Why should you probably avoid sitting the computer-based IELTS if you have done the paper one before?


It has been a while since IELTS introduced a computer-based version of its paper test. The test is said to be the same as the paper one in every aspect, with the only difference being the waiting time for results slashed by a week’s time.

As an educationalist and a content writer, I really intended to sit the test to assess how relevant it was to the paper one. I got the opportunity when I got sponsored by a college to do the test and give them my report and here it is.


The speaking section was exactly like the paper one – with no changes. The test started with the writing section like the usual paper format but, of course, you needed to type your answers in the box provided. The timing was also the same as the paper one. So again no change there, too.


The reading was very difficult for me as I am used to make notes, put a cross or circle and generally doodle as I go along. This is impossible in the computer-based one. You need to repeatedly go back and forth between pages. And since you cannot make any notes on the pages, you need to read every paragraph to find the information you look for. This means that you are going to be pushed for time and consequently you may achieve a lower score than the paper one.

Writing and Listening sections

And finally, the biggest surprise/challenge for me was in the listening section. Again like the reading section, you cannot write your answers in the gaps provided. You need to type them in the space provided straight away or you write them down. I chose the latter. Once the fourth section was finished, I started typing the answers in the gaps provided on the four pages or so of the listening section, when suddenly the test was finished and the computer concluded my test. I was caught by surprise when I noticed that in the computer-based test, instead of the usual ten minutes transfer time in the paper test, you are given two minutes to transfer your answers.


All in all, call me old fashioned, but I think paper IELTS is much better than its digital sibling. 

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