The IELTS has been traditionally conducted as a paper-based English test for almost three decades now. However, with the emergence of better computer-based technologies, the increasing trend of using technology to deliver education and testing, IELTS has now introduced computer-based tests (CBT) in addition to the existing paper-based tests (PBT) in Australia this year. The option was available for IELTS test-takers for UK Visas and Immigration since March 2016.

It must be noted that both CBT and PBT options remain open for test-takers.

IELTS as a test remains the same, but now computers will also deliver the exam, enabling multiple sessions in a single day, and faster delivery of results. According to the IELTS website, the option for CBT IELTS in Australia is currently available at Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and the University of Technology, Sydney. The trend of CBT is likely to find more favor around the world, as technologies develop further, and test-takers continue to look for better, and more streamlined pathways of evaluation. In all probability, the future will be one, wherein CBT and PBT will complement each other, as equally relevant and critical testing methodologies. Therefore, it is crucial that your IELTS test preparation is fine-tuned enough to handle the CBT.

If you are a test-taker, here are five crucial points you must keep in mind about the IELTS CBT:

1. Which components of the test come under CBT?

The listening, reading and writing elements of IELTS will come under CBT. The IELTS website says that all the aspects of the CBT are similar to the PBT, including the type of questions asked, the content, timings, and also the marking. The IELTS speaking test remains the same and will be conducted face-to-face with a human examiner. Human examiners will evaluate the Writing and Speaking components.

2. If I take the CBT, how long will it take for the test results to be made available?

The test results will be available in 5-7 days.

3. Will taking the test on a computer affect my performance and score in IELTS?

No. According to a study conducted by researchers Cyril Weir, Barry O''Sullivan, Jin Yan, Jiao Tong University, and Steven Bax, there is no difference in performance between the two modes. The study found that there was no significant difference in the scores awarded by two independent evaluators for the same candidates performances on the tests, one CBT and the other PBT. Further, the effect of computer familiarity on how one performs in CBT is negligible.

4.  How does the test work?

One significant change in CBT is that test centres are significantly less crowded. The order of the test is a little different. CBT starts with Listening, to be followed by Reading, Writing, and finally Speaking. As mentioned before, a human evaluator conducts the Speaking component.

While the PBT allowed an extra 10 minutes of time in the Listening component, CBT does away with it altogether. A test-taker is given time within and between different sections to check the answers, but there is no extra time allowed at the end. Every test-taker is allotted a computer booth and a headset for the Listening component.

Once you click on ‘Start Test’ on the introductory screen, it takes you to the questions. There’s clock at the top of the screen which shows you how much time you are left with before the other components begin. The clock will turn red and start flashing when you have ten and five minutes left. The timer automatically stops when the test ends. Instructions for each part are in a box at the top of the screen. The navigation bar at the bottom can be used to move from one question to the next. Alternatively, you could click on a number to go directly to that question. You can use the back arrow to navigate to the last question. After one answers, a line appears at the bottom of the question number in the navigation bar at the bottom. In case you have doubts on whether a specific response is correct, you can click on review at the bottom bar, and come back to it later. Answers marked for consideration will have a circle around the question number at the bottom navigation bar for easier accessibility. Responses can be reviewed and changed anytime till the test ends. There is an option to highlight text, and also to hide your screen if one has to leave the test room for some time.

5. What are the advantages of computer-based testing for test-takers?

Intuitively speaking, the most significant advantages of CBT are expected to be in the Writing component of IELTS. Typing is indeed more comfortable, and faster than writing down the answers. There is also more scope for editing, re-structuring sentences anytime within the given timeframe. No fear of strikethroughs, arrows, or even lousy handwriting. Further, the word count appears on the screen, and one does not have to count all the words manually.

With the CBT, you get to take IELTS with a small group of other people, which is a remarkable shift from PBT. Smaller groups are usually considered to be better, since they are less noisy, and therefore, as a test-taker, it is easier to concentrate, and not be distracted.

In this blog, We have:

  • Given you an introduction to CBT and a brief on how it is to take the IELTS test on a computer
  • Explained how taking the test on a computer versus on paper does not affect your performance and score in IELTS.
  • Given you a ready reckoner on how the CBT works.
  • Briefed you about the advantages of CBT for a test-taker.

Follow these tips, get enough practice in both the PBT and CBT modes, book IELTS test online and ace it!

At IELTS Tutorials, we have both expertise and experience in helping thousands of test-takers achieve their goal of bagging a good score in IELTS. If you want assistance in improving your score, sign up at IELTS Tutorials, or avail of our IELTS Writing Correction Services today!

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