All about passing Computer based IELTS

As soon as the Computerized Test (CBT) for IELTS appeared, our students began to ask questions about the advantages and disadvantages of passing the test in this format.

We are neutral about both formats, and we think that the choice should be based solely on the skills and needs of a particular student. Most candidates at the beginning of the exam experience serious excitement, and therefore at this stage it is necessary to avoid surprises that can cause anxiety and increase the level of stress. If you are with a computer and a keyboard “on you”, then CBT is just for you. If, on the contrary, you prefer pen and paper, it is better to stop at the traditional version.

The focus should be on the main goal – the test itself. And secondary details should serve not as a source of anxiety, but as a help and a means of increasing the speed of work. Therefore, you need to choose thoughtfully. After reading this article, you will understand the nuances of the computerized format of the Academic and General IELTS tests.

The world is becoming more technological, and IELTS is one of the most popular English language exams for admission to universities or immigration to English-speaking countries.

With the advent of computer-based IELTS, the number of available dates and testing centers has increased. It has become more convenient for candidates to choose the time and place. In addition, the results of the computer test come in just 3-5 days.

No matter how you take the test — with a pencil or keyboard — the certificate, structure, duration (to a certain extent), and content of the test remain the same. The transcript of speaking continues to take place in a face-to-face interview with an IELTS-certified examiner. And the main differences fall on the three remaining sections.

By selecting CBT, you will be on your computer to solve the tasks of the Reading, Listening and Writing parts.

Let’s see what’s unusual here.

  • Each section is accompanied by a clock at the top of the screen that shows how much time you have left. When reading and writing, the dial turns red and starts flashing when you have 10 and 5 minutes left, respectively. When the time runs out, the test is automatically completed and sent for review.
  • There are also instructions at the top of the screen to get the job done.
  • To move between jobs, there is a navigation bar located at the bottom. If you have a desire to return to some issue later, just click on the “Review” button, and its number will be in the circle.
  • You can change your response at any time until the test is over.
  • Thanks to the settings, it is possible to adjust the size and color of the text.
  • When you leave class for a few minutes, you can minimize the window and when you return, restore it.

An example of an image on the screen when passing a computerized test:

Let’s break down each of the CBT sections individually.


The difference in duration between the paper and computer versions affects only the Listening Section: the traditional format provides for candidates to transfer their answers to the main form, and when solving tasks on a computer, this is not necessary.

The duration of listening in CBT is 30-34 minutes.

The Volume key is responsible for adjusting the sound volume. Before the start of each entry, you are given a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the questions, and after it is completed, to check the answers. In addition, at the end of the test, another 2 minutes are allocated to evaluate the work done as a whole.



In this section, the passages are on the left and the questions on the right. To see them in full, you will have to use the scroll ribbon. In some tasks, it is enough to choose an option, in others you will have to type yourself. In addition, sometimes you need to move replies with the mouse.

To highlight part of the text, select the fragment, right-click and select “highlight” in the drop-down menu. The adjacent “notes” option is designed to create notes.



There are two parts to the Writing section, just like in the paper test. You can also give answers here in any order. The question is placed on the left side of the screen, and for answers there is a field on the right. The generated text is saved automatically. To simplify the task, there is a word counter.



As mentioned above, whichever of the testing modes you choose, a speech test is always a face-to-face conversation with the examiner.

We hope that we managed to dispel your doubts and help with choosing the right option, because calmness and self-confidence play a huge role in passing the test.

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