Detour to Canada

Steps on Taking a Language Test for Express Entry


Are you applying through Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)? If so, then taking a language test is one of the first steps you need to take. The other one is getting an ECA or Education Credential Assessment

In this post, I’m going to focus on explaining the process of taking an approved language test. I’ve also answered some common questions from aspiring immigrants about this step.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to substitute professional advice. Information were gathered from both the author’s actual immigration experience and  from official websites. To verify the most-up-to-date information, check the list of sources at the end of this post.

Steps in Taking a Language Test for Express Entry

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To immigrate through Express Entry, you should be proficient in English or French. As you may have heard, these two are Canada’s official languages. 

Whichever the case, you can take a language test for any of these two, or for both. The advantage of taking both language tests is that you get extra points. Plus, if you’re good at French, you get 50 extra points in your CRS score. But it’s not necessary to know French to immigrate to Canada.

I assume that you know English more than French, so we’ll focus on that. 

To qualify for Express Entry’s FSWP, you must get a score of at least CLB 7 in your language test in all four abilities. Here’s a quick explanation of this.

The approved language test for English is either IELTS or CELPIP. Both tests have four sections or abilities: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. After taking the test, you will get a score for each.

In IELTS, CLB 7 is equal to a band score of 6. In CELPIP, the test scores are set against the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels. So CLB 7 is also equal to a CELPIP score of 7 and so on.

IELTS equivalency to CLB
(IELTS) – General Training – Test score equivalency chart / screenshot from

IELTS vs. CELPIP: Which one should I take?

As I said, the approved language test for English is either IELTS or CELPIP. IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. CELPIP stands for the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program. 

Since IRCC accepts both tests, you can take either of these two. But take note that CELPIP is not available in many countries compared to IELTS. So far, CELPIP has test centers in Singapore, UAE, India, Philippines, China, USA, and Canada. 

My husband and I took IELTS since at that time we weren’t familiar with CELPIP yet. So here in this blog, I’m going to focus on IELTS. Also, CELPIP has only one test center in UAE and it’s located in Dubai Silicon Oasis. So, for those who don’t live here, the obvious choice is taking IELTS. Especially since it has test centers across all seven emirates. In the Philippines, CELPIP has only one test center as well which is in Manila. So again, for those living outside this city, IELTS is the better choice. 

But if you have an option to choose, here’s an article that might help you decide.


How do I book my language test?

If you plan to take CELPIP, you can book your test online here. The test fee in UAE is CAD 340 + tax (computer-based only), which is around AED 995+ (plus tax). In the Philippines, it’s CAD 215 + taxes, or PHP 8,600+ (plus tax).

Make sure to take the CELPIP General Test and NOT the CELPIP General LS Test. It’s because the latter only gives the Listening and Speaking test, which is for citizenship applications.

If you plan to take IELTS, you can go here to book your test online. Make sure to choose the IELTS General Training. The test fee in UAE is AED 1,130 for paper-based and AED 1,260 for computer-delivered. In the Philippines, it’s PHP 11,650 for either paper or computer-delivered tests.


Should I take a paper-based or computer-delivered IELTS test? 

The only differences between the two are:

  1. Computer-delivered tests in some countries cost a bit more. In the UAE, you pay an extra AED 130. In the Philippines, the price is the same for both. 
  2. The Writing part in the computer-delivered test has a word counter. In a paper-based test, you need to count if you’ve reached the word limit.
  3. You get 30 minutes to sit down for the Listening test. In a paper-based test, you get the same but with extra 10 minutes to transfer your answer on the Answer Sheet. 
  4. If you take a computer-delivered test, you’ll get your results in 3 to 5 days. In a paper-based test, you need to wait for 13 days.

But aside from that, the questions are the same for both and you still need to go to the test center for your exam. Plus, your Speaking test would still be face-to-face regardless.

If you’re comfortable using a pen and paper, especially in the Writing part, then go for the paper-based. 

But if you’re willing to pay for an extra AED 130 so you can get the results faster, go for computer-based. 


Which one is better, IDP or British Council?

IDP and British Council are two different organizations that run the IELTS test. But it doesn’t matter where you take your exam. 

IDP and British Council (alongside Cambridge Assessment English) are actually co-owners of IELTS. The test fee, exam questions, topics, and scoring system would still be the same regardless. The only tie-breaker you might consider would be which test center is closer to your home.


Summary and next steps

So to recap, the first two steps that you need to do if you’re applying through Express Entry are:

  1. Get an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) from any of IRCC’s designated organizations; and
  2. Take an approved language test (IELTS General Training or CELPIP-General Test for English). 

You can download below a summary checklist of Express Entry’s FSWP step-by-step process.

To qualify for Express Entry’s FSWP under the language skills criteria, your language test result must be CLB 7 or higher in each ability. CLB 7 is equal to a Band Score of 6 in IELTS, and Level 7 in CELPIP.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you will not be eligible to apply through Express Entry. You may need to do the following:

  • Re-take your language test
  • Request a re-evaluation (for speaking and writing), or 
  • Upgrade your education. 

But if you do, then you just need to make sure you also meet the minimum requirements for the education criteria. Read here for a detailed guide on how to get an ECA

If you already have both your ECA report and language test results, then you’re almost ready to take the next step: creating your Express Entry profile. Go here for the step-by-step guide on how to do this.

If you have any questions about getting an ECA or taking a language test, leave them in the comments section. 

Express Entry Step 2

To verify the most up-to-date information, check the below official sources:

For currency conversions of CAD to AED and PHP, I used

This post has been checked by Grammarly
Kevin and Kris

About the author:

JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story. 

Do you have some questions about immigrating to Canada? Join our Facebook group, “Explore Your Ways to Canada” to ask your questions and meet other immigrants.

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