Can You Retake the IELTS Test?

If you are wondering ‘Can I retake the IELTS test?’, the answer is YES. 

Though many candidates think it is challenging to retake the IELTS test because they cannot work out what they did wrong in their previous attempt, you can still do many things to get the greatest possible IELTS band score the next time you take it. 

And that is exactly what this article is for. Please continue reading to learn more about retaking the IELTS test.  

Should You Retake the IELTS Test?

Retaking the IELTS test is no joke. You would have to put yourself under a lot of pressure and exert considerable time, effort, and money again.

So, before retaking the IELTS test, ask yourself first if you really have to do it and, more importantly, do you think you will be able to achieve the band score you are targeting. 

Here are the probable reasons and factors that might lead to retaking the IELTS test: 

  • You did not meet the band score that is required of you.

Because immigration offices and universities have a specific band score that you have to meet, many candidates have to retake the IELTS test.

The minimum band score required varies depending on the institution, so you need to have a target band score in mind when you take the test. 

  • You met the minimum band score required, but the validity has expired. 

For most candidates, this is the case. Processing your papers and other requirements when working, studying, or moving to another country takes time.

With millions of people deciding to migrate to other countries every year, there is a slight chance your IELTS result has expired by the time your papers have been processed and approved.

  • You are not satisfied with the result. 

If you feel like you could have done better and have extra money to spare, you also have the option to retake the IELTS test.

However, bear in mind that this is not a guarantee that you will get a higher band score the second time you take it.

Some candidates have even received a lower band score on their retake. 

  • You took the wrong IELTS test. 

There are two kinds of IELTS tests: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, depending on the purpose of why you are taking the test.

If you plan to pursue employment and higher studies, take the IELTS Academic test.

On the other hand, if you intend to study or train below degree level, the IELTS General Training is for you. 

  • You took the paper-based test, but think you could have done better in the computer-based test, or vice versa.

The IELTS is administered in two different ways: the paper-based test and the computer-based test.

While the two are basically the same, some candidates contest that this is another factor that led to their poor performance in the test.

They feel like they are more comfortable taking the IELTS through one over the other. 

  • You were not able to take the test the first time but were unable to cancel 5 weeks before the test. 

Though this is not considered a retake per se, since you failed to show up on the actual test date, you are not entitled to a refund.

Thus, you need to book the test again and retake it. 

What is Considered a ‘Bad’ IELTS Score?

Basically, a ‘bad’ IELTS score is any score that does not meet your target score and will make you retake the test.

As a candidate, it is a must that you know the required band score of the university or institution that you are applying for.

It is only then that you will be able to set a goal for yourself to achieve that band score.

Bear in mind too that the minimum band score required is not the same for every institution, and as a candidate, it is your responsibility to know what band score they require. 

For your reference, below is the IELTS score breakdown for you to know what each band score means. 

Band ScoreSkill Level Description 
9Expert UserHas perfect command of the language: suitable, correct, and fluent, with complete comprehension.
8Very Good UserPossesses a complete knowledge of the language, with only a few sporadic mistakes.

Well-versed in complicated, comprehensive argumentation.
7Good UserPossesses a functional mastery of the language, albeit with some mistakes, and misunderstandings in certain settings.

In general, good at dealing with sophisticated language and comprehending logic.
6Competent UserNotwithstanding occasional mistakes, and misconceptions has a generally excellent grasp of the language.

Can communicate in a very complicated language and understand it, especially in familiar contexts.
5Modest UserHas a limited grasp of the language.

Dealing with overall meaning in the majority of instances, but is prone to making numerous errors.

In his/her own field, the candidate should be able to handle basic communication.
4Limited UserBasic competency is restricted to circumstances that are familiar.

Has a lot of difficulties comprehending and expressing. Is unable to communicate in a complicated manner.
3Extremely Limited User In very familiar situations, the candidate simply conveys and understands the general meaning.

Communication breakdowns occur frequently.
2Intermittent UserOnly the most basic information may be communicated using single words or short equations in familiar situations and to address immediate demands.

Has a hard time comprehending spoken and written English.
1Non-UserDoesn’t know how to utilize the language except for a few isolated terms.
0Did not take the testThere was no information that could be used to make an assessment.

What is the IELTS’s Retake Policy?

If you retake the IELTS, you will be given a whole different set of questions and exercises. This means that the second time will not be easier; rather, it will be different.

Scores do not improve simply by retaking them.

Below are the different policies and other factors that you have to consider when retaking the IELTS test. 

  • IELTS Policies on Exam Retakes 

IELTS will allow anyone to retake the exam as many times as they want without having to wait a certain amount of time.

However, the amount of open exam dates at individual test locations effectively limits testing.

IELTS recommends registering at least two months in advance. 

  • Registration and Fees for IELTS Retakes 

There is no difference in the registration process for an original IELTS exam and a retake, and the fees are the same.

Students register directly with their local test center, which may be accessed by checking the IELTS website for testing locations and dates.

  • Rescheduling Registration

Rescheduling an IELTS test is not the same as retaking it, and hence requires a separate set of policies.

One of the reasons that IELTS advises you to register at least two months ahead of their planned test date is to accommodate for unanticipated events.

If a candidate is not able to show up on the test day, it is considered a cancellation.

Only students who cancel their registration at least five weeks before the test date are eligible for a refund, and an administrative fee will be deducted, which is 25 percent of the amount paid for registration.

  • Validity of IELTS Scores

Officially, IELTS scores are valid for two years from the date of the test. This is a relatively brief period when compared to several standardized assessments.

The fundamental reason for this is that language skills must be maintained and can quickly decline if they are not used regularly.

Even if their ability to speak English is still solid, students retaking the IELTS owing to expired scores will likely have to spend some time relearning their IELTS abilities. 

  • IELTS Retake Costs and Risks

Registration costs, travel expenses, and any money spent on additional preparation will all be included in the cost of IELTS retakes.

These expenses can mount up; therefore, the best strategy is to limit retakes by preparing thoroughly.

The biggest danger of retaking the IELTS is a drop in sectional or overall results.

Despite the fact that IELTS data shows that further test tries result in modest average score increases, some students perform worse the second or third time around, especially if their preparation tactics remain inadequate. The keys to improving exam scores are reflection and preparation.

Successful Tips for Retaking the IELTS

Having to retake any test is a daunting experience, and the IELTS test is no exception.

To some, it gives them a feeling of paranoia because they are afraid that they might fail again.

The good news is that there are ways how you can improve your IELTS scores the next time you take it.

Below are the different tips that will surely help you bounce back from your previous IELTS attempt. 

  • Prepare yourself mentally. 

If you do not know how to handle stress, it might be your deadliest enemy in tests.

Uncontrolled worry can eventually transform into terror, preventing your brain from thinking critically during the test.

Instead of worrying about the implications of not getting your target band score on the test, try to focus on your time management and your prepared tactics. 

  • Give it time. 

If at all possible, wait at least six months before retaking the IELTS test, especially if your actual band score is much lower than your expectations.

You cannot dramatically increase your language skills in a short amount of time.

Many applicants are well-prepared in terms of exam tactics, but they often forget the necessity of proper grammar and vocabulary.

  • Figure out what went wrong.

To paraphrase, if you do not learn from your mistakes, you are likely to repeat them.

Finding out what went wrong the last time you took the exam could be crucial in preparing for it.

Do a thorough analysis to learn everything you can, and then strive not to make the same mistakes again.

  • Practice, practice, and more practice.

The most effective technique to learn English is to use it as much as possible. Listen to English-language television and music.

Read novels written in English. With the help of your English-speaking pals, you may improve your English-speaking skills.

Begin keeping a daily journal in which you write everything in English.

  • Think about hiring a teacher.

If you have previously failed to succeed through self-study, you may seek the assistance of a tutor.

If you failed the speaking and writing sections, for example, a competent instructor can direct you to the strategies and recommendations you require while also assisting you in reducing the faults you have been making.

  • Make use of test preparation and practice materials. 

For each section of the exam, your local IELTS Test Center may supply you with a comprehensive choice of free test preparation materials.

Many of these preparation items are also available online through various websites. Utilize these materials as you get ready for your IELTS retake. 

  • Make the most of your recent IELTS experience. 

Having taken the IELTS test before, you already have an advantage. You know how the test would go and you are aware of the test format and its timings.

Make the most of this advantage and be confident the next time you take the IELTS test.

  • Be confident, do not be pressured. 

You should not put yourself under excessive pressure to get a specific score.

Rather than focusing on getting every answer correct, concentrate on increasing your language skills.

Only take the test when you are sure you are ready and confident.

Additional FAQs About Retaking the IELTS Test

How Soon Can I Retake IELTS Test?

You can retake the IELTS anytime you want. There is no waiting time.

However, you are strongly advised to give yourself enough time and preparation before booking a retake.

Keep in mind that unless you make a concerted effort to improve your English before retaking the test, your score is unlikely to improve.

Can I Retake IELTS Writing Only?

No, you cannot retake the IELTS Writing Section only, or any other IELTS section (alone) for that matter. 

Regardless of your scores in the four sections, if you book for a retake, you have to retake all four sections:

IELTS Listening
IELTS Speaking
IELTS Reading
IELTS Writing

Can I Retake the IELTS Test for Free?

No, you cannot retake the IELTS for free.

You have to pay the same amount (around USD 245 to USD 255) every time you take it.

To save you money and effort, we recommend that you give yourself enough time and preparation before deciding to retake it. 

Can I Take the IELTS Test Twice?

Yes, you can take the IELTS test twice. In fact, you can take it as many times as you like.

However, taking the IELTS test more than three times should almost never be necessary.

Candidates who continue to obtain low grades should address their English language issues rather than anticipate their grades improving via repetition.