Can You Retake the TOEFL?

If you are one of those who took the TOEFL but are unable to get your target score, you might probably be asking yourself, ‘Can I retake the TOEFL?’ Well, you are in luck. YES, you can retake it.

However, you have to consider a lot of things if you decide to retake the TOEFL. And that is what this page is for. Please continue reading if you want to learn more about retaking the TOEFL. 

Should You Retake the TOEFL?

When taking the TOEFL exam, you should always plan for success, but it would be silly not to prepare a backup plan in place if something goes wrong.

The question is if you did not get your target score, should you retake it?

The following list will provide you with probable reasons and other factors that you have to consider when retaking the TOEFL. 

  • You did not meet the required minimum score of the institution you are applying for. 

This is the main reason why TOEFL candidates have to retake the TOEFL.

For every university, a specific score has to be met and if you fail to achieve a certain score, you will not be admitted.

Hence, some candidates are left with no other option but to retake the TOEFL. 

  • You are not happy with the scores that you received. 

If you feel like you could have done better and will get a higher score the second time you take the TOEFL, retaking it is also another option for you.

However, you have to keep in mind that taking the test again is not a guarantee that you will get a higher score.

In fact, there have been candidates in the past that have received lower marks after retaking the TOEFL. 

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

Though this happens very rarely, this is the case for some candidates.

The TOEFL result is valid only for two years and there are those who are not able to process everything that they need in that time frame.

For some, it is due to unprecedented events that cannot be avoided.

Thus, even if they achieved the score required of them, they have to retake the TOEFL. 

  • You took the wrong TOEFL type of test. 

There are currently two types of the TOEFL: the TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) and the TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program).

In most cases, the TOEFL ITP cannot be used to replace the TOEFL iBT test when applying to institutions in English-speaking nations.

If an institution requires a ‘TOEFL’ score without indicating which version, they are most likely looking for a TOEFL iBT score; do not submit a TOEFL ITP score unless you know it will be accepted.

  • Note: The TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test) was discontinued in April 2021. 

What is Considered a ‘Bad’ TOEFL Score?

Basically, any score that is below the required score of the institution you are applying to is a ‘bad’ TOEFL score.

As an applicant, you should be aware of the university’s or institution’s minimum score requirements. 

Only then will you be able to set yourself a goal to acquire that score.

Remember that every university has a different minimum score requirement, and it is your obligation as an applicant to find out what score they require.

The table below shows the TOEFL score breakdown for your reference. 

SkillScore Range Levels
Reading0 – 30 High (22 – 30)
Intermediate (15 – 21) 
Low (0 – 14) 
Listening0 – 30High (22 – 30)
Intermediate (15 – 21) 
Low (0 – 14)
Speaking0 – 30 score scaleGood (26 – 30)
Fair (18 – 25) 
Limited (10 – 17) 
Weak (0 – 9)
Writing0 – 30 score scaleGood (24 – 30)
Fair (17 – 23)
Limited (1 – 16) 

What is the TOEFL’s Retake Policy?

Retaking the TOEFL is no joke. From booking for the test to studying and preparing again, it is obvious that you will need to exert your time and effort to be able to achieve your target score.

While there is no limit as to how many times you can retake the TOEFL, you have to be aware of the policies and other guidelines that you have to consider should you opt for a TOEFL retake. 

  • ETS TOEFL Retake Policies 

You can take the TOEFL iBT as many times as you want, according to ETS.

The only restriction placed on test takers is a guideline requiring a 12-day gap between TOEFL exams.

Because the TOEFL is offered more than 50 times per year, a student might theoretically take the exam at least 25 times per year. 

  • TOEFL Retake Registration Procedure

You can register for TOEFL retakes in any of the ways that were available during the initial registration process (online, by phone, or by mail).

Because you already have an account on the ETS website, online registration for TOEFL retakes is easy the second time around.

No discount on the registration fee will be given for successive test attempts.

You also have the option of choosing a different test center, which is subject to availability.

  • Retakes and Score Reporting for the TOEFL

You have complete control over which TOEFL score reports your prospective degree programs to see, but you should keep in mind that you must designate schools to receive score reports prior to taking the test.

If you have taken the TOEFL numerous times and identified the same institution each time, that school will certainly have all of the scores.

Most universities will only evaluate the highest TOEFL results, thus students who retake the test will not be at a disadvantage. 

  • Validity of TOEFL Scores

The TOEFL score is valid for two years from the date of the test, according to ETS standards.

ETS will no longer distribute official score reports to institutions, agencies, or other organizations after this time period has expired.

As a result, degree programs are required to adhere to this deadline, and if you fail to do so, you will be required to retake the exam

  • TOEFL Retakes Risks and Costs

The most significant danger of retaking the TOEFL is a lower score, however, students who prepare well are far less likely to receive negative results.

Retaking the TOEFL entails additional expenses, which can extend well beyond fresh registration fees.

The costs of preparation, such as teaching, supplies, and transportation, should be evaluated against the advantages of higher results.

These additional costs are justified only if a higher TOEFL score results in significantly enhanced admissions prospects.

Individual test takers must examine their particular circumstances and determine how further TOEFL attempts will (or will not) affect their standing.

Successful Tips for Retaking the TOEFL

Continually doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

When it comes to retaking the TOEFL, this feeling is extremely true. Students who do not enhance their preparation should not expect higher TOEFL results on subsequent exam attempts.

To help you succeed in retaking the TOEFL, here are the most useful tips that you can employ. 

  • Make a schedule for studying.

Create a study schedule if you have decided to retake the TOEFL so you know when you are supposed to be studying and can stay on track.

Setting up a consistent study time each day or week, such as 7:00-8:30 PM on weekdays or 1:00-5:00 PM on Sundays, will make it easier to study because you know when you need to be studying and can work the rest of your calendar around it.

  • Set a specific goal. 

You should set frequent targets in your study calendar that you expect to achieve.

For example, “By the end of the week, I want to have memorized 25 new vocab words”, or “By the end of the month, I want to have improved my reading.”

Setting these objectives will motivate you to study and improve your grades.

  • Find out where you went wrong.

If you truly want to increase your TOEFL retake score, you must first determine where on the exam you need to improve the most, and then concentrate your study time on those areas.

Examine every question you answered incorrectly on the TOEFLs you have taken.

This will allow you to concentrate your learning on the topics in which you need to improve the most, resulting in higher marks.

  • Introduce new preparation materials.

How well you do on the TOEFL is influenced by the study resources you use.

A solid study guide and practice exams can make the difference between a good and excellent score.

If you did not use a preparation book the first time you took the TOEFL or do not think the one you did use benefited you as much as you hoped, you should consider getting a new one.

  • Experiment with new study methods.

If you studied a lot before your first TOEFL and still did not obtain the score you wanted, you should switch up your study methods before taking the test again.

When it comes to studying, one of the most common mistakes people make is studying too passively.

Try utilizing flashcards, integrating more practice questions in your studying, and pausing every few pages of notes to check you are genuinely remembering what you are reading. 

  • Take the free TOEFL iBT mock test.

Practice tests are one of the most effective ways to prepare for the TOEFL.

The free TOEFL iBT practice test gives you limitless access to a full-length TOEFL iBT test.

It includes answer keys for the Listening and Reading sections, as well as sample responses with rater commentary for the Speaking and Writing sections.

  • Work on keeping your focus. 

Disturbances that took place while you were taking the TOEFL (the first time) may have potentially harmed your score.

Other test-takers shuffling papers, someone beside you coughing or sniffling, or any other background noise might all contribute to this.

Many TOEFL test-takers say the Speaking component is particularly distracting because everyone speaks at the same time, making it difficult to concentrate.

As a result, you can practice for the TOEFL in a not so quiet place, to be able to get used to the noise and other distractions. 

  • Free yourself from stress and too much pressure. 

If you believe your nerves harmed your performance on exam day, there are a few things you can do to avoid this from happening again.

Having taken the test before may be beneficial because you now know what to expect.

Also, get adequate sleep the night before the test, eat a good meal the morning of the test, and do not be afraid to take a few seconds to breathe deeply if you are feeling particularly worried. 

Additional FAQs About Retaking the TOEFL

Can I Retake the TOEFL for Free?

No, you cannot take the TOEFL for free. You have to pay the same amount every time you register for a retake.

There is also no discount on the registration fee for successive test attempts.

Retakes in the United States cost USD 195, and a USD 60 fee only applies to students who reschedule rather than retake the exam.

What Happens if I Fail the TOEFL?

If you fail the TOEFL or do not meet the minimum score that is required by the university you are applying for, you can opt for a retake. This is what most students are doing.

On the other hand, if you do not feel like retaking the TOEFL, you may not enroll in that university and choose other universities that do not require the TOEFL, which nowadays are rare. 

Can TOEFL be Taken Twice?

Yes, you can take the TOEFL twice or thrice…

You can actually take the TOEFL as many times as you want, provided that you take it 12 days after your previous attempt.

However, you have to remember that you have to pay every time you take it.

Before you book for a TOEFL retake, you have to ensure that you have given yourself enough time and preparation to achieve your target score finally. 

Can I Retake One TOEFL Section Only? 

No, you cannot retake just one section of the TOEFL. ETS evaluates the applicants holistically.

If you register for a retake, you have to take all four sections: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing