Since 1989, IELTS has been a paper-based test, with candidates handwriting their tasks and filling in answer sheets with pencils or pens. Things are changing: Computer-delivered IELTS is now available.
IELTS will be introducing a computer-delivered option in addition to the traditional paper-based test. It is currently being offered by IDP.
How is computer-delivered IELTS different?
- Faster results (5-7 days)
- More test dates available
- Reading, Writing, Listening tests will be done on computer
- No change to test format and timing
- Writing will still be assessed by a human examiner, not a computer
- Speaking will remain 1:1 with an examiner
So, the big question now is "which test is best for me?"
Well, here are some things to consider:
Do you like to annotate and note-take with your pencil?
In the paper-based test, you can scribble and draw all over your reading and listening papers and, indeed, many find this kind of annotating and note-taking to be crucial parts of their strategy. In the computer-based test, you can highlight and take notes on the screen by right-clicking. You can also still use a pen and paper if you prefer that method.
Is your handwriting a mess?
Examiners see all kinds of handwriting and rarely encounter a script that they cannot decipher. However, if your handwriting is truly illegible, and you’re more confident typing, then computer-based may suit you.
Do you need your results quickly?
Results for the paper version of IELTS usually take 2 weeks but computer-delivered will be available in 5-7 days, so computer is a better choice for those in a hurry.
Are you tech savvy?
This is a no-brainer, but if you are an extremely slow typer, or find technology daunting, then stick with the paper-based test!
For a clearer idea of how the computer-based test works, check out this short tutorial:
So, in the end, it’s the same test, scored in the same way, with Speaking remaining 1:1 with an examiner. It really comes down to whether you’re a typer or a writer. Whatever version of the test you take, preparation is essential!
In the short term, if you’ve already prepared for and are familiar with the test in its paper-based format, it makes sense to take that one. Currently, there aren’t many practice materials available for the computer format but once they become available, you should experiment with them before choosing which one suits you best. You can try this web: http://ieltsonlinetests.com
PS: Next month our website will launch a new feature: Writing Test Online. Hope you will like it!