IELTS Computer or Paper-based test; Make your best option
- December 3, 2020
- Posted by: PEC- Education
- Category: IELTS
IELTS Computer or Paper-based test: The name IELTS is synonymous to English testing when it comes to students and professionals aspiring to go abroad. As such, the IELTS test providers are continuously working to make the test-taking experience better for the test takers. There are two IELTS test versions available now, which test should students go for, IELTS Computer or Paper-based test.
Computer-based testing is one such feature that has recently been introduced to make this test with such a deep history, be more user friendly for everyone. With testing undertaken through an electronic medium, computer-delivered tests are far more accessible. Compared to the Paper-based tests which can only be conducted once a week at most, the computer-based IELTS can be held much more frequently. In some countries, Computer based IELTS exams are held almost every day. This helps to not only give students flexibility in choosing their exam dates but because there are so many exam dates, the number of seats available also increases exponentially. What this means is, now it is possible to book your exam dates spontaneously without worrying about seat availability.
Another advantage of taking the computer delivered IELTS is that test results are obtained much faster. While it takes 13 days to get results for the paper-based format, if you go the computer delivered route you can receive your results in just 5 days!
Many test takers are considering the computer-based IELTS testing format for all the benefits this testing method has over paper-based format. But the question is, from Bangladesh’s perspective do computer-based IELTS testing hold the same benefits? Is there anything of importance you need to be aware of before choosing the computer-based test? And most importantly, despite everything, is a computer-based test suitable for you?
We will try to answer all these questions in this article.
Computer-based test availability in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, IELTS test centers are available in Dhaka, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, and Chattogram. Out of these locations, the computer-based tests have been tentatively made available in Dhaka, Sylhet, and Chattogram. In Centers other than Dhaka, the paper-based tests are conducted once or twice a month while the computer-based tests are available 3-4 times a month.
In Dhaka however, this frequency increases by two-fold. If you are situated in Dhaka you can sit for the paper-based test up to 4 times a month and chose to take the computer-delivered IELTS exam in any of the 5 to 8 available dates every month.
So, Bangladesh has still not reached the point where the full convenience of the computer-testing format can be appreciated by the test takers. The computer-based IELTS is still not popular, so anyone wishing to register will find a relatively free and open atmosphere to take their tests and not compete for seats with other hopefuls. However, with a new batch of graduates who are familiar with the computer as a medium of study, the interest towards computer-based IELTS is likely to grow.
Things you need to know about Computer-based IELTS
The first thing anyone asks when they learn about the Computer-based test is, if there are any genuine differences between the two types of tests.
The simple fact is the two tests are identical in the content, question types, marking, and difficulty level. You also get pretty much the same amount of time to answer each section with slight differences. For the computer-based tests, your Reading and Listening sections will be marked electronically unlike the Paper-based IELTS which requires examiners to score each paper individually. This is the main reason why for computer-based IELTS, results are given out much faster.
Despite the similarity in content, it is not advisable for people to shift from paper based IELTS to computer based midway into their preparation.
Before considering the computer version of the IELTS you need to first ask yourself if you are good at typing. Typing will be the main medium by which you write your essay or answer the various questions in the reading and listening sections. Another point to note for the computer-based exam is you might need to drag, click, type your answers when for paper-based version of IELTS, answering a question just involves writing on a sheet of paper. The page set up for each section of the computer-based exam requires a level of familiarity before a Test taker can take the test confidently. Furthermore, unlike the paper version where you can check or make slight changes until the test administrators take your answer sheets, the computer-based test leaves no window for such corrections. Your screen will be locked as soon as the time’s up.
Which version should you take, IELTS Computer or Paper based?
There is no denying that the frequent test dates and fast results are very appealing features of the computer-delivered IELTS exam. However, before you chose the computer version over the traditional paper version, it is important to dig deep into what answering through a computer actually means.
There are many factual pros and cons for both versions of the IELTS, but the psychological aspect that comes with an individual’s familiarity with paper-based testing is worth consideration. Most of us have given exams on paper all through their school and university life. There is a sense of control that comes with being able to hold and jot down points on your question sheet that you cannot do when the questions are provided for you behind the screen. So, we do recommend trying a computer-based mock to figure out if this will be a problem before making a decision to prepare for it. Now let’s look at the pros and cons of the Computer-based testing method for each section in detail. Do note that the speaking module is completely identical regardless of which version of the IELTS you sit for.
One of the main differences between the computer and paper version is how the Listening test is conducted. In the Paper-based IELTS, there is an additional 10 minutes given to the students to write their answers on the final answer sheet and checking them. However, for the computer-delivered IELTS, this time is not given. You are to write the answer to each question while listening and there is no separate answer sheet to write the answers again. Alternatively, the exam gives a two-minute checking time after all the recordings have been played.
This is one of the main difficulties of the computer-based test. The additional time given two write your final answers gave enough time to check and give each answer after proper deliberation. You could also write a number of relevant words to each question and chose the best one later for the confusing questions. But, a 2-minute checking time leaves no room for that.
Another problem test takers face in the computer based listening test is juggling the many different types of questions in the reading section and knowing the correct way to answer each. You may need to drag words, match, select or type depending on the question. You are also given a note pad for writing notes, but for the Listening section note taking isn’t of much help.
One big advantage of the computer-based Reading test is the page set up. The computer delivered IELTS reading sets up the Reading passage on one side of the screen and the questions on the other side. This removes the hassle of turning the question paper repeatedly to check the passage. The page also has a highlighting feature to highlight parts of the text and a cut/paste feature which diminishes the errors when copying the answer from the passage by hand.
But, due to the question paper being behind a screen you won’t be able to jot down points or words beside the passage. Of course, a notepad and writing paraphernalia are always available and you can use it as you wish if you want to remember points from the passage you read or question keywords. Also, the answers are directly written in the space provided with the questions. I.e. unlike the paper-based test, there is no additional answer sheet. Overall, unless you find it difficult and strenuous to read on screen, there are some positives to taking the Computer-based IELTS.
There are some overwhelming advantages to taking the computer-based writing test provided you are good at typing. In this section, your notepad sees definite use as this can be used to plan your essay well.
The main boon to taking the computer-based test is that you don’t have to count or guess your word count. It will be shown on the screen. Additionally, you can modify your writing much easier when your essay is typed rather than written. The cut/paste feature is essentially a powerful tool that many test-takers take advantage of. With it, you can easily reorder your paragraphs or points after you have written to best structure your passage. If your essay was handwritten, changing the order of your points would require a rewrite and would lead to a lot of time loss. On the other hand, you have to practice using punctuations in your typing as it won’t be automatically done for you. Also, the sounds of other people typing at the same time can be a distraction to your thought process.
Overall, from what you can glean from all this is, while there are some perks to both test types, the ultimate decision depends on your comfort and experience. So, our advice is to try to give the test in the Computer version or the paper version once before choosing the right option.
Overall, from what you can glean form all this is, while there are some perks to both test types, the ultimate decision depends on your comfort and experience. So, our advice is to try to give the test in the IELTS Computer or paper based once before choosing the right option.
At our IELTS coaching center that is PEC-Education, we help students personally overcome some of the difficulties involved in each IELTS version and give out tricks to score well regardless. PEC-Education was a training center set up in 2016 with the aim to not only help students score but guide them and push them forward. We are currently operating at 2 locations in Dhaka: Near the Mirpur 10 roundabout and Uttara Sector 13 behind Shanta Maria University. Besides English and IELTS training we also help students in the study abroad process.
Do check our PEC-Education IELTS Facebook page and our website for more information