Sieon Lau reports on a Road to IELTS upgrade that enables test takers to prepare for the increasingly popular IELTS on computer.
Recent years have seen some dramatic enhancements to Road to IELTS: extra practice tests, new activities for the Reading, Listening and Writing modules, and a completely revamped interface which runs not just on computers and tablets, but also on mobile. The most exciting innovation, though, is a simulator for IELTS on computer. But why is the simulator so important?
The British Council states that IELTS on computer is ‘exactly the same test as paper-based IELTS, but instead of writing your answers on paper, you will type them on a computer… You will take the Listening, Reading and Writing sections on a computer, but the Speaking test will still be face-to-face with a trained IELTS Examiner.’
Yet, just as reading news from your phone differs from reading it in a newspaper, doing a test on a computer is not ‘exactly the same’ as doing it on paper. For instance, navigating between questions is different, which means you need to know how to do it beforehand. Also, most people plan and structure their writing differently when they are typing on screen instead of writing on paper. Although it is much easier to plan and rearrange ideas on a computer, it is still something you need to get used to. In addition, empirical studies suggest that we ‘overestimate our own reading comprehension when we read on screen compared to on paper.’ In other words, you might want to double-check your answers in IELTS Reading before clicking ‘submit’.
Then there are the practicalities. For example, can your students answer these questions:
a. How do you start the Listening test?
b. Can you make notes on the screen? How do you do it?
c. Is there a cut-and-paste function in the Writing test?
All of this points to the importance of preparation and familiarisation. We know that being well-prepared is a good way to take away some of the test anxiety and improve exam performance. One of the popular ways of preparing is by doing a mock test. Not only can students gauge their performance, they also get a chance to familiarise themselves with the test format, in an authentic environment.
This is why the new simulator in Road to IELTS is important for students who are taking IELTS on computer. The simulator faithfully recreates each part of the computerised IELTS test to give students a true taste of IELTS on computer before the actual test. If you want to try it out, the IELTS on computer simulator is available free of charge here.