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Is Computer-Based IELTS Easier than Paper: Which Should You Choose

Updated on 22 May, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

For students aspiring to study abroad, IELTS is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests. It is available in both computer and paper-based formats. 
You must be wondering if the computer-based IELTS is easier than the paper-based format.

Both the IELTS computer-based test and the paper version are designed to assess your English language proficiency with the same level of difficulty.  These tests are designed to test candidates' complete proficiency in Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. 

The choice between them depends on your comfort with either typing or handwriting.

In the computer-based test, the candidate has to type the answer on the screen for the Reading, Writing and Listening parts. For the paper-based test, the candidate can use an HB pencil or pen. Read this article to decide which IELTS format is the best for you. 

Difference Between Computer-Based and Paper-Based IELTS Exam


Computer-Based IELTS Test

Paper-Based IELTS Test

Test Format

Reading, Listening, and Writing done on a computer

Reading, Listening, and Writing done on paper

Results Availability

3-5 days

13 days

Test Booking

Find the computer icon and click on it when booking

Find the paper icon and click on it when booking

Test Availability

3 times a day, 7 days a week

4 times a month or  48 times per year

What is Computer-Based IELTS?

IELTS computer-based test is a digital adaptation of the traditional English language proficiency test, where candidates complete the Reading, Listening, and Writing sections on a computer. This format offers the convenience of typing, potentially faster for many individuals than handwriting.

The Speaking section maintains its personal touch with a face-to-face interview conducted by an examiner. The IELTS computer-based test has both technological and human elements. This blend of technology and personal interaction aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of a candidate's English abilities in a format that reflects the digital nature of today's communication.

Advantages of Computer-Based IELTS

The IELTS computer-based test format offers significant advantages for test-takers:

  1. Firstly, it boasts a rapid results turnaround, with scores typically available within 3-5 days, allowing for quicker decision-making regarding applications or further studies. 
  2. Additionally, the test is offered with greater frequency—up to seven days a week—providing flexibility and convenience for scheduling. 
  3. A key benefit is the typing feature, which can be faster and more comfortable than handwriting, especially for those adept at using keyboards. This modern approach to testing aligns with the digital proficiency expected in today's academic and professional environments.

Disadvantages of Computer-Based IELTS

While the IELTS computer-based test offers many benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Some of these are:

  1.  It is best suited for those who are proficient typists; others may find it challenging and prefer the paper-based version. 
  2. Technical difficulties, such as software glitches or hardware malfunctions, can occur, potentially disrupting the exam process.
  3. Unlike the paper-based test, where candidates are allotted extra time to transfer answers from the question paper to the answer sheet after the Listening section, the computer-based test does not provide this additional time, which could add pressure on test-takers.

Is Computer-Based IELTS Easier

As the questions and content for both the computer-based and paper-based formats are the same, the difficulty level also remains unchanged. However, due to its several advantages, the IELTS computer-based test is easier for some students.

Availability of More Test Dates

Since many test centers hold the IELTS computer-based test, there are ample options in terms of test dates and timings. There are also options to choose your slots from. For instance, there is a morning, afternoon, or evening slot to choose from at the candidate's convenience.

Faster Results

One of the major advantages, why applicants think that the computer-based IELTS is easier, is the convenience it offers to a candidate. Opting for a computer-based IELTS can help the user get faster results than the paper-based IELTS test. While the paper-based IELTS test result comes out in 13 days, the computer-based test takes 3-5 days. 

Bye-Bye to Messy Handwriting 

Messy and hard-to-read handwriting is one of the major concerns in an IELTS paper-based test. The computer-based IELTS has made it much easier and more convenient for the students, and they can manage time for each section through typing, which is faster than the handwritten test.

Unlike the paper-based IELTS test, you don’t have to strike out what you don’t want in the answer and can easily rephrase the sentence by deleting it.

Use of Headphones for Better Focus

Concentrating might be a difficult task in a test centre with many students. However, one advantage of taking the computer-based IELTS test is that they allow the use of headphones which help students to concentrate better.
Now that you know the advantages of computer-based IELTS, you can choose the best IELTS format based on your comfort and convenience.

Important Resources to Read About IELTS Exam:

IELTS Writing Task 1 AcademicIELTS Last Minute TipsIELTS Academic Reading
IELTS Speaking Test formatHow IELTS Exam is ConductedIndian Education System Essay
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1IELTS Academic ExamIELTS General Writing Tips Task 2
MBA in Germany Without IELTSHow to Improve IELTS Score from 6.5 to 7IELTS Speaking Tips

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

ielts sample essays

Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are we allowed rough sheets in the IELTS computer-based test?

Yes, test takers are provided with rough sheets during the IELTS computer-based test. Only the mode of the test is computer-based, and all the other things are on par with the paper-based IELTS test.

Can I take an IELTS computer-based test at home?

No, in India the IELTS computer-based test can not be taken at home and must be taken at an official test center.

Do IELTS computer-based tests provide transcripts?

Yes, test takers receive a Test Report Form that includes scores for each section. This is done to make sure complete transparency is maintained throughout the test and test takers don't feel that they are at a disadvantage when taking the computer-based test.

What are the IELTS computer-based test fees?

The fees for the IELTS computer-based test are similar to the paper-based test. Currently, the IELTS computer-based test fee for English proficiency in India is ₹17000.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.