Computer Delivered IELTS: Pros & Cons

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Computer Based IELTS test (CBT). Comments below come from various IELTS candidates. This known as CD IELTS (computer delivered IELTS) or CBT (computer-based test).

Is the computer based IELTS test different?

No. It is the same test but you put your answers on the computer rather than on to paper.

Is the marking the same?

Yes, it is 100% the same. It is the same test with the same marking. All that i different is that you type your answers on a screen.

Are there any differences between Computer and Paper IELTS?

Just one difference. In the listening of the paper-based test, you have 10 mins at the end of the test to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet. In the computer-based test, this is not the case. You will type your answers directly into the computer and at the end of the test you get only 2 mins to check your answers.

For reading, writing, and speaking, the timing is the same. Every other aspect of the test is the same regardless of whether it is on computer or paper.

Why take CD IELTS?

The aim of offering CD IELTS is for people who are more accustomed to typing than to writing. If you prefer to type and can type at speed, this is the best way to take IELTS. If you are poor or very slow at typing, you should stick with the paper-based test.

Information about the IELTS test

Do I get transfer time for IELTS reading? Can I take a watch into the test? Do I need to leave an empty line between paragraphs for writing? All these questions are answered on the Test Info FAQ page. Click on the TEST INFORMATION button on the RED MENU BAR.

Pros & Cons of Computer IELTS

  • Easy to write/type your answers if you are good at typing
  • Screens provided are a good size which is useful for reading
  • Less crowded – fewer people take it at one time (at the moment)
  • Quick results (one candidate got his results in 5 days)
  • Slot availability
Cons – 
  • You need to be very good at typing. If you are not a good typist, you should consider the paper based test instead.
  • Screens will get locked exactly at the mentioned time so we will not be able to make any last minute changes.
  •  The timer will not display seconds in the last one minute. so you don’t know when the screen will get locked.

General Advice:

  • Make sure you practise CBT sample tests before you try the real one. You can find one on the IDP website. Below is feedback on each module.
  • If your typing isn’t good, take the PBT (paper based test).
Listening Pros and Cons:
  1. Pro: You can highlight text.
  2. Con: Even though you are given a pen and paper, you need to type your answer directly into the computer. This means you need to be able to listen and type at the same time.
  3. Con: Some questions require you to type an answer others require you to drag words from one place to another and others require you to select boxes. You really need to get used to the different ways questions can be answered on the computer for IELTS listening.
  4. Con: Transfer time – you have only 2 mins to check answers, not 10 mins to transfer answers.
  5. Con: If you don’t know how to move from one section to the next, you might waste valuable time figuring it out.
  6. Pro: The tab key works to move from one part to another.
  7. Note: One candidate had an example conversation played at the start of the listening test, another did not. So be aware of this.
  8. Advice: Please get familiar with the Page look and feel on CBT exam for each question type. You can get a sample for each question type in IDP website.
Reading Pros and Cons:
  1.  Pro: The best thing with CBT is that you can have passage on left-hand side and questions on the right-hand side. It is really easy and convenient to read and answers the questions.
  2. Pro: You can increase the font size.
  3. Pro: You can highlight the text as needed. Right click and select highlight. In the PBT, it is not easy to highlight because you can’t use a highlighter pen in the test.
  4. Pro: Another advantage for the reading exam: you can copy/paste from the text using CTRL+C and CTRL+V which reduces the chances of typos.
  5. Con: You cannot use a search function to look for words.
  6. Advice: Get used to scrolling up and down long articles to get used to reading passages and navigating passages on a screen.
Writing Pros and Cons:
  1. Pro: You do not need to count your words. The computer will show the word count.
  2. Pro: It is easier to edit your writing. You can cut, copy and paste.
  3. Con: The major disadvantage with CBT is we unintentionally make typo errors. Though we know how to spell a word we make mistakes when we type. It is not always possible to identify all the spelling mistakes when proof reading.
  • Con: There will be a lot of people typing for one hour all at the same time. This means it can be very noisy which some people find distracting.
  • Con: Your typing speed needs to be adequate.
  • Note: You will be given a pen and paper. You can use it to plan your essay.

Speaking Test: This hasn’t changed. It is still a face to face conversation with the examiner.

Comments above come from various IELTS candidates, particularly from Kumar = “Thanks, Kumar!”

If you took the CBT, can you post more pros and cons so I can add them to the list above? I would like to make this page as useful as possible. Can you think of more advantages to the CBT writing?




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  1. Hi Liz

    I really need your assistance with the time format we should use.
    Should we use 9:30 pm or 9.30 pm. Please help as it is very confusing

  2. The CD IELTS Speaking test MAY NOT necessarily be face-to-face with an examiner. When I registered for my IELTS, there was a message of the bottom of the screen, “This test centre supports Speaking test via an HD video call.” Now, I have my Speaking test via video-conferencing tomorrow at the test centre.

    • This is correct. This will depend on the country and the test centre location. It will also depend on Coronavirus social distancing rules and guidance in each country and city. If you do get a face to face interview, the examiner might be wearing a mask.

  3. Thank you for the useful information!
    i just have this question and i didn’t really find the answer anywhere, i’ve been practising on the CBT and i’ve noticed that the results on my reading part are not accurate; i use similar synonyms to make the answer shorter but i still lose a mark, same thing for forgetting an S in a word (noise/noises). so i’m wondering if the real CBT marks will be automatically reviewed and corrected only by the computer or will real people review it?

    • You are being tested on your ability to listen for plurals. If the answer is plural and you miss the “s”, the answer is wrong. You alos cannot use synonyms as answers. You must write the exact word you hear. So, this isn’t a case of whether it is human or person who marks it, it is about understanding IELTS and how to write your answers.

  4. Hello Liz, thank you for all that you do. Your website was my main source of study materials for the exam preparation. I wanted to send you an email, however, I could not find it so I am going to share my experience with computer version of the exam here. I hope it helps others who are considering this format.

    – Using all-capitals for your reading/listening answers is definitely fine.

    – There is no text cursor in the writing! (the blinking vertical line showing where you are)

    – The keyboard provided will likely be the local layout, not a UK or US keyboard. Make sure you’re comfortable with this.

    – TAB function and TAB+SHIFT function – are both very useful to move between questions (listening and reading)

    I think listening was great. For listening I was given a headset (everyone received one) so I did not need to worry about echo or similar problems (I had these issues when taking FCE years ago when the exam took place in a P.E. hall).
    The highlighting and marking questions for review is quick and easy. I used only capital letters (got band 9 for listening so capital letters are definitely fine) and I found the TAB function to move between questions very useful. Side note- you can also use SHIFT+TAB to move to the previous question- very useful, as well.
    I was surprised that I had enough time to read the questions. I had practiced with shorter time. When I opened the first set of questions, there was a voice explaining how IELTS listening works and only after that it proceeded to tell us that we now had 30 seconds to read the first set of questions. So, I had time to read through all first 10 questions and highlight important features, as well. When the first recording finished, the voice told us that we had 30 seconds to make corrections for the first part and then gave us another 30 seconds to read the second part. I only spent a few seconds revising the first part as I was quite confident about it and started reading the second part almost straight away. That gave me almost a full minute to read the second set of questions. I did a similar thing after the end of section 2 and 3.
    Moving between questions was very quick and easy. I had a couple of questions that I had marked for review mostly because of spelling and quickly checking them in the final 2 minutes was very easy.

    Reading was very good, as well. The screens are wide, the questions are right next to the text- so always in your sight. You can highlight, delete the highlight you have done, copy and paste or also drag your cursor over the text you are reading to help you focus, especially when you are looking for something specific. Once again, I found the marking for review function very useful. I still recommend practicing the published computer delivered test to familiarize yourself with the platform.

    Writing was the primary reason why I wanted to take computer version of the test. I could not imagine writing full prepared sentences and only rewrite occasionally using an eraser. I am so used to delete and backspace, write the sentence and then reposition words, merge sentences or rewrite the whole sentences when I find I have repeated a certain word a lot and I need to change it for something else and thus possibly restructure the whole sentence. This is in my opinion very convenient and it saves so much time. It’s not just about the speed of your typing. Plus, my handwriting is terrible, so that’s one less thing I needed to worry about.
    However, I experienced some technical problems that had to do with to do with the invisible text cursor and keyboard that had a German layout.
    Having an invisible text cursor (i.e. no blinking vertical line or other indicator of where you are in the text) makes editing more difficult as you cannot easily track where you are in the document. I had to develop on-the-fly workarounds such as writing garbage characters to make it clear where I was in the text, or highlighting text with the mouse to be deleted which can be tricky under stress. When you practice writing using the platform at home, you open it in your browser and the browser automatically adds the text cursor so you have no reason to suspect that there will be no text cursor in the exam. That was a huge surprise for me, it took time to work with it. I contacted British Council and gave them a feedback regarding this issue as I just can’t understand the programming choice to omit something that is present everywhere else, something we are so used to when typing anything on our computers or mobile phones and something that is in fact so basic.
    The other problem I had was a bit different in nature but equally unexpected. I travelled to a neighbouring German- speaking country to take the exam. I practiced my writing using English (United Kingdom) keyboard layout. I had not expected that the layout I would write my English exam organised by British Council would be German. When you have to change to an unfamiliar layout it’s difficult to find specific characters and go against your habits when typing especially when it comes to characters necessary for the exam’s writing component (apostrophes, hyphens, etc. or even experience the inversion of ‘z’ and ‘y’ on a number of layouts). During my exam, my hunt for an apostrophe resulted in accidentally using backticks instead. Fortunately, this was spotted in the final minutes of my time, resulting in a frantic replacement operation. So instead of using my final minutes to check my text, spelling etc. I had to almost completely forgo this as I was just quickly checking every single apostrophe.
    The whole physical keyboard was also in German so I also was not sure where the DELETE button was and I did not want to blindly press random keys to find out as I was scared it would do something, I did not want it to do.
    Writing and editing two essays in these conditions made me almost cry in the middle of it. I managed to finish and luckily receive 7.5 but it was a dreadful experience.
    I wrote all this as a feedback to British Council but I don’t think anything is going to get fixed anytime soon unless the lack of text cursor was just the program’s bug. Therefore, I would at least recommend checking beforehand with the centre you take the exam with, what keyboard layouts they use so the you can practice at home.

    OVERALL- I liked the computer version of the exam and even though I don’t have the experience of the paper format, I would recommend it if you are used to working on a computer.

    • Lu, thanks for sharing your experience of the computer based test. I am shocked to hear about the lack of a cursor. I don’t think I could handle that easily – sounds like you are very good at thinking on the spot to find workarounds. I know everyone will be deeply appreciative of the time you have taken to share so much. Great job getting band 7.5 🙂

      • Thank you Liz 🙂 I was very nervous before I got my results and I was mentally preparing myself for the fact that I might need to take the exam again. I needed 7 and I could not believe my eyes when I saw my score. The topic for task 2 was a bit complex and I was not sure whether I made my ideas clear enough and I also did not have time to go through the text and make corrections as I was used to when practicing. Plus in writing part 1 – by the time I finished writing it I realized that I had almost completely missed a part of the table and only referred to it in the overview and possibly 1 sentence. The reason why I am writing this is that I had valid reasons for doubting myself as I did not do my best but I think it was the structures (I learnt mostly here) that saved me. When I got the question ‘ to what extend do you agree or disagree’ I knew exactly what my options were and how to plan the essay. The same goes for writing part 1.

        Sharing the experience is just a small way of how to give something back to teachers like yourself and the community of fellow students who shared their tips and tricks. That’ s why I am more than happy to do it 🙂 .

        British Council hasn’t got back to me yet but if they do and the missing text cursor turns out to be a bug in the program that would get fixed, I will share what I find out here.

        • Confidence and understanding techniques certainly plays a big part. It’ll be interesting to see if the lack of cursor was a bug in the system.

      • Hi Liz,

        I am sitting for the IELTS CBT in a few days and that’s why I’m here in this page to look for last minute tips. Thank you for providing us with free resources to prepare for this exam.

        While taking the free practice tests for the reading and listening sections, I was surprised that I was marked wrong for answering “a few kilometers” instead of “A few kilometers, “1 topic” instead of “one topic”, “16% instead of 16 %.” It is a bit frustrating that the CBT tends to be too technical with what you type. In reading the posts here, it seems that ALL CAPS is recommended too for the CBT? I worry that the computer will automatically mark the answers wrongs for simple details such as that.

        • You said “I was marked wrong”. Who marked you wrong? It sounds like you did not use an Official IELTS test on an Official IELTS website. Is that correct? Never use tests that are not from Official Sources or from highly experienced IELTS teachers. Do not use websites that claim to have tests for you to use.

          • Hi Liz, thanks for your reply. Its actually the practice tests in the IELTS preparation materials that British Council sent me after I registered to take the exam. They provided me with a free access to the web page.

            • That is surprising. Sounds like they haven’t put all variations of answers into their computer system. It would be difficult to do that with all the possible capital letter variations. The capital letters don’t actually matter. You don’t have to use them and you can mix them. However, I always tell people to use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for listening and reading – for both the computer test and the paper based test.

    • Thank you for the detailed information Lu, it is so helpful. I am also taking the computer based test in a few days, can’t wait to have it over and done with.


  5. Hi, Liz.

    I would just like to know about the listening part of IELTS CBT, are we only allowed to hear the audio once or we can go back to check our answers and hear the audio again?


    • There are no benefits or differences to the rules of IELTS whether you take it on paper or on computer. You listen only once. You can’t control the audio yourself. The test is 100% the same except you put your answers into a computer with the exception of the transfer time as mentioned on this page above for the listening test.

  6. Hi Liz

    I was solving a reading exercise and it hadn’t mentioned that we can write numbers on the answer sheet, and normally i wrote down the number in letters, and to my surprise the answer was marked as a mistake and the number was written in the number format please advise if it’s possible to write numbers in number format even though we are not advised to do so

    • Are you using authentic IELTS tests published by IELTS on an Official IELTS website? Only use authentic tests for full practice or to learn about marking and answer keys – that does not include websites that claim their test are authentic – it means going to Official IELTS websites.

  7. Ashwin Kumar says

    Hello Liz,
    I have a small doubt on IELTS Listening CBT.
    I was reading your amazing pros and cons list on the same and didn’t get the 6th point in particular.
    “The tab key works to move from one part to another”.
    Is it that we can move from one answer box to another in the same section or it works to move
    between sections?

    I have my IELTS exam next week and this tab key thing would be a big bonus.

    Thank you in advance,
    Ashwin (One of your subscribers on YouTube)

    • Go the BC website and complete the computer based IELTS questions for listening and reading. They are given on that site so that you can become familiar with the computer. The tab is used to move from one answer box to another. Try the practice questions on the BC website.

  8. Hello Liz,
    I registered for Paper-based IELTS and I am wondering if it possible for me to request for the writing to be Computer-Delivered. I prefer the CD for the writing part. I took my first IELTS last November and I got my required band in Writing (7.5) and Speaking (8) but the other two were poor. What do you think? Is it something I can discuss with the test centre?

    • As far as I know, you must take the Listening, Reading and Writing as one test – either paper based or computer. However, you really need to contact your test centre, they might be able to facilitate the change. Each test centre is different in terms of what they offer, how often etc.

    • You can change to computer-based if you already paid for paper-based. Just call them and ask them to change it for you, no extra costs.

  9. Liz,
    i am planning to give computer based test
    I was practising on IELTS. com for listening test, noticed that some answers were marked incorrect based on the singular/ plural form. Need to understand – is this the format and is this diferent in the paper based format

    • The marking is 100% the same for the paper based and computer based tests. There is no difference in the content of the test or the marking of the test. You are being marked on your ability to listen for plurals.

  10. Hi Liz ! I am planning for IELTS CBT test but I have a confusion, generally during my Listening test I use time given before part 1 to read questions in part 3 and I read part 1 questions along with the audio. Will that work in CBT Listening test too ?
    When I checked this with full length listening test available on IELTS website (link mentioned below) it did not work when I change the part the current part audio cuts in between and next part audio starts.

    Please clarify this

    • The timing is 100% the same in both tests, except for the 2 mins checking time in the computer based test instead of 10 mins transfer time in the paper based test after the recording has ended.

      • Thanks for your support always. Regarding the timing I got it.
        But my question is when part-1 audio is being played at that time can I read next part (like part-3 questions) or not ??
        As in the practice test available on IELTS website (link mentioned above) it is not possible, whenever I try to read 5-10 question ahead particular part audio stops there only and next part audio starts automatically

        • It is unlikely you can jump to other sections. It is also not advisable to do that in the paper based test either.

          • Kristine Bart says

            Hi! I would like to ask if I will be given time to read the questions first before the listening audio begins? Thanks Liz!

            • You are always given time. You should do full practice tests from the IELTS Cambridge test books. They are real tests. They are paper tests, but 100% the same as the computer tests. As you can see above, the test itself is exactly the same whether done on computer or paper with only minor differences in things such as transfer time after the listening recording has finished. So, do the real test practice and get used to how much time you have to read the questions.

        • Jayanta Bhowmick says

          I gave the test personally and have experienced the real test. I also tried many times asking about the same question to many people but all in vain. But, now once I have taken the test I can tell you for sure that, yes we can jump to see questions of other sections when audio of any other section is playing, same as we do in the paper-based test. So if the audio for section 1 is playing and we have already checked the questions or answered all of them we can safely switch to other sections to see the questions and highlight as we do in paper-based test and again come back if required.

  11. Hi Liz, I have never taken this exam and I just want a good site, video, texts, or any platform where I can get myself prepared for the exam.
    Please reply.

    • My site has hundreds of pages of FREE tips, lessons, advice, model answers, topics etc. Go to the HOME page and read how to use this site 🙂

  12. Susanna Carnaghi says

    Hi Liz,

    first of all thanks a lot for what you do. Your lessons are clear, professional and very useful.
    I have been browsing your website for a while now but haven’t seen the answer for this question, hopefully you haven’t already spent time on it.
    I am unsure about taking the test CB or PB. I do prefere paper for reading and listening, but I have doubts about the writing.. I struggle a lot organising my sentences, so I end up doing a bit a mess erasing words and paragraphs and rewriting.. while this looks horrible on paper, it would not be a problem on the computer. How much do you think this would influence my score if I decided to go for the PB? How tidy/clean does the essay need to be?

    Hope I was clear enough

    • Sounds like the problem is not paper or computer, the problem is planning. Each sentence should be planned before you start writing. Most IELTS essays for task 2 have only about 13 or 14 sentences in them. Each one is thought about and planned before you start writing the introduction. This means main points and supporting points (each sentence of a body paragraph) are planned. Once you start writing, there are no new ideas in your mind and you can focus only on the language you use.
      As for deleting errors, if the examiner gets confused with too many deleted word and can’t make things out, you’ll get a lower score. If you have lots of deleted errors but it is very clear and easy to read, it won’t affect your score at all.

      • Hi Liz, when I wrote the comment I didn’t realise that a pencil could be used, which makes a huge difference in terms of erasing mistakes. Even in my home language, if I had to write an essay with a pen in such a short time, I’d probably make up a mess. I ended up getting a 7.5 in the writing academic, and an 8.5 overall so not too bad.. I booked the paper based one but because of Covid ended up taking the computer based. I have to say that I didn’t mind it too much, although I still prefere to read on paper.. being able to change words and move them around is for sure a plus tho!
        And I wanted to thank you for your website, got a lot of tips and information from here.. Grazie mille!

        • Brilliant result !! Very well done! I agree about the ease of making changes to writing using a computer – it is a distinct advantage. Glad you found my site. Prego 🙂

  13. Hello Liz

    Feedback from Greece
    I took the first three parts of the test in the morning and gonna take the speaking part this afternoon (cross your fingers please. “gonna” was practice for the interview)
    Logging in is required prior to each part of the test and the password + some candidate data were given on a printed page, which remained on desk and could be used for writing down notes. This was especially useful in Writing and Listening.

    Hope I’ve passed. In this case, thanks for your aid.
    Thank you anyway, whatever the case is 🙂

  14. Hi!

    Is it allowed to use a piece of paper and a pen during the writing part of the ONLINE INDICATOR IELTS EXAM, which you have to write from home?

    Tank for your answer!

  15. Hello,

    Does anybody know a website where we can practice CB Listening aside from IDP and BC sites?

    I can type well and fast but I do really need to highlight keywords during the listening, as it’s suggested for paper based. However, the lack of CB tests to practice makes things a bit complicated. It’s all about getting used to reading, listening and typing at the same time. And foremost, avoid typos because looking for errors in only two minutes is not doable.

    Liz, could you please make special series focused on CB listening?

    Thank you for any help you can offer regarding this topic.

    • I understand the problem. AT present, there are no full practice tests being sold by IELTS for the computer based test. For me personally, I don’t have the technology to produce them. However, it is something I might need to tackle in the near future.

      • Hello Liz!

        Thanks for your reply. Yeah, paid listening trainings would be a greaaaaat idea for us to become familiar with the format 🙂

        Usually I do it well with paper based practice tests, but I was “seduced” by computer based because of the benefits in writing and reading section >.<

        Wish me luck, please!

  16. Thanks a lot, Liz.
    i have a bit of confusion about reading CBT. Is it allow to ZOOM reading passages?
    Please share.

  17. Hi Liz, I hope you are doing well & thanks for creating a wonderful platform. I wanted to ask you that as we get some time in a paper-based Listening IELTS test to view questions before starting recording, are we getting the same time in Listening Computer Based IELTS?

    • There is only one single difference between the computer based listening test and the paper based one, and that is the 2 mins checking of answers instead of the 10 mins transfer time at the end of the test. Nothing else is different. It is the same test in every other way.

      • Liz, tell me please if we have some extra time after each section to check our answers or not (approximately 30 seconds after each portion) or just 2 minutes in the end? I’ve done several trial listening tests and it gives you 30 seconds after and before each part. Because when u need to type 2 or 3 words it’s better to write down on your paper and then transform it into your screen. Please answer ASAP.

        • The amount of time for reading questions before the new audio section starts is the same for both tests (paper and computer). There is only one difference between these tests – the transfer time of answers at the end of the test. This is explained on the page above. 10mins for paper based and 2 mins for computer.

          • Hi Liz,
            Is this exam available here in Canada? Most of the testing center are temporary closed because of COVID19 pandemic. I need to get my English Language Proficiency done and hoping to get accepted for summer semester. Please let me know. Thanks!

            • I also do not see an option for Canada or the US. Hopefully this test might soon be extended to other countries. Or alternatively, we can hope that normal testing will continue soon.

              • Yeah, University of Concordia located in Montreal, QC, Canada is offering computer based general test. I just booked my slot on 20th June.

  18. Hi Liz,

    I wanted to know, will the all the Questions will be displayed for listening section before audio starts in CD-IELTS? Or do we have to go simultaneously.

    • You are given time to read the question before the recording starts. You will be told how many questions will come in the next part of the recording. Go to the Official IELTS website or the BC IELTS website and do a free practice test. There are paper tests which are full tests that everyone can use. To get used to using the computer to put in answers, there are practice questions.

      • Hi Liz,

        Thanks a lot for your reply..Your site/pages are really helpful. I believe my English is good and even I am working in UK Based company and deals with UK clients, but I am still scared as the dates are coming near by. I am afraid of reading section because sometimes I get confused in two answer and then choose the answer which is not correct & instead the option which I though but didn’t choose that is correct answer. I am afraid that I don’t do the same mistake in exam.

  19. Hi mam,
    In computer based ielts reading, shall we allowed to highlight the text in question sentence like for particular keywords



    Is it possible to go beyond the word limit in CBT writing?

    • As with the paper based test, there is no upper word limit. Please go to the main writing task 2 page on this site to learn more about essay length.

  21. Hi Liz!
    Are we provided with pen and paper during CDIELTS? It is because am used to making a rough draft before writing my tasks.

  22. Hi All, my CDT is due in a couple of weeks. Browsing through this page, I suddenly got anxious regarding something – I do all my work on a laptop, not a computer with a mouse. will i face problems, I wonder? Please do share your experience someone, shall be grateful for quick revert. You see i am no more habitual of working with a mouse though initially i did use it ie, before laptops got popular.
    thanks in advance!

  23. Hello everyone, I love the page, really helpful, I have one question though. When taking the listening test, are we allowed to have a paper and pen as in the writting test??

    • Hey,
      Yes. You are allowed the pen and you could write/make notes on your question paper while you attempt the listening test if the test is paper based.
      The same is not the case in a computer delivered test though. Everything is done on the computer. You dont need a pen and paper.



        Well I don’t think u can write anything like notes or answers especially for the listening section, as for the reading section, u would hardly find any time to do, or where can the notes or answers be written during the listening section?? can u please clear this doubt? I also saw a demonstration video on the British Council website, but my doubts are not cleared…

  24. Hi Liz, like in paper based, can we write all answers of reading and listening section in capital letters in Computer based exam?

  25. Hi Liz. In the list of cons for cbt, #4 says if you don’t know how to move from one section to the next, you might waste a valuable amount of time. Could you explain this, please? Is the cbt not that easy to navigate? Thank you in advance.

    • To be honest, the Listening task is a cakewalk when it comes to CD based. Many believe that extra 10 minutes would make a difference but, I think it is not required.

      One can immediately write the answers into the blanks.

      Secondly, drag and drop is quite easy and not that sophisticated. You can try a mock in BC or IDP website.

      Personally, I feel CD is better than Paper based as the waiting time to take the exam is quite more and exhausting for Paper based.

      Note: Typing skills should be of intermediate level

  26. Bhavika Sanghavi says

    Hi Liz,

    Great info on your site, Really helping the starters to figure out the info…
    I have a clarification, I have heard that in Computer-based exam, you can’t back space? Is this true?

  27. Are we allowed to use CAPS for the reading/listening section in CBT?

  28. I have doubts regarding the CD listening test. Do they give a break after each section to check the answers and also before each section to read the questions? Can we first note down the answers on the paper and then transfer them onto the screen? Do we have sufficient time to do this transfer? Because listening while typing can be difficult. Does the listening part play exactly 38 minutes in the test, considering the final 2 minutes will be for review?

    • You can do a full listening test on the IELTS BC website for free. You will soon learn the timings etc. The only difference with timing in the CD IELTS is the 2 mins to check answers rather than 10 mins to transferring them. As explained on the page above, you type the answers directly into the computer. Make sure you practice a number of tests at home under exam conditions.

  29. Hi, Liz.
    I’ve found that the timer will show the exact seconds you have left if you move your mouse onto it. So there is one less cons of the CBT!

  30. Dear Liz,

    I came across your site a tad too late but I’m glad I finally did. You’re doing some great work there. Thank you.

    I have my CBT in 2 days and I have question in the listening section. Unfortunately, the official ielts website doesn’t have a complete listening practice test for CBT practice. Instead, I had to open individual sections on different tabs. I need to know if it’s possible that if a section has 10 questions in total, they all might not be on the same page? Would I need to manually go the next page whilst listening to the audio. I’m afraid I’ll miss out onto it since it happened to me while practicing on an unofficial site. Also, I never got the prompts like I get in PBT – for instance, read questions 1-6, now answer questions 7-10 etc. The audio simply started.

    I’ll really appreciate your help on this.


    • All good questions – hopefully someone who has done the test can answer this?
      Good luck with your test !! 🙂

      • Thank you! 🙂

      • Dear Liz,

        Just wanted to share my CD Ielts results with you. I got 9 in listening (thank you for your quick assistance there) and an overall band 8. Thank you once again for being a great teacher and for explaining everything so well.

        Wishing you loads of success!

        • That’s a fantastic result – very well done to you 🙂

        • Congrats! I got exactly the same score! 9 in Reading and Listening and 7 in Speaking and Writing. I was so happy with CD. I can’t even imagine giving the test with a pen and paper. It’s so much easier, right?

          Also I would like to add, for anyone interested, I gave the test via IDP, I was able to see my score online 5 days after the exam and the physical result was delivered to me on the next day (6th day). It’s great!

          Seriously, thank you, Liz! I will try to reply here as much as I can to help contribute to what you’re doing.

        • Dear Kanika, hi! Could you please share your tips&tricks for CBT listening specifically?
          Since I got 8.5L in Paper based format, but, unfortunately, I am strugling with CBT Listening section, 7 only.. Since it requires simultaneous reading, listening, and typing… and I just lost during all this multitasking… On the contrtary, in Paper I can easily make some marks with pensil while listening…
          Do you have any advice how did you manage all this?
          Thank you in advance!

          • Hi Ulyana,

            Sorry to hear about that. I personally felt there was enough time for me to read the text before the audio started. It’s always best to guess what kind of information is required. For instance, in some cases you get to know if they’re about to tell a street’s name or some number or perhaps the time. So that helps. Also, you can correct the spelling mistakes in the end. Not enough time to rewrite all words but plenty to recheck. That’s really vital.
            Unfortunately, you can’t make notes in the listening section as there’s no free space; rather only the answer blanks. I think it’ll be good to do some more practice for CBT listening in order to do all the things simultaneously.
            Wish you good luck! (Y)

    • All the questions for one section will be on the same page. You will only have to change pages for going to the next section. It’s just like how you’re practising now with changing tabs, in that it just takes one click (Example: once you’re done with section 1, click on question 11 to go to the next section). Good luck!

  31. Hi everyone.
    Just passed the CBT on July 20 for the first time. Before that, I tried PBT.
    Last time I had to improve my writing score from 6 to 7. I realized that time management is one of the problems, so I tested my typing speed to compare it with my hand writing. Because my typing in fact was much faster, I decided to take CBT. I think that typing gave me extra 10 min for better essay composition and proofreading in the end, which I could not do in PBT. Also, despite me had being worry about the noise in the exam class due to typing, it wasn’t a problem at all because we were allowed to put on the headphones during writing (and reading) and PC were equipped with noiseless keyboard (similar to Mac keyboard), so I was able to concentrate well on the test.
    For the other parts of the test I didn’t feel any difference which would matter. In listening and reading we were still allowed to use conventional pencil and paper (back side of the paper with the password for the test); although, I’m not sure if it is an option everywhere. It was helpful in listening for question with spelling, so I first wrote the word in paper and then printed the answer. Timing in listening between sections to check the answers and read the task ahead is same sufficient as in PBT, so the last 2 min for the final answer check also suffice.
    My advice, if you are good in typing and want to enhance your writing score – CBT is for you.

    • Thank you for the feedback Mila. I wanted to know if you were able to highlight the questions for reading? I find that reading the questions prior to the passage helps.

    • Thank you for such an informative comment. I have only one question, how long did it take for your result to arrive?

  32. One more Bob says

    I had taken the CD IELTS on July 25 and would like to confirm that there was no practice question ( answered question ) in the listening section. Not really a con though, you are able to do listening test easily if you are aware of it.

    I had taken a PB IELTS exam a few years back for my higher studies and found the CD version of it far more smoother and enjoyable to do so. I highly recommend this format of the test to those who are technologically capable and not even consider the PB tests as it feels so out of date !

  33. Sanjeev Ratra says


    Your website is simply awesome. I have a question is that if we do get 30 seconds in CDT before listening exam starts to read questions as we get in PBT? Thanks in advance.

    • Yes, there is no difference in how the test is done, except that you write your answers directly onto the computer and have only 2 mins at the end to check your answers (not 10 mins). That is the only difference – everything else is the same.

  34. Hi liz,
    I have a very dirty handwriting, I am expert in computer systems and prefer typing over writing. Should I consider CBT over PBT ?

    • Sure it is something you can consider. The computer-based test is for people who prefer typing – there is no other advantage to it.

  35. I was concerned about the quality of answering. To clarify, in the paper-based exam the model answer gives a variety of chances where if the answer requires two words you can write either Tree or The tree, and if it is one word you can -for example- write ant or ants. Are the same criteria applied to the CBT? Do they have a flexible answer module? or is it a restrict answer where you can only write ant and not ants or the tree and not tree?
    Please reply as soon as possible because I am totally confused about this matter.

    • It is not a model answer you are looked at. It is an answer key which is completely different. The paper-based test and the computer-based test are 100% the same with regards to how you write the answers – you choose one answer only. you can’t put two options and hope one is correct. You must decide if you use the article “the” for the answer or not – if you are wrong, the answer will be marked wrong. Same with plural / singular nouns.

  36. James Sun says

    Hi Liz, your website is really helpful! I last time attended the CDT in Auckland NZ in April.
    It was the first time I experienced the CDT, I found that the advantages of CDT were in the writing, it was quite easy for me to edit the sentences, I finished the essay over 10 minutes before the end of the test; Therefore, I had much more time to check the spelling and other mistakes. In the listening test I could use earphone which was really helpful for hearing. Another was the result can be received in 5 days. The drawbacks are also obvious, especially in reading and listening, I couldn’t do any note on the paper, Just can do highlighting on the screen. Thus, I needed to read questions twice or more. Not to mention the result need to wait for at least 3 weeks. That confused me to decide whether I need to prepare the next exam. That’s my feeling about CDT.

  37. Just appeared in CDT BC IELTS.
    I must say Listening is challenging in CDT, you need to Listen carefully and be watchful of synonyms or similar phrases that the speaker may use, and at the same time, make sure to have your cursor ready for the questions in front.
    It certainly helps in Writing.

  38. Hi,
    I would like to know in CB listening test whether audio plays immediately? I am sure questions are displayed first. But want to know approx. after how much time audio will play after questions are displayed?


    • The listening test is no different from the paper based test – the only difference is that you listen through the computer and write the answers on the computer. As with all listening tests, you will hear an example first which gives you time to adjust volume on headphones and also get used to accents. If you get the IELTS Cambridge test books, which are real test published by IELTS, you will become familiar to this.

  39. Elizabeth says

    Hello! Does anyone have any feedback about the note taking or highlighting functions on the computer version of the test? I was thinking this might limit the options in a few cases, like following the route in the map questions (Listening), doing calculations for the graphs/Task 1 (Writing) or noting connnections between paragraphs (Reading). Did you miss being able to take notes on the page? Did putting the notes in the boxes that get minimalized work for you? Not too passive? Thanks so much!

  40. I have just taken BC IELTS sample CBT test. While taking the writing module i found that if i write any incorrect spelling red line appears under the word. Similar happens in the CBT test? Please confirm

    • There is no language advantage to doing the IELTS test on a computer. You do not get help with spelling or grammar.

  41. Hi Liz (and everyone else),

    Please note the following (CBT IELTS at IDP Kuwait):
    1. Even in the last minute, hovering over the ‘*** minutes left’ text will display the time as **:**.
    2. The design for CBT is intuitive, including arrows to move from question to question, or between parts.
    3. A prompt is always played at the beginning of the test, allowing test takers to set up their volume (headphones) or get used to the volume.
    4. I can confirm that CTRL+C and CTRL+V work for Reading and Writing, as well as Listening.

    (Test taken 21/6/19)

  42. Hi, Liz. Thanks for the update.
    I want to know if the ‘backspace’ function is enabled in the CBT?
    Thanks in advance.

  43. I took the CBT test in May and scored an overall 8.
    Speaking: 8
    Listening: 8.5
    Reading: 8.5
    Writing: 6.5

    I have taken both the tests, and found this simpler for Reading & Writing. It was pretty convenient to read online and answer. My writing looked neat and I was able to go back and edit/add to come to word count.

    In Listening, it did get a little challenging to type and listen at the same time. Specially in maps, where you have to follow instructions very closely. Although, there is also drag and drop option in some sections, making it easier to avoid spell errors.

    Appeared on Sunday and had my results by following Friday.

    Just hope I can bring my writing scores up to 8 somehow. Will have to reappear now, unfortunately.

    • Very well done with your results and thanks for sharing your experience. I know what you mean about the listening test. It is a shame that they don’t offer the option of paper-based listening with CD IELTS reading and writing.

  44. Hi!
    Does anyone know how many time you have on the Listening part in the CDT? I heard that less than in the PBT. Also, is it possible to write answers on a pice of papper and in the end transfer this in the computer? I have a problem with typing phone number and family name fast (you know, then they spell it…).

    • The recording will last for 30 mins – that is fixed – it makes no difference which test you take. The format of the test never changes. What does change is that you get only 2 mins (not 10 mins) to check your answers. You do NOT transfer your answers from paper to computer. You type directly to the computer and you have 2 mins at the end to check and alter your answers.


    Hi Liz,
    Yes, I can confirm that we can copy/paste from the text using CTRL+C and CTRL+V. I also tried CTRL+F for finding some word, but it didn’t work (as expected).


  46. Hi,
    I just want to ask if for CBT for writing the checking mechanism is same as manual or they are using some computer based software to check the writing test?


  47. Hi Liz,

    I want to attend computer based, at about 3 week later. I am searching for proper test samples, but I couldnt find anyone. If anybody knows any website or something, please let me know.

  48. YaaAsant says

    Hi all!!
    Below are some observations from my computer delivered IELTS exam.
    Date: 03-June-2019
    Location: Ghana

    At the test center, we had to await a software update from Cambridge. By the way, why would Cambridge want to deploy an update at a scheduled test time? Start time got delayed by an hour.

    You will receive different login credentials for each module of the test, and these are delivered just before the start of a particular module.

    The test center has the ability to pause a candidate’s test in the event of a technical error. During the READING module, my computer decided to take an unsanctioned nap. Upon complaint, the administrator paused my session on his work station and prepared another computer for me. My test continued from where the previous computer shut down. Fortunately for me, I was on the last question and still had about a quarter of an hour to spare. It took about seven minutes to resolve the issue and this meant other test takers had to wait some extra minutes – after they had completed their individual tests – for me to wrap mine up. I am uncertain if this privilege could be extended to the LISTENING module; maybe, maybe not. This brings me to the next observation.

    LISTENING test was not the same for all candidates. The user of the computer next to mine had the volume all the way up, and the audio bled into my headset (Sadly, my test center couldn’t afford noise cancelling headsets. Be grateful if your test center offers one of those). During the pauses in my audio, I could here his and it was completely different from mine. I confirmed this at the end of the test. I can’t confirm nor deny if that was the case for the subsequent modules (Reading and Writing). My fellow test takers were rather reticent, a corollary of their anxieties. Most found the test quite challenging.

    On the whole, my sentiments towards the CBT/CBI/CDT were rather pleasant. I am unable to provide a comparison with the PBT since this was my first ever IELTS test. However, drawing from my partner’s experience of the PBT, I would recommend the CBT if one is comfortable on the computer.

    I hope someone finds this helpful.

    P.S.: Don’t forget to warm up those fingers before the test 🙂

    • I’m sure many people will find your account informative and very useful. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thank you YaaAsant, this helps a lot. Looking forward to my CBT, I’m pretty confident because I use computer for typing all the time at work. Thanks againn

  49. Can we use all capital letters in listening and reading in CBT as well?

  50. prasanna says

    I got 8.5 for listening 8.5 for reading and only 6.0 for writing in the computer-based test. my typing speed was adequate but not that fast as on paper. the most problematic thing is that it is not easy to spot spelling mistakes once you have typed.

    • Umbareen says

      Same with me.
      I have sich good scores in all bands except writing. I took my test on 31st May.
      I am so disheartened.

  51. Arpit chsristian says

    Hello Liz, First of all, thank you for providing such useful information.
    Could you please let me know, in reading section, will it allow me to use (CTRL + F) feature to find a particular word which I want to check.

    Thank you,
    Arpit Christian

  52. Hi Liz,

    Great write up about the IELTS, thank you! About the timing in computer based – if I finish the listening and reading in lesser time (and save some minutes there) can I carry forward that time to writing section? Was hoping to get little bit more time there as I usually complete the first 2 sections before time in practice

    Thank you!

    • Each section of the test has a time limit that you cannot change. You get one hour for reading, not more and not less.

    • In PBT, are examinees provided with individual headphones during the listening round?

      • Each test center is different. You need to check with your test center if they use headphones.

        • Hey ! Can I go back to the first passage in Reading if I have time after completing all 3 passages or is the passage immediately locked after completing it?

          • You have one hour to complete the reading test. You can do the questions and passages in any order. You can edit them at any time during that 1 hour. The IELTS test does not change because it is on a computer – except for the transfer time in listening as explained above.

  53. Hello does the computer correct your spelling in the writing test for computer based ?

  54. Hacer Gorbav says

    Hi Liz, First thank you for this great website. I have a question about writing on computer-based IELTS.Do all IELTS Centers use the same standard keyboard layout? I mean I live in Azerbaijan we have a different keyboard layout that’s why it may be a problem for me while writing section. Thanks a lot!!

  55. PROS:
    Navigation is easy
    Un attempted answers will be marked in different colour so that we can verify at the end (listening & reading), it helps when you missed anything while listening.
    In each section, there is 30 seconds – 60 seconds time to check your answers.
    At the end we can verify all the content easily just by selecting the respective answer number.
    There is extra time of only 2 minutes at the end of 4th section but in PBT it is 10 minutes.

    we have passage and related questions in same page side-by-side, easy to answer by verifying the passage.
    You can highlight the key words and topic sentences.
    You can take notes on the passage and small icon will appear at the passage where the notes have been taken.
    Easy to navigate between the sections.
    You can use copy(Ctrl+c) and paste (Ctrl+V) where ever you have answer available in passgage to avoid spelling mistake.
    CONS: I don’t have any

    Same as reading the question and text editor is side by side in the screen so that you can check question easily whenever required.
    Count of words for the passage.
    If we realise that we have written something wrong you can just select and delete the particular part but it ill be tough in PBT.
    CONS: I don’t have any.

    The waiting tie before exam is less than compare to PBT
    The results will be given in max of 7 days (heard few got even in 2 days)
    Less crowd

    Those who are familiar using computer in day to day life for them CBT is the best option and also your typing speed should be at moderate rate.


    • Thanks for sharing your tips – great 🙂

    • Manivasan G says

      Hi PR,

      Thanks for the detailed information. That really helps.

      Please share the source you have practiced for CBT. I don’t find anything other than the samples given in IDP/BC website. We definitely need more tutorials to practice before appearing for real test.


    • Manivasan G says

      I have a question on keyboard and mouse size. Do they have the standard size equipment? If they are smaller or in any other non-standard size, it is going to be difficult for the one who practiced with standard size equipment.


      • Hi,
        The mouse, keyboard was all standard size in the exam that I appeared for. The only issue that you might face is, some of the letters on the keyboard have become harder to print. I think this is because of the constant usage. You need to cross-check what is actually getting typed.

  56. Samih Adel Hassan Abdalazeez says

    Hi Liz,
    By refer to your confirmation request regard the CTRL+C and CTRL+V, I would like to confirm that the option is valid during the CBT. Yesterday only I did my CBT and I used this feature to save time and to avoid any miss-spelling.


  57. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for such a informative description of the CBT. I appeared on CBT on first day first show in my city.
    Listening: After completion of particular section, they give us some seconds to put the answers in the computer screen. I will suggest that if you get habituate of putting answers while you listen, this 30 seconds you can jump on to next section and read those question. It gives us time to revise questions coming up in the next section so we become mentally be prepared for answer.
    Reading: I think CTRL+C and CTRL+V is not enabled. You need to type it only.

    • Samih Adel Hassan Abdalazeez says

      Hi, Yesterday only I did my CB IELTS exam. The option of CTRL+C and CTRL+V is valid. Even I used this advantage to avoid any miss-spell.

  58. Hi there,

    I did my CBT today and I was much more comfortable with the CBT than the PBT. Being able to see the number of words as I write was a big plus for me.

    With the timer, I realised that you can actually change it to a fuller format in minutes & seconds when you hover your mouse cursor over the timer.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  59. Raj Panchal says

    Hello everyone,
    I am Raj Panchal, I appeared for the computer-delivered IELTS from BC Mumbai on 21st April at 9 am. Speaking was on the same day 6pm
    I found it less stressful and painstaking from the paper and pen-based exam as the time involved in waiting for question and answer sheets is eliminated, no delays, the audio quality of the listening module is excellent and fewer students which only takes 3 minutes of registration.
    You just need to come 15-20 minutes early even though they suggest to appear 1 hour early for all the modules.
    Listening module: Typing is not an issue, as you are asked to write only 1 word answer
    Rest of the questions are MCQs or drag and drop which is similar to pen-paper based
    Pros – You don’t need to write all the answers again on the separate sheet which is very beneficial as less energy is consumed.
    Cons – Only 2 minutes of time is given which you should utilise just verifying your already written answers. The first-time written answers while listening should be correct
    Reading module: Similar to the pen and paper based exam
    Pros- Again you don’t need to transfer the answer to a separate paper as sometimes people make mistakes while transferring answers. All this helps in the writing module. You can use all your conserved concentration in the final module.
    Writing module: This is the best of all parts.
    Pros- you can the see the word count and time which greatly helps in making sure when to stop a particular part(letter) and how much words to include for each paragraph(essay)
    NOTE: Always check for spacing and spellings of even the simplest words, whether they are accurate or no
    At the end of the test, you won’t be completely drained out which used to happen with me while appearing for the paper-based examination.

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • It would have been better if the examinees can customize between PBT and CBT. If one wishes for a CBT in writing and a PBT for reading and listening or the other way around, then everything would just be a piece of cake.

    • Nutika Kale says

      Thank you Raj for sharing your experience. As a resident of Mumbai like you, I find your review assuring as the exam’s standard can change with respect to the centre.

  60. Elizabeth says

    I’m wondering if paper and pen will be provided during CBT test for Listening and Writing sections?

    Thank you!

  61. Hello Liz,

    Your website is really amazing. I took the CBT month in Perth. I am pretty sure that for writing, the cut and or copy paste option is disabled. If so, I think it is unfair that this is not the case in other countries !

  62. Hi Liz,
    I appeared for CBT on 14th….
    For speaking, it is not only test of English but also testing computer skills 😊
    For some questions we have to type…then for some to drag answers into a box and in case of diagram selecting boxes for options A B C D……
    So multiple ways are used to provide answers while listening and concentrating on the actual conversation…

    For speaking I received a different cue card….

    Describe a job that one of your grandparents did.
    Was this their only job…
    Would you like to do or opt for same type of job…

    • Akash Rastogi says

      topic was the same for all the CBT test takers.

      Mine speaking topic was also the same,
      Describe a job that one of your grandparents did.
      Was this their only job…
      Would you like to do or opt for same type of job…

  63. Hi Liz
    thank you so much for your support
    well for CBT the listening tests are different for every candidate or one module has the same paper
    because when I realized that GT candidate had different questions.
    In listening, I think if one is not used to typing or dragging while listening cbt is not a good idea, I lost my concentration twice as I had to drag answers.
    Listening was difficult for me

    I also met with another candidate who was reappearing because he scored 9 in listening and reading, 8.5 in speaking and 6.5 in writing. what could be the reason. I am worried as I am waiting for my results

  64. I took Computer based Test for Academic IELTS. I find it much easier to fill up answer sheets . It is only during the writing part that i find it irritating and distracting about the noice from keyboards. It echoes even i put back my headphones to minimize the hearing of keyboard ticks. Overall, it was a good experience.

    • HI Cris where did you take your test and were you allowed to put headphones back on during writing session?

      • Yes, the keyboards used are too noisy and the IELTS staff noticed it so they told me to put back my headphones but it doesn’t help so i just continue to do my task. After the test, they asked me some feedback and i suggested to change to keyboards. Btw, we were only two test taker on that day 🙂 I took the test in Saudi Arabia.

        • oh ksa! i’m giving mine there too. which city was yours in?
          do the staff answer any questions you might have? like if we are allowed to write in all caps for listening, reading and writing?

          i’m wondering if i have to give the listening exam with speakers instead of headphones.

  65. Are we allowed to type in all Caps under CBT?


  66. Hi,
    Does anyone have an idea about the option of highlighting/ marking the text in the listening questions?
    Is this facility available to highlight keys in the passage or available options in the questions?

    • Hi Kami,

      We cannot highlight questions in listening section in fact for reading section too. Yes we can highlight the text in the passage for reading section.

      This could be one drawback in CBT, As Liz mentioned we need to practice multitasking read the question, listen to the conversation and write the answer.

    • Yes, we can highlight the text in both reading and listening section.

  67. Is Capital Letters allowed in Reading/Listening for Computer Delivered Test? Could anyone who has taken computer delivered test and wrote in Capital Letters can confirm?


  68. J just took the computer-delivered test today, and there was a blackout in the middle of the reading test with just 10 minutes left. When we finally logged back in, some of us lost all answers and have to start over again but some of us just need to continue and ended in 10 minutes. I had to wait another 30 minutes for the reading test to end for everyone as the invigilator allowed those who had to start all over again to end earlier. Overall, I’d say it was a good experience as there was no need to write but the blackout was a minus.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. That certainly is one unfortunately aspect of using technology. Hopefully it is a rare occurrence. Good luck with your results 🙂

  69. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for all your articles and videos. I used them extensively throughout my preparation. I gave my first IELTS in March 2018 (Paper based) and I got L 7.5 W 7 R 7.5 S 7.5. I gave 2nd attempt in April 19 (Computer based) and got my results in 4 days on 10th April 19. This time I scored L 8.5 W 7 R 7.5 S 8.5. I found entire process easier, stress free and less crowded. There were only 3 people in the exam room. Writing part was amazing as I was very comfortable with typing. Also We were allowed to use headphones at all the times (They were damn good quality noise cancellation headphone) I feel computer based IELTS is here to stay and more people should opt for it. It also reduces the exam – results time cycle by at least 10-12 days.
    Note – My IELTS test center allowed me to take a mock/dummy test a week before and it was good exercise to understand how computer based test work out in different sections and how to navigate between sections/questions. It helped me big time as I was familiar with exam room, quality of headphones, keyboard and mouse at least 6 days before my actual test.

  70. Nidarshani says

    Hi Liz !

    Is this “highlighting text” option available only in the Reading test ?
    Is “highlighting text” available in Listening test too ?


  71. Saad Mustafiz says

    Can anyone tell me, in CBT exam is writing part checked by computer or human personal?

    • No computer can assess language on all four marking criteria. Of course, it is marked by a person – a trained, experienced IELTS examiner.

  72. Hi Liz
    Thank you for taking the time to provide such helpful hints. Such souls are rare in today’s world.

    I just have a question regarding the listening section, can one type in Caps for the CBT as in the PBT?

  73. How long will it take to get results in eor cbt.will it make diifferenxe


    Another advantage for the reading exam: you can copy/paste from the text using CTRL+C and CTRL+V which reduces the chances of typos.

  75. Hi Liz and everyone.
    Does someone know if there is enough time to transfer the spelling (number/letters) from a paper (rough version) to the computer? How many minutes do you have among sections too? Liz, I have taken the mock test on the website od IDP and you can see the seconds if your mouse is on the time. They change the time format when the mouse is on the time, therefore, you can see also the minutes.

    Thanks everyone.

  76. Hi Liz. This is so helpful. However, on CBT, are we allowed to use TAB in the keyboard to proceed to the next blank and can we as well type in Capslock? Thank you.

    • Tasbiha Liaqat says

      Hi. I just gave my test few days back and yes the TAB key works. I used it largely during the Listening test. I wasn’t even using the mouse. Just when I had to go to the next section. So do use the TAB key, helps alot.

  77. I agree with you Geetika, when I did my CBT last Feb 9, 2019, I lost my focus on listening too. by that, it gives me a low score. So this time, I have to retake my CBT next month as I need a desired band for my immigration process.

    This video is very helpful, thanks Mis Liz

  78. Jaskaran Kaur says

    Thank You so much Mam.

  79. Thanks Liz. I have already taken two CBTs (GT), and going to have the third one soon (stuck at 6.5 on writing).
    Listening can be tricky in CBT, especially if map labeling is involved (haven’t got it yet, for me). Unlike the paper-based test, you can’t track the map with the pencil (I do that to keep track of the location), on the computer screen. I don’t know if you can highlight locations you want; that may help if available.
    Writing: It is easy to over-write, especially if your typing is fast. So keep an eye on the words. I forgot to do it, and end up writing 404 for the essay. Got 6.5, though I believe I wrote it well!. Remarking under way. 😀
    Good luck to all takers.

  80. Hi, guys

    First of all, I just wanted to thank Liz for all her useful tips and help. She is really wonderful! And I would like also to express my sincere wishes to all potential test takers here.
    As for whether to take CBT or PBT, it is totally up to the test taker’s level of willingness and capability as well as being comfortable of typing on PC or otherwise. As a matter of fact, I am not 100% sure whether to go for CBT or not even though I have been using the keyboard comfortably for over 20 years now!

    Thanks for you all guys and good luck!

  81. Jamani taiwo says

    Hi Liz,
    Thank you for sharing this information with us, I want to know if one can write the PBT alone in the essay instead of CBT.

    Taiwo jamani.

  82. Hi Liz ,

    I is great to fallow you. Very helpful tips. Thankyou.
    I am planning to give my test next month. Hopefully will do best.

    Thanks again,


  84. Hello all
    Thank you very much Liz for the post, it is exactly what I was looking for. I have a question about writing CBT, and I would appreciate if somebody could share the information. The question is – Can you move between writing task 1 and task 2 during the exam? I mean I prefer to write task 2 first, for example, and then move back to the task 1. Or I have to finish task 1 in 20 minute, and only after 20 min I would be able to start task 2. And would I be able to double check both tasks at the end if I have time. Thank you in advance!

    • The rules do not change because it is on a computer. The time is not fixed for writing task 1 and writing task 2. The time is only recommended. You manage your own time for the reading and writing tests. The only significant difference in format is in the listening test when you only have 2 mins to check your answers rather than 10 mins to transfer your answers.

  85. I took the CBT in Nov 2018 with IDP in Thailand and I have some comments as follows:

    1. For UKVI, we need to wait about 13 days as we wait for the result from paper-based test;

    2. For listening, it is quite difficult to drag and drop the answers. No 10-min extra time is a huge disadvantage, as we have to type the answer while we must pay attention to the next passages;

    3. For reading, I really like this part. As the passage always appear on the left hand side of the screen, I don’t need to flip the paper again and again;

    4. For writing, the automatic word count is advatageous, and it is very easy to edit your work or move paragraph or sentences;

    5. Overall, even though test takers are good at typing, unfamilarity with the keyboard layout and space can result in earsily typos, which may waste your time to correct the words frequently. Also, it may be relatively easier to make undetected typos which mean you will lost marks as such.

    I hope the above is helpful for all test takers.

    Thank you Liz for your extremely useful website.

  86. Listening: My typing speed is pretty good so I tried CB test, however couldn’t score as desired in this section. While dragging answers from right to left on big computer screen, I lost my focus as the answers were long enough to interpret.
    In Paper based I scored 8.5 but 7 in computer based. Undoubtedly, writing and readingexperience was awesome.

  87. Nice written Liz, thanks for sharing this

    Have a question for a long time in my mind, is it ok to type all in capital letters as in paper based for reading and listening ?

  88. Hi Liz,
    Is CtrlF option works in reading?

  89. Reading pros:
    We can do highlight by selecting the phrase, you would like to highlight and right click and select highlight. There is instructions in IDP page.

    Advice for Writing
    We can use the ear phone to avoid the noise of typing. So you can only hear your own typing and may not get distracted by others typing.

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 For your point about using headphones to deaden the noise, people will need to check that their test centre uses headphones for the listening test.

      • Nahawand ali says

        unfortunately, they collect the headphones exactly at the end of the listening section. and you are not allowed to bring your

  90. You can have a look at what the test looks like on the IELTS Youtube channel: is the welcome video, but they have a playlist of all the sections. I just can retype the whole link here and Liz locks pasting in comments.

  91. Listening: Though I am good in typing, but computer screen was quite big to drag answers from right to left and in that process I lost my focus. In earlier attempt of Pen-paper, I scored 8.5, but in CB it was 7.

    • Interesting. Sounds like the listening test doesn’t work as well being computer based.

      • I tried this before, too, and failed to see the complete diagram in Listening. I had to change my font size to either regular or smaller font. Or as a general rule, look at all the questions first before focusing on the specific questions.

    • Hi There,
      8.5 is a good score. Well done.
      I did not quite understand what is dragging the answers. It does not show in CB practice tests.

  92. Can we move segments of sentences or paragraphs in writing CBT? Does cut-copy-paste work? Is it similar to MS Word usage sans spell or grammar checks?

  93. Khan Sian Muang says

    The major disadvantage of CBT exam is that examiner for the writing section knows exactly the number of words you have typed in and will find the writing quite awkward if you wrote more than what is required. This can trigger an alarm for reducing your score with the judgement that the test taker wrote unnecessary and irrelevant contents that are out of context. I am telling you all about this since I had just gone through such result where I was given only 6 in writing even though I had met the important criteria for scoring high in writing. I took the CBT exam in Bangkok and I scored 8.5 in L, 6 in W, 7 in R, and 7.5 in S, which resulted in overall 7.5 for my IELTS. In fact, I am quite dissatisfied with the writing score which I even speculated that the examiner was quite junior in exam checking experience and was not at all a supporter of lengthy complex writing.

    • The examiner will know the number of words you wrote in the paper based test because the words are counted. So, it makes no difference in this case whether you take CBT or PBT. You should never aim for a lengthy essay. Your essay should be between 270 and 290 words. This comment is not related to the CBT test, this comment is about understanding how the whole IELTS writing test is marked. If you write unnecessary information in your essay, you will get a lower score.

  94. I liked it so much! I work with a computer for 20 years so to write on a laptop is so much easier than paper writing for me.
    My marks increased and the difference between the first test and the second one was just one month. I do think that is because of the method

  95. I found this really helpful.Thank you Liz.

  96. Tasbiha Liaqat says

    Hi Liz. I gave my IELTS Academic CBT on 14th of February and got an overall 8.5 band with 9/8.5/7.5/8 – RLWS.
    I really want to thank you for your amazing tips. Especially regarding the speaking and writing tests. It really helped me to score 8.5 as a non-native speaker.

    As for the advantages of giving the Computer based exam, I believe there are many benefits. Especially with the Reading and Writing sections. As for the listening section, a word of caution, please make sure your headphones are working. I had a slight issue at the start, got my headphones changed and it was all good.

    Know the format for Writing Task 1 and 2 that really boosts up the band.
    Also for the listening test, use the Tab key. Helps to move quickly to answer next questions.

    • Great results – well done 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Did they return the time lost to getting a new pair of headphones in the listening test?

      • Rockstar says

        We are asked to test the headphones if it is working properly and a sample audio plays. Only if you are satisfied with this check stage, you can click on the button to start the exam. So the listening doesn’t begin you agree that that headphones is working good. This is what happened in my case.

  97. Ibtassam Rasheed says

    I got the result in 4 days only for CDT. My experience was very good as I actually enjoyed giving the test on computer. For some people like me, it’s easier and faster to type than write so I felt right at home. There are no cons for CDT compared to PBT in my opinion. In fact, you get to see the number of words on screen while writing, can erase your mistakes while avoiding bad impression on the examiner and give more time developing your ideas as typing can be done way faster than writing for even medium users. I also don’t agree with the notion that a person with bad typing should go for PBT. My wife gave PBT for first three times but due to fewer dates and delayed results, she went for CBT in her fourth attempt and onwards. She didn’t even know where the various letters on the keyboard were as she never typed in her life or used the computer often but she spent around 4-6 weeks on a typing tutor (Mavis Beacon is the one she used). Even though her typing speed is still around 15 WPM, she managed to finish her test (400 words) on all CBTs and get respectable scores. The main motivation behind her decision to learn typing was to be able to give CBT which can be booked just 3 days ahead of test, result always comes on time (5 days average for us) and it’s basically taking place every day for our test center. So, my point is that if you’re motivated enough for your ambitions, you can achieve it even if you have to undertake something that may feel impossible at first. My only CBT attempt yielded (LRSW 9-8.5-8-7.5) and I can say with confidence that there is nothing that should stop you from doing it. One of the invigilators at IDP told me that they don’t have PBT in Australia anymore as IDP believes that CBT is the future and they will be phasing out PBT sooner or later in other countries as well. Furthermore, if anyone feels distracted by the noise in the exam room, they can put on the noise cancelling headphones for the entirety of the test which really helps in focusing better.

  98. Please let test takers know that the Reading passages are different for candidates in the same exam but I think difficulty level is same.

    Another con for writing is that it’s very tempting to write far beyond the word count. I was guilty of this ! I unbelievably wrote about 251 words for Task 1 and I didn’t have time to come back and edit the my work. Anyway the result wasn’t nice, LWRS – 8.5, 6.5, 7, 7.5.

    My reading passage, section 3 to be precise was extremely difficult. I spent 38 minutes on just section 3. The passage was on flavoring of foods.

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 I think you make a good point. If typing is quick and easy, it will be easy for people to write lengthy essays and reports or letters (task 1). So, it is something to bear in mind. Always make sure you are paying attention to word count. A length essay is not the aim. In task 1, you will be marked down for adding too much insignificant detail in your report for task 1. Good results on the whole 🙂

  99. Emmanuel Pratt says

    Hi Liz thanks for the update. I want to know if the CBT has a spell check function enabled.

  100. Thanks a lot, Liz.
    I will be taking my test March 19 and it is a CBT. I will provide you some feedback from my experience.

    Thanks again,

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