CELPIP – How does it work?

Like the IELTS Exam, CELPIP is one of the tests used in Canada to prove English proficiency. How to know which test to choose? Read the article below to find out.

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, or CELPIP, is one of the exams used to certify proficiency in the English language. It is used for immigration to Canada or for certain job positions. This test is equivalent to the IELTS General (read the other blog article here).

Test format

The test assesses your listening skills, reading and text interpretation skills as well as your writing and speaking skills. The total test time is 3 hours. All modules are completed on the same day, without breaks.


The English used on the CELPIP exam is Canadian, with the country’s accent and script. However, the test correction protocol considers English accents and spelling from other regions.

During the test some tasks are repeated by the system and show up in other themes and questions so that one of the tasks in each module is invalidated (it is not possible to know which one will be “unscored”). That is, even if you know that there are 4 tasks in Reading for example, on the day of the test you will have to complete 5. Learn more about the CELPIP modules:

Writing – There are two writing tasks based on general circumstances. There is spell check on the computer in addition to automatic word counting.

Reading – There are 4 sessions with texts regarding different themes, but based on common situations.

Listening – During the listening section, where the questions alternate, there is a short time for the answers to be filled in after the audio ends.

Speaking – This is the most challenging part of the test according to several people who have taken the exam. There are 8 tasks with a limited response time. Your listener is the computer. Other people will be in the same room as you, speaking at the same time.


CELPIP can be done in person in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, China, Philippines, India and the USA, with prior scheduling and payment. The duration of the test is 3 hours.

IELTS x CELPIP – Which test to choose?

Test Comparison:

Format – CELPIP can only be done on a computer. IELTS can be done on paper or on a computer.

Location – CELPIP cannot be done in Brazil. If you need to start your immigration process from Brazil, your only option will be taking the IELTS General.

Score range – In CELPIP the maximum score is 12. In IELTS the maximum score is 9. Therefore, to calculate the CLB of Canadian immigration programs, different scores are considered for each exam (see below for CLB equivalence).

Assessment and Score – For many people this is the most relevant factor in determining which test to take. In CELPIP, the lowest score obtained in any of the 4 modules will be your CLB (example: Listening 10, Speaking 7, Writing 9 and Reading 12 – your overall final grade – and CLB – will be 7). In IELTS, your overall final score will be the average of the scores obtained in the 4 modules (but the individual scores of each module is also considered for immigration). Some people also compare the level of demand of the examiners for CELPIP x IELTS in the more “subjective” modules (which are not evaluated objectively by right or wrong answers) such as speaking and writing.


Writing – CELPIP has spell check. In the computer version of the IELTS there is word count, but no spell check.

Reading – There aren’t many relevant differences in this module.

Listening – In Celpip you will hear a Canadian accent and there is a short time to respond after the audio. In IELTS the accent can be from any English speaking country and the answers must be filled in during the audio playback.

Speaking – This module features one of the major differences. In Celpip the person speaks to the computer, you can see the time on the screen and the test has 8 tasks. It’s worth mentioning the sound of the test takers next to you can be disruptive. In IELTS this is an individual test. The examiner asks the questions in person and you cannot control the time with any watch.

Which exam is better? Easier? More rigorous / generous regarding scores? Which exam to choose? It depends on your style and the score you need. We hope that with the information above you will be able to draw your own conclusions.

Regardless of your choice, you can count on us for the steps to take after your test. Contact us at: info@gonorthsa.com!


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