IELTS computer-delivered testing; a new option



Since 1989, IELTS has been a paper-based test, with candidates handwriting their tasks and filling in answer sheets with pencils or pens.

Things are changing:

Computer-delivered IELTS is now available.

From December 2017, IELTS will be introducing a computer-delivered option in addition to the traditional paper-based test. It is currently being offered by IDP in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

How is computer-delivered IELTS different?

Here’s a quick summary of what this new option will mean for candidates:

  • Faster results (5-7 days)
  • More test dates available
  • Reading, Writing, Listening tests will be done on computer
  • No change to test format and timing
  • Writing will still be assessed by a human examiner, not a computer
  • Speaking will remain 1:1 with an examiner


So, the big question now is:

Which test is best for me?

Well, here are some things to consider:

Previous preparation

In the short term, if you’ve already prepared for and are familiar with the test in its paper-based format, it makes sense to take that one. Currently, there aren’t many practice materials available for the computer format but once they become available, you should experiment with them before choosing which one suits you best.

Do you like to annotate and note-take with your pencil?

In the paper-based test, you can scribble and draw all over your reading and listening papers and, indeed, many find this kind of annotating and note-taking to be crucial parts of their strategy. In the computer-based test, you can highlight and take notes on the screen by right-clicking. You can also still use a pen and paper if you prefer that method.

IELTS computer-delivered
You can still use a pencil to take notes in the computer-delivered test.

Is your handwriting a mess?

Examiners see all kinds of handwriting and rarely encounter a script that they cannot decipher. However, if your handwriting is truly illegible, and you’re more confident typing, then computer-based may suit you. If you’re not sure, send us a sample of your writing and our IELTS experts will be able to advise you!

Do you need your results quickly?

Results for the paper version of IELTS usually take 2 weeks but computer-delivered will be available in 5-7 days, so computer is a better choice for those in a hurry.

Are you tech savvy?

This is a no-brainer, but if you are an extremely slow typer, or find technology daunting, then stick with the paper-based test!


For a clearer idea of how the computer-based test works, check out this short tutorial:


Click here for some computer-delivered sample Listening tasks or here for some Reading tasks.


So, in the end, it’s the same test, scored in the same way, with Speaking remaining 1:1 with an examiner. It really comes down to whether you’re a typer or a writer. Whatever version of the test you take, preparation is essential!

Send us a message if you’d like to discuss yours with our IELTS experts.


  1. April 4, 2018

    I have a question about the listening part: Can I go to part 2, 3 or 4 while the introductory recording is playing at the start of section 1? In the paper-based IELTS, I used this time to go through the other sections and underline key words. I would love to have the opportunity to do the same in the computer-delivered test too but I am not sure how it’s handled and I cannot find a complete listening practice test that would reveal this.

    • Director
      April 5, 2018

      Hi Ana,
      Yes, you can read ahead at any time. Good luck with your exam!

  2. May 7, 2018

    Are you allowed to have a notepad or a piece of paper to write on while doing the computer based exam?

    • Director
      May 7, 2018

      Hi Michelle,
      Yes you get a piece of paper and pen to use. You can also highlight and take notes on the screen…

  3. May 21, 2018

    Will there be a transfer time (10mins) for the listening test? In case I opt for a paper and pencil for taking notes.

    • Director
      May 21, 2018

      Hi Dawn,
      No there isn’t the extra 10 minutes at the end like in the paper test. But you have extra time throughout the test when you can fill in the answers.

  4. July 14, 2018


    Where can I get computer based full length practise tests?


    • Director
      July 15, 2018

      Hi Mourina,
      There are some practice tests on this site:
      They’re not official Cambridge tests but they are very similar to the format of the computer-delivered tests.

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