June 21, 2021

The Official CELPIP Podcast: Episode 2 – Busting CELPIP Myths

There are often misconceptions and myths surrounding the CELPIP Test. On today’s episode, hear directly from our experts who address common misconceptions about the CELPIP Test on topics like test scores, rater bias, and re-evaluations!
Show Notes 



CJ [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, and welcome to the second episode of the oOficial CELPIP Podcast. I’m CJ.


Chris [00:00:08] And I’m Chris.


CJ [00:00:08] Wow, our second episode. This is exciting. Things are happening. Chris, why don’t you tell our listeners what we’re doing today?


Chris [00:00:19] Well, we’re revisiting another popular episode from our CELPIP Live series on YouTube.


CJ [00:00:25] And just to fill in our listeners who may not know about CELPIP Live, this is a regular series in which we cover a range of topics important to test takers and newcomers to Canada, everything from test preparation advice and general language training tips to interviews with immigration consultants.


Chris [00:00:45] That’s right. Thanks, CJ. And I should explain that on upcoming podcast episodes, we’re going to have a lot of great new content, but we’re also going to include some of the highlights from CELPIP Live in case listeners may have missed them. Or maybe they just prefer the podcast format.


CJ [00:01:03] That’s true. Podcasts are super convenient. I mean, I listen to them whenever I’m on the bus or just running errands.


Chris [00:01:11] I like listening to them while doing boring stuff like laundry.


CJ [00:01:16] Nice, yeah. I’ll sometimes do them while just cooking. So for anyone who’s doing boring stuff right now, prepare to be engaged.


Chris [00:01:24] Yes. Today’s podcast takes us back to a CELPIP Live episode where the audience was certainly engaged. The topic is busting CELPIP myths. We collected the most common pieces of misinformation about the CELPIP Test and explain why they aren’t true. The episode features a few CELPIP experts answering these questions, including you, CJ.


CJ [00:01:46] Yeah, that’s right. I’m part of the team on this one in front of the camera, and usually I’m a lot more comfortable behind it. But it was important because we tackle some really big points of confusion about the CELPIP Test. And I really feel like this is an important one for all of our test takers to hear.


Chris [00:02:03] OK, well, then let’s get to it. We’re going to hear about several of the biggest myths about the CELPIP Test. But if you want to watch the rest, we’ll put the link to this episode of CELPIP Live in the show notes. This show is led by Aswathi, our social media specialist, and includes Michelle, our manager of Test Center Operations, and, of course, our very own CJ.


Aswathi [00:02:31] Thank you, Michelle and CJ for being here with us today. It is always a pleasure to have you guys here. How are you doing, Michelle?


Michelle [00:02:38] Very good, thank you. How are you?


Aswathi [00:02:41] I’m doing well. How are you doing, CJ?


CJ [00:02:45] Good, I’m so excited to be here. I love being on CELPIP Live, and I think this is like a really important topic and I’m super happy to be here to address it and sort of shed some light and sort of be a little more transparent.


Aswathi [00:02:58] Absolutely. You know, I’m going to dive right into these questions now. And just for a little bit of background, these questions were something that our marketing team put together based on what you read on social media, on chat forums and across the Internet. Now, if you guys have heard something about the test that we missed out in these questions, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll get CJ or Michelle to answer that. Okay, let’s start with our first question. And this is a more popular question that I see a lot. CELPIP wants to keep scores lower so test takers apply for re-evaluation. Um CJ I’m going to get you to answer this one for me.


CJ [00:03:40] OK, yes, I have worked in testing for a number of years and a number of different testing companies, and this is not an uncommon assumption or belief that people have. And I’m so sensitive to where it comes from. We know this is such an important part of your test taker journey and so you know I can confirm that that is not true. Our—and I know, Aswathi, as you’re on our team, and Michelle—our dream test taker as a test taker, that finds us, learns about us, takes the test once, because they’ve prepared well with the resources that we have and the videos that we create for them, and that they are ready, they take their test once, have a great experience, get the score that they need and can move on with their life and achieve their objectives. And so that’s actually what we want. So we are not lowering scores to pay for re-evaluation. I understand like where that comes from, but the test questions and test scores, the data, all of that is verified by external organizations, including the Canadian government. We work with a lot of, you know, high professional criteria when it comes to each score and—you know, it’s, we’re not able to manipulate individual scores in that way because of all the different touchpoints. There are too many different people who work with a test response along the way for that to be possible, but I understand where that comes from and I would sort of take that myth and say, actually, we want the opposite. Like my dream test taker is someone who just prepares, takes all our free resources, watches all of the CELPIP Live episodes, and is then sort of able to feel confident going into test day and get the score they need based on their language ability.


Aswathi [00:05:46] Thank you for clarifying that, and I hope people who are watching feel better about knowing that this myth is not true like most myths are. OK, second question for you CJ as well. Raters are biased toward certain nationalities. Another popular one.


CJ [00:06:07] Yes. And another popular one and another one that is common across a number of different tests, but we wanted to take the time to address it. You know, our raters are incredibly accomplished professionals in the English language testing world. But not only that, we train them and monitor them to perform at a really high professional standard. Our raters are regularly monitored to provide really the most accurate and fair scores. Any tendencies in terms that there might—like we keep an eye on because we don’t ever want it to become such a way that biases might be displayed. So things like accent, gender, age, points of view, like we might have a reader that gets something that they just completely don’t agree with, but they are trained to sort of reject that bias and then we monitor for that. So there’s that. But then in addition to that, raters don’t actually ever see your face. They don’t know your name or any other demographic information about you, our test takers. They don’t have visibility on that. They receive information, whether it’s a writing prompt, and they don’t see anything else. They see just the words from the screen. So we—not only are they trained to not have that bias, but then—and, you know, we all have it—but we are actively training it out of them to unlearn it in the context of the work that they’re doing. So there is that training. But then there’s also the processes that are put in place where there is no demographic information connected to a response that a rater sees. Michelle, is there anything else that I should, that you want to add to that?


Michelle [00:08:09] No, I think you cover everything on that point.


CJ [00:08:13] Perfect.


Aswathi [00:08:14] Yeah, that’s a good point, actually, you know, the fact that they’re trained, but also the fact that they can’t actually see information, which is something that, you know, is not really written on any website or anywhere. So that’s a good information for people to hear from you, the fact that your personal information and demographic information is not really given out for raters to correct. OK, continuing the con–sorry, did you want to say something.


CJ [00:08:38] No, no, that’s exactly right. There’s privacy regulations that we are very much sort of—must be compliant with. And so the, to do that, we protect the privacy of the information of our test takers to the bare minimum of what is needed. And in the case of rating, you don’t need to know, like the mother tongue of who’s speaking or writing. You don’t need to know where they’re from. You don’t need to know their name. All you need to know is actually what they’ve produced, so from a privacy standpoint, that’s, that’s part of it as well.


Aswathi [00:09:10] Speaking of mother tongue, we have a question here, and it’s the same question that I have for you as well. The speaking test evaluates your accent. Another myth.


CJ [00:09:22] Right. So there is no category for accents in rater training or rater rubrics, so that is not at all something that our raters consider when—you know, it’s not something they’re looking for. What raters consider is whether they understood what’s being said or not. You know, if your accent makes something unclear, raters may take that into account. But our raters are, like I mentioned, highly trained professionals that encounter multiple different accents and so—and frequently. So this is something that they are well versed in. And so, if it’s not understandable, I mean, there are days where I’m saying stuff is barely understandable, but there are, when you’re talking about whether a rater can understand it, then everything you say, whether or not you have an accent, like will get a high score. So it’s the, whether a rater can understand it, and because we’re dealing with highly trained professionals who regularly listen to speaking prompts and responses that have, that, you know, have accents, it’s not something, and there is no category for like, “Does this person have an accent or not?” So we are sort of accent agnostic, if you will.


Aswathi [00:10:56] That’s a great way to say that. Michelle, did you want to add something?


Michelle [00:11:01] No, no, that’s, that really covers everything again.


Aswathi [00:11:06] Guys, today’s episode is pretty popular and we’re getting a few questions. Firstly, I want to congratulate [Name] and Zahid for getting their scores. They have gotten amazing scores. Zahid has got 10 in Speaking, 10 in Reading, 10 in Writing, and 11 in Listening. Congratulations. Yeah. And [Name] 10 in Speaking, 12 in Listening, 10 in Reading, and 9 in Writing. But one of the questions that we got here—it was not even a question, it was an assumption, which is why I wanted to clarify it with you guys—is the assumption that I see across social media also, is that everybody, whoever takes the CELPIP Test, needs a 9 for them to get their test, get their desired results. Is that true or false?


CJ [00:11:58] OK, so I, Michelle actually did you want to talk about this? I think you’re probably well versed in that as well.


Michelle [00:12:05] Sure. So the question is whether you need a 9 in all.


Aswathi [00:12:11] The question is that across all test, all test takers, whoever take CELPIP Test need a 9, and that’s a fact, like anybody who the CELPIP Test, their desired score, the required score, is always going to be a 9.


Michelle [00:12:24] I see. Well, it really depends on what kind of streams you’re applying for. And it’s really up to the test takers to make sure that they’re applying and making sure that they know what is the minimum required; for example, for, for certain PNP routes, they might not even need a nine. They might need lower scores than that. We also know that a lot of the CELPIP test takers are taking it for citizenship as well, which is also a different requirement, a slightly lower than a 9. So I think it’s really important for the test takers to really make sure that they know what program or what route you’re applying to and make sure that they have the correct minimum CELPIP level that they’re aiming for.


CJ [00:13:11] I would also add a little bit to that, and that goes back to that first myth about artificially lowering your scores. Because there are so many different uses of the test—so because there are so many different uses of the test, our raters couldn’t possibly know what scores people need. And so there—not only do we not want that, but there would be no motivation to lower any score because we don’t know what people need. So that sort of reinforces that reason. There’s a lot of reasons people use the CELPIP, and so not everyone needs a 9. Some people need much lower than a 9. And so there would be no reason for us because we don’t know. We don’t know what people need. We don’t ask, we don’t—


Michelle [00:13:57] And the raters also don’t know what program are you applying to. They, they literally just receive your response, no information whatsoever about, about the test taker themselves.


Aswathi [00:14:09] Yeah. One thing that, if you guys are watching, CELPIP is not just used for immigration. There are a lot of use cases for the CELPIP Test. There are a lot of people who accept our scores. Like Michelle said: there are different programs, there are different institutions. Even within immigration, there are different situations, like there is an immigrant nominee program that requires different scores. So there is no just one universal score that everybody needs. [Michelle: Exactly.] OK, moving on to our next question, Michelle I think this one is for you: CELPIP is not a standardized test, is the assumption that I see also on a few forums on the Internet.


Michelle [00:14:46] Well, the short answer is CELPIP is a standardized test. And to think about that, we need to know exactly what does it mean by a standardized test? A standardized test is a test that ensures that your scores, the scores that the test takers receive, are independent of irrelevant factors. For example, where you take the test, when you take the test, what kind of questions you receive, or who is the rater that actually rates your prompts and your responses? So what do we do here internally at Paragon is we make sure that all this irrelevant factors are removed or minimized, and we do that by a standard test administration procedure, meaning that, let’s say if you take the test in Vancouver or in in New Delhi or in Manila or in New York, we have a standardized test administration that make sures that all of these irrelevant factors are being taken out. On top of that, internally, we also do a lot of statistical analysis. And, of course, as CJ mentioned earlier in previous points, we also do rater training and other various efforts to make sure that all these irrelevant factors are removed. We also rely on international testing standards to establish all these quality assurance steps. And all of these efforts basically may mean that the sole purpose of standardized tests.


Aswathi [00:16:18] Thank you, Michelle. CJ did you have, did you want to add anything to that?


CJ [00:16:23] Nah, Michelle nailed it. That was great. Thank you.


Aswathi [00:16:25] She did nail it, and that’s why we’re going to keep going. So the next question is about—we’re still talking, like we’re going back to kind of test evaluation. And one of the assumptions that I see a lot on Facebook is that people fear sending their tests for re-evaluation because they think that their scores are going to be lowered, that there is a chance for their scores to be lowered if they send it for re-evaluation.


CJ [00:16:54] OK, that’s my favorite question to answer. No, they cannot be lowered. That’s, honestly, the long and short of it. There’s—we do not lower test scores on re-evaluation. That’s it.


Aswathi [00:17:07] Good to know. Question seven. There are a set number of mistakes I can, a person or test taker can make before they fail a certain component. So this, what this question means is that each component has a pass or fail level and that a person can make so many mistakes before they actually fail or pass.


CJ [00:17:31] OK, so this is a really interesting question because it talks about, like it really gets into test design, which is a very sophisticated method of writing and developing tests, equating. So we have a team of really brilliant people in our test operations. And when we got this question, we knew that we were going to address it. I sort of went to the like, really smart people over there and made sure I got the answer properly because I wanted to address this and because, like all the Listening—so, you know, talk to our test operations team. And so because, like all the Listening and Reading test items that test takers see, they go through a process that’s called equating. And what that means is it ensures that all the test questions have the same difficulty and are sort of equal in terms of other statistical parameters. And if I’m being honest, it’s probably like above like my ability to understand, like what those statistical parameters are. But what it means is if you receive slightly easier questions and another test, test taker received maybe slightly more difficult questions, the system and the sort of work that that team does brings all of their scores to the same scale. And so it means that different test takers can answer the same number of questions correctly and receive slightly different final scores. And so that ensures that your scores are accurate, no matter which questions, which exact questions you receive. And so is that—I hope that provides a lot of clarity. So I, I’ve worked in the testing game for almost a decade, and I do understand that the psychometrics, the psychometricians in the work of the statistical analysis is probably a bit above my sort of abilities. I am no PhD, but I do understand, like the general logic behind sort of any testing questions where you’re using difficulty but then adjusting for it. And that’s what our team does. And so I just want to take a quick second to say thank you to Alex and the team at Paragon who put this answer together and supported a lot of these answers to make sure that we were bringing it straight from the source of our team who develops the test to make sure that our test takers had sort of the most transparent information. Michelle, did you want to add anything there?


Michelle [00:20:13] No. Again, like you nail it.


CJ [00:20:16] That was mostly Alex, that was all Alex so–


Aswathi [00:20:20] Yeah, you weren’t kidding, CJ, when you said that it kind of goes above your head. I’m hoping you guys watching because most of you…you know, I’m pretty sure you guys understood, because I didn’t, so if you have any more questions about this, please don’t hesitate to ask. But we are going to move on to our next question. Our next question is about masks, and who best to talk about masks but Michelle. “Masks affect my Speaking score.”


Michelle [00:20:52] It’s not true. We don’t have any evidence of that. So both Alex’s team and I and our team monitor that. And we know that we have been monitoring Speaking performance with masks for months now, ever since we resumed testing. And there’s no indication that your Speaking scores are affected. I would also say that we do have very high quality headsets that we provide to all the test centers. So all our test centers are using the headset that we recommend or that we supplied to them. Not only that, if there’s a problem with the recording, that usually gets flagged and we might reach out to the test taker to make, to either do a resit or to let them know if there’s any issue. And so far in the past—how many months now?—about six, seven months that we have tested, we don’t have any problem whatsoever. So don’t worry, stay, keep wearing your mask. And don’t worry about your speaking recording being affected. We also put posters in our test centers to kind of ensure test takers that wearing your masks will not affect your sound quality at all.


CJ [00:22:15] OK, well, that was a lot of really valuable information. It’s unfortunate that these myths seem to spread so quickly online. I guess the lesson is that we shouldn’t believe everything we hear or read.


CJ [00:22:27] Yeah, I, I think that’s right. And I think that the key is to think critically and consider the source of the information. There’s a lot of really useful information in an online forum. There’s lots of information all over the Internet. But there’s also going to be some misinformation, too.


Chris [00:22:46] What do you recommend a test taker should do if they’ve heard something about the CELPIP Test that’s kind of got them worried?


CJ [00:22:53] Honestly, I think that they should ask us about it. We put in a lot of work to make sure that we’re accessible so they can get in touch with our Customer Service team through our website. Aswathi is on our social media channels. She’s answering questions all the time. And we’re really happy to answer people’s questions. We want to make ourselves available to bust those myths.


Chris [00:23:17] Right. Of course. And just a reminder that if you’d like to hear the rest of the questions in the show, just use the link in the notes.


CJ [00:23:25] Great. Fantastic. So what have we got lined up for week three, Chris?


Chris [00:23:31] Well, next week we’re going to discuss free preparation resources available for the CELPIP Test.


CJ [00:23:37] Like this podcast?


Chris [00:23:40] Yep, but we also offer lots more…hours and hours and hours of free preparation.


CJ [00:23:44] Awesome. Super looking forward to it. Until then, thank you to our listeners. And we wish you all of the best on your test preparation journey.


CJ [00:23:54] Bye.


Chris [00:23:55] Bye.


I had taken other English language proficiency before, and CELPIP was more relatable to me. All of the questions were situations I was familiar with from daily life, and were like conversations I had experienced personally.
- Chrisna D., CELPIP Test Taker
When I took CELPIP, I found it was like speaking English in real life. You speak every day with your boss and with your friends, and the CELPIP Test represents those every-day, real-life language situations.
- Rafaela B., CELPIP Test Taker