We seem to live in a golden age of computer-based testing. With so many standardized tests onscreen, is it possible to take the IELTS on computer?
The answer, for more and more test-takers worldwide, is yes. The British Council is opening and sponsoring an increasing number of IELTS computer-based test locations around the world.
The IELTS Computer-Delivered Test: Who Can Take it, and Where?
Most of of the computer-based IELTS test sites serve all test-takers. The computer-based testing sites are available to anyone who needs to either take the IELTS Academic exam or the IELTS General Training exam for any reason. At the time that I’m writing this, you can take this general IELTS Computer-delivered test in over 70 countries. For a complete list of countries where anyone can take the IELTS CDT, go to this page from the official IELTS website and scroll down to the bottom.
At certain other locations, you can take the IELTS on computer only if you are specifically applying for a UK work, school, or residency visa. This special computer-based IELTS is called the UKVI. Read on to learn more.
Taking the IELTS UKVI on Computer
Some of test centers for the IELTS Computer-Delivered tests are specifically for IELTS UKVI exams. These are the same format as regular IELTS exams, but are administered at dedicated test centers specifically for people who are actively applying for a visa to the United Kingdom.
However, these UKVI-only computer-based IELTS locations really are quite restricted. Not only are the locations listed below available only to UKVI applicants, they are also limited only to IELTS Academic testing. IELTS Academic, as you may know, is used by UKVI only for international student visas or medical professional certification. IELTS General Training, used for all other UKVI visas, are not available at the UKVI-only testing locations. With that in mind, this web page from the official IELTS website contains a list of all the countries that offer the IELTS UKVI.
How is the IELTS Computer-Based Test Different from the Paper IELTS?
The computer-based IELTS isn’t different from the paper one in terms of questions and content. In either form of the IELTS 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.
As part of your practice for the computer-based IELTS test, be sure to check out the official sample test questions for IELTS on computer. This practice website includes practice passages and questions for IELTS Listening, IELTS Reading, and IELTS Writing. The question pages mimic the software from the real computer-based IELTS too, of course!
Speaking of the IELTS test software, the computer-based IELTS has many really neat features. You can go back to review and change your answers. You can also highlight text, take onscreen notes, and more. Be sure to check out the instructional videos for computer-based IELTS on the official IELTS YouTube channel. Here is the computer-delivered IELTS video playlist.
Admittedly, there isn’t much material available specifically for computer-based IELTS practice right now. To supplement the questions I linked above, 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.
How widely available will the IELTS Computer-Based test be in the future?
The British Council has been steadily adding IELTS computer-based testing stations worldwide since 2016. However, they haven’t specified which countries will get the computerized IELTS next.
Still, it seems safe to assume that the computer-based IELTS will continue to become more and more common in the years to come. Nearly all standardized testing is moving from paper-based to computer-based. The IELTS is likely to follow this trend in the next decade.