The CELPIP test, or the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program test, is an English language test. For Canadian immigration, it is an important test to take and pass. Like other English tests including the IELTS, the CELPIP test measures a candidate’s ability to listen, read, write, and speak in English.
There are two types of CELIPIP tests: General and LS. Unlike the General CELPIP test which assesses all four skills, the CELPIP LS exam only tests listening and speaking.
The previous articles talked about the CELPIP reading and listening tests. This part of a four-part series on CELPIP test strategy will focus on the writing test.
Introduction to the CELPIP Writing Test
As mentioned earlier, there is the CELPIP General test which tests all four skills. And, there is the CELPIP Listening and Speaking Only test. You should expect to take the writing test if you choose the CELPIP general test.
This part of the CELPIP test assesses your ability to communicate in writing. There are two tasks in this part of the test. And, you should write 150 to 200 words for each task.
More details on the format of the writing test will be in the next section.
CELPIP Writing Test Format
The CELPIP writing test is computer-delivered. And, this part of the test takes 53 minutes. As mentioned earlier, you will have two tasks. And, these are writing an email and responding to a survey.
In both tasks, your responses should contain 150 to 200 words. In both tasks, information about a certain situation will be on the left-hand side of the screen. On the right side of the screen, you will see instructions or choices. In this part of the screen, you should provide your responses. Each task has a time limit. After the time limit, the computer automatically changes to the next task.
For a visual example of the test’s layout, you could go here.
The two tasks have slightly different time limits and requirements. The two tasks are:
Task #1: Email Writing
In this task, you need to write an email to someone about a certain situation. And, you must also write this email by following a list of instructions (usually in bullets). This part of the CELPIP writing test takes 27 minutes. Your email should be 150 to 200 words long.
Task 1 looks a little bit like this:
For the information on the left side, it is usually a situation. For example:
“You are an international student and have borrowed a book from the local public library. You left the book on a bus and when you contacted the bus company, they could not find it.”
This part gives you an idea about what you need to write about. In this case, the main topic is that you lost a book.
On the upper right side of the test window, there will be instructions. In the photo above, some information is missing. But, a complete example might look like this:
“Write a letter to the librarian.
In your letter:
- Explain what may have happened
- Give details about the lost book”
This section tells you the purpose of your email and other necessary information you need to include.
Finally, you write your email on the blank space.
For this situation and set of instructions, here is an example of an email:
“To whom it may concern,
I am writing to apologize for the loss of a text that I have borrowed. My name is John Maynard Wittgenstein, and I am an economics student at Manchester University. I borrowed a textbook from your library 3 days ago. Unfortunately, I have misplaced it.
I believe that I may have lost the textbook during my commute yesterday. It was raining, and I was running late for my advanced metaphysics class with professor Russell. As I was boarding the bus, there was a sudden rush of passengers. Colliding into a number of them, I dropped my satchel containing my notes and books. When I arrived at the university, I could no longer find the book. Later that evening, I called the bus company to ask about a book on the bus. Unfortunately, they said that they could not find it
The title of the book is “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek, and it is a hard-bound book. This copy was published by the university and costs about $17.00.
I would like to express my humblest apologies, and I would more than willing to pay for the book.
John Maynard Wittgenstein” (200 words)
As you could see, the entire email does all the things in the instruction (apologize, explain what happened, and give details about the book). It is also written in the appropriate tone. And, it is 200 words. You will have to do all of these in 26 minutes or (ideally) less.
Once you are done with this task, you could move on to task 2.
Task 2: Responding to a survey
Task 2 is responding to a survey. Now, in daily life, a survey only involves choosing an answer. However, for the CELPIP writing test, you need to choose an option and justify it. In other words, you need to pick an option and write the reason (or reasons) for your choice.
Just like task 1, your response should be 150 to 200 words long. You have 26 minutes to complete this part of the writing test
Below is the task 2 screen:
Like task 1, the left side of the window contains the situation. To illustrate:
“You live in an area downtown where there are some schools. In some of these schools, using the internet is getting more popular. Is this a positive or negative development?
On the upper left side, you will see your choices. For this topic, let us imagine the choices as:
“ Option A: Positive Development
Option B: Negative Development ”
For instance, you chose A (using the internet in schools is a positive development). The response to this option might look like this:
“In many countries, the popularity of internet consumption at schools is going up. Some people think that it only aggravates the consciousness of students. I believe that the internet has a large beneficial influence on them. If a school’s library is outdated or lacking in a selection of titles, a student might find it difficult to compile the necessary research for an essay or research paper. As long as the school has a computer lab, students are able to use the Internet and digital encyclopedias to obtain the research they need.
When schools in different parts of the state, country, or world connect, students can ‘meet’ their counterparts through video conferencing without leaving the classroom. Some sites, such as Glovico, are used to help students learn foreign languages online by pairing a group of students with a teacher from another country.
To sum up, it is clearly seen that in present the internet is in the majority of spheres, actually, it is almost everywhere. In my opinion, most things depend on a learner. So, if he has a desire to study, the internet will be his advocate. ” (187 words)
This is an example of a response in essay format. You may also write your response as a letter. It would look like this:
“Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for including me in your survey. I believe that the internet has large beneficial influence on them. I have 2 reasons for my opinion.
If a school’s library is outdated or lacking in a selection of titles, a student might find it difficult to compile the necessary research for an essay or research paper. As long as the school has a computer lab, students are able to use the Internet and digital encyclopedias to obtain the research they need.
When schools in different parts of the state, country, or world connect, students can ‘meet’ their counterparts through video conferencing without leaving the classroom. Some sites, such as Glovico are used to help students learn foreign languages online by pairing a group of students with a teacher from another country.
To sum up, it is clearly seen that in present the internet is in the majority of spheres, actually, it is almost everywhere. In my opinion, most things depend on a learner. So, if he has a desire to study, the internet will be his advocate.
John Maynard Wittgenstein ” (188 words)
Your answer may be in essay format or in a letter format. It is really up to you. In both of the examples, you will see two things. First, there is a response. And, also, you will see the reasons for the choice. Take note that the number of words (in both examples) is within the ideal number (150 to 200 words).
Just a reminder. You have 26 minutes for this task.
CELPIP Writing Tips
By now, you will have had a clear idea of the CELPIP writing test format. You may also have an idea now of how to go about both tasks. So, you might be asking: “How do I improve for the CELPIP writing test?”
Here are some tips to get you on your way:
Practice using your computer
Keep in mind that the CELPIP writing test is a computer-based test. Most are already familiar with editing functions like copying, cutting, and pasting texts. But, if you are not, you may want to learn. Do not worry. These are easy.
These functions can also be used when you take the test. They can help you edit faster after you check your email and response.
By the way, on top of editing functions, there is a spell check feature on the writing test. So, the chances of you misspelling a word are pretty low. Good news, right?
Take a sample test
For each part of the CELPIP General test, the CELPIP main site has a free online sample test. You could take this test to help you become familiar with the test format. Doing so may even tell you your problems with writing (if you have any).
Improve your vocabulary
Vocabulary is a must for any English proficiency test. The CELPIP is no different. It is important to use the correct words. And for higher scores, it is equally important to use different words or forms of words.
For instance, compare these:
“My gym membership expired a month ago. I used my gym membership for about two years. My gym membership costs $25 dollars a month. “
“My gym membership expired a month ago. I used it for about two years. My privilege to use the facilities here costs $25 dollars a month.”
Which do you think is better? Actually, it is the second. In the first example, the word “gym membership” was repeated twice. In the second, the words were not repeated. Doing this will show the examiner that you know many words. And, this could increase your score.
Improve your grammar
Unlike the speaking part of the test, grammar mistakes will be more obvious in the writing test. This is because the examiner could review. So, to reduce your chances of making mistakes and to make sense to the reader, your verb tenses and sentence structures need to be correct.
For a higher score, you may want to practice using different sentence structures. Variety makes your writing look more natural. For example:
“My gym membership expired a month ago. I used it for about two years. My privilege to use the facilities here costs $25 dollars a month.”
It looks OK, right? It is. But, the sentence structures are actually the same. They are simple sentences. To improve your possible score, you need to use different sentence structures.
“My gym membership WHICH COSTS $25 DOLLARS A MONTH expired a month ago. Also, it was used for two years by me.”
This would actually look better on the test. The first sentence is a complex sentence. And, the next sentence is simple but in the passive voice.
Know the difference between formal and informal letters/emails
This is especially true for task 1. There is a difference between a formal and informal email.
Think about it. An email to your best friend is different from an email to your boss or professor. This is because you communicate with them differently.
Here are some common differences for you to remember:
|CONTRACTIONS (e.g. isn’t, you’re, can’t, won’t, wouldn’t)||NO||YES|
|PARTIAL SENTENCES (e.g. “seems pretty exciting”)||NO||YES|
So, for example, in an email to your supervisor, never use words like “cool” or contractions like “can’t”.
Write in the incorrect tone, and your score goes down.
Learn proper paragraphing
Try to practice separating paragraphs. Everybody has his or her own technique for doing this. If you do not, here are simple techniques for tasks 1 and 2.
- For task 1, 1 bullet point = 1 paragraph
- For task 2, use 1 paragraph for the introduction, 2 paragraphs for the body, and 1 for the conclusion.
One idea = One paragraph
This suggestion is pretty self-explanatory. Whether it is the CELPIP or IELTS writing test, a paragraph must only contain the main idea. Too many ideas in a paragraph could confuse your reader or examiner.
Often, students have difficulty doing this. You, on the other hand, could try something known as the PREP technique. PREP stands for:
POINT (your main idea)
REASON (why is your main idea true?)
EXAMPLE (an example)
POINT AGAIN (your main idea, but paraphrased)
Here is an example of PREP in application:
The internet benefits children who are physically unable to attend classes. Because there are many online sources for learning available, students who cannot go to school could still participate in lessons. Thus, not being in school is no longer a problem for these students because of internet access. For example, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students could not attend their classes. However, internet access has given many students the chance to learn online even if they are not in school. Thus, for children who cannot come to class, the internet is beneficial.
Notice that the first sentence has the main idea. The next two sentences say why the main idea is true. Then, there is an example. And, finally, the main idea is repeated, but in a different way.
Stay within 150 to 200 words (more or less)
Like any test, you need to follow instructions. The word count for both tasks is an instruction. On the lower right portion of the test window, you will see the number of words you have written. This will show you if you are over or under the ideal word count for the task.
You might be wondering. Do the words need to be at least exactly 150? Do the words need to be 200 at most?
Well, ideally yes. But, the CELPIP writing test examiners do honor the 10% rule. This means within 10% less of 150 (that is 135 words). And, this also means 10% above the limit (that would be 220 words).
Mind your time
Fortunately, the amount of time remaining is on the computer screen. Check on this when you are typing to see how much time you have left. You need to finish within the time limit. This is because, at the end of 27 minutes (task 1), you will automatically go to task 2. And, of course, after 26 minutes in task 2, the test stops.
Always check your work
Whether you are practicing or taking the test, do this. When writing, it is easy for most students to make mistakes. Give yourself 5 minutes (or less) to check your work for errors before clicking “next”.
There is a saying: “edit. Or regret it.”
You have just learned about the test format of the CELPIP writing test. You have also seen some examples that you could use. Also, you have learned some strategies to improve your writing for the test.
Before your test date, do numbers 1 to 4 in the tips mentioned in the earlier section. And, during the day of your test, apply the techniques you may have learned here (numbers 5 to 10).
Now, are you feeling confident yet? Hopefully, with the help of this article, you are.
So, best of luck to you in your CELPIP writing test!