In an Online World, IELTS Remains Unique

Welcome to technology, friend!


I know you are very familiar with technology, even perhaps a little too comfortable around it. 🤷🏻‍♀️


It seems that every aspect of life, especially now, is driven one way or another by technology. For better or for worse, technology is never going to magically disappear. It is here to stay, whether you like it or not. The best thing to do is to determine the best way to make it fit into your life, not dominate your life.


We can do everything, within reason, online. You can have groceries delivered to your home, even a car! You can actually have a car delivered to your door--or driveway--in almost the same amount of time that it takes for you to pay for it on your phone. It sounds almost unfathomable, right?


After all, what seemed impossible only a decade ago is now happening, and then some! You can only imagine what ten years from now will look like. Perhaps, this will apply to all areas of life?! Well, one can hope. 🙏🏼


What about ESL assessments? If only IELTS were as simple. Right now, yes, literally this moment, there is a way to take IELTS online and it is called IELTS Indicator. Why and how did this come to be? Well, it was created primarily in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Today's question is: Can IELTS be taken online?


It’s important to note that when referencing IELTS, you understand that it is the traditional test and NOT IELTS Indicator. To slightly tweak the question, you can adjust it to read the following:


Can traditional IELTS be taken online?


What does online mean anyway? How do you define it? If you think of it as a way to take a test that does not require you leave the comfort of your home, then the short answer to—can IELTS be taken at home?—is no. No, there is not an option for taking the test at home. At least not the normal IELTS version that you know and love. 😉


BUT—and that word is key—there is an important caveat to note.


Depending on your circumstances, it is very possible that IELTS Indicator may work—or not—as it varies case by case. IELTS Indicator is an important test to keep in mind as it just might offer you the flexibility that you need for your situation.


Do you find it more than a little strange that IELTS doesn't have an online component? You're not alone.


Is it--almost--weird that IELTS doesn’t have an online version of itself. Nope, regular IELTS cannot be taken online but it can be taken at a testing center. Yes, you do have the option to register for a computer-delivered test. Where?


Well, in the US, there is one (yes, you read that correctly) testing center with computer-delivered IELTS. Again, this requires going into the center in person in order to take the listening, reading, and writing modules on the computer. Then, as with the paper-based test, you have a face-to-face interview with the speaking examiner.


There are differences between computer-delivered IELTS and paper-delivered IELTS, though. That's a fun post for another day, friend.


IELTS Indicator--What Is It?


Click here for a crash course on IELTS Indicator. IELTS Indicator is regular IELTS except it is all virtual, which means you do not need to leave the four walls of your home in order to get a score. BUT, it is not accepted by all organizations. This is a key distinction because you may think, “Wow, this is excellent. Let me sign up for it now!” Not so fast, friend. Since not every institution accepts it, you need to carefully determine whether or not yours does before you register and pay for IELTS Indicator.


In terms of what it looks like, you can expect to see the usual suspects. All four of the same components of IELTS are assessed: listening, reading, writing, and a speaking interview with a trained examiner. The only difference is that instead of sitting in front of a real person for your speaking interview, you now trade that face-to-face experience for a screen-to-screen one. Is it better? Only you can be the judge of that as it honestly depends.


Some may prefer to have this experience over the internet, and in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Others may not enjoy it as they prefer to take the test in a controlled environment. After all, what can you do when the internet goes out at your home? Whom will you call? Not the Ghostbusters! 👻


Another way to look at how and/or why IELTS Indicator was born is to think about the business of ESL assessments. In terms of worldwide marketshare, the two competitors remain: IELTS and TOEFL. And guess what the primary difference between the two is? You're so smart! How did you know?!


IELTS Indicator is the IELTS (Cambridge, British Council, and IDP Australia) response to TOEFL because TOEFL can be conducted online. TOEFL's online iteration is called: TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. You can find out more about it here. Doesn't it sound like the house edition of extreme makeover?!


Yes, of course IELTS Indicator was also created for those who still need to take IELTS, even during these trying times, because life doesn’t stop even though the world might appear to have. However, like everything, IELTS and TOEFL are businesses, and as it is business, dominating the marketplace matters.


In sum, what it really boils down to is this question: Does your institution recognize and accept IELTS Indicator? If so, then you are all set to pull the trigger on IELTS Indicator. If not, then I think it is best to take traditional IELTS as you will literally be wasting your money on an assessment that will not be valid in the institution’s eyes.


Is it for me?


Before you jump on the IELTS Indicator bandwagon, make sure that you are prepared and armed with the key pieces of information. Read on, friend!


Here is a list of institutions where IELTS Indicator is accepted.


It is crucial to be armed with the facts. Is it for you? First, make sure that your device is compatible with IELTS Indicator. Next, check to ensure that your institution accepts the IELTS Indicator in lieu of regular IELTS. If so, you are good to go. If not, you must rethink your strategy. It’s not a bad plan to take IELTS Indicator. In fact, depending on your situation, it may actually behoove you because you have the opportunity to still take IELTS (IELTS Indicator) and have your score recognized and accepted by whatever institution--or institutions--you are applying.


If your organization is part of the list that accepts IELTS Indictor, then by all means feel free to register for it, prepare for it (of course!), and sit the test. This is a way to compete with the nature of TOEFL as it, too, has an at-home version.


HOWEVER, if the mere thought of sitting in front of a screen for--give or take--three hours makes you want to throw a brick through your computer screen, then do not take IELTS Indicator. You do not pass go. You do not collect $200. (Yay for a Monopoly reference!)


Frankly speaking, all that most people are doing now is sitting in from of a screen for hours and hours. If you are someone who despises adding even more screen time to your day, don't subject yourself to this form of torture. So, what can you do?


Instead, go--if it's safe--or wait--if you can--to take IELTS in person as the experience will be so much better for you. Not only will you feel less stressed from not sitting in front of a computer screen for yet another task, but you'll be in a controlled environment where the margin for error is incredibly low. This is a win-win!


Ultimately, though, the decision is yours, and yours alone. Don't let anyone sway you one way or another. If you feel comfortable and can have your scores count, then taking IELTS Indicator is the best route for you. Conversely, if waiting to take IELTS in person is an option for you, then definitely wait until you can. Remember, the choice is yours, friend.


In a Nutshell


It seems like every industry, including high-stakes testing is coming up with an online alternative. Whether or not IELTS Indicator is late to the party is not up for debate. Rather, was does matter is that you now, this very instant, have an important choice to make. Your decision is a big one as it literally impacts your future. You can register to take IELTS Indicator in the comfort of your own home--after you read this post--of course. Or, you can register to take traditional IELTS at a testing center.


Are they the same? No, they are not. IELTS and IELTS Indicator are different flavors of the same test. Keep these factors in mind when deciding which is best for you.


Now, at this precise moment, you’re ready for the recap!


❇️ Regular IELTS remains in person only

❇️ IELTS Indicator is an option (it it fits your needs)

❇️ IELTS Indicator is not a watered-down version of traditional IELTS.

❇️ Both IELTS and IELTS Indicator hold the same weight (equally recognized)

❇️ IELTS Indicator is only available in select countries

❇️ IELTS Indicator is time-sensitive (there will come a time when this is phased out or when it is replaced)

❇️ You alone hold the answer as to which option is best for you!


Click here to gain weekly, IELTS insights💡 sent straight to your inbox. Better yet, send this link to your friends who are new to the wonderful world of IELTS. This weekly series will set you up for success as you get all the information of what you need to know: before, on the day of, and after—you take IELTS. No fluff, just facts. I promise!


Until next time, happy IELTSing!

©2020 by Lori Llarena, The IELTS Whisperer.