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Paper Based IELTS or Computer Based IELTS – How to Make the Choice??

IELTS is a language proficiency test that assesses your communication skills in English that will allow you to have a comfortable living condition in a foreign English speaking environment. It is a mandatory test in some countries for immigration and higher education purposes.

CD-IELTS is the modern or automated version of the classic IELTS that serves the same purpose of assessment, only major difference being method of answering, which is obvious by the very definition of Computer Delivered IELTS.

To make an exact point, it is not inaccurate to state that the paper based IELTS is a widely used exam format, mainly preferred due to being the original one and the old fashioned pen and paper mode of exam.

However, after CD-IELTS was instigated, there has been a noticeable graph rise in interested applicants. Since, 2016 when it was introduced, there has been a tremendous increase in number of test centres as well for CD-IELTS across the globe.

If you are planning to take it but are not sure which one, just go through the major differences between both mentioned below. You can go ahead and take any test format out of these two based upon your own preference.

How to Choose Between the ‘Same’ But Different Exams?

Though fundamentally both exams are the same, with the same aspects in terms of exam timings, question types, format, marking, etc there are few differences that set them apart.


Paper based IELTS


Nature of the test

Candidates are required to visit an official test centre  and carry paper writing materials, pen or pencil with them.

Answer sheets are provided.


Introduced in 2016, it is an English language proficiency exam taken via computer.

Answers are to be transferred directly on the computer.

Paper and pen might be provided for rough notes at some centres


Exam availability

3-4 times in a month

15-20 times in a month

More availability of test dates

Exam modules


Listening, reading, writing tests are taken on OMR sheets on the same day.

Speaking test has different schedule.


Listening, reading, writing tests are attempted on computer.

Speaking test remains manual.


Exam duration

Listening = 40 mins

( 30 mins for attempting)

(10 mins for transferring answers)

Reading =  60 mins

Writing =  60 mins

Speaking= 11- 14 mins

Listening = 30- 34 mins

Reading =  60 mins

Writing =  60 mins

Speaking = 11- 14 mins

Exam sequence

i. Listening

ii. Reading

iii. Writing

iv. Speaking

 i. Listening

ii. Reading

iii. Writing

iv. Speaking



Within 13 days from the exam date

Within 5- 7 days.

Quicker results.

Exam centers


Centres availability worldwide

Currently available in few countries

Depends whether the exam centre is equipped for CD- IELTS

Few more differences that are based on experiences of some exam takers that might help you get a clear picture:



Comprehensive and lengthy instructions for exam registration, sometimes making it a tedious task to begin with. Though it is a meagre issue if candidate has taken exam previously or is already aware of the terms.

Approximately 200 exam aspirants appear on the same date.

The exam space is crowded and it is somewhat difficult to maintain concentration.

Comparatively more time consuming than CD-IELTS , although completely pronounced by one’s writing speed.

Corrections are impeded and might make the answer sheet look disordered.

At the completion of exam, there is no indication as such. Candidates have to be alert and mind their time on their own.


Booking instructions are short and easy to comprehend. There is no long list of Do’s and Don’ts included. Simple enough details of exam venues and instructions.

Due to availability of abundant exam dates, 10 – 20 aspirants take the exam at the same time.

Although there is aplenty of space and less crowd, there might be some aggressive typing noise that are way too distracting

Less time consuming. This is though again decided by typing speed.

Corrections are hassle free and much more organized.

There is a countdown timer provided for ease of exam takers.

No matter what format you decide to go through with, your exam questions would be the same. Always remember your ultimate goal is your band scores. The decision here is not about the exam choice for you, but the choice of selecting the one you are comfortable and confident with, for securing higher bands.

Choose the one that suits you better.

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