English Language Support

Language proficiency, reading speed and comprehension, vocabulary, and typing all play a role in successful CPA studies.

Language Proficiency

The CPA certification program is a graduate-level academic program requiring a high level of English language proficiency. Success depends on the student’s ability to understand and articulate ideas orally and in written form with detailed descriptions, opinions and explanations.

CPA Canada uses language benchmarking to determine the English proficiency recommended for the CPA certification program.  The CPA Atlantic School of Business language recommendations for participation in CPA education programs mirror the benchmarks set out by CPA Canada.

In Canada, English language skills are evaluated according to the Canadian English Language Benchmark (CLB) which gauges the level of English proficiency on a scale of 1-12. It is strongly recommended that students have achieved a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark of at least Level 8 in reading, writing, comprehension and listening at the time of enrolment, and at least Level 10 upon completion of the program.  If you have not had an official assessment of your English language skills and would like to determine your CLB benchmark, there are proficiency exams you can explore.

The Government of Canada website provides information regarding the types of proficiency exams available. The CELPIP and the IELTS exams are the main exams used for immigration, residency, and admission to post-secondary education. 

Before deciding to spend money on an official test, you can visit these free resources to test your writing, listening, and reading skills:

Language Resources

In your communities, you can also take advantage of the public library, post-secondary, and provincial government resources. Each Atlantic province provides EAL learners with a variety of EAL-building opportunities to assist them in becoming more confident in their English abilities.


Public libraries:

Provincial Immigration Organizations:

Other Supports

Speed Reading

When you were learning to read, saying the words, numbers, and symbols in your mind as you read them may have helped you. However, if you are enrolled in CPA Education programs and courses, you want your eyes to track the words you read quickly. The faster you read and understand what you’ve read, the faster you move through course materials.

There are plenty of free resources available online to test your reading skills for speed and comprehension. By taking these tests, you will also see how much you’ve understood from what you read. Here are some online websites to test your reading speed:

  • Readingsoft.com  to test reading speed and comprehension. It is important to note that screen reading is approximately 25 percent slower than paper reading.
  • Readspeeder.com  course for faster reading and improved comprehension

Building Vocabulary

It can be a challenge to read in a language other than your first language. However, it can become easier if you prepare in advance. The larger your vocabulary – especially specific to your chosen profession – the more comfortable you will feel when navigating through your modules and exams.

The following resources provide vocabulary related to accounting:


How fast and accurate is your typing? Developing a wide range of vocabulary combined with increased reading and comprehension speeds can help with typing accurately. 

Typing with accuracy involves having a high level of hand-eye coordination. When under pressure, motor muscle movements become slower or more erratic. This feeling is amplified if you are used to working with a non-English keyboard and suddenly switch to an English keyboard.

You will benefit by practicing typing your responses quickly, especially under exam-like conditions. Learn the placement of the alphanumeric symbols on your English keyboard so you feel comfortable using them effortlessly.

Resources to test your typing speed:

  • Test your current typing speed and accuracy using an English keyboard. You can also complete key drills, lessons, and complete typing tests to gauge the improvement of your typing abilities.  Visit typingstudy.com
  • You will find quick and efficient typing drills that provide a measure of your speed and accuracy according to the time taken to complete them. Explore different levels of typing to improve your speed and coordination.  Visit typing.com
  • Practice typing consonant and vowel combinations that appear in the English Language. Build your typing speed and track your progress through a stats generator. Visit keybr.com

The CPA Canada Learning eBook: Enabling Competencies

The CPA Canada Learning eBook Enabling Competencies section includes learning resources to help candidates apply the CPA Way methodical approach to addressing professional problems and approaching CPA PEP studies and examinations using professional writing skills. The CPA Canada Learning eBooks are in the CPA PEP version of the online research platform Knotia

Using Professional Writing Skills

How you express your writing skills will determine whether you have exemplified professionalism. According to The CPA Way and the CPA enabling competencies, you can achieve professional communication by considering these five attributes below.  

For more information on applying the CPA Way methodical approach and professional writing, please visit the CPA Canada Learning eBook– Enabling Competencies section, Chapters 18-24 for further examples and scenarios.

To see an example of professional writing skills applying the CPA Way, please refer to the CPA Canada website for a sample report of a past Capstone 1 case.

1. Audience Orientation

Consider your audience. What knowledge do they have about the subject of your communication? How will you tailor your response to their needs? What is your role and what are you trying to achieve? >> Audience Analysis Overview

2. Professional Tone

The CPA Mindset is the first part of The CPA Way and demonstrates the attitudes and behaviours of a CPA. Communicating with a professional tone conveys respect, courtesy, sincerity, objectivity, integrity, and fairness in written documents such as emails, memos, and reports. Is the attitude you are expressing aligned with the CPA Mindset and appropriate to your given role and the audience?  >> Tone in Business Writing

3. Professional Writing Mechanics

Professional written communication adheres to proper writing mechanics. How well do you follow the rules of writing conventions? Example: punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, capitalization, and quotations?

4. Organization and Formatting

Do you organize your information and arrange it to fit the type of communication you are using for reports, emails, memos, presentations etc.?

5. Writing Concisely and Clearly

Conciseness and clarity provide the audience with the right amount of information needed for their understanding. How clear and precise is your communication, while remaining supported?

The CPA designation gives you the set of skills to do anything.
Lindsay Power, CPA, CMA, MBA
Senior Business Analyst - Strategic Projects, StandardAero
You have this massive family of CPAs on which you can lean on and use as much as you can, as often as you can.
Craig Farewell, CPA
Co-owner & Director of Operations, Banished Brewing & Brewdock
The skills you acquire through the CPA program prepare you to lead in any organization and in any industry.
Courtney Burns, CPA
President and CEO, Greater Moncton International Airport Authority Inc.
It’s the differentiator when someone has a stack of resumes. People with a CPA designation will stand out.
Leah Boody, CPA, CMA
President, Pineapple Bytes
The CPA designation first ignited my entrepreneurial spirit. It certainly helped me get to where I am right now.
David Arsenault, CPA
President, Arsenault Properties
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