Explore Courses

What is CAEL? A Guide for Aspirants

Updated on 08 November, 2023

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

CAEL stands for the Canadian Academic English Language Test. It is taken to measure the English language proficiency levels of students who are planning to pursue their higher education at post-secondary institutions in Canada. The test covers 3.5 hours and is one of the best options for aspirants to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language to obtain admission into their dream institutions. 

Why Take CAEL Test

Now that we know what CAEL is, let’s get into why take the CAEL test. It is a no-brainer since it is accepted by almost all leading post-secondary institutions in Canada as proof of English language proficiency for admissions. Those looking to study in Canada should take the CAEL test, especially since it has aspirants reading articles, listening to lectures, answering questions, and writing short essays. These are designed to be similar to their regular academic activities in a first-year Canadian college or university. CAEL is also officially accepted by various professional organizations and employers in Canada. 

CAEL Test Acceptance by Canadian Institutions 

Which institutes accept CAEL results?

Here is a region-wise list of some names (there are many more that accept these scores for admissions). 

ProvinceInstitutions accepting CAEL
British Columbia
New Brunswick
Northwest Territories
  • Aurora College
Nova Scotia

CAEL Syllabus and CAEL Test Format

Here is a closer look at the CAEL syllabus and test format for your benefit: 

Component/SectionWhat it is aboutTime Allotted
Speaking3 Tasks- Two speaking tasks, each based on a short question and one speaking task based on a chart or diagram7-10 minutes
Integrated Reading

14-25 questions for the following- 

  • 1/2 short reading passages with comprehension questions 
  • 1/2 long reading passages with comprehension questions 

1 speaking question, answered using material from a long reading passage 

35-50 minutes 
Integrated Listening

14-25 questions on the following: 

  • 1/2 short listening passages with comprehension questions 
  • 1/2 long listening passages with comprehension questions 

1 speaking question answered with material from a long listening passage 

25-35 minutes 
Academic Unit A
  • 11-15 questions for one long reading passage with comprehension questions 
  • 11-15 questions for one long listening passage on the same topic, with comprehension questions
  • 1 writing question which needs an extended response, using material from the long reading passage and the long listening passage
60-70 minutes
Academic Unit B
  • 11-15 questions for one long reading passage with comprehension questions
  • 11-15 questions for one long listening passage on the same topic, with comprehension questions 
  • 1 writing question that needs a short response, using materials from the long listening passage or the long reading passage
40-45 minutes 

CAEL Test Online – Registration

The CAEL test is available online and also from test centre partners. You can easily book your date at your nearest test centre or take the test online if you wish. You can click on register now on the official website to sign up and provide your identity proof to create your account. Registration closes for a sitting one business day prior to the test or once the maximum capacity is reached. Indian aspirants can submit their passport booklet as proof of identification or refugee travel documents if applicable. 

How Much Does CAEL Test Cost

The cost of the CAEL test is $280 plus taxes. Indian aspirants have to pay around INR 12,500 for the test.

CAEL Test Sections and Format Highlight

What is the test format for CAEL

Here is a brief look at the same: 

  • Mode of Delivery- Computer-Delivered at Home (Online) or at more than 40 Test Centres. 
  • Total Time- 3.5 hours 
  • Test Components- Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Listening. 
  • Test Sections- Speaking, Integrated Reading, Integrated Listening, Academic Unit A, and Academic Unit B. 
  • Unscored Items- Each test has some unscored items that will have similar formats as scored items. Test-takers will be unable to identify the differences between the same. 

CAEL Scoring System

The CAEL scores are available online eight business days after the date of testing, with email notifications sent to aspirants once they are officially available. The score report may be downloaded as a PDF for submission to professional organizations or academic institutions. The chosen institution should be selected in the CAEL Account for verifying scores. 

Here are some key points for the scoring system- 

  • Individual English proficiency scores are given for the four components of the test along with an overall score. 
  • The scores are reported on a 10-90 scale with descriptors. 
  • The overall score is the equally-weighted average of the four component scores and is rounded to the nearest ten-point interval. 

Here is a closer look at the score bands and what they mean: 

CAEL ScoreDescriptor
80-90Expert (high accuracy, competence, and effectiveness in both professional and academic settings)
70Adept (Generally accurate with a few limitations in terms of flexibility)
60Advanced (Competent in professional or academic environments)
50High Intermediate (Some competency in professional or academic environments although there are some communication breakdowns)
40Intermediate (Some abilities in comprehending and articulating complex arguments and ideas)
30High Beginner (Can express basic ideas in routine environments covering topics which are familiar)
10-20Low Beginner (Limited abilities in communication)

How to Prepare for CAEL Test

Here are some preparation strategies for the CAEL test: 

1.Use the resources on the official site

There are 8+ hours of free courses online along with free sample tests, the free CAEL Pretest, and several other tools. Downloading the official CAEL Path to Success checklist and map is a pre-requisite while starting the preparatory journey. 

2.Take the free CAEL Online sample tests

These online sample tests are free of cost and will help you get familiar with the test timing and format, along with getting an idea of the question types. You can also view the correct answers for the Reading and Listening components of the test. 

3.Watch videos on study tips

Each video comes with strategies and tips for helping you create a suitable study routine that can be followed on a daily basis. These tips have been made by CAEL Experts and come with detailed information on available study resources. 

4.Attend free CAEL webinars

The official website has several webinars to help you get a comprehensive understanding of every exam component with inputs from experts. 

4.Buy helpful study materials

You can also purchase several study materials, including practice tests and online learning modules. There are several free resources like guidebooks and blog posts as well. You can consider getting the CAEL Accelerate, CAEL Skills Workbook-Online, and CAEL Practice Test Plus materials along with the CAEL Practice Test (Online) Bundle. 

Comparison between CAEL & IELTS

Here is a brief comparison between CAEL and IELTS for your perusal. 

Duration 171-174 minutes (less than 3 hours)3.30 hours on average 
Speaking Section 11-14 minutes with 3 parts7-10 minutes with 3 tasks 
Reading Section 60 minutes with 40 questions14-25 questions + 1 speaking question with a total time of 35-50 minutes 
Listening Section 40 questions with 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes for transfer)25-35 minutes with 14-25 questions + 1 speaking question 
Writing Section 60 minutes Divided into Academic Unit A and Academic Unit B with durations of 60-70 minutes and 40-45 minutes respectively

If you wish to study abroad in Canada, following the above-mentioned information and tips is a must. Take time to prepare and stay focused in order to succeed in the test. 


Is IELTS easier than CAEL?

Both tests have varying levels of difficulty. CAEL usually uses predictable and easy topics, while preparing for the same may be easier for some aspirants. IELTS may use more advanced vocabulary and a wider range of unpredictable topics which may make it slightly tougher. 

What is the full form of CAEL?

The full form of CAEL is the Canadian Academic English Language test. It helps determine students’ English language proficiency levels for studying at colleges and universities in Canada. 

How much does the CAEL cost?

The cost of the examination is approximately $280 + taxes. Indian aspirants have to pay around INR 12,500 to take the test. 

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

See More

Refer Your Friend & Earn upto ₹15000

Help your friend upgrade to a Global Career and earn rewards together.