IELTS on computer vs IELTS on paper

by IDP IELTS — July 20th, 2019

In 2017, IELTS introduced the option for you to take the test on a computer instead of on paper. First in Australia, and now available around the world. So, what is the difference between computer-delivered IELTS and paper-based IELTS?

If you’ve done IELTS before, you might know the paper test. For this test, the Listening, Reading and Writing sections will be paper-based and the Speaking test will be conducted face-to-face with a trained IELTS Examiner. So, what about the computer test? IELTS on computer is exactly the same test as paper-based IELTS, but instead of writing your answers on paper, you will type them on a computer. However, there are some benefits of doing IELTS on a computer.

What is the difference between IELTS on computer and IELTS on paper?

If you’re familiar with the paper test, you might notice a few changes between the paper test and the computer test. The obvious change, the paper tests uses a pencil, the computer test you type. The order of the test is different and the Listening test is shorter. Also, you get headphones for the Listening test. What hasn’t changed is the Speaking test.

Pencil or keyboard?

At the paper based IELTS test, we’ll give you a pencil and an answer sheet. You need to write your answers on the answer sheet before the time runs out. With computer-delivered IELTS, you type your answers in the corresponding boxes on your screen. We’ll still give you a pencil or pen and paper to make notes – even if you do IELTS on computer. Are you concerned about not typing fast enough? There’s no need to worry: the computer test is designed for people with normal typing skills. If you can write an email, you can do the computer-delivered test.

The order of the test is different

In Australia and New Zealand, the paper-based IELTS starts with Writing, then Reading, and finally Listening. Sometimes you do your Speaking straight after this. But other test centres may offer your Speaking test on a different day. The Computer-delivered IELTS starts with Listening, followed by Reading, Writing. The Speaking test takes place on the same day, either before or after your computer test.

Tip: Access your free support tools

The Listening test is shorter

If you’ve done a paper-based IELTS test before, you may remember that you need to write your answers in the question booklet while you listen to the recording. So, in the paper test you get 10 minutes at the end of the Listening section to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. In the computer test, you type your answers in their appropriate places on the screen. You do get time between sections to check your answers but no extra time at the end. Because you’ve already completed your answers, the 10 minutes is not needed. Besides, you won’t miss it.

Check: tips to improve your Listening test score

The exam venue

Have you done a paper test before? Maybe not in Australia, but overseas? If so, you might remember that paper-based IELTS tests are usually conducted in a larger room. Sometimes at a university, or at a hotel centrally located. Computer-delivered IELTS tests are done in smaller, custom-built, brand-new rooms. Everything in the computer-delivered test room is designed for your comfort.

You get headphones

Apart from a new test room, everyone doing IELTS on computer has their own computer, a quality screen and your own headphones for the Listening test. You don’t need to talk to a machine with IELTS, so there is no microphone in your way. Even better, we make sure that our headphones are good. Most test computer-delivered test centres offer noise-cancelling headphones, so you can focus on your own performance.


Find a computer-delivered IELTS test centre

IELTS on computer: You can book today, and get your results next week.

Why do IELTS on computer?

There are a few reasons why you should do IELTS on computer. Most importantly, you get your results back in 2-5 days. Also, you don’t have to wait to do your test. You can book your test today, and get your results next week. That’s great if you need to prove your English language score for migration or study. But, there are a few more reasons.

Faster results

With computer-delivered IELTS you get your results in 2-5 days. So, if you need your results urgently for a visa application or to study at a university, book IELTS on computer. Of course, your IELTS results are accepted by more than 11,000 organisations around the world, including the Australian immigration department.

Check who accepts IELTS in Australia (and the score you need)

More flexibility – do IELTS when you need it

You can do IELTS on computer up to 7 days a week and up to 3 times a day. For example, at IDP IELTS Test Centre in Sydney, you can do an IELTS test every day of the week. Academic or General Training. So, you can book your test today, and have your results next week! And, with IELTS you don’t pay for a late booking. The IELTS test fee is the same.

What do you need: Academic or General Training?

Easier experience

Remember what we said before about custom-built, comfortable test rooms? Fewer people doing the test at the same time, means less stress and a quicker experience. Imagine boarding an international flight with 200+ passengers, or a plane with 12 people on board. Which one will be easier? With a maximum of 24 test takers per session Brisbane’s IDP centre offers an atmosphere less stressful and noisy than in bigger test venues.

Speaking test is still with a real human

The IELTS Speaking test is not on computer. You do it face-to-face, in a quiet room, with an experienced and friendly IELTS examiner. This allows for a real-world speaking experience. Besides, a real human will understand your accent – you are not penalised for having an accent. Other English tests make you talk to a computer, and get this marked by a computer. As a result, even native English speakers can fail. With IELTS, you talk to a real human. You can ask an examiner to clarify a question, or repeat or rephrase a question.


Book IELTS on computer