DON’T take IELTS on the computer

DON’T take IELTS on the computer!

Choosing Between Computer-Based and Paper-Based IELTS: Pros and Cons

When preparing for IELTS, one of the crucial decisions to make is whether to opt for the computer-based or the traditional paper-based format. This choice can significantly impact your performance and overall experience during the test. In this blog post, we will delve into the pros and cons of each format, helping you make an informed decision based on your preferences and abilities.

Understanding the Formats

The IELTS test is available in two formats: computer-delivered and paper-based. While the content and question types remain the same in both formats, the mode of answering differs. In the computer-based IELTS, you read the questions and type your answers using a keyboard, whereas, in the paper-based test, you write your answers using a pen or pencil.


Listening Module: Time Management

Both formats offer the same content in the Listening module. However, a significant difference lies in time management. In the paper-based test, you get 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet, a feature absent in the computer-based test. This difference can be crucial for those who prefer reviewing their answers.


Reading Test: Interaction with the Text

In the Reading section, the computer format does not easily allow for underlining, highlighting, or crossing out parts of the text. This can make skimming and scanning more challenging compared to the paper-based test, where physical interaction with the text is possible.


Writing Section: Tools and Comfort

The Writing section in both formats involves the same tasks. However, the computer-based test provides a word count and a timer, tools absent in the paper version. On the paper-based IELTS, there is a clock on the wall. So, if you are more comfortable with typing and tracking your progress digitally, the computer format might be more suitable. On the other hand, if you find a natural flow of ideas easier with handwriting, the paper-based format would be ideal.


Speaking Test: A Consistent Experience

The Speaking test remains the same in both formats, involving a face-to-face conversation with an IELTS examiner.


Test Availability and Results Timing

The availability of the test formats varies depending on the country and test center. Generally, computer-based tests are more frequent than paper-based ones. Regarding results, computer-delivered test scores are available within 3-5 days, while paper-based test results take about 13 days.


The table for why paper-based IELTS might be better than the computer.

The table for why paper-based IELTS might be better than the computer.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Format

1. Availability of the Format: If your local test center offers only paper-based IELTS, it’s wise to opt for that.

2. Familiarity with Computers: If you are not comfortable with computers or fear technical issues, the paper-based test is a safer choice.

3. Dependency on Paper: Those who find it challenging to read and type on a screen might prefer paper-based IELTS.

4. Eye Strain: Prolonged exposure to computer screens can cause eye strain. If this is a concern, consider the paper-based format.

5. Typing Speed: Slow typists may find the paper-based test more to their advantage.

6. Test Anxiety: If traditional test formats are more comforting and reduce your anxiety, the paper-based test is the better option.


When to Consider Computer-Based IELTS

If your handwriting is not neat and legible.
If you can’t wait until the next available paper-based IELTS

Or if you can’t wait for your IELTS test results to be issued in 13 days.



The choice between computer-based and paper-based IELTS ultimately boils down to personal comfort and preference. Consider your typing skills, comfort with technology, and how you interact with text (digital vs. physical) when making this decision. Remember, your comfort level plays a crucial role in your performance.


Engage with Us

What’s your preferred IELTS format? Share your choice in the comments section and discuss why you believe it’s the best option for you. Your insights might help others make their decision!


Stay Updated

For more tips and strategies to ace your IELTS, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We regularly update you with useful information to help you achieve a high score on your IELTS.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck on your IELTS journey!


About the Author

About the Author

CEO and Co-founder of Juice Academy

Mehdi Safavi is a Cambridge certified English teacher (CELTA Grade A), IDP-trained IELTS expert, Sussex Downs College TESOL with 17+ years of teaching & teacher training experience. More about him →


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IELTS Listening Course

IELTS Listening

Best approaches to each part of the IELTS Listening test


IELTS Reading

All the strategies you need for success in IELTS reading

IELTS writing

IELTS Writing

How to write letters, reports & essays based on IELTS criteria

IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking

Top tips and speaking practice materials for the three parts


IELTS Essential Words

Absolutely essential words for the IELTS test


What’s IELTS

An introductory course providing an overview of the IELTS test and format.


One Word or Two

Focusing on words that may appear to be composed of two separate parts but are, in fact, written as a single word.

IELTS Courses

Looking for a complete online IELTS course with international IELTS experts?