in everyday communication. 
20 to 10Low Beginner Language User
One only has limited knowledge and ability to use the language.

There are certain test procedures and policies that you should keep in mind before taking the CAEL exam. We will present in this section the test requirements, registration procedures, and more, in the next section

CAEL Test Requirements

You need to present the following documents upon registration.

If you fail to submit a valid identification document during the check-in period of your test date, you are not eligible to take the exam and will not receive a refund of your exam payment, and are not allowed to transfer. 

A. Original and valid photo ID

Your identification document must contain the same details as the one you used upon registration for the exam, it must clearly reflect your full name and other necessary information.

Note that expired identification documents will not be accepted. 

Here are some of the accepted Identification Documents in each country where you can take the CAEL. 

CountryAccepted Identification Documents
Brazil (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee Travel Document
CanadaPassport Booklet

Refugee Travel Document

Canadian refugee protection claimant document

US Passport Booklet

Canadian provincial identification card (Canadian Health Cards are not accepted)

Canadian provincial driver’s license

Certificate of Indian Status
ChinaPassport Booklet

Refugee travel document

China Resident ID Card (not accepted in Hong Kong for CAEL CE)
Colombia (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
IndiaPassport Booklet

Refugee travel document
Passport Booklet
Refugee travel document
Indonesia (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
Japan (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
Korea (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
Mexico (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
PhilippinesPassport Booklet

Refugee travel document
Singapore (CAEL CE)Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document
United Arab Emirates Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document

Emirates ID
United Arab Emirates 
Passport Booklet

Refugee travel document

Emirates ID
USAPassport Booklet

Refugee travel document

US Passport

Canadian provincial identification card (Canadian Health Cards are not accepted)

Canadian provincial driver’s license
VietnamPassport Booklet

Refugee travel document

Here is a list of those unaccepted or invalid Identification Documents:

Any expired Identification document

Any photocopy of your identification card or document


Work Permit

Record of Landing

Interim Federal Health Certificate of Eligibility

Passport Card

Canadian Health Card

Social Security Card

Social Insurance Card

Employee Identification Card

Student Identification Card

Any notarized document, or letter

Any credit card

Temporary Identification documents

Citizenship card or documents

B. List of Canadian Institutions that you want to enroll in where they will send your test results (OPTIONAL)

C. Credit Card (accepts any of the following Visa, MasterCard, American Express) for the online registration payment. And, Visa Debit Card is not accepted. 

If you do not have any available credit card for the online payment.

You have the option to use prepaid credit cards including MasterCard Prepaid Cards, Visa Gift Cards, RBC Visa Gift Card, or any cards that you can purchase from stores or banks across Canada. 

Also note, that they do not accept personal cheques as a payment for the exam. However, you can also pay through money order so long as the currency is in Canadian dollars (CAD) and payable to Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.

Your name as the test-taker should be reflected in the money order. 

How to Register for the CAEL Exam?

There are two choices for CAEL registration: online and by mail. It is highly recommended to do online registration for the exam since it is accessible and free.

You only need to create an account on their official website

A test confirmation email will be sent to you after you have accomplished the online registration and have fully paid for the exam.

You should print out the confirmation email and bring it on your test day.

Upon registering for the test, you will have an access to a free practice test, get information about upcoming CAEL tests schedules, and also be able to purchase review materials. 

You can also transfer or cancel your registration, order score reports, and be able to view and request a re-evaluation of your test scores. 

And if you wish to take the CAEL at home, you need to check your computer and network through the ProProctor platform before you register for the test. 

If you prefer to register by mail, you need to download the CAEL Registration Form. You need to accomplish the form and submit it by mail which is addressed to the CAEL Office. 

Take note that their testing centers do not accept and process walk-in registration. All the exam registration forms should be mailed to their main offices.

And also, they will no longer accept exam registration two to three days prior to the examination dates. 

What are the Transfer/Cancellation Policies for the CAEL Exam?

Policies for CAEL Online

For test cancellation, you will receive a 50% refund of the exam payment if you process your test cancellation request 48 hours or more before your scheduled test date. 

However, if your cancellation is made less than 48 hours before your test, you will no longer receive a refund. 

You can also make a transfer request if you wish to change your test date, time, and location your test for free.

And in any case, it will be granted you are required to pay CAD 50 plus taxes if processed within 48 hours before your test, and you can do this in your online CAEL account

Policies for CAEL at Test Center

If you failed to attend your test schedule, you may request a cancellation of your test and will be given a 50% refund of your exam payment.

Note that you should process your request seven calendar days before your test schedule at the testing center. 

And if your request is made less than seven days prior to your test schedule, Paragon will grant your exam cancellation request but you are no longer eligible for the 50% refund. 

Moreover, you can also request for transfer if you were not able to attend your test schedule.

But you need to make sure that your transfer request must be processed seven calendar days before your original test date. 

And if your transfer request is granted, you are required to pay an additional transfer fee of CAD 50 and other taxes.

Also, in any case, if you fail to process your transfer request in less than seven calendar days, you need to provide supporting documents. 

It may include a doctor’s note and other necessary documents. And Paragon has the authority and discretion to approve your transfer request or not. 

Retake Policies 

The CAEL office highly suggests that you are only allowed to register no more than one test schedule within four calendar days.

And if you violate this retake policy, Paragon will cancel your exam registration. 

What to Expect on the Test Date for Your CAEL Exam?

CAEL at a Test Center

What to Bring to Your Test?

You are required to bring the printed test confirmation email that was sent to you upon online registration.

And also, you should present the valid identification document that you have used during registration that bears your full name and photo. 

Note that using headphones, earphones, and any kind of speaker that is wearable is not allowed.

However, they permit individuals who are wearing hearing aids. 

What Time to Arrive for Your Test?

If you have registered to take the CAEL at a Test Center, you are required to do a check-in period of 45 minutes earlier before your scheduled test. 

And the check-in period will close 15 minutes before the test starts and if you fail to arrive at this given timeframe, you will no longer be able to take the test.

You are also not eligible for a refund and transfer of request. 

CAEL Online

If you have registered for the CAEL online, there are certain procedures that you need to comply with to take the exam.

In addition, your testing location or room must be indoors, well-lit, doors must be closed, and do not have any unnecessary background noises.

You should also note that there must be no other person present in the room and you should avoid anyone from entering the room while the test is ongoing.

Keep in mind that if any of this will happen, your test will be terminated or invalidated. 

Before Check-In 

The CAEL Online exam is proctored and monitored by ProProctor. And you also need to test your computer at home using the system readiness check

It is to check if your equipment is suitable for the CAEL Online test and you need to do this the day before your test schedule. 

You are also required to download and launch the ProProctor application after running a system check on the computer that you will be using.

After this, you are required to input your appointment confirmation number and last name for your test.  

Check-In Period

You will do a self-check-in process by taking a picture of yourself and the identification document or card you used during the registration. 

And also, you will be verifying the information you have provided upon registration and this process will take 15 minutes. 

Note that you are not allowed to put anything on your head except that serves a medical purpose or is part of your religion.

You also need to show the inside of your room where you will be taking the exam. 

During the Test

The duration of the test is approximately four hours and once the timer starts it will not be paused.

And once the test starts you are not allowed to go out of the room or your table, if you do so it will be flagged as a violation of the rules. 

However, there is an optional 12-minute break that you can utilize during the whole test.

You should also note and inform the proctor if you will be using the 12-minute break. 

Aside from that, you are required to turn off all of your electronic devices such as cellphones, smartwatches, and other devices you have in your testing room. 

Using cell phones and other devices is prohibited during the test.

And also, you are not allowed to wear excessive jewelry while taking the test, chew gum, smoke, and use vape. 

After the Test 

After finishing the test, you are to notify the proctor that you have reached the end of the test on your screen. And also, you should report any issues that you may encounter while taking the test. 

Reports that are made more than 48 hours after your scheduled test date and or when test results are released will no longer be catered.

And no corrective actions will be done by the Paragon Testing Enterprise since it is beyond the given timeframe. 

How to Prepare for CAEL?

To prepare for CAEL, there are many free online courses, sample tests, online pretests, webinars, and other test preparation materials that you can access on their website. 

You can start with their free CAEL online sample test, wherein you will be familiarized with the exam structure and the flow of the exam.

It will also help you experience the different types of questions that you may encounter when taking the CAEL. 

They also offer free study tip videos to help you be on track, create an effective study plan, and organize your study routine. These videos are from CAEL experts wherein they will guide you and share with you some useful information and other study resources that you can utilize. 

Moreover, you can also join a free CAEL online course with over eight hours of available webinars, and online courses.

These webinars and workshops will discuss and give you an in-depth look at each test section of the CAEL. 

Additional FAQs About CAEL

Is CAEL Easier than IELTS?

CAEL is an English language proficiency exam like the IELTS. And both of these language exams are highly accepted by Canada. 

The CAEL and IELTS differ in their test structure, but they still measure the language abilities of their test-takers.

Many people find CAEL easier than the IELTS. Also, it focuses on the practical use of the English language in day-to-day life.

The test questions are simple and not complicated. 

Can I Take the CAEL Test Online?

Yes, you can take the CAEL test online. They offer two modes of test delivery that you can choose from, including online at home, or you can take it at their official testing centers.

It depends on which you prefer. 

It still contains the same exam format, length, and test questions.

And also, if you prefer to take it from your home, it is proctored by a secure online solution. It helps secure the whole test to avoid cheating and to deliver unbiased and accurate test results. 

Is the CAEL Test Easy?

CAEL is quite easy compared to other language proficiency tests.

And also, it is a practical test when using the English language in everyday life.

And it also has topics about scenarios that usually happened in the university. 

What is the Difference Between CELPIP and CAEL?

The difference between these two exams is their purpose, the CELPIP is used for applying for permanent residency or citizenship in Canada.

While the CAEL is used by Canadian-based universities and colleges for their admission.

CELPIP and CAEL exams were both developed by the Paragon Testing Enterprises, which is a Canadian-owned and a branch of the University of British Columbia.

Both of these exams are intended to test the language proficiency of an individual who wishes to migrate or study in Canada.

Is CAEL Better than IELTS?

CAEL is recommended for students who wish to study abroad, especially in Canada.

However, both the IELTS and Canada are recognized by these Canadian academic institutions. 

Thus, you can either present your CAEL or IELTS results to any of the universities and colleges that you want to enroll in.

These exams also have the same purpose which is to evaluate the English language proficiency of their test-takers.