Differences: Computer-based IELTS vs Paper-based IELTS

Understand the Distinctions Between the IELTS Offline and Online Exams

PI - Prepare IELTS


Distinctions Between the IELTS Offline and Online Exams


The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam is crucial for individuals seeking to prove their English language proficiency, often for purposes such as immigration, study abroad, or employment. In recent years, the availability of the IELTS exam has expanded to include both online and offline formats, IELTS online Vs offline, providing test-takers with more options than ever before. However, many students are confused about choosing IELTS offline or online.

Therefore, in this blog, we'll explore the key differences between the IELTS online Vs offline exam, helping you make an informed choice based on your unique circumstances and preferences.

What is Paper Based IELTS?

The paper-based IELTS is a traditional format of the IELTS test. In this version, test-takers receive a physical test booklet for the listening, reading, and writing sections. They listen to recorded materials, read texts, and write their responses on paper. The speaking section, however, is conducted as a face-to-face interview with an examiner.

Paper-based IELTS follows a fixed schedule and is available in locations where computer-based testing is not offered. It assesses the same language skills as the computer-based IELTS, offering an alternative for test-takers based on their preferences and local test centre availability.

What is Computer-Based IELTS?

The computer-based IELTS is a format of the IELTS test that replaces the traditional paper-based version with a computerised format. Test-takers complete the listening, reading, and writing sections on a computer, while the speaking section remains face-to-face with an examiner.

This format offers benefits such as quicker results, more test date options, and the ability to type written responses. The content and scoring criteria are the same as the paper-based IELTS, ensuring a consistent evaluation of English language skills. It's important to check for test availability and details on the official IELTS website, as options may vary by location.

Difference Between IELTS on Computer Vs Paper

In the table below, let’s explore the difference between IELTS online Vs IELTS offline:

Basis of Difference Computer Based IELTS Paper Based IELTS

Delivery format

Complete the Reading, Listening and Writing parts of the test using a computer and the Speaking test face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

Complete the Reading, Listening and Writing parts of the test on paper and the Speaking part face-to-face with an IELTS examiner


Results will be available 3 to 5 days after taking your test

Results will be available 13 days after taking your test


Look for the computer icon when you book your test

Look for the paper icon when you book your test

Test availability

Testing up to 7 days a week and 3 times a day

Testing up to 48 days per year (Thursday and Saturday)

Advantages of Computer Based IELTS

The following are the benefits of appearing for computer-based IELTS:


  • Faster Results: Test-takers typically receive their IELTS results in 3 to 5 days, compared to the 13 days for the paper-based version.

  • Computer-based IELTS often provides more frequent test date options, allowing greater flexibility for scheduling exams.

  • In the writing section, you can type your responses, which may be more comfortable and convenient for some candidates. Also, there is no need to count words because the word count for the Writing portion is available on the screen.

  • Generally, the test centres of computer-based IELTS have smaller rooms or settings with fewer aspirants, allowing for greater attention and less stress.

  • You can highlight text and make notes on the computer screen during the reading section, which can aid in comprehension and organisation.

  • Students can easily see the duration of the test on the screen. When the candidate has 10 and 5 minutes left on the Reading and Writing tests, the timer on the screen will turn red. This allows candidates to complete the paper on time.

  • In the paper-based version, legible handwriting is crucial, but computer-based IELTS eliminates concerns about this. Also, the candidate can conveniently edit their content.

  • During the Listening section, you can easily increase or decrease the volume as per your convenience.

  • The screen will contain a navigation bar so the applicant may see their progress at the bottom and track the answers they missed.

Advantages of Paper Based IELTS

Now, let's check some of the advantages of appearing for paper-based IELTS below:


  • Many test-takers are more comfortable with traditional paper-and-pencil exams, and the paper-based format might feel more familiar and less intimidating.

  • Some people prefer writing their responses by hand, especially in the writing section, as it allows them to express themselves more naturally. Therefore, it offers greater scope to avoid spelling and other grammatical mistakes while writing. 

  • Paper-based IELTS eliminates concerns about technical glitches or computer-related issues that can occur in computer-based tests.

  • It follows a fixed schedule so test-takers can plan in advance, and it's not dependent on computer-based test centre availability.

  • Test takers receive their scores for the listening and reading sections immediately after completing the test.

Disadvantages of Computer Based IELTS

While computer based IELTS offers several advantages, it also has some disadvantages, such as:


  • The candidate will not have an extra 10 minutes following the Listening test to transfer their answers, like in the paper-based approach.

  • Test-takers may encounter technical problems with computers, such as software glitches or hardware malfunctions, which can be stressful during the exam.

  • At centres, the candidate can hear individuals typing behind them, which can be a huge distraction.

  • To appear for an IELTS computer based test, a candidate must acquire certain skills, such as scrolling, clicking, navigating, clearing, highlighting, copying and pasting, dragging and typing, and so on.

  • Computer based IELTS may not be available in all locations, limiting access for some test-takers who prefer this format. 

  • The candidate cannot draw or write in the Writing Task, which may be difficult for some.

  • In IELTS computer based exam, the speaking section remains a face-to-face interview with an examiner, and you won't receive instant scores.

Disadvantages of IELTS Paper Based

The following are some of the drawbacks of the IELTS paper based test:


  • Test-takers have to wait longer for their results, typically up to 13 days, compared to the faster turnaround of computer based IELTS.

  • IELTS paper based test often offers fewer test dates and may have limited availability in some locations, making it less flexible for scheduling.

  • You’ll have to count the number of words manually.

  • Neat and legible handwriting is essential in the paper-based writing section, and poor handwriting can affect the examiner's ability to assess your writing accurately.

  • Transferring responses into the answer box is a risky process.

  • Results are available late as compared to IELTS pen and paper test.

  • Unlike computer-based IELTS, you cannot highlight text or make notes on the screen during the reading section.


In conclusion, whether you choose the IELTS Test on Computer or Paper, both options have advantages and considerations. The IELTS online exam offers the convenience of taking the test from the comfort of your home, with flexible scheduling. In contrast, the IELTS offline exam provides a traditional in-person testing experience.

We recommend thoroughly researching the requirements and expectations of your intended institutions or organisations and making your choice accordingly. Whichever format you choose, with proper preparation and determination, you can achieve success in the IELTS exam and reach your English language goals.

So, if you are also ready to appear for the IELTS exam and want to plan your test strategically, we recommend you sign up for our IELTS Courses designed by our experts. If you need further guidance, please contact Prepare IELTS (PI) expert counsellors. Our team of education experts is dedicated to assisting you in the best possible way for the IELTS exam. You can also get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at info@prepareieltsexam.com or call us at +91 9773398388.


To switch from a paper-based IELTS test to a computer-based test, students must contact their test centre directly. Changing from a paper-based IELTS test to a computer-based test implies that the candidate will receive all the necessary devices and equipment for the test.

While both the computer-based and paper-based IELTS have the same difficulty level, It has been observed that the students feel that the computer-based test is more manageable.

Yes, the content and scoring criteria for the IELTS online and offline exams are identical, ensuring fairness and consistency.

Consider factors like your internet connectivity, comfort with technology, test-taking environment, and the requirements of your intended institutions or organisations.


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