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The comparison between IELTS vs CELPIP is one of our most frequently asked questions among students interested in Canada as a temporary and permanent destination. So, you need to take a high stakes English language test to demonstrate your language proficiency. Both the CELPIP and IELTS tests are excellent options, but which one should you choose? Let’s learn more and take a look at the key similarities and differences, so you can work out which one is right for you!

If you would like to learn more about Canada before making a decision, we have prepared a free downloadable guide for you!

IELTS vs CELPIP: Why take either

For a visa for immigration to Canada, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires applicants in certain classes to provide language test results from an authorised organisation. For English language proficiency, the Government of Canada only accepts results from the following tests:

> Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General; 

> Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General LS; and 

> International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General.

These tests are also accepted by many organisations for proof of English proficiency for work or study. 

IETLS vs CELPIP: The similarities

Both the CELPIP and the IELTS test are commonly used to assess English language proficiency, and both are highly regarded for immigration, work and study purposes.  

The CELPIP and IELTS test are both officially authorised by the IRCC. The IRCC does not value one test over the other, so from an immigration perspective, they are equally accepted.  

Both CELPIP – General and IELTS are available internationally. 

Both tests are high-level which means they can be quite challenging. To do well in either, you need time and dedication so you can learn skills, get familiar with the test components and complete sufficient test prep and practice tests. But don’t worry! That’s why E2 offers engaging and interactive online test prep packages in CELPIP – General, CELPIP – General LS and IELTS – General to make sure you have everything you need to pass whichever test you choose to take. Be sure to follow the links to find the best package for your needs. 

Both tests also require a high level of English. Sometimes, no matter how much test preparation you do, you still need to improve your general English in order to improve your score. If this is the case for you, head over to E2 English, where you will find English packages to suit your own level of English and progress you through the scale. You will also be able to sign up to improve your grammar, spelling and pronunciation
The scores for both tests will be converted into a Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) level. Exactly what score you need will depend on the immigration programme you are applying to.

IELTS vs CELPIP: The key differences

The CELPIP – General and CELPIP – General LS tests are both entirely computerised. However, while most components of IELTS – General can be taken computer based, the Speaking test is held face-to-face. In addition, the Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The IELTS speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. 

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes for IELTS – General and 3 hours for CELPIP – General. See the CELPIP website and IELTS website for more details.

In addition, CELPIP has a stronger emphasis on functional language for everyday situations, with a strong focus on Canadian settings and lifestyle. CELPIP was designed specifically for Canadian English proficiency and features North American accents in the Listening. On the other hand, IELTS was designed for international English and is more informational and general.

In most cases, the CELPIP cost is cheaper than the price for IELTS.   

IELTS vs CELPIP: Test component comparison

Here is a comparison of the different test components. 


Both CELPIP Listening and IELTS Listening have 4 parts, but CELPIP takes up to 55 minutes to complete, compared with 30 minutes for IELTS. Many students find the CELPIP Listening test easier. However, do bear in mind that for CELPIP, you only know the questions after you’ve listened to the main audio, so note-taking is vital, whereas for IELTS, you can study the questions before you listen so you know what you need to listen for. 


Both tests last about an hour. IELTS has 3 sections, compared with 4 sections in CELPIP. For both Listening and Reading in CELPIP, all questions are multiple-choice, whereas in IELTS some items require typing an answer. This means you need to be able to spell words correctly in IELTS and it’s not as easy to guess an answer.  


Both tests have two tasks and a similar level of difficulty. The CELPIP test has a lower word count needed, but also a shorter time. So which one you find easier will depend on your own writing style. 


There are only 3 parts to IELTS Speaking, lasting up to 14 minutes, compared to 8 parts for CELPIP Speaking, lasting up to 20 minutes. The key difference here is that IELTS Speaking is taken in a private room with an examiner, while the CELPIP Speaking is taken via computer in a room with other candidates. Depending on which setting you find most comfortable and better for your confidence and concentration, you may prefer one test over the other. 

Interested to know more about Canada? We have prepared a free downloadable guide for you!

IELTS VS CELPIP: Time to choose!

Now that you know all about the two tests, it’s time to choose which one is best for you. This will vary according to the preferences of individual candidates. Then the next step is to head to E2 Test Prep for all your study needs to help you pass CELPIP – General, CELPIP – General LS or IELTS – General. You’ll find online learning materials, practice questions, assessments and mock tests, as well as help from real teachers through Live Classes and One-on-one Expert Tutorials.

So whichever test you choose, get ready for test-day success with E2 Test Prep!

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