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In the age of technology and with the onset of COVID-19, IELTS has provided greater availability for performing speaking tests. Most people recognise that IELTS is known for their in-person speaking tests, and now, you can take your speaking test over the computer.  

Some candidates are nervous at the thought of having to take the test on the computer, but it is very similar to the in-person test and there is nothing to be nervous about if you understand what the VCS test entails. Here are the similarities and differences between taking the in-person speaking test and the VCS test.  

Similarities between in-person and VCS

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There are various similarities between the in-person and the VCS test.  

Same Test Content  

The content for both the in-person and the VCS test are exactly the same. There will be a Part 1, with questions about familiar topics; a Part 2, which asks you to speak for 1-2 minutes on a specific topic; and a Part 3, which are questions related to Part 2. Both your in-person and VCS test will last for approximately 14 minutes.  

Same Location 

You will take the in-person or VCS test at your local IELTS by IDP centre or the centre that is closest to you. There is no need to go to a special centre to take your VCS test. One thing to note is that you will not be allowed to perform the VCS test at home using your own device. 

Same Examiner 

You will take the VCS test in front of an examiner just as you would the in-person test, but instead, virtually. The examiner in the VCS test will respond to you in real-time, just like the in-person examiner would. You will also see the examiner for the entire time you are doing the VCS test, from start to finish, just as you would an in-person examiner.  

Same Access to Equipment and Materials 

Just like the in-person test, you will have access to the same test material to set you up for success. Prior to the VCS test, the invigilator will give you a pencil and a piece of paper for making notes in Part 2. Your VCS examiner will indicate when you can use these. They will also inform you about the 1 minute prep time. During the in-person speaking test, the examiner would give you a physical copy of your Part 2 topic; however, during the VCS test, your virtual examiner will provide your Part 2 topic on the screen. You will have access to your topic during the 1-2 minutes that you are speaking in your VCS test, just as you would with the in-person test. 

Same Tips for Success  

When preparing for your VCS test, practice the same way you would for the in-person speaking test. Try to be as natural as possible by speaking at a pace that is normal for you, using language and vocabulary that is comfortable, and remaining calm and relaxed throughout the test.

Differences between in-person and VCS

Article Image - Tips for IELTS VCS: Video Call Speaking - Differences - People on a video conference

Although small, here are some differences that you will encounter when taking the VCS test.   

Extra Equipment 

The biggest difference is the computer. Your examiner will be virtual, but will conduct the test and also respond to any questions or concerns you might have in real-time.  

You will also wear a headset when you take the VCS test. This ensures that both you and the examiner can hear each other clearly. It also eliminates background noise, which is a benefit when compared to the in-person test. 

ID Check  

For both the in-person and VCS test, you will have your ID checked and your photo taken prior to the test. When you take an in-person speaking test, your examiner will verify the information on your ID with the information they have. For the VCS test, the invigilator will verify the information on your ID with the information the examiner has. Both procedures ensure the security of the test for both the examiner and the test taker.  


Both the in-person and VCS tests are recorded, just in a different way. For the in-person speaking test, the examiner uses an audio recorder from start to finish. Since the VCS test is using a communications platform, the invigilator will start a video recording at the beginning of the test and it will conclude at the end of the test. Both recordings are for the security and the integrity of the test.  


Article Image - Tips for IELTS VCS: Video Call Speaking - FAQs - Series of paper question marks on alternate coloured paper

Although the VCS test is a great way to take your speaking test, candidates still have questions. 

I’m not a technical person. Do I need to do anything with the computer?  

Absolutely not! The invigilator will have the computer set up and ready to go for your test. Once you are in the speaking room, the invigilator will make sure your face is in the middle of the screen and your hands are visible to the examiner. The invigilator will also have you check your headset to make sure that it fits comfortably and that it is working properly. Here, you will also address any volume issues with the examiner. From beginning to end, you shouldn’t have to do anything involving the computer, except look at the camera to speak to the examiner.  

Is there any lag time during the test? Do I need to pause between thoughts or sentences?  

The IELTS test uses a secure system with a high-speed connection, so there is no need to pause between thoughts or sentences. For the VCS test, you will want to speak as naturally as possible, just like you would for the in-person speaking test. This two-way conversation will feel as natural as the in-person test.  

What do I do if I need help? 

If you need help for any reason, just ask your examiner. For example, if you can’t hear your examiner, point to your headset or make a gesture showing you can’t hear them. Again, you don’t need to touch the computer. You may have a way to contact the invigilator, such as a bell, or your examiner can contact the invigilator for you. If there are issues with the camera, your examiner will be able to assist you, by contacting the invigilator. Any technical issues will be addressed by the invigilator or examiner.  

If you don’t understand a question or need something repeated, feel free to ask your examiner, just as you would during the in-person speaking test.  


Article - Tips for IELTS VCS: Video Call Speaking - Conclusion - Canada - wearing earbuds, looking down at a laptop, smiling

Video Call Speaking tests may sound stressful but in reality, it is the same test and the same experience, just delivered in a different way. Scoring is the same as well as the content, so there is no need to worry that you are taking a different test. VCS tests provide candidates with more opportunities for taking their speaking test.