CELPIP vs. IELTS, Which is Easier?
Questions may arise as determining CELPIP and IELTS will be a crucial decision, especially for immigration application purposes. As for immigration Canada, we know that the higher score we get, the higher the immigration points (CRS) we can obtain. Hence, in this article, we will discuss the essential information in which the test-taker will be able to determine which one fits best for you.
Both CELPIP and IELTS are designed to measure the English language proficiency of test-takers and the tests include four categories that capture the main aspects of the language: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
What is CELPIP?
CELPIP stands for Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program. CELPIP test is designed specifically to assess key language skills required for Canadian permanent residency and citizenship.
CELPIP test uses Canadian English and accepts both British and American English spellings for its components. If you are taking CELPIP to apply through Express Entry, the CELPIP-General Training (four-skills tests) is required.
What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. IELTS is generally used for study, work and immigration. It recognizes both British and American English for spelling, word choice and grammar, and uses a mix of accents from native speakers throughout the test.
IELTS is available in more than 140 countries and is divided into IELTS Academic (used for education) and IELTS General Training (used for immigration to an English-speaking country). If you are taking IELTS to apply through Express Entry, the IELTS General Training test is required.
Comparison of CELPIP and IELTS
Again, the question CELPIP Vs IELTS Which is Easier? Both IELTS and CELPIP are designed to measure the English language proficiency of test-takers and are often considered to be the initial step of achievement needed before applying for study, work, and/or immigrating to an English speaking country like Canada.
CELPIP and IELTS are both approved and accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The final test score is compared to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), which demonstrates national language standards for recognizing a second language.
1. Location and Availability
Both CELPIP and IELTS, are accessible inside Canada.
- CELPIP has a total of 33 locations across Canada (in all provinces except Prince Edward Island) the test locations are currently unavailable in the three Canadian territories Yukon Territory, Nunavut Territory, and Northwest Territories.
- IELTS has a total of 119 locations across Canada, however, is limited to only five (5) Canadian provinces (Which are: Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia).
It is important to remember that: some locations only offer IELTS Academic, which is not accepted for Express Entry. On the other hand, IELTS is more accessible outside of Canada, however, for CELPIP is only limited to certain countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Japan, Nigeria, Australia, UK, Singapore, Korea, UAE, Philippines, India, China, and The US).
The availability for both tests is given months in advance, so it is easy to plan ahead. The frequency of the tests offered depends on the specific province and the city.
2. Price Comparison, CELPIP or IELTS is Cheaper?
CELPIP exam price is cheaper compared to IELTS.
- CELPIP-General test price for Permanent Residence application is $280 plus tax (Inside Canada).
- CELPIP Outside Canada has different prices, depending on the country in which it is offered. (You can visit the official website)
- IELTS test price in Canada is $309 (including tax); however, certain places in Canada have a higher fee (e.g. $319 in Niagara Region and Windsor).
- IELTS Outside Canada has different prices, depending on the country in which it is offered.
3. Test and Result Processing Times
The time it takes to complete all the sections of the CELPIP and IELTS tests is approximately the same: around 3 hours. However, the duration of the actual tests differs.
- CELPIP is conducted at once in a 3-hour sitting. Since it is done on the computer, it is easy to keep track of how much time is left for each of the tasks. When going by sections, CELPIP seems to have longer Listening and Speaking sections and a slightly shorter Writing section. However, keep in mind that the CELPIP time breakdowns include the question, answer and transition times.
- IELTS, on the other hand, does not necessarily complete all the test components on the same day. Although three of the test sections are completed in the same test room, the Speaking section is done separately at a different time (day and possibly location), it can be taken up to a week before or after the other sections. There is also no automatic computerized time tracking, and the times presented in the table below may not include the transition times between the test sections and components.
The results take 13 calendar days for IELTs and 10-12 calendar days for CELPIP.
If you are short on time and money is not an issue, CELPIP also has an express rating system: the score is available in three (3) business days for an extra $100 fee (plus applicable taxes).
4. Difficulty Level
Both IELTS and CELPIP were designed to measure English language proficiency. The level of difficulty is approximately the same in both tests. However, certain sections can be viewed as easier or more difficult by individual test-takers. Here are a few differences that can be noted:
- IELTS is a computer or paper-based exam, while CELPIP is completely computerized. It may be more comforting for some people to do the writing section on paper and to keep track of their own time. Others, on the other hand, feel less pressure from the computer and prefer typing and being able to see their timing and word count. Also, the CELPIP test includes spell check in the writing component, which could be found useful by some applicants.
- CELPIP test uses Canadian speakers, while IELTS test includes native speakers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in their Listening section. Some non-native speakers may find the CELPIP Listening section more understandable. Also, when taking CELPIP, one is able to adjust the volume in the headphones for the Listening section to suit their needs.
- IELTS Speaking section includes a live conversation with an examiner, while during CELPIP you record your voice on the computer. Some non-native speakers prefer talking to an examiner, while others feel more comfortable without face-to-face interaction.
CELPIP Vs IELTS CLB Level Score Comparison in details:
5. Preparation Comparison and Materials
Both exams, offer online samples of their work and have prep courses across Canada.
It may still be easier to find preparation materials for IELTS, since CELPIP is still relatively new. However, CELPIP preparation courses seem to be more prevalent in Canada, and you can be sure of their quality when they are accredited by Paragon Testing Enterprises, the creators of the CELPIP Test.
Detail comparison of CELPIP Vs IELTS:
Based on my personal experience, I will explain my choice between CELPIP and IELTS based on each of its sections as below.
For the listening section, I personally prefer taking CELPIP rather than IELTS test. Why is it?
- CELPIP gives us a multiple choice answering method by a “drop-down” selection. By then, I was not worried about the spelling as I do not need to type by myself. I was even able to guess the answer in case I really don’t know what should the real answer be.
- On the other hand, IELTS uses a “fill in the blank” answering method, where I found out that it is quite troublesome. It also made me worried about typing the wrong spelling. Hence, it also takes more time to think twice and type rather than choosing a multiple choice like CELPIP.
- CELPIP only includes Canadian speaker accent. For me, this is more favorable as this accent is close to the one used in news broadcasting.
- IELTS includes wide varieties of English accents from multiple English-speaking countries such as United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, and many more. Thus, it confuses me and again, it makes me to think twice which is more time-consuming and not desirable.
For the reading section, I personally prefer taking CELPIP rather than IELTS test. Why is it?
- CELPIP also gives us a multiple choice answering method by a “drop-down” selection in the reading test. I did not need to type and worry about the spelling. I was even able to guess the answer in case I really don’t know what should the real answer be.
- On the other hand, IELTS uses a “fill in the blank” answering method, where I found out that it is quite troublesome. It also made me worried about writing the wrong spelling. Hence, it also takes more time to think twice and type compared to choosing a multiple choice answer like CELPIP.
- CELPIP Instructions are more clear and not tricky. While IELTS instruction can sometimes be tricky (for example: fill to write no more than one word).
- CELPIP reading only includes mostly Canadian local topic, while IELTS includes worldwide topic. Taking CELPIP test is much easier for me because I can only focus in Canada and eventually allows me to attain better score.
- CELPIP includes lots of Canadian challenging vocabulary, while IELTS also includes challenging international vocabulary which is usually be used for English tests internationally. As if our intention is to migrate to Canada, it makes sense that learning Canadian vocabulary will be interesting and useful for us. Taking CELPIP will then be more effective and aligned to the final goals.
For the writing section, I personally prefer taking CELPIP rather than IELTS test. Why is it?
- CELPIP writing is more flexible. It does not require test-takers to intensify on the structural or formality of an essay writing alike. I like this kind of scoring method because of its flexibility and I felt more relax when I was writing my essay for CELPIP.
- On the other hand, IELTS writing expect test-takers to write a formal/well-structured of writing. It may be challenging for those who do not often write in English. I personally found out that it is challenging and took extra efforts to digest and write the information.
- CELPIP includes spell-checker. This is very helpful for me especially when I was unsure about the correct spelling. This feature obviously makes CELPIP sound easier.
- IELTS does not have spell-checker. It is purely a writing test. For me, it is too challenging and since my main goal is to get higher score, that is why I choose writing to be on CELPIP’s side compared to IELTS.
For the writing section, I personally prefer go with IELTS rather than CELPIP test. Why is it?
- IELTS Speaking test is held in-person with an examiner. This makes me feel more flexible by talking or perform a discussion with someone like in a real-life situation.
- On the other hand, CELPIP speaking test is done on-computer. I personally feel like I am talking to a robot and this makes me quite nervous and anxious in some parts as we are unable to judge whether such kind of answer is what the examiner wants to hear. Although it may be good for those who are not confident to talk with other people, but it is still only a one way communication which is not reliable.
- IELTS speaking test is held in a private room where there are only you and the examiner. This allows me to be more focused and not distracted by others.
- CELPIP speaking test is held in a room with several other candidates who are taking speaking or typing at the same time. Thus, it distracted my attention and I can’t get more focused to give my best response.
- For IELTS we do not need to worry about the timer clock as the examiner will count the timer for us. However, for CELPIP, we must count the timer by ourselves. This may be distracting and we can not focus on what we should say. Hence, this is why I choose IELTS test in terms of its speaking section.
In overall conclusion, I would say that my choice comes to CELPIP. Although not all section falls under my preference criteria. However, the method of doing the test is very important and crucial for me. CELPIP has more convenient method that does not only improve my confidence, but also my final overall score. Gaining advantages in 3 out of 4 sections of the test may significantly affect my final score. Also, another good thing is that the content difficulty for both tests are also similar.
Both of the tests are equally appropriate to be used for immigration applications, and choosing one over the other can be a matter of personal preference.
- IELTS is a good choice for test-takers who prefer paper-based exams and separate face-to-face speaking components, or those applying from outside of Canada. However, based on the analysis above,
- CELPIP is a better choice for those who prefer a computer-based exam and are looking for a faster and less stressful test experience.
Whichever test you choose, consider your options for communication skills training and be sure to start your exam preparation well in advance.
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