Skip to content


With another English language test now being accepted by the IRCC, we’re seeing an increase in people asking which language test is best: IELTS General, CELPIP general, or PTE Core. The TL:DR answer is: all the tests are equally acceptable to the IRCC. But there are good reasons you might choose one test over the others.

English Language Tests for Canadian Immigration: An Overview

While each language test must be taken in person at a testing centre, there are some key basic differences between each of the tests: 

Time2 hours 40 minutes3 hours2 hours
Locations4000 test locations in 140 countries140 locations in Canada and globally400 test locations in 117 countries
Cost (average in Canada)$330-$380$280 + tax$340
Test FormatIn-person at testing facility
Online or paper format, speaking component is face-to-face
In-person at testing facility (test entirely online)In-person at testing facility (test entirely online)
Practice TestsYesYesYes
Results3-5 days (or up to 13 days for paper tests)3-4 business days2 days
Test Transfers AllowedYes, limited by the cancellation policy and transfer policyYes, 7 days in advance (with a fee)Yes, 14 days in advance (up to six changes)

As you can see here, there are differences in the amount of time the test takes, the cost, and the location availability for each test. These are important differentiators. 

Location & Availability of English Tests

The first thing you should check is which tests, if any, are available close to you. 

If you live in Canada, you’ll typically find at least one testing centre in your nearest moderate-sized city. 

Outside of Canada, the testing locations are often in capital cities. There are relatively few testing centres in regional areas outside of Canada. 

IELTS has the most testing centres globally, so you may need to take the IELTS test based purely on it being the only available test in your region. 

If you live somewhere with multiple tests available to you, then you might make the decision based on the key features of the English language tests.

You can check the locations for CELPIP, IELTS, and PTE Core.

Key Features of Canada's English Language Tests

The Lowest Cost English Test: CELPIP

The Shortest Test: PTE Core

Flexibility to Reschedule: PTE Core

Accepted in the Most Countries: IELTS

Most Locations Globally: IELTS

Which is the Easiest English Test for Canadian Immigration?

You might also choose the test based on which one will be the easiest for you. This will be unique from person-to-person.

We’ve outlined how the tests differ in terms of the amount of questions and time they dedicate to each of the English skills in the Canadian immigration language tests. 

Speaking Test for Canadian Immigration

# of Questions 3 part discussion 8 tasks, plus one practice task  5 types of questions
Time 11-14 minutes 15-20 minutes 50 minutes, but this also includes writing.

IELTS Speaking Test 

The IELTS speaking test is a face-to-face test with a qualified examiner. Part 1 is an introduction and interview, where you answer questions about familiar topics. 

You will then have one minute to prepare to speak for two minutes on a topic given to you by your interviewer. This is called the ‘long turn’. Finally, you discuss the topic in greater depth with your interviewer.

Example topics include: talk about a hobby you enjoy, or tell me about a place you visited. 

The IELTS is the only test with a face-to-face interview. Some test takers see this as a real advantage. The IELTS website says that human examiners can “understand different accents and tell the difference between a pause for thought and pause of confusion”. It also points out that human examiners can help speakers by prompting the test takers, which the machine tests don’t do. 

The IELTS speaking test is also held in a quiet, private room. So, it can be easier for some students to concentrate for the speaking section of the test and the rest of the test, since you won’t have people speaking around you. 

CELPIP Speaking Test

The CELPIP speaking test requires you to speak into your headset in response to questions and situations. In the CELPIP Speaking Test, you’ll be asked to: 

  1. Give advice. 
  2. Talk about a personal experience. 
  3. Describe a scene. 
  4. Make predictions. 
  5. Compare and persuade. 
  6. Deal with a difficult situation. 
  7. Express opinions. 
  8. Describe an unusual situation

PTE Core Speaking Test

The PTE Core speaking test involves five different types of questions: 

  1. Read a sentence aloud, up to 60 words. 
  2. Repeat a sentence back, 3-9 seconds. 
  3. Describe an image, up to 40 seconds.  
  4. Respond to a situation, up to 40 seconds. 
  5. Answer a short question, up to 10 seconds. 

The PTE Core test materials don’t outline exactly how much time is dedicated to the speaking section of the test. However, the speaking and writing section will take 50 minutes to complete. This is the longest portion of the test. 

Which Speaking Test is the Easiest? 

Some test takers say that the IELTS speaking test is the easiest because you get to talk to a person, not into a computer. 

No matter which English test you take for Canadian immigration, it’s important to do the following during the speaking portion of the test: 

  • Take time to think about and plan what you are going to say. 
  • Speak confidently and at a natural speed and volume. 
  • Remember to use language that’s appropriate for the situation. 

Writing Test

There are several similarities between the IELTS, CELPIP and writing tests, such as that each test type may ask you to write an email. However, the format of each test is quite different and some test takers may prefer one over the other. 

# of Questions 2 questions 2 tasks 2 types of questions
Time 60 minutes 53-60 50 minutes, however, this also includes speaking.

IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS writing test has two questions. The first requires you to write at least 150 words in 20 minutes, and the second asks you to write at least 250 words in 40 minutes. 

Question 1 asks you to write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. You can use a personal, semi-formal, or formal writing style for this task. 

Question two is an essay response to a point view, argument, or problem. It is worth double the marks of task 1. 

CELPIP Writing Test

In the CELPIP writing test, you will need to write an email and respond to survey questions. This portion of the test will take approximately 53-60 minutes. 

Generally, the email task will require you to write around 150-200 words. This should take you around 27 minutes to complete. 

The CELPIP survey questions will provide you with one statement and two options. You will choose one option and write an argument justifying your position. Your answer should be between 150-200 words long and should take no more than 26 minutes to complete.

You are scored on your final word count, with scorers looking at how well you followed the instructions and whether you used the appropriate tone in the email. You will also be scored on writing standards like the number, quality, and organisation of your ideas, word choice and accuracy, and formatting and grammar, amongst other things.  

PTE Core Writing Test

There are two question types that test your writing skills in the PTE Core Speaking and Writing Test section:

  • Summarize written text, 25-50 word summary, taking up to 10 minutes. 
  • Write an email between 50-120 words, in up to 9 minutes. 

However, PTE Core is an integrated skills test, so there are other questions throughout the test that will ask you to provide written answers and for which you will be graded on your writing skills. See more about this below. 

Which English Writing Test is the Easiest? 

The PTE Core writing test requires students to submit the shortest answers, so this may be easier for some students. However, it’s worth remembering that students still need to demonstrate the relevant skills in a short answer, so the CELPIP or IELTS tests (with their longer word limits) give you more space to show off your vocabulary, grammar, and quality of ideas. 

Listening Test

Here’s how long each listening test will take you:

# of Questions 40 questions 6 parts, plus one practice task  7 types of question
Time 30-40 minutes 47-55 minutes 30 minutes


IELTS Listening Test

In the IELTS listening test, you will hear four recordings of native English speakers. You will then need to answer questions about what you heard. 

The question format varies and may include multiple choice answers, matching, labeling, flow charts, summaries or sentence completion, or plan/map/diagram-style answers. 

The recordings will include an everyday conversation between two people, one person discussing an everyday topic, a conversation between up to four people in an educational or training environment, and one person discussing an academic topic. 

CELPIP’s Listening Test

CELPIP’s Listening Test starts with one practice task, you then move into the following: 

  • Part 1: 8 questions requiring you to listen to problem solving. 
  • Part 2: 5 questions relating to listening to conversations in daily life. 
  • Part 3: 6 questions where you listen for information. 
  • Part 4: 5 questions about news items you listen to. 
  • Part 5: 8 questions about a discussion you hear. 
  • Part 6: 6 questions requiring you to listen to viewpoints. 

PTE Core Listening Test

PTE Core’s listening test includes the following types of questions: 

  • Listen to a recording then write a 20-30 word summary. 
  • Answer multiple choice, multiple answer questions based on a 50-90 second prompt. 
  • Fill in the blanks based on what you hear in a recording. Each prompt is about 30-60 seconds long. 
  • Multiple choice questions with a single answer, based on a 30-60 second recording. 
  • Select the missing word from a list of options, based on a 20-70 second recording. 
  • Click the words that are different to what you hear based on what you hear in a 15-50 second recording.
  • Listen to a 3-5 second long sentence, then type it. 

Remember, PTE Core is an integrated skills test, so you will be graded on your writing skills even during the listening portion of the test. 

Which Listening Test is the Easiest for Canadian Immigration?

You guessed it – this will vary depending on your preferences. The IELTS exam format asks you to listen to just four recordings, which is fewer than the CELPIP and PTE Core tests. This might be good if you have very strong English listening skills. 

However, if you struggle with listening skills, it might be easier to take the PTE Core or CELPIP tests since they involve more recordings that are shorter in length – and might be easier to understand or remember. This gives you more opportunities to understand the recordings, which could help you get a higher score. 

Reading Test

The English reading test formats look like this: 

# of Questions 40 questions 38 questions 5 types of questions
Time 60 minutes 55-60 minutes 30 minutes

IELTS Reading Test

The IELTS reading test includes reading extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and other materials you might encounter on a daily basis. 

Based on these materials, you’ll be asked to fill in the blanks, match headings, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, and answer multiple choice questions.

CELPIP Reading Test

You will answer the following types of questions in a CELPIP Reading Test: 

  • 1 practice question. 
  • Part 1: 11 questions about a correspondence that you read. 
  • Part 2: 8 questions about reading to apply a diagram. 
  • Part 3: 9 questions from a reading for information task. 
  • Part 4: 10 questions about a viewpoint. 

PTE Core Reading Test

In the PTE Core reading test you will need to: 

  • Fill in the blanks; Reading and writing. 
  • Answer multiple choice, multiple answer questions. 
  • Reorder paragraphs. 
  • Fill in the blanks; Reading only. 
  • Multiple choice, single answer questions. 

There are two different fill in the blanks-style questions in the PTE Core exam. One tests your writing skills as well as your reading skills, while the other only tests your reading skills. The reading and writing skills test questions will often be grammar-based. 

So, Which Test Is The Easiest English Test for Canadian Immigration?

The reality is that the Canadian government wants the English language tests to be of similar quality. It’s not easy to create a language test that IRCC will accept for Canadian immigration purposes. And, as a result, none of the tests is significantly easier than the others. 

Instead, you should focus on taking a test that suits your preferences best. 

If you’re confident in your ability to demonstrate multiple skills at once, but you have a hard time concentrating for a long period of time, the PTE Core might be your best bet. 

If you have a hard time concentrating when other people are talking around you, then IELTS may play to your strengths more than CELPIP or PTE Core. 

Finally, if you want a test designed by IRCC and that focuses solely on Canadian English, then CELPIP is possibly the best test for you. 

You can learn more about the English language tests for Canadian immigration on our Language Hub

To stay on top of news about language tests, create an account and sign up for our newsletter

And if you’re ready to start your immigration journey, sign up for a free Moving2Canada account

Citation "IELTS, CELPIP, or PTE Core: Which is The Easiest English Test for Canadian Immigration?." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation