a girl reading a dictionary

Tips to Pass the CELPIP Exam

If you find IELTS difficult, then the next best alternative would be the CELPIP. Here are some tips for you if you choose CELPIP.

What is CELPIP?

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is an exam that measures a person’s English ability and a Canadian alternative for IELTS. The two kinds of CELPIP tests are General and LS. If you are looking to migrate or work in Canada, take the General test. The test is also taken within three hours on a computer, rather than split over a few days on paper. 

Reading

The reading portion is all about comprehension. The best piece of advice for the reading portion is to look at the questions first. If you do this, you’ll know what information to look for as you read the passage. Usually, a keyword is present in every question. Pick out that keyword and finding the answer will be a simpler task. This also gives you an advantage if you’re a slow reader. Likewise, it also allows you to skim over the text and pick out the necessary pieces of information rather than reading it word for word.

As you’re preparing by reading English books more often, you can also take note of vocabulary that you think will be useful in your writing and speaking portions. 

someone's hands typing on a laptop

Writing

There are two tasks that you have to accomplish in the writing section of CELPIP. One is the email writing task and the other is the essay task. The purpose of this section is to assess whether one can communicate effectively in writing. Watch out for the grammar and punctuation!

The email task will likely test your ability to change formality. The way you address and write your email will change depending on who the recipient is. If you’re writing to a friend, you’re likely going to be more casual and friendly. If you’re writing to a boss or a landlord, you will use a more formal tone. This can be expressed by the vocabulary you choose. Either way, it’s important that you keep your own voice. The people marking it are looking for something human and sincere, not something a robot produced.

Most of the time, essays have a designated structure with an introduction, conclusion, and supporting paragraphs, but the CELPIP will require less words than that. Therefore, your main task will be to answer the question. Be as explicit as possible. Use the words that are in the question and turn them into a statement. Defend your opinion well by giving a real-life example. You will have a maximum of 200 words, so stick to the point. 

For both tasks, don’t be afraid to use your own experiences. Show, don’t tell. This means instead of simply telling your reader a simple fact about what you’re experiencing, give them comparisons and emotions.

For example, the boy was sad. → The boy’s lips quivered and he quickly turned his back to hide his watering eyes.

As for random grammar tips, avoid separating full sentences with commas or run-on sentences. Additionally, try to keep to Canadian spelling anyways even if points won’t be deducted for American spelling.

Speaking

You can approach the speaking portion the same way you approach the writing portion. Once again, answer the question. You will have multiple topics with about 60 seconds to talk about each topic. With each one, make sure you explicitly address the question at hand before continuing with the details. 

For example if the prompt is “What do you think will happen next in the picture,” start your answer with “From the information in the picture, I think _____ will happen next.” 

Another thing to be mindful of as you’re taking the test is your choice of vocabulary. Ask your friends and family if there’s a word or phrase that you say far too often. However, if you find yourself forgetting a word during the exam, do not by any means use your native language. Even if it’s not the best English word to represent your ideas, an English word is better than a non-English one.

Just like the writing section, state why you think those things. Give reason for your opinions at every opportunity you get and feel free to use your own life experiences. 

Listening

This is where you have the opportunity to have a lot of fun in your practice and preparation. You can listen to English movies or shows. You can also do this passively and play audio in the background while you eat or do your chores. You can do this by listening to short podcasts that are less than 10 minutes long. While you’re preparing, learn to summarize and take notes quickly. You’ll only get to listen to the audio once in the test.

During the exam, all you can do is apply what you’ve practiced beforehand. Take notes as quickly as possible. Make note of the important events and listen as carefully as you can.

a notebook with pencil shavings piled on it

These tips aren’t exhaustive and everyone has a different learning style. It’s important to check out practice exams, take the time to simulate an actual exam, and incorporate English into your everyday life, from speaking to thinking. Improving your English not only leads to success in the exam, but will also give you a better experience in Canada. 

These tips are also extras on top of what the CELPIP website will tell you. Everything said above are more like suggestions to consider as you’re taking the test rather than before it. You can also apply these tips to other exams that you may have outside of CELPIP.

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