Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that swept the globe, IELTS introduced an online version of its exams, which is called IELTS Indicator. There are some important facts to note about this exam and in this article I will explain the difference between online IELTS and offline IELTS tests and what you need to know before booking your next exam date.
What is Online IELTS?
For years, IELTS was a paper test and eventually they added a computer version also known as IELTS computer delivered. Now, there is a new update, which is online IELTS. This is a limited test that has some key differences from the regular computer exam and which is of interest only to some people.
First of all, we need to note that this is a version of the Academic IELTS test. It is not suitable for those who need to do IELTS General Training or any other form of IELTS. As such, this will be primarily useful for people who want to go abroad to study.
In addition, IELTS Indicator is not as widely accepted as the regular IELTS exams. It is intended as a placeholder during the pandemic to compensate for the fact that some exam centres have had to close. In order to stop people missing out on their IELTS test, they transitioned into this new system.
Currently, the results of an online IELTS test function as a predictor of your real IELTS score but are not accepted as genuine by the same places that accept offline IELTS tests. There are, however, some locations, particularly in Australia, that will take IELTS Indicator as a valid qualification. You should contact your university of choice if you are unsure. They will be able to confirm for you whether or not they accept online IELTS exams as proof of English competency.
The Difference between Online IELTS and Offline IELTS
The aim of the online IELTS test is to replicate the traditional test, but of course it is impossible to make it exactly the same. All four parts of the IELTS test have been converted into online form – speaking, writing, listening, and reading. However, they will be done slightly differently.
The main difference is that, because you are at home, some protocols are needed to help prevent cheating. For example, you will need a webcam focused on you throughout the duration of the test. This is in order to prevent anyone feeding you the correct answers or to stop you from reading any additional materials during the exam.
Also, your computer screen will be monitored so that you can only see the test software. You will not be able to open other pages, such as dictionaries or any app that might help you cheat on the exam.
Of course, you will not be able to speak directly to an examiner in a face-to-face environment, so this part of the test will be conducted through the computer screen. You will use video conferencing software to speak to this person as they ask you questions.
Aside from that, the test will be largely the same as the computer-based IELTS exam that you would sit in a conventional testing centre. This means you will view the reading materials on a computer screen and fill in your answer papers there as well. You will also type your essay rather than writing it by hand. This provides quite a few benefits, as most people can type faster than they can write and also you can make edits much more easily. However, some people much prefer using the old-fashioned paper tests.
Benefits of Online IELTS
There are various benefits to doing your IELTS test online. Primarily, this allows you to continue with your IELTS studies despite any local closures. Of course, Covid-19 has had a huge affect on the lives of young people, and this allows you to continue with your plans for the future.
It means that you can do the test from home, which allows you to stay safe and be comfortable in a familiar environment. You don’t need to go anywhere during this dangerous time and you can get used to your own computer and furniture so that you feel totally at ease. It is worth practising your typing skills long before the exam.
This also helps to promote equality because otherwise people in relatively untouched areas would have an advantage, whilst now those who live in areas ravaged by Covid can continue to prepare as normal.
If you are looking to study abroad and cannot get to a regular IELTS test centre, then you should consider doing online IELTS instead. This may be able to help you get your band score in spite of any pandemic related difficulties you face. There are some differences, which I have outlined above, but overall the exams are quite similar to one another and neither could be said to be “easier” or “more difficult.”