To begin with, let us first make it clear that CELPIP stands for the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program. This is basically the Canadian Government’s tool for assessment of the language competence in English of all potential immigrants to Canada, as well as of the foreign nationals applying for Canadian citizenship.


1. Two main versions of the CELPIP Exam

There are two main versions of this test. If you have already settled in Canada, and you need to apply for a permanent residence permit, you’ve got to sit the CELPIP General Test as proof of your level of knowledge of the English language. It tests the candidate’s skills in four different sections – Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing.

The other version is called CELPIP-General LS and it is mandatory for all refugees and immigrants who want to settle in Canada. This version of the test is rather basic, and it is aimed at only assessing their speaking and listening skills, which are essential for their initial integration into Canada’s English-speaking communities. Interestingly, if you are applying for Canadian citizenship, you will have to sit the easier version – CELPIP-General LS.

Check Also: Canada Programs for International Students

2. CELPIP General Test Format

In the sections that follow, we are going to have a closer look at each of the sections of the CELPIP General Test – Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing, with an emphasis on the specific tasks the candidate has to complete in each section and the skills that are required for their successful completion.


a. Listening

This is perhaps the most stressful part of all English language competency assessment tests, and it is not a mere coincidence that it always comes first – they want you to complete it while your brain is still fresh and your level of concentration is at its peak.

This section of the CELPIP General Test takes about 50 minutes to complete and it is divided into sub-sections as follows:

  • Listen to Solve a Particular Problem
  • Listening to an Everyday Conversation
  • Listening for Specific Information
  • Listening to a Piece of News
  • Listening to a Discussion
  • Listening to Different Opinions
  • Unscored Items

Each section contains a different number of questions and assesses the candidate’s listening comprehension skills in different real-life situations. Once you answer a specific question, your answer is recorded and you are not allowed to go back to it later and edit it.


b. Reading

The next section of the CELPIP General Test is designed to evaluate the candidate’s skills in coping with various kinds of texts in English and extracting the exact information necessary to correctly answer a number of specific questions.

In the first sub-section of the second part of the CELPIP General Test, the candidate has to read some correspondence between two or more people and extract the necessary information so as to correctly answer the eleven questions that follow.

In the next sub-section, the candidate is presented with a pie chart or a diagram, which they have to interpret and answer the eight questions after the text.

In the next three subsections of the Reading part, the candidate has to read for specific information, read through different viewpoints, and read through unscored items, and the questions that follow are 30 in number. The reading section takes about one hour to complete.

Attention: As you can see above, both the Listening and the Reading sections of The CELPIP General Test contain so-called “unscored items”. These are questions for which you essentially will not receive points, no matter if you answer them correctly or mess them up. The thing is, you will not know which questions are scored, and which are not.


c. Speaking

The Speaking section of The CELPIP General Test is designed to test the candidate’s speaking abilities in a number of different real-life situations.

In the first subsection of this part of the test, they will have to give advice in a specific situation. Then, they will have to talk about a personal experience they had in the past, giving as many details as they can.

The third subsection requires the candidate to describe a picture or scene that they will be presented with, providing as many details as possible. Then, they will be asked to make certain predictions, whether based on present evidence or not.

The fifth subsection is aimed at assessing the candidate’s abilities to compare and persuade in English, while the next one assesses their abilities to talk their way through a difficult situation.

Next, the candidate will be asked to express their personal opinion on a variety of issues, and then they will be asked to describe in detail an unusual situation that they found themselves in. The Speaking section is completed in twenty minutes.


d. Writing

Do not be fooled to think that this section of the CELPIP General Test is easy, because it only has two tasks: to write an email, and answer a number of survey questions. Rather, it tests the candidate’s knowledge of the English syntax and grammar, and so it requires thorough and comprehensive preparation to pass. The section takes one hour to complete.


3. CELPIP – General LS Test Format

This version of the test assesses only the listening comprehension and the speaking skills of the candidate and it, therefore, has only two parts. They take the same time to complete as the ones in the CELPIP General Test, and here, too there are unscored items. Yet, the questions here are somewhat more manageable.


4. How much does it cost to sit the CELPIP General Test and the CELPIP – General LS Test?

It costs $280 plus taxes to take the CELPIP General Test, and $195 plus taxes to take the lighter version – the CELPIP – General LS Test. It is important to note here that the lighter and the cheaper version of CELPIP can be taken in Canada only. The testing locations are listed on Celpip Canada’s official website.

On the other hand, the more comprehensive CELPIP General Test can be taken in Canada, as well as in India, UAE, the Philippines, and the USA.


I hope that this article on the CELPIP Test format was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Canada Programs for International Students!