The content of the IELTS on computer test is identical to the IELTS on paper test, but instead of writing your answers on paper, you enter them on a computer. The only differences occur in the order of the test and the testing environment.
So which format gives you the best chance of securing a higher score? Let’s look at some key differences between the two test formats so that you can decide what’s best for your needs:
The IELTS on paper test uses a pencil, while in the IELTS on computer test, you type your responses
It all comes down to preference and speed. Some people are more comfortable with a pencil in hand, whereas others prefer typing and clicking their responses. Try some practice tests before deciding which test you would like to book.
The order of the tests is different
The paper-based format starts with Writing, then Reading and finally Listening. Speaking could be on the same day or another day depending on the test centre. On the other hand, the computer-delivered format starts with Listening, followed by Reading and Writing, and your Speaking test part takes place the same day.
Key differences in the Listening test
Again there is no difference in the content: the tests are exactly the same. However, in the IELTS on computer format, you get 10 minutes less. That’s because you’re directly recording your answers on the computer, whereas in the IELTS on paper test, you get the extra time to transfer your answers from the question book to the answer sheet. Another key difference is that you get noise-cancelling headphones in the IELTS on computer test, which some people find it more helpful to concentrate and focus on their performance.
IELTS on computer tests are done in smaller, custom-designed test centres where each test-taker has their own computer. IELTS on paper tests, on the other hand, are conducted in larger rooms with more participants. While IDP strives to provide a noise-free environment, there will be other test takers putting their hands up to ask questions. Smaller test rooms with fewer test takers increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to focus better; but this comes down to personal preference.
There are a wealth of practice resources available on ielts.idp.com to help you prepare for your test. IELTS on paper practice tests are available in PDF format, and we have timed IELTS on computer practice tests available. Our IELTS on computer practice tests use the same interface to simulate the exact same experience of the IELTS on computer test, and many test-takers find them a great tool to familiarise themselves ahead of the test day.
One key advantage of IELTS on computer testing is that you get your results faster: you can sit the test today and get your results next week. Results are typically delivered within 3-5 days for IELTS on computer tests, while results for IELTS on paper tests are available within 13 calendar days.
Whichever format you choose for your IELTS test, IDP has helpful preparation materials to ensure you are set up to succeed in your IELTS journey.