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Recently, I appeared in the computer-based IELTS test in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and would like to share my experience with others. Unfortunately, when I was searching for someone who could share his experience of appearing in the CBT IELTS, I couldn’t find anyone online who could describe it comprehensively. I have appeared in the paper-based IELTS test as well as computer-based IELTS test, so I think I can differentiate between these two very well.
How is the experience of computer-based IELTS speaking test?
Well, there is no difference between computer-based IELTS test speaking and paper-based IELTS test speaking. They have the same examiners, same kind of question papers and the same marking criteria so it would be a waste of time to talk about CBT IELTS speaking exam.
How is the experience of computer-based IELTS Writing test?
Let’s start with the pros of the computer-based writing test. The writing part in the computer-based IELTS test is the easiest for those who prefer to type over handwriting. I think I can type more than 500 words in just 15 minutes which allows me enough time to think about the structure of my IELTS writing task 1 i.e. letter writing or IELTS writing task 2 i.e. essay writing.
Moreover, in the computer-based IELTS writing test, you can copy, cut, paste, edit your sentences with full liberty which is obviously not available in the paper-based IELTS writing test.
Despite thinking about it for a long time, I couldn’t find any demerit of computer-based IELTS writing test unless your typing speed is not good. I have attempted the paper-based IELTS exam as well as CBT IELTS exam, believe me, the experience of IELTS writing module is great in the CBT IELTS test.
The level of difficulty of questions and the test time in both the paper-based IELTS writing test as well as the computer-based IELTS writing test is the same so you don’t need to worry about that. However, the level of difficulty is not the same in all modules, please keep on reading the article to figure out where it is more difficult.
How is the experience of computer-based IELTS Reading test?
Let’s move to the computer-based IELTS reading module now. There are several advantages of attempting a CBT IELTS reading; however, you should not ignore its demerits which are stated below.
In the computer-based IELTS reading test, you would find reading passage and questions on the same page which would reduce your valuable time of rolling physical pages over and again. You can highlight different words and phrases in the computer-based test IELTS reading test as you can do in the paper-based IELTS reading test.
However, if you are not accustomed to reading on the computer, you might face difficulties as reading on the computer screen becomes quite tricky sometimes. Here is my advice, if you are not used to reading on the computer screen, think twice before registering for the computer-based IELTS test. My experience of computer-based IELTS reading test was great as I spend most of the time of the day on the computer.
The level of difficulty of questions and the test time in both the paper-based IELTS reading test as well as the computer-based IELTS reading test is the same so you don’t need to worry about that. However, the level of difficulty is not the same in all modules, please keep on reading it to figure out where it is more difficult.
How is the experience of computer-based IELTS Listening test
4.1 The Total time of computer-based IELTS listening test
The real difference between the computer-based IELTS test and the paper-based IELTS test is the listening module. First of all, the overall time allotted to the computer-based IELTS listening test is 30 minutes as compared to 40 minutes in the paper-based IELTS listening test. The last 10 minutes which are awarded in the paper-based IELTS listening test to transfer your answers to the answer sheet are not given in the CBT listening test.
On the other hand, you would be given only 2 minutes at the end of the computer-based IELTS listening test to review your answers. Believe me, it is damn difficult to review all your questions during this time. Moreover, there is always a risk of committing a spelling mistake unintentionally which might result in a lower band.
4.2 The level of difficulty in the computer-based IELTS listening test
Everyone here says that actual the listening test is easier than the material available in the Cambridge books. I always scored in the range of 7.5 to 8.5 in listening practice tests. My actual IELTS score in the paper-based listening module was 8.
However, computer-based IELTS listening test was out of the world. They didn’t follow any set pattern given in the Cambridge books. There were around 20 MCQs and around 14 fill-in-the-blanks questions including the first question.
At least 2 times the recording quickly moved to the next questions in an unprecedented way. I have practiced around 50 listening tests including Cambridge and different websites, but this computer-based IELTS listening test was the hardest.
I felt like there is a different body which made this paper. Everyone in the exam hall gets a separate computer-based IELTS listening test.
I think these papers don’t go through the quality assurance test as there would be only one guy taking the test in one location, unlike paper-based test which is attempted by thousands of people at one location. I don’t need to mention that my experience of computer-based IELTS listening test was pathetic.
4.3 Frequently Asked Questions about the computer-based IELTS Listening Test
- Do we get some time to read through the questions before listening to audio just we do in paper-based?
Yes, you would be given the same amount of time to read through your questions before starting the video in the computer-based IELTS listening test.
- Are we given an example in computer-based IELTS listening test as it is given in the paper-based IELTS listening test?
No, there is no example given in the computer-based IELTS listening test which means that you don’t even enjoy those additional 15 seconds to read through the questions.
- Do we get some time to check our answers before moving to next section just like paper-based where we get 30 seconds to do that?
Yes, you would be given 30 seconds to review your answers before moving to the next question in the computer-based IELTS listening test.
- Are we able to see the questions of all the sections like we can see in the paper-based IELTS listening test or we have to finish one section and then click on Next to see next questions?
Yes, you can move to the next question during the computer-based IELTS listening test.
- Is the computer-based IELTS listening test section-wise just like paper-based?
Yes, it is also section wise as you would be given 4 passages of 10 questions each. Nevertheless, they do not follow the same criteria as it is followed in the paper-based listening test. I found it quite difficult as many times the move to the next question very quickly.
- Can we write answers on a paper and then quickly type them onto the computer screen, do we get enough time to do that?
You would be given a paper and pencil to make rough notes in all the modules but keep in mind that the total time available to transfer your answers to the computer is 30 seconds at the end of the question or 2 minutes at the end of all the questions. If you utilize the last 2 minutes of computer-based IELTS listening test to transfer your questions to the computer, you would not be able to review your answers at all.
- After finishing the test, do we get some time to check back all of our answers?
As mentioned earlier, you would be given only 2 minutes at the end of the computer-based IELTS listening test to review all your answers.
Should I go for the computer-based IELTS test or the paper-based IELTS test?
If you have attempted the paper-based IELTS test 2,3 times but lacking in the writing module only while scoring the required bands in the rest of the IELTS modules, I think you should go for the computer-based IELTS test.
Let’s say you have been getting only 6.5 while your target band is 7 in the writing module, there is a chance that you may overcome this gap as it is really easy to type in the computer-based IELTS writing test. So, there is no harm to experience the computer-based IELTS test only in that case.
Otherwise, while others may have different opinions, I would suggest you start with the paper-based IELTS test and see how well you score in different modules. The computer-based IELTS listening test is so unpredictable that it can shatter your confidence.
How long it takes to get the computer-based IELTS tests result?
They commit that the result will be announced in 5 to 7 days and according to my personal experience it was dispatched by the British Council Riyadh on the 5th day to my address. However, the only problem I had to face in the British Council system that the result was not uploaded in the system despite it was dispatched physically.
A friend of mine who appeared in the computer-based IETS test through IDB did not have to face this problem as his result was updated online.