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Is it Possible to Take the IELTS on Computer?

possible take ielts computer

We seem to live in a golden age of computer-based testing. With so many standardised tests onscreen, is it possible to take the IELTS on computer?

The answer to this question is “no” for most people, but “yes” for a select few test-takers.

Who Can Take the IELTS on Computer

If you are taking the IELTS for the purposes of getting a visa through UK immigration, you might be able to take the IELTS on a computer. People applying for United Kingdom Visa and Immigration (UKVI) can take a computer based IELTS… sometimes.

If you are a UKVI candidate who needs to take the Academic IELTS (rather than the general training IELTS), there are computer-based options. However, these options are only available in a select number of countries. UKVI applicants can take IELTS on a computer in the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam, the UAE and the UK.

This makes the computer-based IELTS a fairly limited offering. The majority of IELTS test-takers aren’t immigrating to the UK, but are instead applying for university study. Moreover, most UKVI candidates don’t take IELTS Academic. Instead, they take the IELTS General Training test, which is not offered on computer.

Ultimately, the computer-based IELTS is limited to medical professionals and a few other classes of skilled immigrants who take IELTS Academic as part of their UK visa requirement. And even then, such individuals can only take the computer-based IELTS in a select handful of countries, most of which are in Asia.
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How is the IELTS Computer-Based Test Different from the Paper IELTS?

The computer-based IELTS isn’t different from the paper one. Or at least, it’s not different in terms of questions and content. In either form of the IELTS Academic exam, you have the same sections (Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking). The only difference is that on the computer-based exam, three of the four sections are completed on computer rather than on paper. On both exams, the Speaking section is an interview, conducted by a real person.

Still, testing on a computer feels a lot different than taking the IELTS on paper. So if you are eligible for the computer-based IELTS and are thinking of taking it, practice accordingly. Use practice questions from IELTS websites and software, rather than practicing with printed materials. And type your answers into a digital document or onto a web page.

Will the IELTS Computer-Based Test be More Widely Available in the Future?

The British Council has announced plans to expand the availability of computer-based IELTS Academic tests for UKVI applicants. However, they haven’t specified which countries will get the computerised IELTS next.

Still, it seems safe to assume that the computer-based IELTS will slowly become more common in the years to come. Nearly all standardised testing is moving from paper-based to computer-based. The IELTS is likely to follow this trend in the next decade.

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