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Which is Easier: CELPIP or IELTS?

Which is Easier CELPIP or IELTS? To be honest, it is no secret that embarking on a journey to study or work abroad comes with its fair share of challenges, and one significant hurdle for many is proving proficiency in English.

The two most widely recognized tests for this purpose are the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Both tests have their unique structures and requirements, often leaving test-takers wondering: which is the easier option?

In this article, we delve into the nuances of both exams to help you gain clarity and make an informed decision on which path best suits your language proficiency goals.

Whether you’re aiming for Canadian immigration, academic pursuits, or career advancement, understanding the differences between CELPIP and IELTS is the first step towards achieving your aspirations.

What is CELPIP?

CELPIP, or the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, is an English language proficiency test designed specifically for those seeking to immigrate to Canada or apply for Canadian citizenship.

It is recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as proof of English language proficiency.

Developed by Paragon Testing Enterprises, a subsidiary of the University of British Columbia, CELPIP assesses a test-taker’s abilities in four key areas: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

The test is computer-delivered, making it convenient for candidates to take it at designated test centers across Canada and in select locations worldwide. Know the complete information about Canada Express Entry Immigration System.

Here is an overview of the different sections of the CELPIP test:

  • Listening (47-55 minutes) – This section evaluates a candidate’s ability to understand spoken English in various contexts. Test-takers listen to recordings of conversations, discussions, news reports, and lectures, and then answer questions based on what they hear.
  • Reading (55-60 minutes) – In this section, test-takers read passages on a range of topics and answer questions to demonstrate their comprehension skills. The passages can be from newspapers, advertisements, reports, or other sources.
  • Writing (53-60 minutes) – The Writing section requires candidates to compose responses to various tasks. These tasks may include writing an email, responding to a survey question, or summarizing information from a chart or graph.
  • Speaking (15-20 minutes) – This section assesses a test-taker’s ability to communicate verbally in English. Candidates participate in a series of speaking tasks, such as describing a scene, expressing an opinion, or giving advice.

One of the notable aspects of CELPIP is its focus on everyday English language use. The test aims to reflect real-life situations and scenarios that candidates might encounter in Canada, whether in social, work, or academic settings.

This practical approach makes CELPIP a relevant and effective measure of a candidate’s readiness to engage in English-based activities in Canada.

CELPIP scores are reported on a scale from 1 to 12 for each of the four skills, with an overall score ranging from 1 to 12 as well.

The scores are aligned with the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), which is the standard used to assess language proficiency for immigration, employment, and education in Canada.

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CELPIP provides a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s English language proficiency, offering a pathway for those seeking to make Canada their new home.

Whether for immigration purposes or professional aspirations, CELPIP serves as a valuable tool for demonstrating language skills necessary for success in a Canadian context.

What is IELTS?

IELTS, which stands for the International English Language Testing System, is one of the most widely recognized English language proficiency tests in the world.

It is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study, work, or migrate to English-speaking countries, such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS also evaluates a test-taker’s proficiency in four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

The test is available in two formats: Academic and General Training, each tailored to meet different needs.

Here is an overview of the different sections of the IELTS test:

  • Listening (30 minutes) – In this section, candidates listen to recordings of conversations and monologues and answer a series of questions based on what they hear. The recordings vary in accents and contexts to reflect real-life English language use.
  • Reading (60 minutes) – The Reading section consists of three long passages with a variety of question types. Test-takers are required to read the passages and answer questions to demonstrate their ability to understand main ideas, details, opinions, and the logical argument of the text.
  • Writing (60 minutes) – This section has two tasks that assess a candidate’s ability to write effectively in English.
    • In Task 1, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart, or diagram and asked to describe, summarize, or explain the information in their own words. General Training candidates are required to write a letter.
    • In Task 2, candidates respond to an argument or problem by providing arguments, discussing relevant issues, and expressing opinions.
  • Speaking (11-14 minutes) – The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner. It is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to communicate in spoken English. The test consists of three parts: an introduction and interview, a short speech based on a given topic, and a discussion related to the speech.

IELTS scores are reported on a nine-band scale, ranging from 1 (Non-User) to 9 (Expert User), with half-band increments.

Each of the four skills is given a separate band score, and an overall band score is also provided.

The scores are used by universities, employers, immigration authorities, and other organizations to determine a candidate’s English language proficiency level.

The Academic version of IELTS is typically required for those applying to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels in English-speaking countries.

On the other hand, the General Training version is often required for migration purposes, work experience, or training programs.

IELTS is known for its reliability, fairness, and integrity in assessing a candidate’s English language skills.

It offers a comprehensive evaluation of a candidate’s ability to use English in real-life situations, making it a valuable tool for individuals aiming to pursue education, work, or residency opportunities in English-speaking countries around the world.

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Similarities and Differences Between CELPIP and IELTS

Both IELTS and CELPIP are widely recognized English language proficiency tests used in English-speaking countries.

However, they differ in their test formats, scoring systems, and specific tasks within each section.

Test-takers should choose the test that best aligns with their goals and preferences, considering factors such as test availability, format, and the skills they feel most confident in showcasing.

IELTS vs. CELPIP Comparison
PurposeAccepted worldwide for study, work, and immigration (depending on specific requirements)Primarily accepted for Canadian immigration (permanent residency, citizenship, professional designations)
Test FormatPaper-based or computer-based (except for Speaking which is face-to-face)Entirely computer-based
SectionsListening (30 min), Reading (60 min), Writing (60 min), Speaking (11-14 min)Listening (57-67 min), Reading (60 min), Writing (60 min), Speaking (15-20 min)
Language FocusInternational accents (British, Australian, American)Canadian English
ContentGeneral topics (academic or general training)Topics relevant to Canadian life and work
DifficultyConsidered to be similar difficultyGenerally considered to have a slightly longer Listening and Speaking section
CostVaries by location (around $200-300)Varies by location (around $280-320)
ResultsAvailable within 2-13 daysAvailable within 5-12 business days

Which Test is Better: CELPIP or IELTS?

As someone who has appeared for both the CELPIP and IELTS exams, I will now share my perspective on which test I found to be easier and better suited for my needs.

In my experience, I found the CELPIP test to be slightly easier compared to the IELTS. The format of the CELPIP test felt more straightforward and practical, especially in the Speaking and Writing sections.

The tasks in CELPIP, such as writing an email or describing a scene, seemed more aligned with everyday communication scenarios. This made it easier for me to relate to and complete the tasks comfortably.

Moreover, the computer-delivered format of the CELPIP test was convenient for me. I could type my responses for the Writing section, which allowed for easier editing and organization of my thoughts.

The Listening and Reading sections also felt manageable, with clear instructions and tasks.

However, I found the IELTS test to be more challenging, particularly in the Reading and Writing sections of the Academic version.

The reading passages were longer and more complex, requiring deeper analysis and understanding.

The Writing tasks, especially Task 1 with data interpretation, demanded a specific format and structure that I had to practice extensively.

On the other hand, the IELTS Speaking section, being a face-to-face interview, felt more interactive and personal.

Although this added a bit of pressure, I appreciated the opportunity to engage in a real conversation with the examiner.

In terms of which test is better, I believe it ultimately depends on individual preferences and goals.

If you prefer a test that focuses on practical, everyday language skills and is computer-delivered, CELPIP might be the better option for you.

It is also recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for immigration purposes, which is a significant advantage for those seeking to move to Canada.

However, if you are aiming for academic study at universities in English-speaking countries, the IELTS Academic version might be more suitable.

Many universities worldwide accept IELTS scores for admissions, and the test is well-established in the academic community.

In all, both CELPIP and IELTS have their strengths and challenges. My personal preference leans towards CELPIP for its ease of use and practical tasks.

However, I encourage you to carefully consider your goals, preferences, and the requirements of your desired institutions or immigration programs before choosing between the two tests.


It is evident that the decision between CELPIP and IELTS ultimately comes down to individual preferences, goals, and comfort levels with the test formats.

Having experienced both exams, I found CELPIP to be slightly easier due to its practical tasks, computer-delivered format, and straightforward instructions.

However, the choice between the two tests depends on various factors such as the purpose of taking the test, desired immigration or study destinations, and personal strengths in different language skills.

Whether aiming for Canadian immigration, academic pursuits, or other English language proficiency requirements, understanding the nuances of CELPIP and IELTS is crucial in making an informed decision.

Regardless of the choice made, diligent preparation, practice, and familiarity with the test format will greatly contribute to success in either CELPIP or IELTS.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is CELPIP harder than IELTS?

The difficulty of CELPIP versus IELTS can vary for each individual, but some may find CELPIP slightly easier due to its practical tasks and computer-delivered format.

  1. Which is the easiest English test for Canada?

Some test-takers may find CELPIP to be the easiest English test for Canada, as it focuses on everyday language skills and is designed for Canadian immigration purposes.

  1. Which English test is easier?

The perception of which English test is easier, CELPIP or IELTS, depends on personal preferences and strengths in different language skills.

  1. Is IELTS hard in Canada?

IELTS can be challenging for some test-takers in Canada, particularly in the Academic version with its complex reading passages and specific writing tasks.

  1. Is CELPIP better than IELTS?

The choice between CELPIP and IELTS depends on individual needs and preferences. CELPIP may be preferred for its practical tasks, while IELTS is widely accepted for academic purposes in Canada.

  1. Is CELPIP speaking difficult?

The difficulty of the CELPIP Speaking section can vary for each test-taker, but some may find it manageable due to its focus on everyday communication scenarios.

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