Learn about changes to your IELTS test arrangements due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). View details
Results in 5-7 days with computer-delivered IELTS

Computer-based IELTS? You bet!

Published on September 24, 2018

A common question I get as an IELTS expert whether IELTS can be completed on computer. Students, test-takers, new examiners, and people often want to know if IELTS is a computer-delivered test. Since I began with IELTS years ago, the answer has always been no. We were the ‘face-to-face’, ‘paper-and-pencil’ test. And true, many people do prefer to do a test this way. However, as with many things this day in age, we end up going digital. So just this year, IELTS is delivering the Reading, Writing and Listening tests on computer. Now there is an exception, the Speaking test has not changed. The Speaking test still involves speaking with a real, certified, IELTS examiner. So what does this mean for test takers? Let’s take a closer look at the questions many are asking about this new format - IELTS on computer. You still have the choice to complete IELTS on paper, if you wish.

Is the IELTS on computer easier or more difficult?

The short answer is that it will be exactly the same, just that you will use a computer. The content, test-times, grading criteria, and order of the test will all stay the same. You will still be listening to the same style of audio texts, you’ll be reading articles that are the same length and difficulty level, and you’ll be writing the same Task 1 and Task 2 letters, summaries, and essays. The only difference is that it will be on a computer.

Now, of course, there may be one aspect here that may be a little easier or a little more difficult for some. This is the fact that some people work better when using a pencil, while some work better typing on a keyboard. If you are significantly more comfortable with one of these things, then yes, the test may be slightly easier for you. But don’t get worried. You can still choose to take IELTS on paper, if you wish.

Will I be able to take IELTS on computer at home?

One of the reasons IELTS is such a respected test worldwide is for its strong record as being a secure and fair test. For this reason, governments use it for immigration, universities use it for acceptance, and employers use it to determine your salary. With that in mind, allowing people to take IELTS on computer at home would be a serious risk. Not only would it open up lots of possibilities for cheating, but other issues like software compatibility, computer viruses, and poor internet could make a real mess on test day. Can you imagine if your computer crashed on test-day? What a headache!

So if you decide to take IELTS on computer, it will be done in an official test-centre

Does IELTS on computer give me instant results?

That would be nice, but you’ll still have to wait to get your results. Don’t worry though, there is an improvement. As many of you might know, paper-based IELTS take about 13 days to deliver your band scores. On the other hand, the computer based will cut that in half. The estimated time for results will be in the 5-7 day range. So this is something to consider. If you are in a rush to get your marks for an application, then computer based is the way to go.

Should I prepare for the computer-based test differently?

The quick answer is no. The only area you might want to be sure of is typing. If you are a really terrible and slow typer on the keyboard, then maybe stick to the paper and pencil test.

Otherwise, I’d suggest just sticking with all the awesome resources IDP has online. Sign up for the Masterclass. Check out the writing assist. Go through the free sample tests and scoring guide. There is a lot of material out there to take advantage of. In summary, I wouldn’t be worried about the computer vs paper question, I’d worry about not checking out the prep material from IDP!