‘I’m not happy with my IELTS result, what can I do?’
Many IELTS candidates are disappointed with their IELTS results and their first reaction is ‘I want a remark!’ The procedure for this is quite simple, but is difficult to find on the official IELTS website so in this article I will explain what you need to do.
Do IELTS examiners make mistakes?
IELTS examiners follow strict procedures, however, they are human so there is always going to be a subjective element. This does not necessarily mean they have made a mistake, just that they’re human and we all think differently. To give you an example of this, I’ll tell you a true story… An IELTS examiner I used to work with told me that she wrote an essay and showed it to her husband, also an IELTS examiner, but told him that one of her students had written it. She asked him what mark he would give it and he said ‘5.5’. She said ‘no way, that’s an 8.0!’ An argument followed and they did not agree on the mark even when she told him she had written it!
What do you need to do if you want to apply for re-marking?
Go to the test centre where you took the test and ask for an Enquiry on Results form. Your paper will then be sent to a senior examiner and you will receive the results in about six to eight weeks.
It is important to remember that:
- You must do this within six weeks of your test date
- Applying for an Enquiry on Results (a re-mark) costs money – check with your test centre how much this costs. It is less that the IELTS exam fee, but can vary from centre to centre
- If your band score changes, you will get your money back
What part(s) of the test should you get remarked?
Reading and Listening
No – In these parts of the test, the answer is either right or wrong, therefore, a re-mark would be a waste of time and money.
Speaking and Writing
Yes – these are the parts that are subjective and one examiner could give you one band score and another a different one.
Good reasons for applying for a re-mark
- You have taken the IELTS test before and got a higher band score in speaking or writing
- You have had your speaking and/or writing marked by a former IELTS examiner/highly experienced teacher and have consistently (this means over and over again) achieved a higher score. However, it is important to remember that IELTS candidates generally perform less well in the exam due to nerves so you need to take this into consideration.
- You are 100% certain you answered the questions correctly, you wrote the required number of words.
Good reasons for NOT applying a re-mark
- If one of your individual band scores is 2.0 bands higher than the others, all of your test will have been re-marked at the test centre and, therefore, a third marking by another examiner is probably not going to result in a higher grade.
- In IELTS Writing you did not write at least 150 words in Task 1 and 250 words in Task 2. You lose marks for being under the word count so this may have affected your band score in IELTS Writing.
- You need the result within the next eight weeks. Remember that it takes six to eight weeks for the remarking and you CANNOT use the result of the test you are having remarked during that time. So if you need your result within the next eight weeks, do not apply for an Enquiry on Results.
Are there any other options?
Yes, apply to take the test again. This is by far the quickest option. You could do it again and get your results in two weeks. Yes, it is more expensive than a re-mark, but there is a strong chance that after re-marking you will have the same result as before AND you will still have to take the test again and will not receive a refund of your Enquiry on Results fee.
This is just a brief explanation of the procedure for getting your IELTS paper re-marked. Many candidates are unhappy with their band score (normally in writing) and wonder if they can get it re-marked. The answer is yes. Examiners are human and may not have assessed you correctly and the re-marking procedure does work.
You need to fill out an Enquiry on Results Form. These may vary slightly from country to country so you should apply to your test centre for the correct form for you. You should note:
- this must be received by the centre within 6 weeks of your test date
- there is a fee of approx £60 (this may vary from country to country)
- the papers will then be marked by a senior examiner
- the results will then be sent to you in approx 7 weeks
Reading and listening
You can apply to have these papers remarked. However, the chances of a change of score are fairly small. These papers are marked objectively: the answer is either right or wrong and so the chances of a different assessor giving you a different score are fairly small.
Speaking and writing
Your chances of success here are much higher. There is a subjective element to how these papers are marked and it is quite possible that a different examiner may give you a different score. It is quite possible that your band score may change by a whole band. Points to consider:
- Your other scores are consistently higher (eg 7.5/7.0/7.0/6.0). The idea is that you should get approximately the same score in each skill. It can particularly help to look at any difference between the speaking and writing scores here.
- You know that you completed the papers and didn’t do anything that may have caused a deduction.
- An experienced teacher has assessed your writing/speaking as being worth a higher score. It can be easy for candidates to misjudge their own skills. This is particularly true in writing where coherence and cohesion is 25% of the score.
- You have taken the test before and got a higher band score for that skill
- It takes 6-8 weeks: it may be quicker to re-sit the test
- Did you not finish a writing question? In this case, don’t bother. You were probably penalised heavily on task response
- Did you completely understand the question in the writing? If not, don’t bother. You were probably penalised on task response
- If there is a big difference (2 band scores) between any of your papers, then two different examiners will have looked at your writing and speaking anyway. The senior examiner may still change the score, but your chances are perhaps smaller
- You have taken the test more than once and your band score for that skill is consistently low
The other option – do it again
The other option is of course to sit the test again. It shouldn’t happen like this, but most candidates I know come back with a different set of results each time – even when the tests are only one or two weeks apart.