Computer-Delivered IELTS Has Arrived!

September 19, 2018 by Tony Rusinak

“Can I do the IELTS on a computer?”
This is a question I’ve heard for many years. And for all those years, the answer has always been no. However, this is no longer true. IELTScomputer-delivered IELTScentres in Canada and around the world are now rolling out a new computer-delivered option. The test will be exactly the same, but instead of writing essays and filling-in answers with a pencil, you’ll be doing it on a computer.

As for the format, the reading, writing, and listening will all be computer-based, but the speaking test will continue to be the same. You’ll still have an in-person, one-on-one speaking interview with a certified IELTS examiner. Let’s cover some common questions we’ve been getting on this new delivery.

Will this computer-based test be easier?

The content, length, and scoring will be exactly the same as the paper test. There are no changes there. You will still be listening to audio conversations, reading articles, checking questions, and entering your answers. The difference is instead of using a pencil, your test answers will be entered on a computer. So if there is a difference in difficulty, it will simply be if you are better with a computer or with paper.

computer-delivered IELTS classroomOne area that some may regard as easier is the writing. A complaint that comes up sometimes is that people’s hands get tired from writing so much. They sometimes also are worried that their handwriting is too messy. So, if this is you, and you can type well, the computer option may be better. Now pay attention to the word ‘option’. The computer test is still ‘optional’. So, if you are worried that you can’t type fast enough, or if screens give you a headache, there will be a choice for you to do it on paper.

Can I take this test from home or use my own device?  

It would be nice, but the tests will be done on official test-centre computers. IELTS is a very important test used for high stakes applications like immigration, university acceptance, and employment pay-scales. Allowing test-takers to use their own devices would be too difficult to keep secure. Also, can you imagine if your computer suddenly froze or got a virus during a test? That would be a real headache.

Some test-takers have also asked me if they should/can bring their own keyboard. Some people like a particular keyboard layout or have a size that they prefer. The simple answer is that IELTS provides all equipment needed for the test. So you won’t need to bring anything but your passport. However, if you do require a special keyboard, for example, large letters because of poor vision, call your local centre. IELTS always does its best to provide everyone access to the test.

Will I get the results just after I finish the test?

You won’t get the results immediately, but you will get them faster than the paper-based test. Typically, the paper-based test takes 13 days to deliver your results. The computer-based test aims to deliver results within 5-7 days. So if you are in a rush to submit your score for an application, that might be something to keep in mind.

Should I prepare differently if I choose computer-based?

IDP has a number of excellent resources to help you prepare for test day. Everything from writing assist, to Masterclasses, to IELTS Progress Check, to full practice tests. Since the paper test and the computer test are virtually the same in terms of question types, topics, timing, and scoring, the language skills you’ll need are also the same. As we just saw above, the only real small difference might come from your typing skills or your comfort level around computers. If you are afraid of technology the paper-test is probably better. If you learned to write on a keyboard and not with a pencil, the computer-delivered test is probably better. Get the idea?

Will the test-schedule and registration be the same?

computer-delivered IELTS girl with headphonesThe computer-delivered tests will hopefully allow your local centre to offer more test date options. The best thing to do is just check your local centre’s schedule. One thing to look out for is the icons during registration. There will be a red icon with a computer screen in it. This means computer-based. If you’re sticking with the paper exam, look for the green icon with the pencil and note-paper.

Hopefully, I’ve answered all your questions about the new test format. Remember, the IDP IELTS website has tonnes of great practice and info pages to help you get ready. That said, why not grab your computer and get to practice! Best of luck!

IELTS Expert

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