9 Reasons why computer-based IELTS Test is a better choice

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II’m sure you know by now that you can now take the IELTS on a computer. Pretty soon the computer-based IELTS will take over the world. This is a great test… and this is coming from a guy who REALLY doesn’t enjoy the paper-based version of the test.

computer-based ielts is better than writing
Not everyone enjoys the paper-based test!

Here are 9 reasons why I believe the new computer-based IELTS test format is superior to the old format:

1. The test is much more convenient

For some reason, the whole process of booking the computer-based IELTS test seemed easier and less confusing. Instead of a ridiculously long email with lists of DOs and DON’Ts, I instead was greeted with a very simple set of instructions… Arrive at this place on this date at this time. Easy enough!

 2. The test centre is futuristic and totally awesome

Yikes, they must have spent some money building these new testing centres. It was like walking into the future. As soon as those elevator doors opened I was struck by the futuristic layout. It was so much better than arriving at some university in the middle of nowhere and being herded like cattle.

3. The staff were super friendly

I think the whole test format change has had a big impact on the way the staff interacts with you. There were just two young guys there — not the IELTS overlords like in the old testing centres — and they were friendly. Because the whole test is so streamlined now, there was no rushing or pushing or pressure at all. The group of test takers just waited for a few minutes and were even offered free bottles of water!

4. Smaller groups are better than bigger crowds

I think one of the reasons why everything seemed so much more relaxed was because of the small groups. On my test day, there were only 14 people. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of big crowds. Give me a small intimate party any day of the week. Oddly enough, by the end of the exam, while we were waiting for our speaking tests we had become good friends! Everyone was chatting warmly with each other talking about the test questions and what our experience was like. Everyone agreed that the computer-based test is superior to the old paper-based test.

5. It’s still really tough!

Don’t let me give you the wrong impression… the computer-delivered IELTS is still REALLY challenging. But the overall improvement in the environment has improved the way you feel going into the test, which is incredibly important.

6. The writing is much easier now

In saying that… the writing, I think, has become easier. I have written a blog post about why this is in more depth, but in short, I can tell you that being able to type makes a world of difference. You can read the in-depth explanation here.

7. The new test format feels fairer

When I did my paper-based IELTS and had finished and the papers were being collected I had this funny feeling of suspicion that something could happen to my test paper. For some reason, doing computer-based IELTS felt fairer… I knew that the reading and listening would be 100% computer marked — not grumpy or hungry humans being careless. I knew that the beautiful objective machinery would simply give me right and wrong answers (hopefully fewer of the former!). And although I knew that my writing would still be sent to an examiner, because they couldn’t see how bad my handwriting looks, I felt, again, like it was a fairer test. Weird, right?

8. Use the headphones to help you concentrate

I’ll let you in on a little secret… Use your headphones while you write and while you do the reading test. I found this to be an incredible help. It blocked out any noise — not that there is much noise with just 14 people in the room — but it allowed me to concentrate on my reading and my writing, and you’re allowed to do it! The headphones act as ear muffs in a way.

9. Faster IELTS test results!

I haven’t received my results yet, as I only took this test yesterday, but the last BIG improvement that this test format has over the old one is that you get your results in just 4-5 days. That’s 8 or 9 days sooner than the paper-based test.

Okay, let’s see that you have understood this blog post about the computer-based IELTS test by doing some YES, NO, NOT GIVEN questions.

  1. Jay’s overall impression of the computer-delivered exam was positive.
  2. Jay thinks that using the headphones during the reading and writing sections is distracting.
  3. Jay thought that the free bottles of water were a nice gesture.
  4. Jay got straight 9s.


  1. YES
  1. NO
  1. YES
  2. NOT GIVEN (yet)!

Written by Jay

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69 thoughts on “9 Reasons why computer-based IELTS Test is a better choice”

  • Hi there,
    I would like to ask about the marking of the writing task. Does the computer mark our essays in the computer based test? Would it make it harder to achieve a higher score/band? Thank you!


      • I went to a free masterclass offered by IDP, and was told by the trainer/examiner that paper and pen would not be provided. As I thought it would be time consuming taking quick notes, and navigating page by page on a computer, I took the written test instead.

        I appreciate that the computer-based test is new, but I don’t think it is appropriate to mislead the audience who place their trusts in the masterclass trainer. It would be nice if the trainer said she was unsure, asked me to leave my email, checked and got back to me once confirmed. If these were all too time consuming, I would be more than happy to comply if she directed me to her colleagues who were experienced with the computer-based test.

        Sorry for the rant, but for future DIY test takers, I would recommend double-checking your queries if they are crucial.

        • Based on my experience, paper and pen are available on computer delivered test. Actual test was taken in December 2018 in Moscow.

          • Thank you for sharing! We love when we see you helping one another! Sometimes just speaking (or writing) about our experiences can be the GREATEST support!

            Olivia, & The E2 Team

      • Sagar Thapliyal says:

        I think typing will take time to writting your task 1 &2 and chances to have time shortage. So big disadvantage

  • April Irene Sible says:

    I’ll be taking my UKVI exam this day in CBT format. I do hope I can achieve my goal results. Thanks for the nice information and the positive feedback you have from this type of format. It help me to lessen my nerves😊

  • Hey Jay!

    Thank you for your post. It’s very encouraging. I’m due to appear for a CBT next week.
    I was just wondering if there are any different sets of materials that one can prepare from, may be a free test like the CBT real version? Or is the material to prepare the same for CBT as the paper based test?

  • Nice review! My fiancé just did the computer-based ielts today and needs the results asap to send her university. What was your experience receiving the results? I don’t see it mentioned anywhere that it is 5-7 business days so we are hoping that it is within a week, period =) Also how long did it take to receive the test results in your mailbox?
    Also, a minor note, but they don’t give you water at any test centre we’ve tried in the UK so far (Cambridge, West London, Central London, North London). Your only chance to quench your thirst is to bring your own label-free, transparent bottle!

  • Thanks for this awesome detailed review!

    I also just sat for the test, just last weekend actually! My test went extremely well and my overall experience was positive.
    In Melbourne CBD IDP test centre, they do give a pen & a paper for each section. So at the end of each section they collect the paper. Therefore, you can’t hope to copy some advanced words from the Reading in order to use them later on for Writing section.

    However, as Jay said, the new test format, somehow, feels reasonably fairer compared to the paper-based.

    • Surbhi Augustine says:

      yes.. they can take it works both ways for NMC requirements and immigration purposes and saves you a huge amount of money spent on a single test . Although, UKVI is quite costlier than actual IELTS Test; but, however, you will have to take UKVI if you migrate to UK

  • It is exactly similar to CELPIP Candian test used for citizenship as well as for PR. The only difference is IELTS speaking its not computerized while it is one on one.

    • It is not like a celpip exam, Celpip is the weirdest thing that I have ever seen, neither having any specific criteria nor enough material. IELTS is totally based on general topics but Celpip is based on the local Canadian issues that are very hard to understand. Did you see their speaking section, may god bless him who created that bullshit. How can they check someone’s level of English by listening on non-existing thing.

    • I found it quite difficult in listening and reading sessions.. It was a bit challenging to skim as compared to paper based and I personally found a bit tough to concentrate..

  • Malka Gunawardane says:

    Hello, thanx for the review on CB IELTS. Do you know whether they accept capital letters in reading and listening sections. Because , they accept either upper case or lower case in paper based test in listening and writing . Do they do same for CBT???

  • Hello,

    I have one more query. Please answer.

    I want to appear for ielts general exam on computer in pakistan.
    In listening test there are 4 sections. now for example, when the test starts and section 1 recording is playing in which recording related to example will play first. will I be able to go to section 2 to have a look after looking at all questions of section 1 and then come back to section 1?
    In this way, I will be able to read 1 or 2 questions from section 2 that normally has more lengthy questions.

    so my question is that will I be allowed to go forward and come backward between listening questions sections on computer??

  • I want to appear for ielts general exam on computer in pakistan.
    In listening test there are 4 sections. now for example, when the test starts and section 1 recording is playing in which recording related to example will play first. will I be able to go to section 2 to have a look after looking at all questions of section 1 and then come back to section 1?
    In this way, I will be able to read 1 or 2 questions from section 2 that normally has more lengthy questions.

    so my question is that will I be allowed to go forward and come backward between listening questions sections??

    • They do not show example first. Since you are NOT given 10 min transfer time in the end you are too busy checking your typos instead of reading next question. I remember that once the section is over you can’t go back. It is ‘game over’ in the end.
      Comoaratively, I found this section difficult (i got 8.5 in paper based and here i slipped to 7.5)

  • I took my CD IELTS a few hours ago and wanted to share some points with you guys:

    1. Spell check does not work in writing or any other section.
    2. Managing time is the problem in reading section.

  • Hi, Really nice Article! Very well written. I have a question, not sure if you would be aware or not, but do you know if I write the computer based IELTS then will it count for my Canada PR? Or will they not accept it since people have been writing only pen and paper based tests till now?

  • Hey Jay,, Do they provide papers to do roughwork like planning the essay before we write ? Kindly reply as soon as possible because I need to take the test sooner.

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  • Dear All,
    Do we get to use a notepad during the IELTS listening in the CBT format ?
    Seems easy to take notes than straight away typing in with the keyboard, and avoids loss of concentration.

    Does anyone know ?

      • Thanks Olivia.
        A quick follow up question.

        So we have 4 sections within listening.
        Do we have freedom to take time for each section out of the allocated 30-34 mins, or is the allocated time for each section preprogrammed ?

        Idea is to spend little as much time possible on the general conversation and general monologue and as much time on section 3 and 4.

        When I did the PBT, the recording was divided into more or less equal sections and played.

  • Hi, just wondering for the IELTS written we need to type in the computer or do we write in a paper. A bit confused and curious to know about it. Thanks for your time.

    • The IELTS Written paper-based exam is all ‘hard copy’ only on paper! Whereas the computer-based IELTS is on a desktop! (Jay took the exam and was given a scratch sheet and pen for quick notes!)
      Hope that helps!
      GOOD LUCK!
      Olivia, & The E2 Team

  • Hi, Thanks for writing such an informative blog.
    I just wanted to know how will be the Speaking Section happen. Will it be taken by computer?

  • i took Computer based ielts just 2 days ago.it went well except writing and speaking. When i take speaking part at that moment when i see the examiner, i just felt like someone punched me on my face. i could not remember even single word, anyway, i will take my results in 3 days now.wish me a like guys?

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