The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most popular English language assessment tests. It is accepted in over 140 countries and more than 10,000 organizations worldwide. There are two test formats for test-takers: computer-based IELTS or paper-based IELTS.

IELTS is a test used by people planning to migrate to another country, study in another country, or work in another country, especially English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

For a very long time, this English language test has only been offered on paper. However, in 2017, IELTS started offering computer-based IELTS to test-takers. If you are unsure which exam format to go for, keep reading to see the similarities and differences between paper-based and computer-based IELTS. 

IELTS Exam: Should You Take Computer-Based IELTS or IELTS on Paper

Computer-Based IELTS and Paper-Based IELTS: Similarities

Basically, there are more similarities between the two test formats than differences. For example, the question types and their content are the same. The components being tested, which are Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, are also the same. Also, test takers need not worry about the fairness of the test, because even the scoring and verification of results are the same. 

When it comes to the speaking test, which is conducted face-to-face with an IELTS examiner during paper-based exams, it will still be conducted face to face with a real person in a computer-based IELTS. 

What are the Differences? 

The main difference between the computer-based and paper-based exams is the platforms or tools used for taking the test. Whereas computer-based IELTS requires test-takers to type in their answers, those who choose paper-based use a pencil to write their answers. 

Aside from the platform being used, below are some of the other differences between the two: 

Convenience 

Those who choose computer-based IELTS may find that there are more available test date schedules for them. Test-takers are now able to choose a more convenient time and date for them to take the test. 

IELTS test results can be previewed by all test-takers online. However, the difference is on how long it will take before the results are available. Paper-based results will only be available 13 days after the exam schedule. On the other hand, computer-based results can already be accessed 3 to 5 days after the test. 

Order of Tests

The order of the tests and the schedule for the Speaking test vary depending on the format and test center. In New Zealand and Australia for example, the paper-based test starts with Writing, followed by Reading, then finally Listening. The Speaking test is usually done right after the first three tests, but other test centers may schedule the Speaking test on a different day.

In the computer-based IELTS, the test starts with Listening, then Reading, then Writing. Test-takers go through the Speaking test on the very same day, either before of after their computer-based exam.

Listening Test Time 

Test-takers of both modes are given time to review their answers before going to another section of the test. However, the time allotted for the Listening section of the computer-based IELTS is 10 minutes less. This is because unlike those taking the exam on paper, there is no need for computer test-takers to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. 

Test Setting 

Paper-based exams are usually conducted in a large room, like in a university or at a hotel. Computer-based IELTS tests, on the other hand, are conducted in a smaller room where participants are provided with their own computers and a good pair of headphones for taking the test. 

Those are the similarities and differences between the two formats of IELTS. We hope this helps you choose the right IELTS test format for you. To know more about computer-based IELTS and other international standardized tests for students, browse through our other articles here on MSM Unify.

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