What to choose: CELPIP vs Duolingo for English proficiency

by Payal Mukherjee
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celpip vs duolingo

When it comes to language tests, CELPIP and Duolingo have become popular options for anyone looking to test their language skills. Although both exams aim to assess language proficiency, there are several differences between them, such as test design, scoring standards, and institutional recognition. In this blog article, we will compare the CELPIP and Duolingo testing frameworks and see how well they measure up against Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) levels.

CELPIP Language Proficiency Test Exam:

The Canadian CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) is an accredited test of English proficiency for Canadian immigration, citizenship and professional designation. Four language skills are assessed: speaking, reading, writing and listening.

Exam format:

Listening: Examinees must listen to the audio recordings in this section and answer the questions by stating what they hear.

Reading: Examinees read texts and answer comprehension questions.

Writing: Examinees must compose responses to a variety of tasks in this area, including emails, survey questions and essays.

Speaking: Examinees perform a range of activities in the speaking section, including explaining pictures, answering questions and expressing opinions.

Number of questions and time for the CELPIP test

The total time of the test is approx. 3 hours.

Listening: Usually around 47 questions with a time limit of about 55 minutes.

Reading: About 53 questions with about 55 minutes.

Writing: Usually involves two tasks and takes about 53 minutes.

Speaking: Consists of eight tasks and takes approximately 20 minutes.

CLB Levels: The Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels, which start at CLB 1 and go up to CLB 12, correspond to CELPIP scores. CLB 12 is the highest level of knowledge.

Exam language test on Duolingo:

The popular language website Duolingo also offers a language competency test that assesses speaking, listening, writing and reading skills.

Exam format:

Reading and Listening: To demonstrate comprehension, test takers read and listen to passages before answering multiple-choice questions.

Writing: Exams at this stage answer written tasks that include translating sentences and writing short essays.

Speaking: The examinee must record his own speech in response to the stimuli during the oral part of the exam.

Number of questions and time for the Duolingo test

The test usually takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete.

It consists of sections assessing speaking, writing, listening and reading skills.

The number of questions may vary, but generally there are around 30 to 40 questions in all sections.

CLB Levels: There is no direct correlation between Duolingo and CLB levels. However, it creates a score on a scale of 10 to 160; higher scores correspond to higher expertise.

CELPIP and Duolingo compared:

Test Structure: Duolingo incorporates skills into its platform to make it more interactive, while CELPIP offers a more conventional test structure with distinct sections for each language skill.

Recognition: While Duolingo approval varies by organization or institution, CELPIP is generally approved by Canadian immigration officials and institutions.

CELPIP offers scores that correlate directly with CLB levels and provide clear benchmarks for proficiency. The scores that Duolingo offers on its own scale may not always correspond to CLB levels.


While each has its advantages and disadvantages, CELPIP and Duolingo are excellent resources for assessing language skills. Due to its close connection with CLB levels and acceptance by Canadian authorities, the CELPIP is particularly beneficial for individuals seeking immigration or citizenship in Canada. On the contrary, although its recognition may vary according to the situation, Duolingo offers language learners everywhere a practical and affordable option. The decision between CELPIP and Duolingo ultimately depends on personal preferences, ambitions and the specific requirements of the school or organization you are applying to.

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