Types of English Language Proficiency Tests

esl courses in canada

As discussed in the previous article, acquiring proficiency in English language is very important when deciding to come to Canada and settling here.

Following are the four cases in which it is essential to provide proof of your level of proficiency in either English or French:

  • Immigrate to Canada
  • Study as a post-secondary international student
  • Apply for a job
  • Apply for Canadian citizenship

However, the requirement for each might be different depending on the individuality of the case and therefore, you should always check what type of language proof is required especially for you.

There are few language tests that are widely recognized. Each language test determines if you meet the minimum requirements of having sufficient proficiency in the four language skills:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

It is also equally important that the English language test is taken from an organization approved by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and attach the results of your test with your application. Once the test is given, the organization will provide a certificate of language proficiency that can be used in a variety of situations.

Here are the types of widely recognized English language proficiency tests and certificates you can get:

1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL):

TOEFL is internationally most recognized and accepted test, when applying for universities and colleges, in order to assess Academic English language proficiency. There are 9,000 institutions and agencies in 130 countries who accept the TOEFL score, and till date there have been more than 30 million test takers and counting.

The TOEFL test measures the test takers’ ability to use and understand English language at the university level. Thus, it provides Universities and Colleges with accurate and detailed information of a candidate’s ability to integrate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in performing academic tasks.

Results of the test remain valid for 2 years from the date of the test. For information on test centers and available dates please visit www.ets.org/toefl

There are two types of TOEFL tests available for the convenience of the test takers:

A) TOEFL PBT Test: is a paper-based, multiple-choice test that uses academic content to evaluate the English-language proficiency of non-native English speakers. This provides a tool to the academic institutions to assure success of prospective students in real-world academic settings. The test takes approximately 130 minutes to complete and evaluates skills in three areas:

  • The Listening Comprehension section: It takes 35 minutes to complete and measures the ability to understand spoken English as it is used in colleges and universities.
  • The Structure and Written Expression: This section takes 40 minutes to complete and assesses the understanding of selected structural and grammatical points in standard written English.
  • The Reading Comprehension: This section takes 55 minutes to complete and measures the ability to read and understand academic reading material.

Note: The TOEFL PBT test, administered in paper-delivered format, is currently offered only at locations where testing via the Internet is not available.

B) TOEFL iBT Test: uses the same format as the TOEFL PBT test with three components – the Listening Comprehension section, the Structure and Written Expression, and the Reading Comprehension section. However, the TOEFL iBT test is most commonly used worldwide since it is administered via the Internet.

2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS):

IELTS has been developed by the world’s leading experts in language assessment on four key English language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Its purpose is to assess the language ability of the people who aim to study, work, immigrate and integrate into an English-speaking community, like Canada. IELTS is recognized by over 9,000 organizations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigrant authorities and professional bodies. There are more than 1,100 testing centers located in over 140 countries. For a list of test centers, please visit www.ielts.org.

IELTS is the preferred and generally accepted language test in Canada. Recognized by over 350 Canadian organizations, it was the first test to be trusted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as a valid proof of English language proficiency test. IELTS uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to an expert (band score 9).

There are two types of IELST which encompasses all purposes:

A) IELTS Academic Test – is for people applying for higher education or professional registration where English is a prerequisite. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether the candidate is ready to begin studying or training.

B) IELTS General Training Test – is for those applying for Express entry or any other immigration program in order to settle in Canada; or applying for secondary education, training programs and work experience in an English-speaking environment. This test, as opposed to the IELTS Academic Test, focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

3. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP):

CELPIP is an online English language proficiency test. It is the only Canadian English language test designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent resident status in Canada and Canadian citizenship.

The test aims to provide a valid and reliable measurement of the test taker’s English abilities to function in an English speaking environment. It assesses how well the candidate is able to function in a variety of everyday situations, such as, communicating with co-workers and superiors in the workplace, interacting with local friends, understanding newscasts, and interpreting and responding to written materials. In order to facilitate this measure, CELPIP test uses Canadian accents since the test takers who have been living and working in Canada better understand and relate to the Canadian accents used in the test.

The CELPIP test is fully computer delivered, providing the test takers the benefit of completing all of its components in one sitting, without any additional speaking component or interviews. The test takers use a computer mouse and keyboard to complete the Reading and Writing components of the test, and a computer microphone and headset to complete the Listening and Speaking portions of the test.

The results of the CELPIP Test are available online in just eight business days. Test takers can also choose the option of Express Rating, so that their scores will be available in only three business days.

The CELPIP Test comes in two versions:

A) CELPIP-General Test: assesses functional Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking skills, and is accepted by IRCC as proof of English Language proficiency for permanent residency in Canada.

B) CELPIP-General LS Test: assesses functional Listening and Speaking proficiency only, and is accepted by IRCC as proof of English language proficiency for Canadian citizenship.


(n.d.). Retrieved from IELTS Logo: https://www.ielts.org/

(n.d.). Retrieved from ETS: Canada – Educational Testing Services Canada Inc.: https://etscanada.ca/en/toefl-itp-test/

About the TOEFL iBT® Test. (n.d.). Retrieved from ETS: TOEFL: https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about

CELPIP. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.celpip.ca/

IELTS: CONESTOGA COLLEGE – OFFICIAL TEST CENTRE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ieltscanada.ca/

TOEFL® Test. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ets.org/toefl/institutions/about

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *