By: Contributor On: October 26, 2017 In: Academics, International Students, Testing Comments: 0

This post originally appeared on the Magoosh IELTS blog.

When’s the last time you filled a whole sheet of paper with writing? I know, I know, it’s the 21st century. But here’s an IELTS prep pro tip: start writing on paper!

Writing Things on Paper is So Last Century…. Unless You’re Taking the IELTS!

Why is it important to be good at writing things down on paper? Because the IELTS is not a computer-based test. People can only take the IELTS on computer under very rare circumstances. It’s very likely you’ll take the IELTS with an old-fashioned paper test-book as if it were still 1997 or something.

So you need to make sure that you’re comfortable with that. Filling in answers on paper needs to come naturally for you by your IELTS test date. And you must be able to write entire essays on paper for the exam. Writing by hand for long periods of time is no longer an everyday event. So practice, practice, practice.

How to Practice Paper Tests with Online IELTS Prep

You can find some really nice IELTS prep material online, especially if you look on the four official IELTS prep websites or check out Magoosh’s Complete IELTS Guide.

With so much good IELTS prep on your computer screen, it can be easy to forget the paper. Don’t. Instead, use paper with your computer-based materials. How? Here are two good ways.

  1. Write down your answers in a notebook. Practice this with IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2. Look back and forth between your screen and your notebook, and pen (or pencil) in all those answers by hand. This sounds like it could be distracting, but trust me, it’s not. Going from your computer screen to your notebook and back again requires concentration, so this “papered” method can help you focus better and think more deeply.
  2. Another slightly trickier way to keep your IELTS on paper is to print out an actual answer sheet. You can get answer sheets in PDF on the website. And blank answer sheets are a gift that keeps on giving. You can use them on any IELTS practice test you take, online or off.

Bottom line: simulate your test day experience whenever possible. Whether that’s writing on paper, doing a mock Speaking Interview, or timing your response. Both notebook and paper have their advantages. When you store your IELTS answers in a notebook, you can also take pages of IELTS prep notes alongside your written responses. And the test papers from are just like the ones you’ll use on the real exam. So that’s some great, authentic practice writing. Either way, you get the old-fashioned paper-testing practice you need for test day success and a higher IELTS score.

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About David Recine: David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. Currently, David lives in a small town in the American Upper Midwest. When he’s not teaching or writing, David studies Korean, plays with his son, and takes road trips to Minneapolis to get a taste of city life.

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