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English Proficiency: Mastering the CELPIP Test

Thursday | February 8, 2018 | by Chris Koelbleitner

Student studying in library

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is a multi-purpose English test that allows test takers to demonstrate their ability to function in English. The CELPIP has two versions: the CELPIP-General Test that measures four skills areas—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—and the CELPIP-General LS Test that measures only listening and speaking proficiency.

The CELPIP-General Test has been designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for use by individuals who are applying for permanent resident status in Canada. Other organizations, such as the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (REC BC) and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), also accept the test for membership to their organizations. All four skill components of the CELPIP-General Test are delivered by computer at three-hour test sittings that are held at CELPIP Test Centres located across Canada, and in select cities internationally.

The CELPIP-General LS Test has been approved by IRCC for use by individuals who are applying for Canadian citizenship. The Listening and Speaking components of this test are delivered by computer at one-hour test sittings that are held at CELPIP Test Centres across Canada.

Preparing for the CELPIP Test

For individuals preparing to take the CELPIP Test, Paragon Testing provides a variety of free and purchasable study materials. Free study materials for the CELPIP Test include:

  • Sample test: Available on the CELPIP website, the free sample test includes sample test questions and answers to help test takers understand what to expect on each component of the CELPIP Test.
  • Practice test: Available for free when test takers register for a CELPIP account, this is a complete practice test, covering each component of the CELPIP Test, including detailed answer keys for each section.
  • Webinars and workshops: Available online, a free CELPIP information session is hosted live each week, giving test takers an overview of the CELPIP Test components, as well as an informal question-and-answer session. In addition to information sessions, free workshops are held regularly to help test takers prepare for the Speaking component of the CELPIP Test. Recorded webinars and workshops are also available on the CELPIP YouTube page.

Purchasable study materials for the CELPIP Test include:

  • Study guides and practice tests: Available in the online store, online practice tests and study guides are available to help test takers prepare for the CELPIP Test. Each practice test includes a complete answer key as well as sample responses taken from actual CELPIP test takers. Study guides are available in ebook and print versions.
  • Online study programs: Online study programs, available in the online store, provide in-depth preparation for CELPIP test takers, and offer instructional videos, interactive quizzes, and extensive analyses of sample responses. Online study programs are suitable for test takers of all language abilities and are accessible on tablets and cellphones.
  • CELPIP Preparation Program: Offered in partnership with organizations across Canada and internationally, the CELPIP Preparation Program gives test takers personalized instruction from experienced instructors.

CELPIP Strategies for Success

Here are 10 tips to help you successfully prepare for the CELPIP Test:

  • Practice using a computer. The CELPIP Test is fully computer delivered, so ensure that you are comfortable with a mouse and keyboard. Practicing with CELPIP’s free online sample test and free online practice test are good ways to familiarize yourself with this format.
  • Remember that CELPIP is a test of general English proficiency. CELPIP assesses your ability to use English in everyday situations. It is not a test of business English or academic English. One of the best ways to prepare is just to get out and use English as much as possible in your daily life.
  • Use a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Try to show the range of your vocabulary in your writing and speaking. Avoid using the same words over and over again. You don’t need to memorize the dictionary—just use words that would be natural in daily life. Remember to use varied grammatical structures and construct sentences that differ in length and complexity.
  • Manage your time. The CELPIP Test is fully computer delivered, and you will see a timer on each screen, telling you how much time you have left for that section. Keeping an eye on these timers can help you gauge how to pace yourself throughout the test.
  • Check your work. If you have any time left over while completing the reading, listening, or writing components of the test, make sure to read over your answers and make sure that you have attempted to answer all questions as well as you can. In particular, try to spend a few minutes reviewing your writing, ensuring that you have no typos that could impact the clarity of your response.
  • Speak clearly and at a natural pace. Speak clearly into the microphone, which should be close to your lips but without touching them. It is natural to speak quickly when you are nervous—try to slow down and speak at a normal pace.
  • Do not worry about your accent. Our raters are trained to disregard accents. Unless your accent prevents you from being understood, do not focus on it. Instead, concentrate on using good grammar, accurate and varied vocabulary, and providing complete answers.
  • Take notes. While taking the CELPIP Test, you will be provided with notepaper and a pen. You may use these to take notes during any point in the test, though you may find it especially useful to outline some ideas for your speaking or writing responses. It is also a good idea to take notes about main ideas and specific details during the listening test.
  • Focus on what you know. You may come across some difficult words in a reading or listening passage. Do not get stuck worrying about words you do not understand. Focus on general meaning and the parts of the passage that you do understand. Sometimes it is possible to understand a new word based on your knowledge of the words that are around it.
  • Use a variety of reading strategies. You do not have to read every single word in a passage to successfully answer questions on the reading test; instead, use reading strategies, such as skimming and scanning. These may help you with some of the simpler questions, leaving more time to spend with the more difficult questions.

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Chris Koelbleitner

Chris Koelbleitner is a Manager of Instructional Products and Programs at Paragon Testing Enterprises.