Written by Yasmin Kamal

Candidates are now being offered more choice and control over their IELTS test.  Yet, a number of students are often misinformed when it comes to the difference between the two formats and often believe CD to be easier.

However, what many test-takers don’t realise is that the content, timing and marking of both tests are exactly the same. As such, they will not differ in terms of difficulty and candidates will be tested for the same skills.

The sole difference is that the reading, listening and writing sections of the test are either done on a computer or with a paper and pencil. Thus, it is a good idea to consider which you are most comfortable with and make a choice that best suits your needs. 

On the other hand, the speaking test for both test types is identical and are both conducted face-to-face, as this is the most effective and natural way of assessing your speaking skills. 

That being said, your preparation should not differ immensely. But here are a couple of steps to consider whilst preparing.

Take A Practice Test In Both Formats 

Before you head into your test, make sure you take time to get familiar with the computer-delivered and paper based experience. Familiarise yourself with the layout of the test by completing practice tests for both types. Not only, is this helpful in preparing for your test, but it will also give you an idea of what to expect in the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking tests.

It is important that you choose the right option so that you feel comfortable and confident when you take the test. You need to decide whether you prefer to read the texts and write your answers on a computer, or on paper.

The sample test questions will help you to decide which option you prefer, and to prepare for the test. These sample materials will give you an idea of what to expect in the Listening, Reading and Writing sections.

Use Official IELTS Practice Materials

You may find it helpful to do a practice test. The British Council has developed practice materials, designed to help you understand the test format and the types of test questions. You don’t have to attend a preparation course, but many test takers find that doing so helps them improve their performance and enables them to meet the demands of the test. Test preparation is different to an English language course, as it will not help improve your English. An IELTS preparation course can help you familiarise yourself with the types of tasks included in an IELTS test.

Watch The Computer-Delivered IELTS Video Tutorials

Try to watch video tutorials issued by the IELTS examining board. These videos will help to give you a clear indication of how the Listening, Reading and Writing sections appear on computer. In addition, they will demonstrate how you can access and use the help option, make notes, save your answers or highlight text during the test.

Use English Every Day

Remember regardless of the test you choose to take, they are both testing for proficiency. Thus, it is essential to improve your language capabilities in all skills before either test. 

Listen to English language via the radio, television and film. You should also try to listen to a variety of English accents including American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand. 

Read English publications such as newspapers and magazines regularly. Write letters, emails or notes in English whenever possible. 

Speak English with your friends and family. 

You could also consider, taking an English language course. This is one of the best ways to improve your English. The feedback you receive from your teacher will help you improve the specific skills involved in speaking, listening, reading and writing English. 

Consider How Soon You Need The Results

Another factor to consider is timing. Candidates will receive their score 5-7 days after the computer-delivered IELTS test. Candidates will receive their score 13 days after the paper-based test.

Remember regardless of your choice, final scores from both the computer-delivered test and the paper-based test will be recognized all around the world.