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I took the computer-based IELTS yesterday and it was great! I never thought I’d say that about taking the IELTS, but I can assure you that the experience was so much better than taking the paper-based test for a number of reasons, and the difference it made to the writing section was significant. Here are five reasons why Writing task 1 and Writing task 2 are made much better on the computer-based IELTS:

  • Typing is way easier than handwriting

If you’ve ever taken the paper-based IELTS writing test you will know that writing is physically TOUGH! Being a native speaker of English, I have no trouble forming perfect sentences and structuring my paragraphs but I really do struggle to write on paper with a pencil. Before taking the IELTS, the last time I wrote an essay with a grey lead pencil was when I was in high school! When I write for more than 10 minutes my hand hurts. Touch typing, in contrast, is a breeze. You will not be distracted by an aching hand or a burned-out pencil in the computer-based IELTS.

  • Typing is way faster than handwriting

I did a quick experiment before test day and timed myself writing a 250-word writing task 2 essay. Writing on paper, it takes me about 30 minutes. Guess how long it took me to type 250 words? 7 minutes!  While it wasn’t the best essay I have ever written that experiment gave me an enormous amount of confidence for the test because I knew that even if it took me 25 minutes on test day, I would have at least 15 minutes to edit my essay. I also knew that the extra time would allow me to plan my Writing Task 2 properly.

computer-based IELTS lets you type

I did the same experiment describing a graph, and 150 words took me just over 4 minutes while typing. Again, it wasn’t the best description but that experiment reassured me that I would have much more time to analyse the graph, plan my answer, write it properly and edit the hell out of it!

  • Typing allows you to rewrite sentences and restructure paragraphs

When you write with a pencil you have to think of the sentence in your head before you write it out because there is no ‘backspace’ and there certainly is no cursor to add a word or phrases here or there… If you do want to go back and restructure a sentence you have to put in arrows or strikethroughs and it ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast. While typing, I went back to previous sentences and either completely rewrote them, or made significant or small edits to them. This allowed me to write a really well structured and logically cohesive essay and Writing Task 1 from start to end. Joy!

  • You don’t have to count your words

As you type, the number of words you have written appears on the screen in front of you… Magic! I remember when I took the paper-based IELTS I had to count those damned words and it took away precious time! No more… The computer counts them for you.

  1. The question prompt stares you in the face

The last good thing about the computer-delivered IELTS test is that the question prompt or the graph is always at the top left-hand side of the screen. You don’t have to flick the page over to see it like in the paper-based test. It means that you can constantly make sure that what you are writing is on topic and on the right track.

Currently, the computer-based IELTS is only offered in Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia and the seats are limited. If you are in this part of the world and worried about your writing then I strongly suggest that you book one of these exams. You won’t regret it.

UPDATE: I just received my band scores and I received 8.5 for writing. Not bad, ‘ey? I’ll send it off for review to see if I can get 9, but I won’t hold my breath. Maybe I’ll have to be ever satisfied with 8.5.

Written by Jay


All Comments 48
  • Hi Jay!
    I felt really comfortable with the computer test. Buuut I have to do it again to improve my writing score which by the way I prepared the most. My concern is, both the essay and the letter are evaluated by the computer or an examiner? It is an algorithm involved that could make it harder? What do you think?

    • Hello Mariana,

      Glad to hear that you were more comfortable with the computerised test.

      The Speaking and Writing sections continue to have a human intervention and there is no algorithm that evaluating your Writing.


    • Hey there.
      I just come up with a question.Does the writing part come with spelling errors showing a red line below the words without any word spelling’s suggestion?

      • I have the exact same question. In all the practice tests from the British council, in the writing section, it does not spell check or make suggestions, but if it is incorrectly spelt, it is underlined in red. can anyone help me if this will be the case? iI write on Monday please please

  • Hi Jay
    Loved your post on computer based IELTS.

    I wonder do we get feedback on writing with the result or it is just the bands declared.

    This que. came to my mind bcz idp has put samples of computer based list., read. and writ. online. While going through these samples, I found that sample answers are given of the writing ques with a band and a feedback.

    Waiting desperately for your feedback.


  • Really helpful.
    But what about reading and listening?
    Do you have to be scrolling al the time the screen, I mean going up and down?

    Thanks for your answer

    • The material is the same. It’s just now the delivery comes in a different ‘form’. (via computer!) But the E2 IELTS preparation material is still valid to use for the computer-based! 🙂 No worries! -Your E2 Team

    • Thank you for your interest!

      🙂 I’ll let everyone in the office know that there are more students out there looking forward to more E2Language CLASSROOM classes!

      We don’t have anything to announce at the moment! But when we do- you can be sure we’ll be announcing it all over our social media platforms and Facebook!

      Keep your eyes and ears out for word of it! 😉
      Olivia, & The E2 Team

  • Flor Valdenibro says:

    Hello! I just want to know if there is a pen tool of highlighter tool (to highlight keywords) in listening and reading modules when taking via computer? Also, is there a website now that offers free computer-based practice test that has the same format as that of the real exam’s?

  • Hi!

    It’d be very helpful if you could let me know how was the other components, listening and reading. I am still procrastinating to decide which type to take next exam as I usually underline keywords while I’m listening to an instruction and reading a passage.

  • How do we make a rough plan in the computer based Writing tasks before writing the essay or letter? Do they provide a pencil and paper?

  • Hi Jay,
    It was not a bad score, 8.5 in writing. I think ielts have some restrictions that don’t give 9 to anyone hahaha.. I never seen a person getting 9 in writing. By the way, After reading your post, I am also going to book online format. I am following your videos for a few months. I am definitely going to use all your structures in my exam. Thanks for all you free videos and help.

    • Happy we can help! 🙂 Actually! We recently had one of our paid members crack the IELTS with a 9!!! We’re so happy for Ella! 🙂

      Glad the E2 material we share on our channels and here on the blog could help you!
      The E2 Team

  • Patel Darshan says:

    Hi jay
    I just appeared for pte
    I got 47 in writing because of written discourse
    How can i get high mark in written discourse ?

  • Thanks for the inputs, I’m planning to take one by 21st September. I have a doubt. Have you taken the paper based test or only the Computerized test? If you had taken the paper based. what was your score ? The reason I want to take a computerized test is because of my extremely bad handwriting and slow nature of hand movement. Also the time consumed when asking for an extra sheet, ample amount of time goes in it, and I always end up scoring 6.5. Expecting your reply on the same. Thank You

  • Hi Jay,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the computer-based version of IELTS writing.
    I’m stuck at 6.5 in IELTS Writing. In my three attempts (with a couple of months between each attempt), I scored 6.0 then 6.5 & 6.5. Despite that I followed the recommended format or structure for the essay type, used various lexical resource, made rare -if 0- spelling mistakes, I still get 6.5.
    I consulted with an IELTS training instructor for my writing samples, and he’d usually award 7.5 to 8.0. So not sure where I am falling behind.

    Also, I noticed that not every IELTS Writing online resources are actually reliable. Some websites for example claim that they only publish band 8-9 essays but I read through the essay content, they’re either full of systematic errors or contain redundant sentences. To mention, these websites – without pointing out to a particular name- are, unfortunately, well-known and highly respected among IELTS takers.

    Do you have any particular book or accredited resources for IELTS (GT) Writing band 8+? Also any tip or recommendation would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you

  • Hi btw, in IELTS computer based exam during the first part, are we gonna have a live one on one interview . And what is the difference of taking the PTE exam and IELTS computer based

  • Hi btw, in IELTS computer based exam during the first part, are we gonna have a live one on one interview . And what is the difference of taking the PTE exam and IELTS computer based ?

  • Hi, I have a question on listening do we get some time to review the answers after the speech is over. I feel I will be better off in reading and writing but concerned about listening.

    And other question do speaking happens on the same day the other sections are tested?

  • Hi Jay,

    I am a bit confused on the Computer Delivered IELTS test for Listening section.
    Q1 – Do we get additional time to transfer our answers? I have heard that we get 1 min after each sections. Is this true? If yes, what strategy should we use? Any videos to crack the CDT.

  • I gave computer based IELTS recently (previously i gave paper-based). Writing section was good because it gave the word count but typing errors are easy to miss. Reading section was same as paper based. But listening section was horrible. It is very hard to type the answer while listening to the audio and trying to read the next question from the computer screen. You can’t make a mistake of taking eyes off the screen during listening test. Constant staring at the bright computer screen put strain on my eyes. We are given hardly 1 minute to check the answers (2 minutes max in one part only).

    It would have been better if the pattern remained the same as in paper based, because then you get the time in the end to re-read the options and make a guess too.

  • Hello Jay,

    I really want to thank you for the free advice and tips on IELTS. I cannot seem to get above 6.5 in writing no matter what I do. And this is the first time I am going to attempt on computer based, I prefer, by miles, CBP because of the reasons you mentioned. I hate writing on pen let alone pencil.

    Thankfully, the CBP test is now available in many countries. That being said, I am worried about Listening test because I cannot seem to find any complete mock CBP IELTS tests. I am very familiar with PB test. How did you manage CBP tests? More importantly, where did you find complete mock tests for CBP?


  • Wow, that is awesome!!
    I’m also considering taking the computer-delivered test because I am able to think and type faster with computer. Hope I get the band scores I need for work.

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