Two of the most common questions about the IELTS score are:

  • Which band do I need to get?
  • What happens if I don’t get the score I need?

Here are the answers plus more questions you may be asking such as whether you can retake the exam or how to get a remark of your test if you feel there’s been an error.

Your Band Score

Which band score do I need to get?

The band score you need will depend on:

  • The requirements of the institution where you plan to study
  • The organisation you want to work for
  • The visa requirements of the country you want to work, study or live in

Do check and then check again to be absolutely sure of what is required, especially if you are applying to study abroad.

In the UK, for example, there are universities that will accept an IELTS score of just 4.0, while the top universities require a 7.0. The average is 6.0 to 6.5.

Many universities also have different requirements for different courses.

Band scores needed for residency or when applying for citizenship are generally lower than for studying but is vital to check exactly what is needed for your situation and the country you want to move to.

Check directly with the appropriate institution or organisation to be certain of what they require. Many include these details on their websites so this is a good place to start.

You will also find their contact details here so that you can make further enquiries.

What happens if I don’t get the IELTS score I need?

Whilst it’s disappointing to get a lower IELTS score than you require, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of your dreams.

We’ll talk about retaking your IELTS exam in a minute but first, I want to address the matter of what to do if you think that your test has been incorrectly marked.

Should I Ask For My Test To Be Remarked?

Don’t ask for a remark unless you have a very good reason for thinking that a mistake has been made. Marking is strictly monitored and regulated, and examiners are very experienced, so it is unlikely, although not unheard of, that there has been an error.

There will always be people who believe that you should have got a higher mark. However, any mistakes made will almost certainly be ones they have made themselves not those of the examiner.

The best advice for most people who don’t get the band level they either want or expect is as follows:

Identify the key areas where you are making errors, learn how to rectify them, and practice the new skills until you are no longer making the mistakes.

It is also important for you to know that where there is a difference of a whole 2 bands between any of the 4 components of the test – Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening – your test will automatically have been remarked anyway. For example, if your score was,

Writing 6.5, Speaking 4.0, Reading 6.0, Listening 6.5

There is something else to consider if you think that either your reading or listening score have been wrongly marked. The answers to the questions in these elements of the test are either right or wrong and there is no judgement involved in marking them. It is thus very unlikely that an error has been made, so little point in asking for a remark.

There is, however, one situation where you should definitely consider getting your test remarked:

  • You have taken the test before and your IELTS score was significantly higher.

By ‘significantly’, I mean a whole band higher in any one element of the test the first time around.

The tests should have been taken within six months to a year of each other or it may be that your English skills have deteriorated over time.

If you do feel strongly that marking errors have been made and you want a remark, there is a set procedure to follow as I’ll now outline.

Getting Your IELTS Test Remarked

7 Key Facts:

1) A review or remark of your IELTS score is called an Enquiry on Results.

2) You must apply for it at your local test centre within 6 weeks of receiving your original results.

3) You will be charged a fee. This will be refunded if your scores change.

4) You can ask for the whole exam to be remarked or specific skills, such as speaking or writing.

5) Your test will be remarked by a senior examiner who won’t know your original score. The process will take 4 to 7 weeks.

6) You are not allowed to use your original Test Report Form (TRF) until the remarking process is complete.

7) If your score has changed, you will be issued with a new TRF.

What's the fee for a remark?

The cost of both the IELTS exam and remarks vary between countries and from centre to centre so you will need to check the fee locally. It’s very possible that the fee for a remark will be around half the cost of the actual exam, maybe more.

It’s certainly worth considering whether it would be better to put in some more preparation and just retake the test.

With this in mind, here is some information about retaking your IELTS exam.

Retaking IELTS

How many times can I retake IELTS?

You can take the exam as many times as you want.

How soon can I retake the test?

There used to be a restriction on how soon after your original exam you could apply for a retake but this is no longer the case. You can now sit the exam again as soon as you want to.

Can I retake just one or two parts of the exam such as Writing & Listening?

No, you cannot. You must retake the whole exam. 

Will my previous IELTS score be taken into consideration?

No, your previous result will not be taken into consideration. Each exam is unique and will be given a unique score.

Will my original result still be valid if I retake the test?

Yes. The IELTS score from any test you take will be valid for 2 years from the date of the exam. You will, of course, choose to use your best overall score.

Can I combine the best individual scores from different tests?

No, you cannot. So you would not be able, for example, to select the best writing score from your first exam and the best speaking score from your second exam. 

IELTS Band Score

You can find out more about the band score system, including how the exam is scored and what is required for each of the 9 grades or bands on this page: The IELTS Band Score System


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More Pages About The IELTS Exam:

What is IELTS?

Which IELTS - Academic or General?

IELTS Band Scores 

IELTS Exam Dates

The IELTS Test Format

Other IELTS Information

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