Computer-Based IELTS Or Paper-Based IELTS?

Written by Alifya Khambati

Having earned a Masters degree in Advertising, Alifya has had her fair share of opportunities in the commerce sector, only to figure out that writing is her calling. Giving wings to this passion, she pens content for UniScholarz.

July 1, 2022

IELTS is one of the most important steps to students getting a chance to realise their dreams of higher education abroad. The International English Language Testing System which was first introduced in Australia has become a staple to get into a higher education institution in several parts of the world. While there is a trove of articles advising students on how to better prepare and score well on the exam that tests their proficiency in the English language, there are a meagre few that guide students on whether to opt for computer-based IELTS or paper-based IELTS. Let us weigh the pros and cons for each and help students make the right choice for themselves.

What’s The Difference? | Computer-Based IELTS Or Paper-Based IELTS

The IELTS exam has four sections which test the candidate on their proficiency in the English language. The sections are Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. In the paper-based IELTS format, the candidate has to answer the reading, listening and writing sections on the examination paper itself. The speaking section is conducted through a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. 

In the computer-based examination, the reading, listening and writing sections are conducted on a computer whereas the speaking section is conducted in the same way as in the paper-based format with a face-to-face interview with an examiner. 

The examination centres for each mode of examination vary considerably too. The paper-based examination is usually conducted at educational institutions and sometimes even in hotels in halls with a high student capacity. Whereas the computer-based IELTS exam takes place in smaller rooms keeping in mind the comfort of the candidates. These rooms come equipped with top-rate facilities designed to eliminate any distractions and disturbances while taking the exam. 

What’s Better? | Computer-Based IELTS Or Paper-Based IELTS

Like anything, there are pros and cons to each examination method with students always plagued with only one question – computer-based IELTS or paper-based IELTS. Below discussed are the pros and cons of both modes of the examination to help you make the best choice for yourself. 

Pros Of Paper-Based IELTS | IELTS Paper V. Computer

  • Many students are comfortable with the paper-writing pattern of an examination mostly due to the fact that they have been subjected to it since the start of their school life. This helps them be in their comfort zone while taking the exam. 
  • Quite a few students are not very comfortable with writing exams on the computer. The paper-based model is perfect for them as they do not have to get accustomed to the computer pattern and it saves them a lot of time and hassle too.
  • Another advantage of the paper-based exam is that at the end of the listening section, the candidate gets an extra 10 minutes to note down their answers on the answer sheet. These extra ten minutes are a great help to students taking the exam.

Cons Of Paper-Based IELTS

To elaborate on our discussion of computer-based IELTS or paper-based IELTS, let us discuss the cons of the paper-based mode. 

  • For starters, the examination centre for the paper-based pattern is always crowded with students which can sometimes lead to loss of concentration.
  • Some of the advantages available in the computer-based pattern such as tracking progress, answers, highlighting etc. are not available. 
  • The paper-based exam is more rigid in its structure and not flexible in many cases. 

Pros Of Computer-Based IELTS | Computer-Based IELTS Or Paper-Based IELTS

  • Smaller rooms in examination centres for the computer-based exam do not lead to a lack of concentration due to minimal disturbances.
  • The word count in the writing section can be seen on the screen so the candidate does not have to count the words like in the writing exam. 
  • There is a much lesser wait time for results to be obtained for the computer-based exam with results made available to the candidate in just five to seven days. 
  • Unlike the paper pattern, candidates can review and edit their answers which helps save time without having to go back and recheck their answers. 
  • Individual headphones are provided for the Listening section which helps with clearer audio and better concentration. 

Cons Of Computer-Based IELTS | Computer-Based IELTS Or Paper-Based IELTS

  • The three-hour-long exam can get a bit tedious with so many hours spent behind a computer screen.
  • Unlike in the paper-based pattern, extra 10 minutes after the listening section are not awarded to the candidate to transfer their answers to the answering sheet. 
  • Simultaneously listening and typing might not be everyone’s strong suit and tends to get a bit cumbersome for candidates who are not used to the same. 
  • Basic computer knowledge is required for this examination pattern and candidates who are not familiar with the workings of the computer may struggle with this mode. 

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