I don’t know if you’ve heard — not many people have — but you can now take the IELTS on a computer. For the time being it’s only being offered in this format in Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia, but 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.
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.
- Jay’s overall impression of the computer-delivered exam was positive.
- Jay thinks that using the headphones during the reading and writing sections is distracting.
- Jay thought that the free bottles of water were a nice gesture.
- Jay got straight 9s.
- NOT GIVEN (yet)!
Written by Jay