By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Acing the English proficiency test required for PR and citizenship applications

If you’re applying to become a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, taking the CELPIP English test is an important step toward your goal. The CELPIP test is the only Canadian test designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to assess functional language proficiency in English.

If you’re applying for permanent residency, you’ll need to take the CELPIP-General Test, which assesses functional listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. For citizenship applications, you can take the CELPIP-General LS Test, which assesses functional listening and speaking proficiency.

There are many things that you can do to prepare yourself for these tests to improve your chances of success. Chris Koelbleitner, lead, instructional products and programs, at Paragon Testing Enterprises, offers these 10 strategies for before and during the test.

  • Practise using a computer

The CELPIP test is fully computer delivered, so ensure that you are comfortable with a mouse and keyboard. Practising 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’s not a test of business English or academic English. One of the best ways to prepare is to just 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 during the test

The CELPIP test is fully computer delivered, and you will see a timer on each screen, telling you how much time you’ve got 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, 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

During the speaking portion of the test, speak clearly into the microphone, which should be close to your lips but not touching them. It’s natural to speak quickly when you’re nervous — try to slow down and speak at a normal pace.

  • Don’t worry about your accent

The test 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 a 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’s 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. Don’t get stuck worrying about words you don’t 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 don’t 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.

Taking the CELPIP test

The CELPIP test is available at more than 50 locations across Canada and internationally. Find out more about test centres, study materials, fees and how to register at celpip.ca.

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