You have decided to take the IELTS but you are not sure whether you should choose the computer based or the paper based test? We are here to help you. In this article we will tell you everything about the differences and similarities between the two tests :

  • What does the IELTS computer based test consist of;
  • What are the main differences between the two Versions;
  • And how to train with GlobalExam for your IELTS online test.

So let’s discover the IELTS computer based exam.

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What Is the IELTS Computer Based Exam and What Does It Consist Of?

The IELTS test is the most taken English language exam in the world. It is a standardized English language test that is becoming increasingly recognized internationally. The IELTS test is used to evaluate the ability of non-native English speakers to talk, write, read and understand oral English. It is intended for those who seek to study or work in an English-speaking environment.

Most candidates are students wishing to continue their studies abroad and individuals looking to start an international career. Thousands of universities and institutions ask their applicants to take the IELTS test so as to know their level in English and more than 3 million people take the test each year, according to the French British Council website, making the IELTS test one of the most popular language tests in the world.

What is the definition of The IELTS Computer Based Test?

Today, the IELTS test can be taken on paper or on a computer. The core of the questions remains the same, only the media are different, obviously.

IELTS on the computer includes the three sections that are listening, reading and writing. The speaking section will always be taken face to face with an examiner, as this is a more reliable method of communication and the most effective way to communicate according to the British Council’s clients.

The day of your test, a computer and headphones will be provided to you at the test center. You don’t have to bring your own laptop to take the computer delivered IELTS test.

This computer based version will not replace the paper-based test, but it will provide candidates with an additional choice. IELTS on computers was first launched in Australia in December 2017 and is being developed in the rest of the world. In 2021, most of the major exam centers on every continent offer the possibility to take the test on a computer.

person using their computer

What’s the Difference Between IELTS Computer Based and Paper Based Versions?

The IELTS Computer Based Exam is the very same test as the paper based one except that you will be taking your test on a computer in a test center. The test has the same content and structure and you will be given the exact same time to take both tests. Besides, you will be marked the exact same way.

The only difference is that you will have to choose between typing your answers on a computer or writing them on paper, according to your preference.

If you choose the paper based IELTS option, you will have to manually write your answers for the listening, reading and writing tests.

The IELTS speaking test will be conducted face to face with a trained IELTS examiner, the same way the computer based test is.

Are The TRF (Test Report Forms) The Same?

They are the same but IELTS tests will not be delivered to you the same way nor as quickly.

If you take the computer based test, you will access your results within 3 to 5 days of the test date from the Candidate Portal

If you take the paper based test, you will get your results within 13 days of the test date.

Are Band Scores Calculated The Same Way?

The way your IELTS test results are calculated is exactly the same, whether you’ve taken the computer based or the paper based exam. There is absolutely no difference and believing that one or the other is easier is a total myth: the questions are the same! IELTS certificates are valid 2 years whatever test you took.

What Is The Price For The IELTS Computer Based Exam?

The price is the exact same one whether you choose the computer based or the paper based exam. It varies only according to the country and the city you choose to take it in. In France, for example, the IELTS Academic test and IELTS General Training (paper or computer) costs 240€.

The price is different if you take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration or IELTS Life Skills (A1 and B1).

In Which Countries Can You Find IELTS Computer Based and How to Register?

You can take your IELTS computer based in one of the following countries:

List of Countries
Czech RepublicEgyptFranceGermanyGhanaGreeceHong KongHungary
NepalNew ZealandNigeriaNorth MacedoniaOmanPakistanPeruPhilippines
PolandPortugalQatarRomaniaRussiaSaudi ArabiaSerbiaSingapore
SlovakiaSouth AfricaSouth KoreaSpainSri LankaSwitzerlandTaiwan, ChinaThailand
TurkeyVietnamUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUKUSUzbekistan

To register for a computer based test, go to or to the British Council website and look for the nearest test location available at the date that suits you the best.

How And Where Does The Exam Take Place?

The computer based test takes place in the exam center you have registered for. You should choose the date and time of your test day.

You will be shown a computer and given a headset to take your test in a dedicated room.

Once you click on ‘Start Test’ a set of the questions will appear on your screen.

A clock at the top of the screen will show you how much time you are left for this task and for the whole test.

For each part, instructions are given in a box at the top of the screen.

For the Speaking section, you’ll talk with an examiner, in the exam center as well.

Why Should You Take The IELTS On A Computer? Pros And Cons

We will be listing the pros and cons of taking the IELTS on a computer.

What are the pros of taking this test?

Pros #1

You’ll receive your results 3 to 5 days after sitting your test instead of having to wait 13 days for the paper based test.

Pros #2

There are more test dates available for the computer based test.

Pros #3

Registration are open up to 72 hours before the test (according to availability)

Pros #4

The speaking test takes place on the same day as the computer test, so you won’t have to come twice to the exam center.

Pros #5

If you do not like writing manually or if you are very fast at typing, you better choose the computer based test. You won’t have to write anything during the IELTS test (except to work on your draft for the Speaking section).

Pros #6

A word count appears on your screen during the Writing section. This way, It is easier to know the word count instead of having to count words on your sheet of paper.

Pros #7

Fewer people take the computer based test, hence giving you the opportunity to take your test in a less crowded room.

Are there any Cons in taking the IELTS Computer Based test?

Cons #1

In certain countries, there are more centers that offer to take the paper based test than the computer based one.

Cons #2

If you have specific needs (in case of visual impairment, hearing impairment or learning disabilities for example), you should opt for the paper based test. Contact your test center three months prior to taking the test to know what special conditions they can set up to meet your needs.

people working on their computers

Top Tips When Taking The Computer Based IELTS Test

Tip#1 Practice is key

The one tip we can give you to master your IELTS computer based test is to practice as much as you can. You should practice at least 3 days a week because it is an effective way of assessing your progress. GlobalExam has developed an easy-to-use interface to help you train for the IELTS test by familiarizing with the test specificities and then focusing on the essentials.

Tip#2 Listen to audios in english

Practice listening to English speakers (via radio programs, tvshow, movies…)

Tip#3 Take time to read as much papers as you can

Read newspapers and books to become faster and faster in reading and comprehending English written texts. Remember to learn all the aspects of the test.

Tip#4 Manage your time the way it suits you best

During the test do not tend to answer everything in order. If you have doubts and would rather answer at the end (if you’ve still got time), you can always access the responses and change them until the end of the test.

Tip#5 Take notes on an answer sheet

The computer based training offers the possibility to highlight text and make notes during your exam. Take time to review your answers before submitting your final paper.

Start Preparing For The 2 Versions Of IELTS Exam Online

There are a few free IELTS training courses available online, and there are even videos for IELTS training on YouTube. But the quality of these offers is quite poor, the websites are filled with advertising banners and the basic mock tests do not give you the real exam conditions.

In addition, the various IELTS practice materials are expensive. Whether for private or group lessons, the price to pay for such training is high. The same is true for training through exercise books and mock tests.

Combining quality and challenging prices, GlobalExam offers an intuitive and well-organized interface, with content designed by foreign language teaching experts.

The IELTS specific training includes the following tools:

120 exercises
5 mock exams
3 personalized study plans to choose from
390 study sheets with practice exercises
– Statistics and corrections

You can test our system for free and get a free mock exam!

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