Taking the IELTS CDT

computer lab with screensIf you’re thinking about taking the IELTS, you may have heard of the Computer-Delivered IELTS, or IELTS CDT. Unlike the traditional IELTS, this exam is delivered via computer, rather than on paper. But what are the benefits of taking the IELTS CDT? What’s the testing experience like? Finally, how can you decide whether the exam is right for you? In this post, we’ll take a look at the IELTS CDT experience to help you decide.

What is the IELTS CDT?

The IELTS CDT is, in most ways, exactly like the traditional IELTS, only delivered via computer. You’ll encounter the same sections (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking), except you’ll see them on-screen instead of on paper. The only section that hasn’t been computerized is Speaking, which is still conducted in a face-to-face interview. The marking for the CDT is exactly the same. Both Academic and General Training tests are available in CDT format.

How is IELTS CDT different from the “regular” IELTS?

The main difference is that on the paper IELTS, the Listening section gives you 10 minutes at the end to record your answers on the answer sheet. With IELTS CDT, because you’ve been entering your answers as you go, the section only gives you two minutes at the end to check over your answers.

However, in terms of other timing aspects and the content of the test, you’ll find the IELTS CDT is identical to the paper-based IELTS.

What is it like to take the IELTS CDT?

Although the CDT exam content is the same as the paper-based IELTS, it is definitely a separate experience to take a computer-based IELTS! Looking at a screen for an extended period of time will feel different than taking a paper test. If you’re planning on taking the CDT, preparing primarily with on-screen materials will be important in training your mind and body for the official exam. You can use official IELTS CDT problems online to see what this experience feels like and if it’s right for you.

In terms of the test day experience, you’ll find that there are some interesting software features that may be helpful. This includes onscreen note-taking, highlighting, word count, and onscreen timer, as well as the ability to look over and change your answers. If you’re worried about not being able to take notes physically, don’t be: you get a pen and paper to use for note-taking during the test. In other words, scratch paper is available to test-takers.

Should I take the IELTS CDT?

It depends. There are a few factors to consider. First among these is logistics: the IELTS is opening up more and more test centers with this capability, but the CDT isn’t available everywhere yet. You can see the list of countries where it is currently available on the IELTS website and check if it is offered in a specific city or test center there, too.

Secondly, consider your own preferences. Are you a good typist? Do you prefer working on a computer to writing by hand? If so, the CDT may be a good option for you. If not, however, you might be better off with the paper-based test.

Finally, consider your own preparation style and resources. Do you have access to a computer for your preparation? Are you willing to spend time learning about the IELTS CDT software functionality in addition to preparing for the test content? If you do, then this could be a good option for you.

How can Magoosh help me prepare for a CDT?

Because Magoosh is an online platform, it’s actually a great way to prepare for the IELTS CDT. Most importantly, you’ll be able to practice working on a screen for extended periods of time, including taking online practice tests (in addition to all of the other benefits of Magoosh IELTS prep!). Although the software platform is not yet identical to what you’ll see on test day, we’re currently working to make it match the CDT experience even more closely. And in the meantime, the overall experience of working on-screen and typing responses to IELTS questions will provide you with big benefits on test day.

A Final Word

As it grows increasingly popular, it’s normal to wonder if the IELTS CDT right for you. If you’re comfortable working on screens and have the right mindset and materials available to prepare, it may be! But at the moment, remember that the paper-based test is still an option. And no matter which version of the IELTS you decide to take, the most important thing is to ensure that your preparation is thorough and efficient.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is a Magoosh Content Creator. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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