Is there a difference between taking the IELTS on a computer compared to paper? This article will explain the advantages of preparing for and taking the test online, rather than completing it on paper!
What is the IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System, commonly referred to as the IELTS, is an international standardized test that grades one’s proficiency and skill in the English language. The IELTS is often taken by non-native English language speakers who seek to emigrate or work in English-speaking countries (General Training IELTS), or those who are looking to pursue higher education (Academic IELTS). As one of the most widely-recognized tests in the world, the IELTS is widely accepted by businesses, universities, organizations and agencies.
The IELTS consists of four sections to test an examinee’s abilities:
- Listening – 40 mins
- Reading – 60 mins
- Writing – 60 mins
- Speaking – between 11 and 14 mins
Although the Speaking and Listening tests are identical for both the Academic and General Training modules, the Reading and Writing tests are different.
Taking It Online
Taking the IELTS on a computer or laptop will allow you to write the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections online, while the Speaking section will be tested in-person and face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.
The structure for both the computer-delivered and in-person, paper-based IELTS are the same.
The allotted times for each section remain the same as well. The only difference is that the timer on the online test will change colors to warn you at the 10-minute and 5-minute mark during the Reading and Writing section.
But before you decide to take the test online, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I comfortable and familiar with my computer and applications?
- Do I prefer typing or writing with a pen/pencil?
- Can I type well and quickly?
- Do I find it easier to read articles/papers/content on a screen rather than on paper?
- Can I resolve/troubleshoot technical difficulties?
The official IELTS website lists the following four advantages of taking the test online:
- Increased test availability
- More options for test dates and times! Because computer-delivered IELTS are run in the morning, afternoon, and evening at different test centers, you can choose which suits your schedule best.
- Faster results
- Taking the test online means that you will receive your results sooner! Your scores will be available within 3 to 5 days, while it takes up to 13 days for your scores to be released on the paper test.
- No more messy writing
- Sometimes, your pencil or pen marks might get smudged. Running low on time can also cause issues because it is likely your handwriting will be messy and hard to read. Taking the computer-delivered IELTS means that you no longer have to worry about either of these issues!
- Same content as IELTS on paper test
- The material on the paper test will be identical to the material on the computer test. That means that questions and instructions will be identical!
Additionally, you can adjust the settings for the exam to your preference. You can choose the size and color of the text, as well as the screen resolution!
How to Prepare
In order to prepare for your computer-based test, IELTS Prepare recommends that you try some of their sample questions online. In addition to preparing you for your studies, you will also be able to see what kind or style of questions may be asked on the test.
The computer-based sample questions for the Reading section consist of 11 question types and 41 questions. All of these include:
- Multiple choice
- Identifying information
- Note completion
- Matching headings
- Matching sentence endings
- Summary completion
- Sentence completion
- Flow-chart completion
The computer-based sample questions for the Writing section consist of two tasks:
- Write 150 words in approximately 20 minutes.
- Write 250 words in approximately 40 minutes.
The computer-based sample questions for the Listening section consist of 6 question types and 24 questions. All of these include:
- Multiple choice
- Plan, map, diagram labelling
- Note completion
- Short answer questions
*Please note that although the sample questions for these three sections are done online, the Speaking test will be done in person with an IELTS examiner.
For more information on how to access the sample questions and its answer sheet, visit the official IELTS website.