Should I Book The Computer Delivered Or Paper Based Test?

These days there two versions of the IELTS Test are available, the paper-based test and the computer-based test. The computer Based IELTS test has the same level of difficulty, question types, price and marking criteria as its predecessor. To put it simply, during the Computer Delivered test the candidate uses a keyboard, while in the Paper Based Test, test takers write their answers in either pen or HB-pencils. The speaking test remains the same for both tests.   Not all countries offer the computer-delivered test at the moment, but it is being offered in Singapore.

Although there are really no differences in terms of content, difficulty and grading, there are a few differences between these two tests.

Advantages Of Taking The Computer Based Test

  • The Computer-Based tests are available 3 times a day for the entire year, except for public holidays. This is unlike the paper-based test which is only available on 48 predetermined test dates.
  • Headphones are provided during the computer-based listening test. During the paper-based test, the audio is played over a speaker which might create issues of clarity
  • It is also much easy to edit and restructure text during the computer-based writing test than it is during the paper-based test.
  • The paper-based IELTS test results are only available after 2 weeks of your test date, but with the computer-based test, you can view your results within 3 to 5 days of your last completed component.

Advantages Of Taking The Paper-Based Test

  • During the listening test, students have to answer directly into the computer while they listen to the recording. This can be problematic if you are not that adept at typing.
  • There is extra time given at the end of the listening test to transfer your answers, as it is with the paper-based test. Paper-based IELTS candidates are given ten additional minutes. This can be very useful for rechecking your answers or estimating the answers to questions you have missed. However, at the end of the computer-based test, you will be given 2 minutes to check your answers and your computer screen will be locked so you will not be able to make any last-minute corrections.
  • Test takers sometimes struggle to finish their Writing test answers due to slow typing speed.
  • Most people like to underline or draw or circles on charts/graphs in order to mark key features, but this cannot be done for the computer-based academic writing task. Apart from this, the noise generated by a number of test-takers typing at the same time can be quite distracting.

In the end, there are no clear cut benefits to either test. it all depends heavily on your level of comfort. Both versions of the test require in-depth preparation and hard work. It would be best to consider enrolling in a reputable IELTS course. This significantly decreases the time it takes you to be ready for whatever challenges you have to face on test day.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.