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IELTS on Computer vs IELTS on Paper: Which format of the IELTS Exam is Easier?

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

In 2017, IELTS introduced the option to take the test on a computer instead of on paper. So, what is the difference between computer-delivered IELTS and paper-based IELTS? The content of the IELTS on-computer test is identical to the IELTS on the paper test, but instead of writing your answers on paper, you enter them on a computer. The only differences occur in the order of the test and the testing environment.

Key Differences in IELTS on Computer vs Paper on Various Aspects

On the basis of Location

In both the tests, IELTS paper-based or IELTS computer-based you have to be physically present at the registered location allocated to you.

The main difference you can experience is that IELTS on computer tests are done in smaller, custom-designed test centers where each test-taker has their own computer. IELTS on paper tests, on the other hand, are conducted in larger rooms with more participants. Here, there is a possibility of other test takers putting their hands up to ask questions.

On the basis of Format

The difference between both types of tests, in the paper-based IELTS test Reading & Writing, is given by the means of pen and paper. While in the computer-delivered IELTS test you have to use the computer desktop to answer the given questions. You need to write your answers on the answer sheet within the time limit. In computer-delivered IELTS, you have to type your answers in the given boxes on your screen.

On the basis of the Assessment

The assessment part is different in both cases, in the computer-based IELTS test, the answers are saved in the computer itself and are directly uploaded to the server of Cambridge. Whereas in the paper-based IELTS test, the answer sheets are collected by the examiner, in person, and then sent to the Cambridge marking facility, which apparently takes more time than the former.

On the basis of Test Results

One key advantage of IELTS on computer testing is that you get your results faster: you can sit the test today and get your results next week. IELTS Results Online are typically delivered within 3-5 days for IELTS on computer tests, while results for IELTS Results on paper tests are available within 13 calendar days.

On the basis of the IELTS Listening Test

Again, there is no difference in the content: the tests are exactly the same. However, in the IELTS on-computer format, you get 10 minutes less. That’s because you’re directly recording your answers on the computer, whereas in the IELTS on the paper test, you get the extra time to transfer your answers from the question book to the answer sheet. In the computer test, you type your answers in their appropriate places on the screen. You do get time between sections to check your answers, but no extra time in the end. Because you’ve already completed your answers, 10 minutes is not needed. Besides, you won’t miss it!

Another key difference is that you get noise-canceling headphones in the IELTS computer test, which some people find more helpful to concentrate and focus on their performance.

  • Before the start of each part of the Listening test, you will have some time to read the questions.

  • After the end of each part of the Listening test, you will have some time to review your answers.

  • At the end of the Listening test, you will have 2 minutes to check your answers.

The timing of the Listening test is between 30 – 34 minutes long.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of IELTS Computer-delivered Test

Q: What is the total test tie on the computer-delivered IELTS Test?

  • Writing (60 minutes)

  • Reading (60 minutes)

  • Listening (30-36 minutes)

  • Speaking (11-14 minutes)

  • Maximum total test time: 170 minutes

Q: Can I make notes during the IELTS Computer Test?

Yes. IELTS on a computer provides a note-taking and highlight function. You can try these functions on the familiarisation tests here on the IDP IELTS website. You can also write notes on the login details sheet you receive at the beginning of the test. You are given a pencil or pen and paper to make notes – even if you do IELTS on a computer.

Q: Are you allowed to Skip & Come Back in the IELTS Computer test?

In computer-delivered IELTS you can skip questions and come back to them to complete. Or you can check your answer at a later time. IELTS doesn’t time the individual questions.

Q: Can I do all parts of the IELTS test on a computer?

If you take an IELTS on a computer test, the Reading, Writing, and Listening parts of the IELTS test are completed on a computer, but the Speaking test is completed face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

Q: How is IELTS Computer Test Scored?

With IELTS the reading and listening tests are auto-marked, but the speaking and writing test are looked at by a real human.

Q: Is the IELTS on the computer easier than the IELTS on the paper test?

The test format, question types, time allocated to each test part, and content are the same for both the IELTS on the computer and the IELTS on the paper test. The level of difficulty is also the same. The only difference might be your level of confidence in sitting your IELTS test on a computer. If you are tech-savvy, you might prefer to take IELTS on a computer.


Advantages of taking the Computer-Delivered IELTS Exam

Can Easily be Edited

Many students found that using a computer made it easier to edit their answers. Therefore, for them giving a computer-based IELTS would be easier than a Paper-based IELTS exam.

Less Crowded Test Centers

Computer-based IELTS test centers are generally more organized and less crowded. While this won’t directly impact your score, some candidates may feel comfortable giving in such a kind of atmosphere.

Handwriting Doesn’t Matter

If you are worried that your messy handwriting could make it difficult for an IELTS examiner to understand what you are writing, then the computer-based test is an ideal solution.

No Page Flipping

For the IELTS Reading section, the computer screen will be divided into two parts: the text and the questions which are more helpful compared to the paper-based test where you have to keep flipping the pages.

Screen Provided with Good Size.

It is one of the advantages that the screens are of a good size which is useful for reading. You can read the questions easily on the screen.

Disadvantages of taking the Computer-Delivered IELTS Exam

Highlighting, Drawing, or Making Notes on the Screen is not Easy!

Students who prefer to use a pen and paper for highlighting or drawing or making any kind of notes will find it difficult to give exams on the computer screen because Highlighting, drawing, or making notes on the screen is not easy despite you can right-click to highlight the text or make notes on the screen. You can find out more details on this below.

Screen Fatigue

Some may find it difficult to sit in front of the computer screen for a long time. For example, sore head or tired eyes. For them, it is one of the disadvantages of the computer-based IELTS exam.

Must be used to Typing

To score well in the computer-based IELTS exam you must be decent at typing. Are you concerned about not typing fast enough? There’s no need to worry: the computer test is designed for people with normal typing skills. You should practice in case you are worried about not completing the test on time. If you are not a good typist then this will be difficult for you.

The Sound of Typing can be Distracting

You might struggle to concentrate on the test when the sound of multiple other candidates typing surrounds you in the test center.

Uncomfortable in Typing or Using Computers

The IELTS exam is already stressful as it is not easy for non-English speakers, if the idea of using a computer makes you nervous, the computer-Delivered IELTS test could make your test even more stressful which might hamper your performance.


IELTS on computer - How it Works

You can click here to watch videos on the British Council website to help you understand how the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections appear on the computer as well as showing you how to use the help option, make notes or highlight text during the test.

Click here to find out the

IELTS Test Centers in the UAE!


A quick comparison of IELTS on Paper and Computer

If you are looking for IELTS Exam Dates 2022 - with Computer - you can do it anytime but with Paper based - there are limited IELTS Dates.


Some helpful Links for the IELTS Paper & Computer Tests

Free IELTS Practice Tests

If you are looking for Free IELTS Study Material, contact us - we will be happy to share it!

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