Tejaswini Kota

Updated on 04-05-2023


IELTS Computer Based Test vs Paper Based Test : Differences & Key Aspects

IELTS Computer Based Test vs Paper Based Test  : Differences & Key Aspects

The main difference is, in the IELTS paper-based test the candidate writes the answers in the exam paper whereas, in the computer-based IELTS test, the candidate types the answers on the computer. While talking about the IELTS paper vs Computer based test, the test format, question types, and time allocations are similar.

If you prefer the IELTS paper-based test, you will take the Listening, Reading, and writing sections test in the examination paper instead of a computer. However, the speaking test is the same and is held face-to-face with expert examiners. In this article, you will learn the crucial points that talk about the IELTS paper vs Computer based test.

Table of Contents

How are IELTS Paper Based and Computer based tests conducted?

Whether you choose IELTS pen and paper-based or Computer based tests, you have to be physically present at your allotted registered location.

Let’s have a closer look at the key aspects:

  • Candidates taking IELTS paper based test will be provided with an answer sheet and a pen or pencil to note down their responses within the allotted time frame. In Computer based IELTS, test takers have to answer on the computer screen in their respective boxes.

  • For both the IELTS paper and computer based exam, all three sections listening, Reading and writing tests are completed on the same day with no interruptions or breaks. The speaking section might be completed prior to or after a week before your test date.

  • In IELTS Pen and paper based format, the candidate will be provided with 10 minutes time to transfer all the answers to the official answer sheet at the end of the listening section. In computer delivered format, All your answers are typed simultaneously and at the end, 2 minutes time limit will be provided to scrutinize the answers typed.

  • The IELTS test is conducted mostly at educational institutes, centrally located hotels etc. Noise-concealed headphones are also provided sometimes to avoid distractions and enable focus on self-performance.

Comparison of IELTS paper based and computer based exams

Here is a closer look at the key pointers that marks the difference between paper based and computer based IELTS test.

Key pointers IELTS Pen and Paper based IELTS Computer based
Exam format Reading, Writing, listening tests are taken in paper format and for the speaking part, the test is taken  face-to-face with an IELTS examiner. Reading, Writing, listening sections conducted using a computer and for speaking tests face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.
Booking (IELTSregistration.com) While booking for test, search for paper icon While booking for test, search for computer icon
Results Results will be declared 13 days after your test date. Results will be announced in 3 to 5 days after taking the test.
Test availability Testing options available 48 days per year (Thursday & Saturday) Test availability is all the 7 days in a week and 3 time slots in a day
Length of the test Listening- 30 minutes
Reading- 60 minutes
Writing- 60 minutes
Speaking- 11 to 14 minutes
Listening- 30 minutes
Reading- 60 minutes
Writing- 60 minutes
Speaking- 11 to 14 minutes

Advantages and disadvantages of Computer based IELTS test

The following are the advantages and disadvantages of the computer based IELTS exam.

Advantages of Computer based IELTS test

  • The candidates are provided with individual headphones for the listening test. The volume can be adjusted and can hear clearly.
  • In the reading test, the passage and the questions are displayed at the same time as the screen splits into two parts. Each side can be scrolled individually, this helps to clearly view and understand the passage, and questions side by side to answer correctly thereby avoiding page flipping.
  • Unlike in IELTS paper mode, the candidates can copy, paste, delete, or edit their paragraphs in the writing task conveniently without crossing off. The screen shows the word count also, which saves your time in counting words in writing tasks.
  • Handwriting quality does not pose any issues in Computer based IELTS tests.

Disadvantages of computer based IELTS test

  • Candidates will get less time to check answers after the listening test ends. Because students use this time to check spelling to avoid losing marks due to misspelt answers.
  • Candidates' attention is split between writing/typing answers and listening simultaneously which is tough and challenging.
  • Reading on the screen is stressful and harder when compared to reading on paper.
  • Candidates having less experience in computer typing might slow their work progress.
  • Distractions while performing a writing test due to noise caused by keyboard typing.

Advantages and disadvantages of Paper based IELTS test

The following are the advantages and disadvantages of the paper based IELTS test.

Advantages of Paper based IELTS test

  • In the writing section, candidates while writing the paragraphs can have a diagrammatic representation of the content.
  • The standard methods like highlighting, underlining etc. are possible in paper based test but cannot be done in computer based IELTS examinations.
  • The students will get an extra 10 minutes time at the end of the listening section to transfer their solutions to the answer sheet avoiding spelling mistakes.
  • This mode of exam is highly beneficial for students who lack basic computer knowledge and typing skills.

Disadvantages of Paper based IELTS test

  • Editing or changing answers is complicated as it involves crossing off or rubbing out texts.
  • Maintaining exam time limits, counting words while writing, and handwriting quality issues are challenging and tough. 
  • Examination halls with more students lead to focus distraction.

Practice Papers for IELTS exam

Try our IELTS practice samples given below to refine and strengthen your multitasking abilities. These practice tests are a perfect addition to your IELTS study plan to understand the pattern of the exam, develop strategic skills etc.

IELTS computer based vs paper based: Which is better

Though the difference between IELTS paper based test and computer based test is quite apparent, you will feel it on your test day experience. The IELTS computer based test format is ideal for students having good computer knowledge, typing skills and value privacy. However, Candidates accustomed to practicing and writing on paper may prefer the IELTS writing based test format.

IELTS Computer based vs Paper based test- Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is better pen and paper or computer based IELTS?

Both IELTS General training and Academic tests can be taken on Computer or paper based patterns. The content, test format, time allocated for each test part is same, the only variation lies in your test day experience. Students often feel computer based test is more manageable.

2. What is the difference between paper- based and computer based IELTS?

The IELTS paper based test will come with an answer sheet, provided with a pen or pencil for writing. The candidates have to write answers on this sheet within the stipulated time. In IELTS computer based test, students have to type answers in the corresponding boxes reflecting on the screen.

3. Is paper pen allowed in computer-based IELTS?

With IELTS on the computer, you will type answers in the corresponding boxes on your screen. You will still be provided with a pen or pencil and paper to make a note of important points.

4. Is pen or pencil better for IELTS paper based test?

Writing with pencil is recommended for IELTS listening, Reading and writing sections. This is because you can easily erase and rewrite your responses. If you forget to bring the pencil, the test centre will provide it for you.





About Author Tejaswini Kota

Tejaswini is an enthusiastic writer, reader and a passionate learner. Additionally, she was a research fellow and holds a grip in English writings and research/paper publications. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in engineering. She spent three years in the education industry and is currently working as a full-time content writer at Kanan International, writing articles for study abroad projects. She is proficient in creating good quality content that helps the students for language proficiency tests like IELTS, GRE, TOEFL etc. and can help in advising you the right choice of college for admission.

More Articles Post by Tejaswini Kota

Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.


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