One of the biggest concerns students have is whether or not to get their tests remarked if they don’t get the scores they were expecting.
There is very little official guidance from IDP and the British Council on when you should do this, so I have given you some advice below.
It is officially called an Enquiry on Results.
- You must apply for it within 6 weeks of your original result at your local test centre.
- The test will be sent to Cambridge or Melbourne and assessed by a senior examiner. They will not be told your original score.
- You can get the whole test remarked or just individual skills, such as writing or speaking.
- Your remark fee is refunded if your scores change.
- The whole process takes around 7 weeks.
- You cannot use your original certificate during this process.
IELTS do not publish any statistics on what percentage of remarks are successful and every case is different, therefore, it is very difficult to determine if you should get a remark or not. However, there are some factors that you should consider below.
When You SHOULD Get a Remark
- You have been assessed by an experienced IELTS teacher/examiner and your scores have been consistently higher.
This is probably the most common reason. However, you should make sure that the person assessing your work actually knows how to assess your ability. If you totally trust your teacher, then this is probably a good reason to get a remark, but remember that not all IELTS teachers know how to accurately assess IELTS tests.
The key word above is ‘consistently’. Just because you once got a 7 in writing during a class test, does not mean that you are guaranteed to do this in the exam. All of your class assessments should also have been done under exam conditions in order to be reliable.
- You’ve done the test before and your scores were significantly higher.
If you have done the test before and your latest test is showing that you are a whole band or more lower, you should probably get a remark.
However, if it has been more than a year since your last test and you have not prepared since then, it might be that you English skills have just got worse.
- You believe that you have done everything correctly and you were fully prepared.
If you have prepared for your test effectively and you are confident that the test went well, you should probably get a remark.
However, you should only believe this if you really know the test and you have used a reliable teacher to help you. Many students think they did very well, when in fact they simply don’t have enough knowledge of how the test is marked or have been misinformed by other people.
When You Should NOT Get a Remark
- One of your other skills is two bands higher.
If one of your other skills is two whole bands higher, you will get an automatic remark in your local test centre. This means that an examiner and a senior examiner have already assessed your test and it is unlikely that a third examiner will have a different opinion.
- You did not understand the question in Writing.
If you found either Task 1 or Task 2 particularly difficult, then you have probably not answered the question correctly and you will be penalised heavily for this.
- You did not reach the word limit in Writing.
If you do not write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2, you are likely to lose lots of marks.
- You keep getting the same score again and again.
If you consistently get the same score, this is your score. Getting the same score many times indicates that you need to improve your IELTS skills, your knowledge of the test, your general level of English or all three before you can get a higher score.
- Your friend/relative/colleague got a higher score than you.
This is a surprisingly common reason. Just because someone you know got a higher score than you and you think you are either the same or better than them, does not mean that your score is wrong. It probably just means that you and the person you know are not actually on the same level or they simply did better on the day of the test.
- You need an improvement of more than half a band.
Examiners can sometimes make mistakes, but it is unlikely that they have made a mistake of more than half a band overall.
This is not unknown, but in my experience, very rare.
- You want a remark on your listening or reading.
These questions are either right or wrong, so there is no point in getting them remarked.
A Better Solution
Like most things in the world, IELTS is not a perfect system. Most people who do the test more than once get different scores. This is not so much about how the test is assessed but about how suitable the questions are for you as an individual and how you perform on test day.
If two football teams played each other 3 times in one week, the score will probably be different in every game. Does this mean that the there is something wrong with football? No! There are just a myriad of different factors that leads to different results.
If you have the money and the time, you should always book more than one test and you will normally get a higher score in one of them.
A much better strategy than getting a remark is to simply learn from the experience, book another test and go again.
My article on IELTS preparation will give you a good idea of what you need to do before you are ready for the test.