The New IELTS Computer Test: Everything you need to know

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What’s the new IELTS? Should you take the new IELTS computer test or the old IELTS paper test? How are they similar? How are they different? Which one is easier? Watch my lesson to learn all about the new IELTS option, its content and structure, and the pros and cons of the computer-based IELTS and the paper-delivered IELTS. I explain the listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections, so you know what to expect. I also share students’ feedback and experiences. There are a lot of little differences that are not obvious. Find out which one section is easier on the IELTS computer test. Watch this lesson to decide which test is best for you and improve your chances of getting a higher IELTS score! Take the quiz on this lesson at


Hi. I’m Rebecca from In this video I’m going to explain to you about the new IELTS test, which is called the IELTS CDT. That stands for “Computer-Delivered Test”. Now, there was and there still is another IELTS test also available, at least at the time that we’re recording this lesson, which is called the PBT, which stands for “Paper-Based Test”.

Now, if you’re taking the IELTS or if you are re-taking the IELTS, it’s really important for you to understand the differences between these two exams, which I’m going to explain to you here. We’re going to talk about how they’re similar, how they are different, and also which exam you should choose to take based on what those similarities and differences are, based on your personality, your skills, your preferences, and so on. And I’m also going to share with you some of the feedback that I’ve been receiving from my students who have appeared for both the paper-based test and the computer-delivered test. Okay? So, let’s get started.

So, first let’s look at how these two exams are similar. Okay? So, if you’ve never done the IELTS, then you need to do some basic homework. Okay? So, the IELTS is an English proficiency exam. All right? And it stands for “International English Language Testing System; the IELTS”. Okay? And it has four sections. Like many English proficiency exams, it has reading, writing, listening, and speaking. So, in terms of these two tests-okay?-the paper and the computer one, the content is the same. That means you’re not going to be asked harder or easier things if you take the paper one or the computer one. The content is the same. The sections are the same, as in the four sections that I mentioned. Okay? Both tests have four sections.

The timing is exactly the same. Okay? So you have 60 minutes for reading, 30 minutes for listening, 60 minutes for writing, and about 15 to 20 minutes for a speaking interview. Okay? So, the overall length of the exam is the same. Okay? It’s about two hours and 45 minutes. That part is the same. The scoring is also the same. They are not judging you differently based on which form of the test that you took. Okay? The scoring rubric, the scoring criteria are the same.

Next, the speaking part of the test is exactly the same. Why? Because the speaking is not done on paper or on computer. If you’ve ever appeared for the exam before or if you’ve read about it, then you will know that the speaking part of the IELTS test is done with you face-to-face with an examiner. Okay? And so, that part is the same. Okay? So we’re not going to talk very much about that because that part is exactly the same. That’s the speaking.

We are going to talk about the other sections and how they are different. Okay? So, let’s get to that. Let’s talk about that first. So, here, I’ve talked about the content, the academic part of the test; and, here, I’m going to explain to you about some of the administrative differences-okay?-and how that will affect you or may affect you.

So, we said the speaking part of the test is the same; however, reading, listening, and writing, even though the content is the same, the experience is going to be very different for you, whether you’re doing the paper-based test or the computer-based test. Why? Because you are different. Okay? Some people are very comfortable using the computer. Okay? And when you do that computer test, you should be someone who is really computer literate; you should be very comfortable navigating around a screen, scrolling, clicking on answers, clearing answers, highlighting text, typing on a keyboard, using the mouse, and so on. Okay? If you are someone like that, if this describes you, then you would probably be quite comfortable doing that computer test. Okay?

However, if you’re someone who gets confused when you see lots of instructions, and you have to go forward, you have to go back, there are arrows, and you get confused by computer… By working on computers, then first and foremost overall, you might be better off taking the paper-based test-okay?-which basically is just a test on a piece of paper and with a pen and pencil. Okay? So, that’s overall. […]

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