Computer Delivered IELTS

IELTS has traditionally been a paper and pencil test. But in 2016, they released a version on the computer, and that was for students in the UK who are trying to get a visa. In 2018 they began introducing the computer-based test in some other locations. Now computer delivered IELTS is offered everywhere, at least at this time. So you'll need to check with your test center to see if computer delivered IELTS is a possibility for you.

But keep in mind that they are rapidly expanding computer delivered IELTS around the globe. So definitely again, check with your test center, see if they offer it now or they may offer it soon if you are interested in taking computer delivered IELTS. Between two versions (computer-based and paper-based tests), there are some similarities and differences.


First, some similarities, and the good news for you is that actually, the exams are quite similar, in fact mostly the same. The difficulty level is the same, you're not going to get harder questions on one version or the other. And that's because the exam content is exactly the same. In other words, the reading passages, the listening passages, the questions you have to answer. Those are the same between the two versions of the test. So in that sense, one exam is not harder than the other or different from the other. Timing is basically the same, but there is a small difference to the listening section.  There's absolutely no difference in the speaking section.


Some key things to keep in mind that are in fact different between the paper version and the computer version of the IELTS exam are exam logistics and the exam center. With the computer version of the test, there are in many places more test dates offered. So if you need to take the exam in a hurry, for some reason. Then you may have better luck scheduling an exam, if you're taking the computer based version of the test, because they offer it more frequently in many places.

Besides, the computer based version gives you faster results in most cases. Traditionally, the paper based version takes about two weeks to get your results. For the computer based version, they can give you results in up to five to seven days.

Another thing about the test center itself, the testing space, the actual rooms where you are taking the exam are quite different between the two versions of the test. On the paper based version of the IELTS exam, you are traditionally going to enter a large testing room. And you're sitting next to a lot of people as you're listening to the listening passages and taking the exam in that larger room. Or at least a medium sized room in some tests enters the rooms size can be quite different. But that's gonna be different from the computer based version of the test where you get a personal work space, a little cubicle. You're not completely separated from other people. However, there will be a small barrier in most places where your space is divided from other people taking the exam. This can really help to focus, because you've got your own little space where you're working. Similarly, you get your own headphones for the computer based version of the test. If you're someone who has really sensitive about noise and sound, those headphones might help you. 

Listening section

Here are some very big differences, important differences in listening section. On the computer based listening test there is no ten minute transfer period at the end of that test section. On the paper based version, you go through all four sections of the test, you listen to all four listening passages and answer your 40 questions. And then you have ten minutes to take your notes that you wrote down in your test booklet and transfer them over to your final answer sheet. That's a great time for many people to check spelling, to go look at the questions again, and sort of confirm whether you think you got the right answer or not.

However, on the computer based version, you don't have that time to transfer answers. In fact, they only give you a very short time, about two minutes at the end of the exam to go back through all the questions. Check your spelling, it's really a much shorter time. If spelling is a problem for you, or if you struggle on the listening section and you could really use that extra ten minutes to check answers, to check spellings, the paper based version may be better for you.

On the computer-based version, you just have to type answers into the screen, into the visuals that they have. Those diagrams or notes, or whatever they are. You type your answers directly there, there's no transfer period at the end. So it's a big difference there. You have to maybe in some cases work more quickly and not have really much time at all to review answers.

A second difference is that on the computer based version, you get your own personal headphones. Then, you can listen to that exam content, which helps you hear better, concentrate better. So it'd be a good reason to take the computer based version if that's the case for you.

Reading section

The computer based version of the test involves a lot of scrolling on the screen. You have to scroll the reading passage and you have to scroll the questions. There are two little areas on the reading passages where you have to do a lot of scrolling up and down to see all of the content there. That can be distracting for some people, again, another reason why some people might choose to take the paper based version, because scrolling is really hard and annoying to do.

A second point there, so notes and highlighting on the screen. So on the reading section of the paper based version, you've got a pencil there, you can do underlining quickly, you can circle things. You can draw lines, you can do whatever you want in your test booklet. On the computer based version, you have to use a highlighter, you can highlight, you can drag across the screen, and highlight portion of the text, you can also enter little notes there by clicking your mouse.

Writing section

For the paper-based version, you have to write your answers, your short answers, and your essays by hand. That's very different than typing, especially on the writing section. Some people are much faster and much better at writing essays and longer responses, in particular on a computer.
A key difference is editing and moving things around, deleting things, just changing around your responses. It is so much easier on a computer than it is on paper where you have to erase things and keep track of mistakes and maybe you're crossing things out. For the reading section, some people have a much easier time reading and understanding and comprehending things on paper. If you're a person who prefers to get your news from a newspaper rather than reading on a screen or from your computer, from your phone. You might be someone who would actually do better on the paper based version of the reading test.


If you're taking the computer based version you need to practice those things. Our website is designed to provide you computer-based IELTS tests for such skills (Listening, Reading, Writing).