Which test is better, the IELTS or CELPIP

English is one of two official languages in Canada, the other being French. As such, all permanent residents and citizens must have some degree of proficiency with either of these languages. For example, the Express Entry program, one of the most popular routes for economic immigration, requires candidates to have a certain score in a recognized English language test. This is stipulated in the IRCC’s portal for Express Entry. Some of the required scores are shown below: 

Canadian Language standard Level 7 minimum in all four abilities (writing, reading, listening, speaking) 

CLB Level 5 minimum for speaking and listening and CLB 4 for reading and writing. 

Since it is a vital part of the immigration process, you’ll want to dedicate time to understand and prepare for these tests. 

What is the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)? 

The CLB grades an individual’s ability to speak and understand English as a second language. It is ranked on twelve benchmarks divided into three stages. 

  • Stage 1 – Basic Language Ability (CLB level 1-4) 
  • Stage 2 – Intermediate Language Ability (CLB 5-8) 
  • Stage 3 – Advanced Language Ability (CLB 9-12) 

What are the IELTS and CELPIP tests? 

The IELTS and CELPIP are two standardized English language tests that the IRCC recognizes for immigration purposes. 

The IRCC uses these tests to evaluate the English language proficiency of candidates applying for permanent residency. 

Can I become a permanent resident without appearing for an IELTS or CELPIP test? 

No, you are required to produce your language test scores when seeking permanent residency in Canada. 

All Express Entry candidates are required to have some degree of proficiency with either the English or French language. 

Do you need an IELTS or CELPIP for a temporary resident visa? 

You don’t need a language test to apply for a temporary resident visa. 

Which test should you choose, IELTS or CELPIP? 

To make this decision, you must first understand both tests and their features. We’ll go through each test in detail so you can come to a conclusion on your own. 

What is the IELTS test? 

The International English Language Testing System is an English test used as proof of English proficiency for work, study or immigration. It is officially recognized in English-speaking countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA. 

Format for the IELTS exam 

The test comes in two formats, Academic and General Training. However, the IRCC only accepts the ‘General Training‘ option for permanent residency applications. 

This test is taken at an approved test centre. Candidates can choose to take it on paper or a computer. 

The General Training test is divided into four sections, 

  • Listening (30 minutes)– You’ll have to answer questions based on audio recordings of native English speakers 
  • Speaking (11-14 minutes)– you are required to engage in an informal conversation with an examiner 
  • Reading (60 minutes)– you’ll answer questions after reading from selected text 
  • Writing (60 minutes)– you must write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation along with an essay. 

The listening, reading and writing sections are completed in a single day with no breaks between them, while the speaking test is usually scheduled up to a week before or after the other tests. 

Can I use IELTS Academic for Express Entry applications? 

No, the IRCC only accepts the ‘General Training’ format for applications to Express Entry. 

Is there any difference between the IELTS test on paper and computer? 

Yes, there are differences, but the test format, the questions, the time allocated, and the content will remain the same across both options. 

So what are the differences? 

IELTS on paper 

IELTS on computer 

You can complete the reading, listening and writing sections on paper using a pen or HB-pencil  You can complete the reading, listening and writing sections on a computer provided by the test centre 
The Speaking section is conducted face-to-face with an IELTS examiner  The Speaking section is conducted face-to-face with an IELTS examiner 
  Has options to change font size  
On paper, you will receive the results 13 days after appearing for the test  You will receive your results 3-5 days after taking your test 

 What are the advantages of appearing for the IELTS test on a computer? 

The computer option is ideal if you are tech-savvy and proficient with a computer. Most new-age persons might prefer and feel more comfortable typing on a keyboard to writing on paper. 

Another advantage of the computer option is that the results are released earlier. The computer test results are released in just 3-5 days. 

What is the duration of an IELTS exam? 

The test takes 2 hours and 45 minutes on both paper and computer. 

How much does an IELTS test cost in India? 

The IELTS test costs INR 14,700 in India. 

How to prepare for the IELTS exam? 

The IELTS website has enough study material to help you ace the test. The first resource is a Sample test followed by an IELTS Progress Check, which are invaluable tools in helping you understand the test’s format, question patterns and time limits. 

The Cambridge website also offers Official IELTS Practice material and a DVD with extensive tips and practice tests for all four sections of the IELTS exam. The bundle is priced at £14.40 

 What is the CELPIP test? 

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program is the Canadian test for English proficiency. 

What is the format of the CELPIP test? 

CELPIP also offers two tests- CELPIP General and CELPIP General LS test. The IRCC only accepts the CELPIP- ‘General Test‘ option for permanent residency applications. Unlike the IELTS, the CELPIP test has no paper-delivered option and must be taken on a computer. The test is taken at an approved test centre. 

The General test can be divided into four sections,  

  • Listening (47-55 minutes)– This step requires you to listen to passages and answer questions. 
  • Speaking (15-20 minutes)– requires you to reply verbally to on-screen prompts. 
  • Reading (55-60 minutes)– requires you to read passages and answer questions. 
  • Writing (53-60 minutes)– requires you to respond with written answers. 

All four sections are completed in a single sitting. 

What is the duration of a CELPIP test? 

The whole test lasts 3 hours. 

How much does a CELPIP test cost in India? 

According to the CELPIP website, a General Test costs INR 10,845 plus taxes in India. 

How to prepare for the CELPIP test 

The CELPIP website has enough resources to prepare you for the General test. You can access their free webinars and practice tests, designed to familiarize you with the format and expectations for the test. Some popular free resources you can refer to are: 

  • CELPIP- Get the Facts!- This is a weekly webinar on the CELPIP test Youtube channel that covers some key information about the CELPIP test. 
  • CELPIP live- This Youtube live stream series features detailed discussions with experts and special guests and offers guidance and answers to many questions on the CELPIP test. 
  • Speaking Pro: Target 5/ Speaking Pro: Target 9+ – these webinars are designed to help you secure a score of 5 or 9 and higher in the speaking section. 
  • Reading Pro- This webinar helps with strategies and tips for the reading section of the CELPIP test. 
  • Listening Pro- This webinar has strategies and tips for the test’s listening section. 
  • Writing Pro: Target 5/ Target 9+- Both these webinars are designed to help you secure a score of 5 or 9 and higher in the writing section. 

Apart from these free resources, CELPIP also offers additional paid study material. These are available on their website and include the CELPIP Accelerate program, A CELPIP Preparation program, Study tips and CELPIP test Practice sets and Analysis. 

The price of these study materials is anywhere between CAD 20 and CAD 225. 

Equivalency charts for the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) and the CELPIP and IELTS scores

CLB level 

CELPIP scores 

IELTS scores 

Reading  Writing  Listening  Speaking  Reading  Writing  Listening  Speaking 
10  10  10  10  10  8.0  7.5  8.5  7.5 
9  9  9  9  9  7.0  7.0  8.0  7.0 
8  8  8  8  8  6.5  6.5  7.5  6.5 
7  7  7  7  7  6.0  6.0  6.0  6.0 
6  6  6  6  6  5.0  5.5  5.5  5.5 
5  5  5  5  5  4.0  5.0  5.0  5.0 
4  4  4  4  4  3.5  4.0  4.5  4.0 


What is better IELTS or CELPIP? 

Let’s identify some differences between the two: 



The IELTS test uses a variety of accents, including British, American and Australian.  The CELPIP only uses a Canadian accent in its listening sections. 
The IELTS listening section lasts 30 minutes  The CELPIP listening test is longer and lasts 47-55 minutes 
The test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes on both paper and computer  The test takes 3 hours 
The IELTS has a separate sitting for your speaking test.  The CELPIP test is completed in one sitting. 
The IELTS has a paper and computer-based option.  The CELPIP only offers a computer-based option. 
For the paper option, the results are released 13 days after the test. 

The results are released 3-5 days after the test for the computer option. 

The CELPIP results are released within 4-5 days of the test. 

You can make your conclusions from the comparison above. If you have difficulty following different English accents, you should stick to the CELPIP listening section that is only conducted in a Canadian accent. Alternatively, the IELTS listening section might be more suitable for you if you have a short attention span since it only lasts 30 minutes. 

Both tests offer computerized versions, so you won’t have trouble if you’re proficient with a computer. Candidates who prefer to write physically should choose the IELTS since it’s the only one with an option to appear on paper. 

In conclusion, no test is easier or better than the other. Your choice should be based on your strengths and factors like your familiarity with an accent and computer skills. 

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.