IELTS vs CELPIP: Which English Test is Easier for Canadian Immigration?

There are many English language proficiency tests available nowadays that you can choose from. These language proficiency tests are widely used in universities and colleges worldwide to assess the English language skills of non-native English speakers. It is also used for migration purposes and even for career applications as well. 

Among the most commonly used English proficiency tests for non-native English speakers are the IELTS and CELPIP. Of course, we all know the IELTS is one of the standardized English language assessment tests developed by the British Council. CELPIP, on the other hand, is the official language proficiency test used in Canada. 

The IELTS and CELPIP language assessment tests are recognized and highly accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and other countries’ immigration offices worldwide.  So If you are planning to migrate, work or apply to international schools in Canada, you can either choose from these two proficiency exams. 

Yes, it might be a struggle choosing what English proficiency exam you need to take. To ease your burden from choosing what exam to take, the IELTS or the CELPIP? We have come up with a comprehensive article to help you decide which language proficiency test is best suited for you and your purpose in taking such a test.

In this article, we will briefly review what the IETLS and CELPIP are. Then we will compare and contrast the differences between both English exams in pricing, scoring, exam format, frequency, etc.

What is IELTS?

IELTS, commonly known as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is a standardized English language proficiency exam primarily used to measure one’s language skills. And the IELTS exam is also highly trusted by thousands of educational institutions worldwide and various organizations, including government offices, migration offices, and other private organizations. 

Many aspiring immigrants and students alike are eyeing the IELTS exam for their English language proficiency certification. Since most countries abroad prefer the IELTS for global immigration requirements and educational admissions. The IELTS exam is also trusted by many prestigious educational institutions, prominent companies, and organizations worldwide. 

The IELTS test offers a standardized and structured language proficiency certification for its test-takers. So if you decide to take the IELTS, you can assure that you get the highest and most accurate interpretation for your English language skills. 

Moreover, the IELTS is specially designed to evaluate English writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills. Therefore, it also provides an accurate and reliable measurement of one’s English language effectiveness in any given situation or environment setting. 

Compared to other English language exams — private companies and employers, professional institutions, and government organizations seek and accept the IELTS certification. As a result, the IELTS is the leading English language proficiency test compared to other language proficiency tests available in the market. 

What is CELPIP?

The CELPIP Test is Canada’s internationally recognized and leading English language proficiency test. Moreover, the CELPIP exam is the top choice of immigration offices in Canada, and it is widely used for permanent residency and Canadian citizenship. 

CELPIP stands for Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, and it is designed to assess an individual’s English language proficiency and critical language skills. In addition, the CELPIP exam uses Canadian English in this test, but it also accepts British and American English spellings. So, you do not have to worry about what English language you will use if you ever take the CELPIP exam. 

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) trusts and highly recommends the CELPIP test to those who wish to work or study in Canada and those who also want to migrate to the said country. 

Note that the CELPIP exam is not only accepted in Canada, but it is also highly recognized and accepted globally by educational institutions and other organizations to prove one’s English language proficiency. 


CELPIP vs IELTS: Exam Fees Comparison

To start with, the IELTS offers different test types, and these two test types cost differently, and the price also varies per location worldwide. And for the CELPIP exam fee also has different costs depending on its test type. 

If you want to cancel your IELTS exam schedule, there is a given period to process it to receive a refund for the exam payment. However, for those instances of IELTS exam cancellation, you will receive a 75% refund if you have made the cancellation more than 14 days before your scheduled test date. 

And if you decide to cancel your IELTS schedule on the given test date, you will no longer receive a refund for the exam fee. 

Aside from the CELPIP exam fee, there are other additional fees that you need to pay for the CELPIP exam if you request a quick assessment of your exam scores. However, there is no additional fee for the CELIP regular rating assessment. 

Moreover, if you want to have the official CELPIP score report, you must pay an additional fee worth 20 CAD plus taxes. 

Below is the table of comparison in terms of exam fees between the IELTS and CELPIP exams. 

Exam FeesIELTSCELPIP
Registration Fees
  • AUD 340
  • EUR 220
  • GBP 196
  • INR 17, 636
  • PHP 13, 211
  • CELPIP General Test Fees: CAD 100 plus taxes. CAD150 plus taxes (For International Test-takers)
  • CELPIP General – LS Test Fee: CAD 70 plus taxes
Additional Fees
  • Rescheduling Fee USD 47 or INR 3, 500
  • Official CELPIP Score Report Fee: CAD 20
  • CELPIP Regular Rating Assessment Fee: Free 

IELTS vs CELPIP: Exam Format and Test Structure

This section will discuss the difference between the IELTS and CELPIP in terms of exam structure. The exam structure covers various test versions, exam duration, delivery modes of each language proficiency exam, and other essential details.  

Let’s start with the IELTS exam structure. This language proficiency exam offers two versions:

Moreover, the IELTS is also a sought-after proficiency test by professional registration bodies in different career fields such as engineering, medicine, accounting, law, nursing, and more. 

If you wish to take the IELTS Academic Test, it is applicable for those who want to take higher education, such as doctorate degrees, master’s degrees, and graduate schools. And on the other hand, if you are pursuing or applying for a below degree level in any international universities and colleges here and abroad, the IELTS General is suitable for you. 

The IELTS General is also used to assess applicants’ English language skills, and it is also used primarily for work-related settings and other employment training requirements. In addition, this test features the conversational English language skills in its test questions, and it is also based on social and workplace type of environment. 

Note that the CELPIP exam is a computer-based test, so the two versions must be taken using the computers available in the official testing centers. 

And while the CELPIP exam also has two versions that it offers to its test-takers. These two versions are:

  • CELPIP General LS Test
  • CELPIP General Test

Both tests are highly efficient and provide accurate English language assessment tools, and these two versions measure different English language skills. 

As for the CELPIP General LS Test, this CELPIP test version is only available for Canadian residents. However, this test is also offered and widely used for Canadian citizenship applications and other career-related applications within Canada. Note that the CELPIP General LS Test only measures the English language skills in listening and speaking. 

So if you are going to choose the CELPIP General LS Test, make sure that the company or educational institution you are applying for accepts it. Note that there are different language proficiency requirements per institution or organization. 

Suppose you want a full assessment for four English language skills. In that case, it is advisable to take the CELPIP General Test since it is designed to evaluate the reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills. In addition, it is the preferred language proficiency test for Canadian permanent residence applications and other professional designations.

For the test duration, the CELPIP General Test takes about three hours to complete all four test sections for the English language skills. And on the other hand, the CELPIP General LS Test duration is only an hour and ten minutes for the listening and speaking skills test section. 

The duration of the whole IETLS exam is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. As for the delivery test mode, the CELPIP exam is a computer-based language proficiency test, while the IELTS offers the test in paper-based and computer-based. 

Here is the table showing a comparison for the IELTS and CELPIP exam structure. 

Exam StructureIELTS ExamCELPIP Exam 
Test Duration2 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours
Test Version 
  • IELTS General Test
  • IELTS Academic Test 
  • CELPIP General LS Test
  • CELPIP General Test
Test Delivery Mode
  • Paper-based IELTS Test
  • Computer-based IELTS Test
  • Computer-based CELPIP Test
English Skills that are assessed / Test Structure
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • CELPIP General LS Test: 2 English skills (Listening and Speaking)
  • CELPIP General Test: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing Skills
Test Scores Validity Two years Two years

CELPIP vs IELTS: Exam Frequency

In this section, we will show the comparison for the IELTS and CELPIP exam frequency.  Note that the IELTS exam is widely available with thousands of testing centers in different locations worldwide. In contrast, the CELPIP is only available in 7 countries with a limited number of testing centers available. 

Moreover, the IELTS exam is offered in more than 1,200 testing centers worldwide compared to the CELPIP exam, only available to 70 testing locations in selected countries. 

And for the test frequency, the IELTS offers only 48 scheduled test dates per year, while the CELPIP offers a monthly test schedule in their testing centers. 

Exam FrequencyIELTSCELPIP
Number of test days per year4812
Number of testing centers (worldwide)120070
Countries available140 7

IELTS vs CELPIP: Scoring Difference

For the scoring, the IELTS uses a band scoring system that ranges from 9 to 0 for every subtest of the exam. A score of 9 for the IELTS test is considered the highest, which indicates the expert user of the English language, and a score of 0 indicates very low to non-user of the English language. 

And for the CELPIP gives a score between 12 to 1 for each test section, and it does not provide half-band scores. So the highest score for the CELPIP is 12, which indicates advanced proficiency level, and the lowest score is the score of 0, which means little or limited proficiency level. 

For the scoring of the CELPIP listening and reading test sections, it is scored by a computer. In contrast, the writing and speaking test is scored and assessed by professional, qualified, and highly experienced CELPIP exam representatives. 

The CELPIP exam scoring can also be interpreted using the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). The CLB also uses a benchmark of 12 points to 0 points. And also, these points correspond to the different CLB stages, which include Stage 1 – Basic Language Ability (Benchmark 1 to 4), Stage 2 – Intermediate Language Ability (Benchmark 5 to 8), and the last is the Stage 3 – Advanced Language Ability (Benchmark 9 to 12). 

Here is a comparison table for the IELTS and CELPIP scoring. 

IELTS Exam Band ScoringIELTS Scoring DescriptionCELPIP Exam ScoringCELPIP Scoring Description 
9Expert User12Advanced Proficiency Level
8Very Good User11Advanced Proficiency Level
7Good User10Highly Effective Proficiency Level
6Competent User9Effective Proficiency Level
5Modest User8Good Proficiency Level
4Limited User7Adequate Proficiency Level
3Extremely Limited User6Developing Proficiency Level
2 to 0Intermittent to Non- User5 to 0Acquiring to Little Proficiency Level 

CELPIP vs IELTS: Test Requirements

Here are the test requirements for the IELTS and CELPIP exams. 

Test RequirementsIELTSCELPIP
Minimum ageMinimum age of 16 years old
  • Accepts ages between 14 and 17 years old. But these test takers must meet the basic English language requirements.
  • 18 years old and above
ProfessionAny profession Any profession 
Things needed to register
  • A valid passport
  • Active debit or credit card 
Canada residents: For IRCC Purposes (Permanent Residency and Citizenship Applications):
  • Passport BookletRefugee Travel DocumentCanadian Permanent Resident CardCanadian Refugee Protection Claimant DocumentUS Passport Card

For Non-IRCC Purposes:
  • Canadian Provincial
  • Driver’s License
  • Canadian Provincial Identification Cards (excluding health cards)
  • Certificate of Indian Status

International CELPIP Test-takers:
  • Passport Booklet
  • Refugee Travel Document
  • US Passport Card/Emirates ID/China Resident ID Card/
Where to registerYou can register for the IELTS through the IELTS Online Registration PlatformYou can register for the CELPIP through their official website

Additional Reading:


IELTS vs CELPIP Practice Tests Availability

Here is the tabulation of the practice test offered by the IELTS and CELPIP to its test-takers. 

Available ResourcesIELTS Practice TestsCELPIP Practice Tests
Free Sample Practice Tests
  • Offers free online sample tests where you can access through their official website. 
  • IELTS free courses: IELTS Academic and General Training; Practice Zone; Sample Videos; Teacher Tutorials; Timed Practice Tests; “My Progress” Section; “Resource Bank” Section 

Preparation Courses, Guides, and BooksCELPIP Test Preparation Products:

  • Test Taker Study Materials
  • Paperbacks Print Materials
  • Teacher Resources
  • Study Materials for CELPIP General Test
  • Study Materials for CELPIP General LS Test 
  • Vocabulary Skills Book
  • Common CELPIP Errors
  • CELPIP Focus: Listening and Speaking
  • CELPIP Focus: Reading and Writing
Additional Resources (Free and Paid)

Which Is Easier: IELTS or the CELPIP Exam?

Ideally, all the language proficiency tests measure English language skills and have different scoring, coverage, duration, and test purposes. Some consider the IELTS more complicated to get a higher score compared to other language proficiency tests available in the market. 

The IELTS has two versions that cater to the different needs and purposes of its test-takers. First, the IELTS Academic Test and is highly accepted by thousands of educational institutions worldwide. Second, it is also one of the requirements for migration and other career-related requirements, especially for international employers. 

The IELTS General Test features general topics and is usually suited to any profession and for other purposes. This IELTS test version is also widely used for migration purposes and one of the admission requirements to any educational institution worldwide. 

One of the accepted language proficiency in Canada is the CELPIP, and it is generally the preferred language assessment test for any individuals who wish to migrate or work in Canada. The test is not that complicated compared to the IELTS, and it is also shorter when it comes to testing durations. That is why most prefer the CELPIP because it is accessible, affordable, and does not take much of your time while giving you standardized and accurate test results. 


Test Recognition: CELPIP vs IELTS

The IELTS exam is widely recognized and accepted by most educational institutions here and abroad. Famous companies, organizations also accept it, and government bodies worldwide such as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Canadian Immigrant Department, the UK Trade and Investment, and many more. 

Several countries such as Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates accept the CELPIP exam.

In comparison to the IELTS, which is famous and accepted by over 140 countries with over a thousand testing centers scattered worldwide. 

The CELPIP exam is also accepted by the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada), which is the government body in Canada that processes immigration in the country, handles refugees, and processes all Canadian citizenship applications

It is also highly recognized by the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FTSP), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Start-Up visa program for immigrants, and the likes. 

If you plan to apply for a Canadian visa, it is best to take the CELPIP General Test as it covers all the English language skills. Canadian Immigration does not accept the CELPIP General LS Test because it only measures two language skills.  

Moreover, the IELTS and the CELPIP exam are the accepted language proficiency test for Canada’s immigration options for nurses. It supports the express entry highly required for those skilled immigrants and helps in other careers.


Finally Summary Table: IELTS vs CELPIP

Below is a comprehensive comparison table for the IELTS and CELPIP exams. 

FeaturesIELTS ExamCELPIP Exam 
Test UsageIt is primarily used for English exam admission in universities and colleges.It is primarily used for Canadian permanent residency, citizenship, educational admissions, and professional designations.  
Test Fee
  • USD 130 to USD 310
  • AUD 340 
  • EUR 220
  • GBP 196
  • INR 15, 750 
  • PHP 13, 211
  • CELPIP General Test Fees: CAD 100 plus taxes. OR CAD 150 plus taxes (For International Test-takers)
  • CELPIP General – LS Test Fee: CAD 70 plus taxes
Age Requirement for Test TakersMinimum of 16 years old
  • Accepts ages between 14 and 17 years old (additional requirements)
  • 18 years old and above
Who can take the testAny professionAny profession
Test Registration Requirements
  • A valid passport
  • Active debit or credit card 
Canada residents: For IRCC Purposes (Permanent Residency and Citizenship Applications):
  • Passport Booklet
  • Refugee Travel Document
  • Canadian Permanent Resident Card
  • Canadian Refugee Protection Claimant Document
  • US Passport Card

For Non-IRCC Purposes:
  • Canadian Provincial Driver’s License
  • Canadian Provincial Identification Cards (excluding health cards)
  • Certificate of Indian Status

International CELPIP Test-takers:
  • Passport Booklet
  • Refugee Travel Document
  • US Passport Card/Emirates ID/China Resident ID Card/
Exam Frequency48 scheduled test days per year Offers test schedules per month
Number of Testing Centers Worldwide1,200 Testing Centers 70 Testing Centers
Number of Countries Where Both Exams are Available 140 7
Test Scores Validity Two years Two years 
Scoring It uses a band scoring that ranges from 9 as the highest proficiency level to 0 as the lowest. Uses scoring that ranges from the score of 12 points to 0 scores. The highest score is 12, and the lowest is 0. 
Test Delivery Mode
  • Paper-based IELTS Test
  • Computer-based IELTS Test
  • Computer-based CELPIP Test
English Skills that are assessed / Test Structure
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • CELPIP General LS Test: 2 English skills (Listening and Speaking)
  • CELPIP General Test: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing Skills
Test Duration2 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours
Test Version 
  • IELTS General Test
  • IELTS Academic Test 
  • CELPIP General LS Test
  • CELPIP General Test
Accepted by Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC)YesYes
Accepted By Canadian Immigration OfficesYesYes

Additional FAQs

Which is More Difficult, IELTS or CELPIP?

Generally, both of these language proficiency tests measure the primary English language skills of an individual. Some consider the IELTS to be more complicated than the CELPIP, while others find the latter more difficult. However, both language proficiency tests are designed to evaluate your language skills. The difficulty level of these language tests is relative to your level of knowledge and ability in the English language. 

What is a Good CELPIP Score?

A score level of 8 to 7 is considered an excellent score to obtain for the CELPIP exam. It is the minimum passing score for all the CELPIP test sections requirements for Canada’s immigration and visa application. If you plan to apply for Canada’s citizenship and immigration, it is best to aim for a higher score than the required minimum. 

Is CELPIP Valid for Canada PR?

Yes, the CELPIP is highly recognized and accepted in Canada. It is one of Canada’s immigration application requirements and is also used for permanent residency applications. In addition, you should note that it only accepts the CELPIP General Test version as it covers all the four English languages compared to the CELPIP General LS Test, which only evaluates the listening and speaking skills.

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