These days, more and more English learners are needing to take the IELTS examination to help them with international study, immigration, travel or for personal development in English. For many years IELTS has been the test of choice in order to get the required score needed, and now more there is an alternative to the paper based exam.

There are now more and more IELTS testing centres offering computer-based testing, and in future this is set to increase. However, it is important to understand the differences between paper based and computer based IELTS tests, as they do differ somewhat. The main benefit of computer-based tests is that they can deliver the exam over multiple sessions in a single day, offering faster results for candidates, around 3-5 days, compared to 14 days for paper-based tests.

The listening, reading and writing elements of the IELTS are completed by computer, however the speaking test will still be conducted face to face with an examiner and an examiner will still provide marks for the writing and speaking components of the test.

For those who struggle with their handwriting, or find it easier to type, candidates might prefer the computer test as writing on a computer may be more comfortable and faster than writing answers on paper, saving time and giving you more opportunities to correctly structure and check your work. Also, the word count appears on the screen, meaning you won’t need to spend time counting words. One other major difference is you will not have time to transfer your answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet.

Some may also prefer taking a computer-based test with a smaller group of other candidates, which is a big change from paper testing, where you will be taking the test with lots of other candidates. As you will be with a smaller group the environment will be less noisy and you might find it easier to concentrate with less distractions. 

Early research and studies have shown that performance wise, there is very little difference in terms of overall score between computer-based and paper-based candidates. Independent scores awarded by different examiners for the same candidates show very little difference in overall scores given.

If you want to read about a real students experience in taking the test, please feel free to read this great article, found on the E2 language blog, the link is here. There are lots of great free online resources out there to help you prepare for your IELTS exam.

For some real reading and listening practice, Mini-IELTS is a wonderful resource where you can practice as many tests as you want for free!

Click the image below to visit the website and start practising. Good luck!

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