The New IELTS Computer Test: Everything you need to know



I'm Rebecca from

In this video I'm going to explain to you about the new IELTS test, which is called


That stands for "Computer-Delivered Test".

Now, there was and there still is another IELTS test also available, at least at the

time that we're recording this lesson, which is called the PBT, which stands for "Paper-Based


Now, if you're taking the IELTS or if you are re-taking the IELTS, it's really important

for you to understand the differences between these two exams, which I'm going to explain

to you here.

We're going to talk about how they're similar, how they are different, and also which exam

you should choose to take based on what those similarities and differences are, based on

your personality, your skills, your preferences, and so on.

And I'm also going to share with you some of the feedback that I've been receiving from

my students who have appeared for both the paper-based test and the computer-delivered



So, let's get started.

So, first let's look at how these two exams are similar.


So, if you've never done the IELTS, then you need to do some basic homework.


So, the IELTS is an English proficiency exam.

All right?

And it stands for "International English Language Testing System; the IELTS".


And it has four sections.

Like many English proficiency exams, it has reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

So, in terms of these two tests-okay?-the paper and the computer one, the content is

the same.

That means you're not going to be asked harder or easier things if you take the paper one

or the computer one.

The content is the same.

The sections are the same, as in the four sections that I mentioned.


Both tests have four sections.

The timing is exactly the same.


So you have 60 minutes for reading, 30 minutes for listening, 60 minutes for writing, and

about 15 to 20 minutes for a speaking interview.


So, the overall length of the exam is the same.


It's about two hours and 45 minutes.

That part is the same.

The scoring is also the same.

They are not judging you differently based on which form of the test that you took.


The scoring rubric, the scoring criteria are the same.

Next, the speaking part of the test is exactly the same.


Because the speaking is not done on paper or on computer.

If you've ever appeared for the exam before or if you've read about it, then you will

know that the speaking part of the IELTS test is done with you face-to-face with an examiner.


And so, that part is the same.


So we're not going to talk very much about that because that part is exactly the same.

That's the speaking.

We are going to talk about the other sections and how they are different.


So, let's get to that.

Let's talk about that first.

So, here, I've talked about the content, the academic part of the test; and, here, I'm

going to explain to you about some of the administrative differences-okay?-and how that

will affect you or may affect you.

So, we said the speaking part of the test is the same; however, reading, listening,

and writing, even though the content is the same, the experience is going to be very different

for you, whether you're doing the paper-based test or the computer-based test.


Because you are different.


Some people are very comfortable using the computer.


And when you do that computer test, you should be someone who is really computer literate;

you should be very comfortable navigating around a screen, scrolling, clicking on answers,

clearing answers, highlighting text, typing on a keyboard, using the mouse, and so on.


If you are someone like that, if this describes you, then you would probably be quite comfortable

doing that computer test.


However, if you're someone who gets confused when you see lots of instructions, and you

have to go forward, you have to go back, there are arrows, and you get confused by computer

By working on computers, then first and foremost overall, you might be better off taking the

paper-based test-okay?-which basically is just a test on a piece of paper and with a

pen and pencil.


So, that's overall.

But that's not the only thing to think about.

So, I'm going to explain to you some

Go into detail and explain to you about some of the differences in the reading, the listening,

and especially in the writing-there's a big difference in the writing-and we will look

at each of these sections separately.


But now let's look at some of the administrative differences, and the differences in terms

of experience.


So, what's similar is that in both cases, in both tests you would get a test report

and you'll get a certificate from IELTS to say that you've done this exam and these are

your scores.


So that part is the same.

In terms of the experience, so when you do the paper-based test



This is not exactly the same; this is a little bit different.

You enter a big hall-okay?-in which everybody sits together at a desk, and they get a paper

test, and then they work on the test.

All right?

Whereas here, you would enter a hall-okay?-a room, but there are cubicles.


There are different sections with a computer, and each person is sitting in front of their

computer inside a little cubicle.


It's not completely closed-all right?-so you can still hear other people, and you can hear

their keyboards, and so on - and these are some of the factors that you have to keep

in mind, which I will explain more as we go along.

Some administrative differences.

So, because of the computer-based test now in many locations and in many countries

In fact, there are about

I think currently about more than 25 countries where the computer-based test is being offered

as an option.


You can choose.

But usually for the computer test, they have more test dates available.


That's how the computer test is different; really different.

And this can be important for you if you need to do your IELTS very quickly, or you feel

you might not make it the first time and you'll need to do it again.

But ifwith the paper-based test there were very few test dates sometimes or they

were all booked because there were such few dates; and therefore, students had to wait

for a long time before they could appear.

But now there are more test dates available.


Also, the results are must faster.

Previously, you had to wait for even up to two weeks - 10 to 14 days usually to get your

score, but now the results are much faster; you get them in about five to seven days,

and some of my students have told me they even got their score after two or three days.


So if that's important to you, that's a factor.

Also because there are more test dates, and basically people are working on the computer,

so the rooms are usually less crowded because there are not that many people going for a

few dates; there are many different dates, and so it might be less crowded.

Now, that experience is still different because people are working on keyboards and there

is noise, but overall it's less crowded, in case that matters to you.


And as I said, you will be sitting individually with yourin a cubicle with a computer

in front of you, and you have headphones, and a keyboard, and a mouse.


So, now let's look at some of the specific differences, especially in the writing section,

but also in reading and listening, and how this experience might affect you; and therefore,

which exam you might prefer to do.


I'll be right back with that.

Okay, so we're going to start by looking at the listening section and how that experience

is different in the computer test.

So, first of all, because you're working on the computer, you will have the computer in

front of you, plus you'll be given headphones, so you need to put on your headphones and

that's how you will listen to the passages.

You will hear them only once, and what's different here from the paper-based test, in case you

took that one before, is that as you listen, you need to type the answers directly onto

the computer in the right place, so you might be typing directly into a blank if you need

to fill in the blank or you could be typing directly into a table in the right spot on

the computer - on the table-right?-or on the chart, or you could be typing directly into

a diagram to label something as it's being described in the listening passage.


Or another option is that sometimes you're asked to drag and drop answers into the right

place, or into the chart, or into the table.

So, as I mentioned before, this is something that you need to be comfortable doing.

You have toif you have to ask or look up what it means to drag and drop - that's

a little bit tricky.

You should know already what it means to drag some information, an answer, and drop it into

a particular spot on a table or something else, because otherwise please choose the

paper-based test, which is also still available, at least right now when I'm filming this.


So, again, as I mentioned, computer skills are important.

But what happens because you're typing the answers directly?

Well, this is the most important point that's been reported to me by my students that they

are not very happy about.

They're not happy with the fact that they no longer have 10 minutes at the end of the

listening test to transfer their answers.

Because when they did that, they had a little more time to correct any possible spelling

mistakes-okay?-so that's really something that you have to keep in mind.

If you're worried about your spelling, on the paper-based test, you know, you write

your answers and then you transfer them to the answer sheet, and they give you 10 minutes

to do that, but now you don't do that.

You're typing your answers in right away, and you have a little time within each section

and a little time between each section, but not very much, and nothing like this 10 minutes

that you once had or that you could have on the paper-based test.

So, if that's important to you, then keep that in mind when you're deciding which test

to do.

The other thing is, because you don't have a paper-based test here, you can't circle

key words - what you can do to help you as you're trying to figure out what the right

answer is, you can click and select certain points or highlight them as you go along,

but you must know how to do that and feel comfortable doing it quickly, while you're

listening, while you're trying to write the answers.


And also some students have reported to me that they have a bit of an issue because they

need to scroll down to look at all the questions, and they don't sometimes realize that there

are more questions, so this is all something that you have to be comfortable with.


Again, it's not hard, there are many people who are doing this successfully; and I'm sure

if you choose it, you will learn how to do that, but learn it beforehand.


Don't learn it at the time of the test.

And, again, as I mention, you need to type while you're listening so your spelling is

really important.

So you also need to check

You're checking your spelling while you're at the same time listening for future answers,

and so on.


So, again, these are some of the points you need to keep in mind in the listening section

if you decide to do the computer-delivered test.

Now let's look at the reading section.

Okay, so let's look at the reading section now.

So, basically, you'll have your computer screen, and your screen will be divided in half, more

or less in half, with the reading on one side like you can see here, and the questions on

the other side.


Then you have two scroll bars, as indicated in blue here, so you have a scroll bar for

the reading section, so you can scroll up and down the reading section; and you have

a scroll bar for the question and answer section, so you can scroll up and down there as well.

And you have to remember to do that and not forget when you're answering a question here

and look for the answers just here, and remember that there is more text below.


So, remember that.

And then, of course, you will probably have to click on some answers, as you know there

are different types of questions in the reading exam; multiple choice, fill in the blank,

tables, and so on.

All right?

So you would have to click in the answer, the right answer.

If you want

If you choose the wrong answer, you have to know how to unclick that one and choose the

right one.

Sometimes you're given a table, let's say on this side, you're asked to find information

from the reading and click on the right box in the table that will be over here, so that's

something else that you need to be able to navigate and do.

Again, if you're used to using a computer, this is really nothing; this is part of probably

what you do every day, so don't let it worry you.

But if you're not comfortable with these things, then keep that in mind, please.

As I mentioned, you also have some questions where you might have to drag and drop the

answers from this section to that section.

For example, you know, sometimes you're asked for a…

The correct way to summarize the content of a particular paragraph.

So maybe they have the options here, and you're going to drag and drop them over here.

And if you're wrong, then you need to replace them, and so on.

You also have some fill-in-the-gap answers.

Now, one of the features that you have here is that you can highlight the text, here.

Again, you have to know how to highlight it or unhighlight itunhighlight it.


And you could also change your answers, of course, you can do that.

And in this section, in the reading you also have an option where you can kind of, like,

open up a small notepad or Post-it note, and write some notes there if you have time.

And there is overall a help section.

Again, do you want to be spending the time during your test checking out that help section?

Probably not.

But if you need to or you get stuck, then it's there.


So, what's important is that you learn

You do these tutorials that the IELTS has on their website that

So that you become comfortable in using this computer-based test, and navigating the different



I'll tell you a little bit more about that later.

Now let's look at the really important section: The writing section.


So now let's go to writing.

So, whether you're doing the IELTS General or the IELTS Academic, you have two sections.


You always have an essay, which you have to do on either one of those exams; and then

the first task is a little bit different.

In the general you have to write a letter; and in the academic you have a graph, or a

chart, or some information that you need to describe.

All right?

Now, that's true in general; it doesn't matter whether you're doing the paper-based test

or you're doing the computer-delivered test.


But let's see now: What's different?

And how the writing section can actually be a lot easier in the computer-delivered test.


Let's see why.

So, first of all, because you're going to type the answer - you don't have to write

it by hand, and that does create a lot of advantages for you, in my opinion anyway.

So, first of all, there's no handwriting.

So, in case your handwriting's not very good or it's not clear, and it's possible that

the examiner could think that you have a spelling mistake just because your writing isn't very

good and you're not used to writing, then this problem is eliminated.


Once you type your answer in, of course, if you have a spelling mistake, it's still going

to be wrong, but it's not going to be wrong because it looked wrong-okay?-but only if

it is wrong, and yes they will minus marks for spelling mistakes.

But you can type your answer.

Now, many people today can type faster, so it's faster to type on a keyboard.


For many people.

Maybe not for you, but probably.

It's clearer, as I said, than handwriting.

Another really important point for many people is that a word count is available on the computer

test, so as you type you will see the word count, so you will know because you have to

write about 250 words, and some people can judge that even on the paper-based test, and

some people find it very difficult to know that.

So, this way you will know exactly, and that is an important point because if you write

a much shorter essay, for example, then you will lose marks.


So you don't want to lose marks because it's too short or it's way, way, way too long.

All right?

Secondly, because you're typing, editing and restructuring your essay becomes a lot easier.

So, what happened in the paper-based test is that if you needed to change something,

which is quite possible, even if you plan beforehand, you sometimes need to

You have different ideas and you need to change something, so it starts to look a little bit

messy, and you're crossing out things and you're adding things.

But that's all eliminated with the computer-based test because you're just typing directly on

the screen into the computer, and basically you can edit and move things around if you

need to.


Again, it's going to be similar to the reading section; the screen is divided into two, you'll

see the information or the question on the left, you'll have space on the right to write

your answer, and that's basically it.

On both the reading and the writing sections, you have kind of a…

You do have a clock and it does sort of flash usually when you have 10 minutes left and

five minutes left.


And in the writing section, because you have two sections, you can decide which section

you do first.

All right?

That's up to you.

Now, here are a few suggestions.

Especially if you want to plan your essay beforehand or make notes before you actually

write it

Type it into the computer, you might want to ask for some paper and a pen.

I know that one of my students had a little problem getting that paper, but I would find

out about that beforehand and make sure.

And also some students have told me that they find it very distracting, however, that they

can hear the "clack, clack, clack" noise of the keyboard from all over the room.

So, if that happens to you and you find yourself getting distracted, you might want to use

the headphones which are still there and just, you know, protect yourself from that noise

and that distraction.


On the other hand

And in fact, some people suggest that you could use those headphones all through your

exam just to prevent distraction and to keep you focused.


So, these are some of the main points that I've discussed today about this new IELTS

test which, as I said, is available today as a choice - the paper-based test or the

computer-delivered test.

Now, even though there's a lot to do to prepare for the IELTS exam, you can do it.

There are millions of students who have done it and are doing it.


But you want to do two things.

You want to have this test knowledge like I've given you now.

This is test knowledge; information about the test; the strategies of the test, and

so on, that's a little bit different.

So, as you know, go to our website at; there you'll find hundreds of lessons which

help you with strategies, and techniques, and tips to actually do better on and score

higher on this exam because it is a challenging exam; there's no question about it.


So, make sure that your test knowledge is good so you know what to expect, and also

make sure that your English skills and aptitude is good.

All right?

So, the other thing you can do to make sure that you've understood some of these points

is to do a test.


Do a quiz at our website at, as I said,

And that way you can make sure that you understand this part, and it might help you to decide

whether you should do the paper-based test or the computer-delivered test.

And one way or the other, you know that I wish you the very, very best.

I have lots of other IELTS videos which you might want to check into.

And also subscribe, because as I have new lessons, that way you will know that when

you ring the bell that I have a new lesson, and perhaps that lesson can make all the difference.

Lots of people say that watching some of our engVid IELTS and TOEFL videos have made all

the difference in their success, and I wish you the same.


Bye for now.

Take care.

By the way, one more point: In addition to everything that I've told you here, don't

forget, of course, to check with the official IELTS website and also with your local test

centre to find out all the necessary details that you need to do and be aware of before

you appear for your IELTS exam.


Bye, and all the best.