Should I retake the IELTS test if my results were lower than expected?

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by Saya Khimta

by Saya Khimta

IELTS Expert

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Learning from your mistakes makes you better at a skill.  This stands true for your IELTS test results as well.  If you are unable to achieve the scores you need, you can attempt the exam again.  However, there are few points which you must keep in mind while rebooking an exam so that you get better results. 

In this article, we will discuss the important points to consider before booking your IELTS exam again. 

Why do some test takers not get the results they want?

Before you rebook your IELTS test, it is important to figure out what went wrong in the earlier attempt.  There are many reasons why you fail to get the scores you need.  Let’s take a look at them.

Lack of preparation for the test

The most common reason that test takers underperform is because they are simply not prepared.  Many consider the IELTS test as a simple English language exam that requires minimal preparation.  Some are unaware of the test format and the scoring techniques.  Thereby, they lose an opportunity to score well.  Make sure you understand the test structure and format well, and know what the examiner is looking for (how IELTS is scored).

Person Behind Books
Don't underestimate the difficulty of the IELTS test, and be sure to prepare well.
Underestimating the difficulty of the IELTS test

Some test takers, especially native English speakers or those with high-level English, often get over-confident while appearing for the test.  Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the test, even if you’re confident in your language abilities. 

Others get nervous on test day or find it difficult to manage their time during the test, meaning they fail to show off their true potential and English skills well.  Failure to attempt questions may also cause stress for test takers, making it difficult to answer the rest of the questions in panic.  Be sure to practice test skills, such as time management, as well as sample questions so you know what to expect.

Therefore, it is important for you to identify all the areas that you lacked in while appearing for your previous exam.  Identifying and working on your shortcomings will help you achieve better marks.  At ILAC Toronto, we help you identify all these pain areas and prepare you well for the exam.  Contact us to speak to an IELTS Advisor about your needs, and our IELTS Preparation programs at ILAC.

worried girl in front of computer
The test can be difficult, even for native English or high-level speakers.

Is it possible to take the IELTS test again?

The simple answer is yes.  There is no limit on how many times you can appear in an IELTS exam.  However, you must understand that retaking the test several times, or immediately, without working on your flaws will not guarantee much improvement in scores.  

Be realistic

Your focus should be to improve your overall proficiency in English language rather than just taking exams on a luck or chance basis.  Assess yourself and read the band descriptors to find out where the examiner placed your English performance in the previous test.  General feedback for each band descriptor will be available on the back of your official Test Report Form, and you can read more about your performance when previewing your scores online.  Note that individual feedback for IELTS is not given.  

Allow yourself enough time to achieve significant improvement and be honest when evaluating your progress. 

Consider an Enquiry on Results (EOR)

The IELTS test and marking procedures are designed to be unbiased and reliable, meaning that two examiners marking the same Writing or Speaking test should arrive at the same band score.  (Note that IELTS Reading and Listening can only be marked as correct or incorrect).

However, in rare circumstances, it is possible for differences of 0.5 or up to 1 mark.  If you miss your target scores in Writing or Speaking by a very small amount, or you feel dissatisfaction with the marks, you can apply for an Enquiry on Results (EOR).  This is a reevaluation of your test, conducted by a senior IELTS examiner.  This reevaluation is independent and unbiased, meaning the second examiner does not see the scores that the first awarded.  If they arrive at a higher result, your test centre will update your score and issue you with a new Test Report Form.

To apply, contact your test centre within 6 weeks after the test date.  You can request a remark of one or all sections of the test, but note that remarks may take up to 4 – 6 weeks to finalize.  If the second examiner agrees on a higher score, the cost is refunded.  Find out more about remarks.

Person Putting Coin in a Piggy Bank
Booking or taking several test without considering how to improve can be very costly.

How to develop a study plan

Failing to get results you want is frustrating.  However, if you devise a sound study plan and stick to it, you will see improvement in your IELTS test results. 

Think about your needs

You must honestly assess your current English level and identify areas of improvement.  You should also consider your daily schedule, time availability and financial status before you finalize a preparation model.  Decide what is realistic for you.

Join an IELTS Preparation Program​

Joining a preparation course is one way to very quickly improve your English and IELTS test-taking skills.  At ILAC Toronto, students can learn from one of our expert instructors to enhance English skills in all modules – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.  We expose you to a real-time exam model and help you perform well in pressure situations.  Students also benefit from practicing their speaking skills with classmates and immersing themselves in an English-speaking environment.

Find online preparation materials​

Whether it’s a lack of time, funds or something else, you may choose to self-study at home for their IELTS test.  Search online for reliable study materials from IELTS-official websites such as,, and

Learn about the test format and marking criteria in advance, or try a sample IELTS test.

Whichever study style you choose, you must set realistic goals and timelines.  This way you can achieve the desired proficiency before booking your next IELTS test. 

laptop screen showing online ielts class
Why not try an IELTS Preparation course to practice with classmates and learn from an expert?

Can I book multiple tests at the same time?​

There is no limit on how many IELTS tests you can book at a time.  However, you must understand that IELTS tests can take a lot of your energy and time, as well as be expensive. 

Why it's not recommended

Directionless preparation will not help you get the IELTS test results you want If you are applying to a university or college with your IELTS results, do not ask your test centre to send your scores automatically until you are comfortable with your results.  If your institution receives several sets of IELTS results in a short space of time, it may reflect badly on you.  

Booking back-to-back exams will also be costly without guaranteeing the result.  Most test centres have very strict refund policies.  If you achieve good results in one test, you may not be able to get your money back if you want to cancel the rest of your test bookings.

Wait for the results of one test, before booking the next

Wait to receive your Test Report Form and results before deciding if you need another test.  Identify your areas of weakness, consider a realistic timeframe for improvement and, only then, rebook the next test.  This will not only save you some money but also help you prepare in the right direction so you can achieve the results you need.

man holding ielts test results and happy

Summary & Links

In conclusion, you must plan well before booking an IELTS test again.  Dedicate enough time to work upon your shortcomings, and it will save you time, effort and money.  Remember that a well-planned test has a higher probability of providing the scores you need.

ILAC Toronto wishes you a happy learning experience! 

Search for a test
Find and book a computer-delivered or paper-based test at one of our centres in Ontario.
Learn more about IELTS Preparation at ILAC​
Find out more about the benefits of IELTS Preparation classes and speak with an advisor.
Learn more about IELTS results
Find out more about your test results, including when you receive them, how to submit them to institutions, or request an Enquiry on Results (remark).