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How does IELTS on computer work?

by IDP IELTS India 15 March, 2021

IELTS or International English Language Testing System recognised as the world's most popular English proficiency test and is recognised by over 10,000 educational and professional institutions across the world.

Available in two formats – IELTS on paper and IELTS on computer, it is a choice you have to make as per your convenience. Don’t worry, whichever format you choose, you can be confident that you are taking the same test with no difference in: content, test timings, structure, marking, question types, security, speaking test and test report form.

To make a well-informed choice as a test taker you should understand the difference between the two types and get familiarised with the test format.

Difference between IELTS on computer and IELTS on paper

IELTS on computer is the same as IELTS on paper. The only difference is that instead of writing your answers on a sheet of paper, you submit them on a desktop computer. It comes with more test dates (up to seven days a week) and you can choose the time slot of your choice (up to three times a day). In fact, IELTS on computer gives you faster results, i.e. within 3-5 days from your test date.


Just like the paper-based test, IELTS on computer also has the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking sections where you need to attempt the three sections on a computer (as opposed to a paper) and the Speaking test face-to-face with a certified IELTS examiner in person.

And mentioned before, the difficulty level, structure and scoring remain the same for both IELTS on computer and IELTS on paper.

Test duration

The total test duration for IELTS on computer is 2 hours and 45 minutes. However, in the computer-delivered Listening test, the timings are slightly different from the paper-based test:

  • You’ll get some time to read your questions before you start any part of the Listening test
  • You’ll have two minutes to review your answers once you finish the Listening test
  • The duration of the Listening test is approx. 30 – 36 minutes

Note: Please remember that the test will automatically close once the time is up.

Listening section

The type of questions remains the same as a paper-based test. You’ll attempt multiple-choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary/sentence completion and short answer questions. IELTS on computer has many tools to help you attempt your Listening section. Here are the most used ones:

Help button: Available at the top of the screen, it helps you find instructions related to your IELTS test.

Navigation bar:It is located at the bottom of your screen and will allow you to see all 40 questions of the section.

Arrow buttons:As the name suggests, you can move across the questions back n forth with these.

Volume buttons:You can also increase/decrease the volume as per your requirement

Once you have submitted your answers, a line will appear under the question number. If in case you decide to edit it, click ‘Review’.

Take up free listening practice test with IDP IELTS India

Reading section

Since the pattern of the computer-delivered IELTS test remains the same as paper-based IELTS test, so the category of the questions will also be uniform across both the platforms comprising of multiple-choice, identifying credentials of the information if it’s true or false, recognise a writer’s views and claims, matching information/ headings/features/sentence endings, sentence/ summary/table/note/flow-chart/diagram completion and short answer questions.

For your Reading test, the screen will be divided into two halves. The left side will have the reading text whereas all the questions will appear on the right side. You can also highlight text and make notes in your passage wherever you want. Do check the screen properly as the questions as well as the passage section may have a scroll bar.

Writing section

Just like other sections, the pattern of both the tests remains uniform. The test is primarily divided into two parts:

  • Part 1: The questions will be in the form of graph, table, chart or diagram in which you have to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words
  • Part 2: You will be asked to write an essay giving your point of view, argument or problem to a certain situation

For any of the sections, you can choose to answer the questions in any order. Your answers will automatically keep saving as you proceed with the test and at the bottom, you’d also see an automatic word counter that will do the job of counting words for you, so you don’t have to.

Take up free practice academic test to test your reading and writing skills

Benefits of IELTS on computer

  • Faster results: With IELTS on computer, the results are declared in just 3-5 days
  • Flexibility: With test slots that are available 7 days a week and up to 3 times a day*, you can choose the time and day convenient to you
  • Automatic word count: Automatic word counter in the Writing task can help you save time
  • Highlight text and make notes: You can highlight text as well as make notes while taking your IELTS on computer
  • Easily edit your answers: The test format allows you to re-write and edit your answers as many times
  • No handwriting woes: Since you have to type, there is no hassle of handwriting at all

Computer-delivered IELTS is specifically designed to cater to the needs of candidates who are more comfortable taking test on a computer and are looking for quicker results with more flexibility in choosing test slots. This method of taking IELTS is convenient but is the same in terms of its format, question types or difficulty level.

So go ahead and register with your IELTS. Use our free sample tests, preparations and other resources to get you ready for your test.

The Test Report Form (TRF)

You will receive a Test Report Form which reports a score in each of the four modules i.e., listening, reading, writing and speaking, as well as an overall band score. Also, half-band scores may be awarded indicating strong performance within a specific band.

If you aren’t satisfied with the results, then you can apply for a re-mark at the same centre where you took the test. But do make your application no later than six weeks after the test date. Also, you can choose which test components are re-marked and there is a fee for this service which will be refunded in case your score in any of the components is increased.

Note: To plan ahead, keep in mind that Enquiries on Results take six to eight weeks to complete.