CELPIP or IELTS: Which Language Test Should You Choose?





For foreign nationals looking to immigrate to Canada, one of the main criteria for being granted permanent residence is proving your language proficiency in either French or English. You can do this by taking one of the two official language tests: the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

While both tests are similar and will help you achieve the same goal, there are some key differences to keep in mind. In this article, we’ll explain each test and the differences between them so you can make the best decision for your future.


The CELPIP is a Canadian English-language assessment test for permanent residency, citizenship and professional designation seekers. CELPIP tests your language abilities when it comes to different everyday situations, such as:

  • Communicating with coworkers at work
  • Communicating with friends in social situations
  • Watching or listening to the news
  • Interpreting and responding to written materials

There are two types of CELPIP language assessment tests:

  • General test: This test evaluates your English speaking, reading, listening and writing skills. It is used for permanent residence applications and professional designations and is completed in a single three-hour sitting.
  • General LS test: This test takes one hour to complete and evaluates your English speaking and listening skills. It is used for Canadian citizenship applications and professional designations.

What Is IELTS?

IELTS is an English-language assessment test designed to help you study, migrate to or work in:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • The United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • The United States

The test assesses your ability to listen, read, write and speak English in everyday situations.

There are two types of IELTS language proficiency tests:

  • IELTS Academic: This test is for those looking to study in an English-speaking country.
  • IELTS General Training: This version of the test is for those looking to work or migrate. Both tests assess your English language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

How Are They Different?

One of the key differences between CELPIP and IELTS language evaluation tests is that IELTS is a paper-based exam, while CELPIP is completed on a computer.

Additional differences include:

  • CELPIP is more inexpensive
  • CELPIP is conducted in a single three-hour or one-hour sitting
  • IELTS does not require test-takers to complete all test components on the same day
  • IELTS will take 13 days, while CELPIP takes 10-12 days
  • CELPIP has an express rating system that gets your results in just three days (for a $100 fee)

Which One Should You Take?

CELPIP and IELTS are both accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and will get you one step closer to starting your new life in Canada.

A few other factors can help you make your decision:

  • The CELPIP has a longer listening section than IELTS. If interpreting what you hear is something you struggle with, you may want to take the IELTS.
  • IELTS requires you to speak to an interviewer in person. If verbal communication is not your strongest area, you may want to take the CELPIP.
  • If you are specifically looking to immigrate to Canada, take the CELPIP. If you are considering other English-speaking countries, go with IELTS.

Prepare for Success on Your Language Assessment Test

If you are preparing to take the CELPIP or the IELTS language proficiency test, consider Berlitz Canada to help you achieve the highest test score possible.

Berlitz Canada is a leading language training provider. We have provided prospective newcomers with language testing services for over 140 years.

Call us at 1-855-865-0548 or complete our contact form to learn more.