The Official CELPIP Podcast: Episode 25
In today’s episode, we invite Adam and Amandeep, two members of our customer service team to talk about some of the most common (and strangest) questions they are asked by test takers.
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CJ [00:00:02] Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Official CELPIP Podcast, where we aim to help you, our test takers, get the best possible score and also support newcomers building a life in Canada. My name is CJ, and along with my co-host Chris, we talk to a variety of guests, from test takers, language teachers and test raters to employment counsellors and immigration consultants, just to name a few. We also bring in our in-house staff onto the show and get their perspective. They’re the people in the company that work behind the scenes to make the CELPIP Test available to you. Hey, Chris, how’s it going? What’s new? Oh, Chris? OK. Are you playing video games again, like a couple of episodes ago?
Chris [00:00:53] Oh, oh, I’m sorry. Sorry. Nothing that fun unfortunately. I got a new phone a few days ago and I had a few questions about the plan. So I just got off the line to a customer service representative.
CJ [00:01:06] Oh, just one second. Hold that thought. Speaking of phones, for any of you listeners out there who are using the Apple Podcast app, please do us a kindness and leave us a rating. And, however, if you’re listening to us right now, remember to subscribe if you’re enjoying the show. You’re all wonderful people and we’d love to keep you coming back. OK. Sorry, Chris, where were we? You were talking about phone plans.
Chris [00:01:31] Yeah, I thought I was getting double charged for something, so I just wanted to check what was going on there. Fortunately, their customer service was really helpful and it’s all resolved now anyway. So I’m fine.
CJ [00:01:41] OK, great to hear that. So today’s episode, customer service, you say, which is like such a coincidence because that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about today.
Chris [00:01:57] Yes. What a natural transition point. Definitely not planned at all.
CJ [00:02:03] I know, right? We’re like total naturals. OK. So anyway, I know you’ve been with Paragon a few years longer than I have. I think I remember you mentioning at some point that you’d worked pretty closely with our customer service team.
Chris [00:02:18] Yeah. Like, literally, I used to sit near their team in the office, and let me tell you, I know how many phone calls they can get, and it’s a busy job. And often they receive the same question over and over, so hopefully we can address some of these common inquiries today.
CJ [00:02:34] Yeah, for sure. I’m really hoping that today’s episode will help our listeners who may be uncertain about test day procedures and score reports and things like that. So what do you say we bring them onto the show. We’ve got lots to talk about, so we should get started.
Chris [00:02:53] Absolutely. So today we’ve got Amandeep and Adam from our customer service team. Welcome to the program.
Amandeep [00:03:02] Greetings.
Adam [00:03:03] Nice to meet you guys.
CJ [00:03:05] It is great to have you here on today’s episode. So first off, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourselves? Amandeep, do you want to go first?
Amandeep [00:03:18] Sure thing CJ. So I have lived in the heart of downtown Toronto most of my life, and I absolutely love to travel. So so far I have travelled to India, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and the UK so far, and we’ll see where my next journey takes me. Actually, the week that I started working at Paragon was when COVID-19 started, which was very unexpected. However, my experience over the past two years has been a very positive experience, and I’m grateful to be part of such a supportive team.
Chris [00:03:52] Thanks, Amandeep and Adam, do you mind telling our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Adam [00:03:57] Well, I’m from Ontario and I recently graduated with an MA in religious studies. I’ve lived and studied abroad in Belgium. I have experience as a teaching assistant and I’ve worked as a historical research intern at my university. And I’ve just reached my one year anniversary of working at Paragon.
CJ [00:04:14] Hey, congratulations on the anniversary. And you know, I have the distinct impression that everyone on today’s episode loves travel, which is awesome. I think travel is great for so many things, not just all the amazing foods and locations, but also meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. I actually kind of wonder if that helps your interactions in some way with the test takers who contact you at customer service.
Amandeep [00:04:43] I couldn’t agree more. I definitely think having an awareness of other perspectives like that can help inform how we interact with others. And you might argue that it can sometimes help anticipate people’s questions.
Chris [00:04:55] Well, speaking of questions, I’ve got a feeling we’re going to have some great ones in today’s episode, so let’s dive right in. First off, do you want to talk about some of the most common questions that you receive in customer service? This could be a great overview for any listeners out there who’ve got these things on their mind.
Adam [00:05:14] Yeah, of course. So one common question is: After I’ve taken the test, when are the test scores made available? Is there an option to release the scores before that time—for example, like Express Rating?
CJ [00:05:27] Oh yeah, that’s a great question. And the answer is…?
Adam [00:05:31] So all CELPIP test results are released four to five calendar days after the test date. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite the release of your scores. You’ll be notified by email as soon as your test scores are posted.
Chris [00:05:44] Excellent, good to know. What’s another question?
Amandeep [00:05:49] We also commonly have test takers ask us what I.D. they bring, they can bring to the test. Basically in order to register for the CELPIP Test, you must select an original, valid and unexpired identification document. It is very important that you bring this identification document with you on the date of your test.
Chris [00:06:08] Right? Very true. And what if the test taker isn’t sure what document to bring?
Amandeep [00:06:15] Yeah, so I would say, please make sure that you read your test confirmation email, which will have all of your relevant testing information. During the registration process, you will only be able to select forms of ID which are accepted for the test purpose. So if you’re not sure which IDs are acceptable, you may wish to visit the Test Day Information page on our website.
CJ [00:06:37] OK, great. Thank you so much for that clarification there. I think that’s super important. OK, so what next? What’s another popular question?
Adam [00:06:47] Well, we often hear the question: What type of test is required?
CJ [00:06:52] Right. So you mean whether they should take this CELPIP-General or the LS?
Adam [00:06:58] Exactly. If you’re applying for Canadian immigration or permanent residency, then you would want to take the CELPIP-General Test. The CELPIP-General assesses your general levels of functional proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking. The fee is two hundred and eighty Canadian dollars plus tax, and it takes three hours to complete. On the other hand, if you’re applying for Canadian citizenship, then you may wish to take the CELPIP-General LS test. The CELPIP-General LS assesses your general levels of functional proficiency in just listening and speaking. It costs 195 Canadian dollars plus tax and it takes one hour to complete. So really, it’s important that test takers check the requirements for citizenship to ensure that the test is required for their application. Oh, and the CELPIP-General Test is also valid for the purposes of applying to several professional organizations and academic purposes.
Chris [00:07:57] Right, that makes sense. Amandeep, what’s another question from your end?
Amandeep [00:08:03] So this one is kind of similar to what Adam was discussing before. We often get the question: What are my score requirements? Did I pass or fail? The answer is that you’ll receive an individual score for each component of the test. You will not, however, receive an overall score. Unfortunately, we are not aware of the score requirements for each specific test taker’s purposes, so we will not be able to tell you whether you have passed or failed.
CJ [00:08:30] OK. I just want to say that all these questions are great, not only because I think they’ll be helpful for our listeners, but also they’re just like really good reminders for myself. OK, Adam, what is next?
Adam [00:08:46] All right. So another super common question is: How long are my scores valid for? Well, your test scores can be accessed and viewed online in your CELPIP account for a period of two years from the date of your test. The length of time that your scores are considered valid by various institutions, however, is determined by their individual policies. You can obtain this information from these institutions. It is important to mention that we will not provide you with an official score report two years after the date of your test.
Chris [00:09:28] Hmm. OK. I didn’t actually know that. Thanks, Adam. Amandeep, what’s another common question you experience?
Amandeep [00:09:35] Well, we frequently hear people ask: What do I have to bring to the test? On the date of your test, you must bring the original valid and unexpired identification document that you use to register for your test, and you must present this identification at check in. Now, as the test is computer delivered, anything that you would need to write the test will be provided to you at the test centre. And currently, we require all test takers to wear a mask during the entire test. There are also vaccination requirements at some of our test centres. And for more information on the specific test centre requirements, we recommend checking our website to ensure that you meet all of them.
CJ [00:10:17] Right, so I’m getting the sense here that one of the most important things while getting ready for test day is to double check that you’re meeting all the requirements and that you know exactly what to bring to the test centre. This is like quite literally no such thing as being overprepared.
Adam [00:10:36] Absolutely. And of course, you can always contact us at customer service if you’re still unsure or would like clarification about something. Another related question in terms of test procedures is that many test takers ask about when they’ll need to arrive to the test, and also if there’s any parking near the centre.
Chris [00:10:55] Oh, wait, I think I remember this. Forty-five minutes, you’ve got to arrive for your test 45 minutes early?
Adam [00:11:03] Yep, full marks, you must arrive 45 minutes prior to your test. Check-in for the test closes 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. If test takers arrive after this time, they will be denied entrance to the test and they will not be eligible for a refund or transfer. If you’re planning to park at the test centre, you should plan your route in advance and make sure that you are aware of what parking may be in the vicinity of the test centre. We recommend that you arrive at your test centre as early as possible to avoid being late due to not being able to find parking. We also recommend that you consider that traffic and road conditions in your city may impact how long it takes for you to drive to the test centre.
Chris [00:11:45] Right, right, right. Sometimes I forget the more practical aspects of getting ready for a test, like checking out the traffic conditions before you leave. Thanks for the reminder. Got any more questions for us?
Amandeep [00:11:57] Here’s another: When do we post new test dates on the website? So we work diligently to provide as many test sittings as we can, where it’s possible. As soon as new dates are available they are posted on our website. Please keep in mind, though, that our test sittings are offered on a first come, first serve basis. There are no waitlists available and there is no way to reserve a test spot in advance.
CJ [00:12:23] Great. And that’s an important clarification. Thank you for that. I’ve worked on the website for the many years I’ve worked at Paragon, so I know that we’re doing everything we can to get those dates up as soon as they’re available. So that’s great. Now, how about a couple more common questions before we go forward?
Adam [00:12:42] Sure thing. Many test takers also ask, Can I retake only one component of the test? And can I combine the scores? Unfortunately, we do not provide single components of the CELPIP Test. If you need to retake it, you would need to take the entire test. We cannot combine the scores of two separate tests. You may wish to reach out to the institution that you are applying to in order to confirm whether that institution may accept two score reports for the purpose of meeting their specific score requirements.
Chris [00:13:21] Sounds like a great idea to check with the institution or organization you’re using these test scores for as well if you’re in doubt about anything. OK, Amandeep, what’s one last question that you’ve experienced a lot?
Amandeep [00:13:36] Some customers ask us how they can take the test if they’ve got a condition. And by that, I mean, what sort of special accommodations do we provide? So if you have a condition that you feel might impact your performance on the CELPIP Test, we do encourage you to make a special accommodation request before you register for the test. Please note that special accommodation requests can take four to six weeks to be processed and must be accompanied by medical documentation to be considered. Now the form can be found on our website under Policies and Forms page, and the email address is also mentioned in the form: [email protected].
CJ [00:14:17] That is a really great point. Thank you so much. OK. Wow, that’s great. So we’ve talked about some questions that you answer pretty regularly. How about questions that you can’t answer? Like there’s just no way of knowing or you don’t have access to the information or whatever? Like what are those types of questions? Do you get any of those?
Amandeep [00:14:41] Oh, for sure, we do. Of course, we try our best to help everyone, but like you said, there are just some things that we don’t have the capacity to answer. For example, our website was down for a little while in April of this year.
Chris [00:14:56] Oh, right. That was because the huge volume of inquiries after an announcement by IRCC, right?
Amandeep [00:15:16] That’s right. And because the site was down, test takers weren’t able to register online for their test. We had lots of test takers enquiring about the test and a few call to ask if we’re taking registrations in person. They said, “Our friends have already registered in person and we heard that you’re taking registrations. So we wanted to know where we can go since we want to apply as soon as possible.”
Chris [00:15:39] Oh, I didn’t know that. But we weren’t actually taking registrations in person, were we?
Amandeep [00:15:45] No, we weren’t. So I replied to those test takers, letting them know that they’d received misinformation and we hadn’t been taking registrations since last year. To my surprise, I found out that there were a lot of scams during that time. And unfortunately, some test takers had registered thinking we offered in-person registrations as they desperately needed to take the test for their IRCC applications. This is why it’s so important for test takers to reach out to our customer service team directly to confirm important information before taking any action, such as paying the fee.
CJ [00:16:22] Wow. I am sorry to hear about those scams. That makes me very angry and it’s very unfortunate and it’s really too bad, and it’s definitely a tough kind of question to answer, I imagine. Adam, how about you? Have you experienced any questions which are sort of difficult to answer?
Adam [00:16:41] Definitely. So a common one is: What questions did I get wrong? Can I have the raters go through each question with me?
Chris [00:16:49] OK, that’s fair enough. I can see why a test taker might want to know that. And what’s your response to that?
Adam [00:16:56] Well, we can’t provide that information as we don’t have access to the results of your CELPIP Test other than the levels that you obtained in each component.
CJ [00:17:05] OK. Duly noted. So what’s another one of those tough questions?
Adam [00:17:10] Well, some test takers ask: Will I pass the test if I’m already proficient in English?
CJ [00:17:16] Right, right. I’ve definitely heard that one before.
Adam [00:17:20] Yeah, I mean, it’s a valid question, but there are so many factors that go into assessing your language proficiency. And even if you feel that you have a high level of proficiency, there’s no way that someone in customer service can determine over the phone whether you have the English skills required for success on the test. Whatever your situation, we highly recommend that you try one of our CELPIP practice tests in order to get a sense of how the test will be conducted.
CJ [00:17:47] Yeah, that makes total sense to me. And there are plenty of practice tests to pick from. I think there are what like eight or nine sets of tests now?
Chris [00:17:57] Yeah, there are nine sets of tests in the store now, so that’s 18 tests, two tests in each set, and there will be more in the future, definitely. And one of the two tests in each set contain sample responses for speaking and writing, so they can be helpful gauge of level as well. And of course, there’s always the two free tests to begin with.
CJ [00:18:19] You bet. And hey, that reminds me: if anyone wants to be notified immediately about sales and promotions for the store, all you’ve got to do is click the button in the banner on the home page for CELPIP study materials, and you’ll be taken to a subscription link. Anyway, sorry, bit of a tangent there. Just want to make sure people can get their prep products. I am a marketer, after all. So any more questions for us, Adam?
Adam [00:18:45] Well, one last question that we can’t really answer is: Which questions in the CELPIP Test are unscored items?
CJ [00:18:52] Oh, right. This is important because there is a chance that you may come across unscored items on the test. So how do you answer something like that?
Adam [00:19:02] Well, we simply don’t possess this information. And so we can’t tell test takers or determine whether there were unscored items on their test. The best thing is simply for test takers to be aware of this possibility going into the test. They may encounter unscored items in their test. These are used for our test development purposes. This process ensures that all of the test takers receive fair and high-quality test questions.
Chris [00:19:27] Yes, all of that makes sense to me. Well, thanks for clarifying those things. Now, I’ve just got to ask you two: for all the questions that are easy to answer, you must get a few strange ones, right? Have you ever received any entertaining questions that you just totally weren’t expecting?
Adam [00:19:44] Oh, we get some unusual ones once in a while, for sure. Like one time a test taker sincerely asked me to help him find a hotel in the city where they were planning to take their test. I helped the test taker, but I haven’t heard that question since.
CJ [00:19:58] OK, that’s so interesting. Sounds like a job for Expedia, but like, that’s so nice of you to help that test taker anyway. And I’m glad that it was a happy ending for that test taker. Any others?
Adam [00:20:10] Yeah. Another time a test taker asked, do I need to wear a collared shirt to my CELPIP test? They thought that a collared shirt would be required for the photograph taken before the start of the test.
Chris [00:20:22] Oh, I’ve never heard of that before. Actually, it’s an interesting question, I think I know the answer, but do you mind letting us know the policy?
Adam [00:20:32] Of course. So there’s absolutely no requirement for test takers to dress formally for the test. They should aim to dress comfortably for their test, and they are not required to dress formally.
CJ [00:20:43] Dress comfortably, got it! Well, unfortunately, I think that’s about all the discussion we’ve got time for today, but I just want to take a second to thank you both so much for joining us on today’s episode.
Chris [00:20:55] And I second that. Thanks for dropping by and discussing your insights with us. That’s a lot of great food for thought here, and I think it will really benefit many of our listeners out there.
Adam [00:21:07] Thanks for having us. It was great to talk.
Amandeep [00:21:09] Thank you so much for having us.
CJ [00:21:12] OK, so sometimes I like to sum up what we discussed in an episode, but we covered so much ground today, I think it would take a whole other episode just to do that. So instead, I’m going to encourage everyone out there to replay any questions in the episode that stood out to you. And remember that if you’re streaming this podcast through our website, you can check out the transcript as well.
Chris [00:21:36] And I think that pretty much wraps things up here. Great episode, as always. And in fact, the last one of the season.
CJ [00:21:46] Yeah, can you believe it? 25 episodes! It’s been such a blast working on this for our listeners and getting to collaborate with our awesome Marketing and Instructional Products and Programs team. I’m telling you, dear listeners, this team putting together this podcast is the best in the biz. So thank you to you, our listeners, for sticking with us. And we’d love to hear your thoughts, so keep sending us your comments, putting in those reviews, and really just letting us know what else you’d like to hear. Thanks so much, everyone. Bye!