When it is time to book appointment for IELTS, most candidates are confused about the two choices they have i.e. Computer and Paper based IELTS. Both the tests are essentially the same. Difficulty level and scoring mechanism is exactly the same. Nevertheless, both have their own pros and cons.
So, the answer depends entirely on you and your comfort level. Let us compare.
Computer Based Test
- If you can type quickly like most of the millennials and Gen Z can, then computer based test is probably better for you. I must admit that I have not been using paper and pencils for last decade or so. Sometimes I feel that it is so easier to guess spelling or correct grammatical mistakes on computer than on paper.
- If the examiner cannot read your essay then you have higher chances of getting lower score. So, if your handwriting is not so legible then typing is always a better choice.
- In computer based test, you just need to select the answer or drag and drop or simply type few characters in listening and reading section. So, you don’t need to transfer your answer to answer sheet. So, chances of silly mistakes are less too.
- You get score in just 7 days unlike paper based test which takes 13 days.
- In paper based test, you need to turn pages many times and you can’t see the text and the question side by side.
- You get your own headphone (not a noise cancelling) so you have less distraction. You can also adjust the volume control.
- Time management is also easier on computer based test. You do not have to look up to the exam hall clock to calculate remaining time. You get reminder before 10 min and 5 min in computer based test.
You can see some videos on how to use the test software.
- You cannot take notes or underline on the question paper.
- You do not get extra 10 min at the end of listening test to transfer your answer.
Paper Based Test
- If you are not habituated to computer user interface, then paper based test makes a lot of sense. Some people might need little experience with the test software. Otherwise they waste lot of time to figure out how the test software works.
- In listening section, there is lot of extra time after each section to transfer answers to the answer sheet. You can use this time to read questions of the next section before the audio of the next section starts. This is a great advantage in paper based test.
- It takes excruciating 13 days of wait for getting the score.
- Examiner plays the audio on speaker for all. So, if other candidates cough or make noise, you miss some information. If you are sitting at the back of the room, you also might not be able to hear properly. You are at the mercy of the examiner for making sure that you can listen to the audio properly.
- I heard some test centers do not provide exam hall clock.
So, to my opinion, computer test is much better option for most of the candidates.