The IELTS has been paper-based since it 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 that it is optional and it is the same. The IELTS 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 optimize time well.

What is Computer-based IELTS?

Computer-based IELTS is a computer-delivered IELTS that allows you to take the listening, reading, and writing sections on a computer. It is generally called IDP computer-based IELTS because IDP was the organisation that first made it possible.

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 a mouse to finish the test.

The result will be delivered within 5 to 7 days which is much faster than the paper-based format.

Also Read:- IELTS Previous Year Question Papers: Speaking Cue Card Question with Answer

What are the Merits of CBT IELTS?

We are sure that you want to know the merits of the computer-based IELTS examination.  We all use modern gadgets and computers are 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.

#1. Quick results in a span of less than 1 week

#2. Individually allotted computer stations

#3. Computer stations have required equipment to make the exam easier

#4. Everyone gets their own station and waiting time decreases

#5. Clock showing time left for sessions/task

After knowing about the merits you might get confused about whether to take the CBT IELTS Exam or to go for the Paper-Based IELTS exam. But this is your decision to make after analyzing the pros and cons of both.

So, What Changes with the Computer-based IELTS?

With the CBT there are some components that become easier to execute.

#1. Handwriting isn’t a factor that affects your score. Teach yourself to type well and quickly. If you are good at writing on a laptop, then you will find it easy to give IELTS Exam in CBT.

#2.  The word count in the writing test appears in a corner of the screen so you don’t have to waste time counting. This can be of great help when the time is running on your head you will not have to count each word again and again. 

#3. There is more scope for editing and restructuring. Your paper will not have strike-throughs, lousy handwriting, or appear messy.

#4. 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.

#5. The preparation for both the tests is the same while taking out the limitation of illegible writing and the scope of editing.

Also Read:-IELTS Score Validity: How Long is IELTS Score Valid? Facts You Should Know

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.

You have to make sure that in less time you are able to write much. British Council IELTS or IDP IELTS examination has a stipulated time, in this stipulated time your band score will depend on whether you complete the exam within the time and with greater accuracy. If you are choosing the CBT way of giving the IELTS exam, then you have to start your practice session.

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 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.

Also Read:-Talk About an Interesting Conversation: IELTS Cue Card Sample Answer

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 blackout 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.

Also Read:- Recent Exam Question in IELTS Writing Task 2 (Traditions & Culture)


When you are planning to give the IELTS examination, you have to choose between a CBT or a paper-based examination. Once you choose and register yourself for the IELTS examination you have to make sure that you know how to give the IELTS examination in the way you have chosen. If you are choosing the CBT, then you should focus on your typing skills and if you are planning PBT then you should focus on your handwriting which should be such that it is easily understood by the examiner. In this article, you will get to know all about CBT which has become a popular way of giving the IELTS examination. For further information, you can check out the IELTS Ninja website and you can start your practice or you can also know about IELTS from A to Z. 

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