Is Computer Based Test better than Paper Based Test?

What is Computer Delivered (CD) of Computer Based Test (CBT)?

According to Wikipedia:

Electronic assessment, also known as digital assessment, e-assessment, online assessment or computer-based assessment, is the use of information technology in assessment such as educational assessment, health assessment, psychiatric assessment, and psychological assessment. This covers a wide range of activity ranging from the use of a word processor for assignments to on-screen testing. Specific types of e-assessment include multiple choice, online/electronic submission, computerized adaptive testing and computerized classification testing.

But this is not what students’ preparing for IELTS want to know. Right? Yes, because rather than work for increasing the proficiency level of English, a majority of the aspirants simply want to learn the tricks and tips for “CRACKING” High Bands (= 6.5+). So, is the CBT IELTS better? This is put forth to mean: Can I score High Bands in CBT? If yes, then how? What should I do? If no, then what new should to do in PBT? What is the short cut? What is the trick? And as always the answer is there is no trick to crack the IELTS, simply because its nature is not a competitive test, rather it is proficiency – quality based assessment of English Language Usage by Non-Native Speakers.

Is IELTS – CBT better than IELTS PBT?

If you refer to the page on this subject, you will find all appropriate FAQs, but that is not the objective of today’s blog. Today, I want to share my experience and what I have learnt to help you put to rest all doubts. So, what is different in CBT when compared to the PBT? Take a look at the following points and then we will elaborate and explain.


So what benefits or difference a CBT IELTS brings to the table?

Time: Both the Tests have the same time limits applicable: Listening 30 minutes; Reading 60 minutes; Writing 60 minutes; and Speaking 12-15 minutes.

  • One Major Difference in Time allowed is in the Listening Test where in PBT 10 minutes are given to transfer the answers to the answer sheet; no such time is given in CBT; only 2 minutes are allowed to check your answers.

Question Types: Let us examine the Question types for each module.

Multiple choice; Identifying information; identifying writer’s views/claims; Matching information; Matching headings; Matching features; Matching sentence endings; Sentence completion; Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion; Diagram label completion and Short-answer questions

Multiple choice; Matching; Plan, map, diagram labelling; Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion; Sentence completion; Short-answer questions

  • Difference in Listening and Reading in the CBT:
    • Typing your answers or clicking on the options and choose from Drop Down Options and Drag and Drop.
    • While typing there is no problem of confusions due to Handwriting, so in CBT ALL ANSWERS IN CAPITALISATION is not allowed. Punctuation should be proper.


  • Writing: The Question type is the same in CBT as in PBT. In CBT your response needs to be typed. So you need to have a good typing speed, about 30 wpm is ideal speed to write both the responses in the allowed time of 60 minutes. And there has to be sufficient typing practice so that typing errors are not committed.


  • Speaking: The Speaking Test is exactly same in both PBT and CBT. It will be taken a couple of days either before or after the LRW test.


Major Difference in the CBT and PBT is The Test Centre:

  • The CBT Test Centre will be different and limited small groups of about 20 – 30 candidates are accommodated at any giventime slot. So the feel will be different. Students find it less stressful. Also candidates are separated by sections dividers and feel to have got their independent space and can take the test without getting bothered by other’s emotions and actions, which is quite common in PBT where close to 70 – 100 candidates sit together and are monitored by invigilators putting extra pressure on the test taker. In CBT there are a couple of system administrators and no invigilators as the web cam is recording the entire test and the test taker.

So in which test will you score better?

This depends with how a person associates the feelings and anxiety with the test delivering pattern. Some find CBT quite stress free and enjoy giving the test, this very feeling boosts their performance. My suggestion is that students should practice both the patterns by enrolling in an online IELTS-English class and solve the modules online. The test taker then should gauge the comfort level and differential scores. If in practice Computer Delivered scores are better then go for IELTS CD/CBT.

Is the computer-delivered test is easier than the paper-based test?

Because the content is the same, the level of difficulty for both the computer-delivered test and the paper-based test are the same. In addition, neither test is easier than the other because the scoring for all sections is also the same. However, some test takers at IDP IELTS Melbourne did find computer-delivered IELTS easier because of the comfort level.Also, people who use computers phones more for typing in their daily lives would rather take the IELTS test on the computer, that write on paper.

Read IELTS on computer vs IELTS on paper


Looking to the future trends, becoming computer savvy pays in the long run, as all your academic work and jobs now rely a lot on online presentations. Almost all of your submissions of projects, reports and assignments are to be given online and must be typed and presented well. A similar situation is now arising in all spheres of jobs. Very few positions nowadays do not require adaptability with computers. The recent and ongoing pandemic has also given new meaning and importance to online systems from virtual classes to virtual offices or work from home with the help of your laptop and a high speed connection. So, my sane advice is to prepare for your future adapt today. Go for CBT!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *