The IELTS have been paper-based since they started around 30 years ago.
But that is changing.
It’s only natural that the progress in technology will make its way into education and testing. IELTS candidates now have the option to take the test on a computer. This option has been rolled out in Delhi, India, since August 2018.
The good news is it is optional and it is the same. The computer-based tests (CBT) and the paper-based tests (PBT) have the same format and level of difficulty. The added advantage is that candidates who are comfortable with typing and using a computer will be able to optimise time well.
What is computer-based IELTS?
Computer-based IELTS allow you to take the listening, reading and writing sections on a computer. The speaking section remains a one-to-one format with an examiner. You will have to go, on your allotted date, to a lab centre where all the equipment you need to complete the test will be present. You will get your own system with headphones, a keyboard and mouse to finish the test.
The result will be delivered within 5 to 7 days which is much faster than the paper-based format.
We all use modern gadgets and computer is something which we all have been using for decades now. And it becomes easier for students who are good at using their computer stations to take the exam while benefiting from the below merits.
- Quick results in a span of less than 1 week
- Individually allotted computer stations
- Computer stations have required equipment to make the exam easier
- Everyone gets their own station and waiting time decreases
- Clock showing time left for sessions/task
So, what changes with the Computer-based IELTS?
With the CBT there are some components that become easier to execute.
- Handwriting isn’t a factor that affects your score. Teach yourself to type well and quickly
- The word count in the writing test appears in a corner of the screen so you don’t have to waste time counting
- There is more scope for editing and restructuring. Your paper will not have strike-throughs, lousy handwriting or appear messy
- The format for the test is the same so it doesn’t affect the components your paper is scored on or your preparation so far
- The preparation for both the tests is the same while taking out the limitation of illegible writing and the scope of editing
How should I prepare for the Computer-based IELTS?
The question format for the general and academic tests is exactly the same as in the PBT. Keep developing your skills in the English language like you would for the test. The challenge here is to build your comfort and speed with the keyboard and understand how computers function. If you aren’t comfortable with using a computer, plug that into your study plan. There are multiple coaching schools offering online tests. Take as many as you can to understand how to proceed when giving the actual test.
How do Computer-based tests work?
The test starts with listening, proceeds to reading and writing, and ends with an examiner conducting the speaking test in a separate room.
- Test Starting: Once you are seated in your computer booth, you have to press a button called ‘Start Test’. This will take you to the questions where the instructions will be displayed in a box at the top. The text and probable answers will appear on a screen.
- Selecting Questions: A bar at the bottom of the screen that will display question numbers. You can click on any number to go directly to that question. When you answer a question, a line appears under the number. You also have the option to mark a question for reviewing.
- Review Marked Questions: A circle will appear around the question number marked for reviewing. Here you can use the navigation bar to save time by jumping to these questions at the end. Your answers can be changed anytime before the test ends.
- Clock That Helps: You will have a clock displayed at the top of the screen which shows you how much time you have left before the next component begins. When you have 10 and 5 minutes left the clock will flash red. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just a warning to take note of the time and review your answers. You can also highlight text and black out the screen if you need to leave the room.
Why Computer IELTS is Trending
The only way to progress is to look forward. The CBT is a way to streamline the process of IELTS while building ease of use for candidates. Remember that when you study at a university or work in an office, computers will be enablers for effectiveness. Since it is optional and will be rolled out in more cities in the future, you can choose to take it or not. The ultimate goal should be to familiarise yourself with computers as soon as possible to make your move to a new country smooth sailing.