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Your IELTS Results (How To Check It And What Happens After - Whether You Pass Or Fail)
Last updated: Mar 2023
This article contains important information about checking your IELTS results and what to do next - important bits of information that most IELTS students don't know about.
Once you’ve taken your IELTS exam, you will need to wait about 13 days before your results are released. In this article, I'll address several things you need to think about before and after getting your IELTS results.
2) Checking your IELTS results online
To check your results online, you'd need to wait for 13 days after your IELTS test (the main papers of Listening, Reading and Writing). Also, you can't wait too long as the system will NOT display results for more than 28 or 40 days (depending on where you took your IELTS exam) after the test date.
The webpages you need to go to are listed below, but before you click on those links you need to ensure that you have the following information with you:
a) Full name
b) Date of birth
c) Test date
d) Your identification document number
d) Candidate number
Click the below links to go to the respective Results Page:
- British Council IELTS Results Page
3) Getting your official test results - i.e. your Test Report Form (TRF)
Do note that the results you view online is not the official one. Your actual test results called the Test Report Form (in a physical paper which you can show or send to organizations) will be available also from the 13th day after your test date. You can either pick it up from the test centre on that day or it will be sent to you on that day (thus it'll take a few days to reach you). Whether you want to pick it up or get it sent to you would have been indicated by you when you registered for your IELTS test.
Every student will be given only ONE TRF. No replacements will be given if you lose it! However, you can get IELTS to send up to 5 copies (free of charge if within two months of the written test date) of your TRF to the relevant receiving institutions (e.g. universities, immigration officers, embassies, etc.). If you want IELTS to send more than 5 TRFs or if your requests are made after 2 months, each TRF is chargeable at about US$15+.
Note: Institutions would only accept original copies - not photocopies - of your TRF. Also, they will not normally accept a TRF that is more than two years old.
4) Why is your IELTS test result being withheld?
Because of a lot of cheating that goes on in various places, IELTS has stepped up its quality control recently and more and more students' results are being withheld. What this means is that your results may not be released 13 days after your test date. It could be delayed by a week or even a few weeks or months. The purpose for the delay is to ensure that no cheating has occurred.
If this happens to you, you could ask the test centre when your results would be sent to you. However, it's very likely that they wouldn't give you an exact date. Yes, this sucks, but there's really nothing you can do about it. If you need your results urgently, then you may want to retake your test as soon as you can.
Isn't this unfair? Can IELTS do this? Unfortunately, they have the right to do so because in your IELTS application form, you agreed to their terms and conditions, part of which read:
"Your result may not be issued 13 days after the test if the IELTS Test Partners decide that it is necessary to review any matter associated with your test or the administration of your test. To assist any investigation, you may be required to provide writing and speaking samples. In exceptional circumstances you may be required to re-take one or more IELTS components. Your result may be cancelled after it has been issued if any irregularity is identified. You may be required to re-take one or more IELTS components."
5) What if you failed your IELTS exam?
You have two options: a) Request for a re-mark b) Take the IELTS exam again when you're ready.
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a) Request for a re-mark (Enquiry on Results)
If you're not satisfied with your results, you can request for a re-mark - what IELTS calls an "Enquiry on Results". However, you need to make this request within 6 weeks of your test date. It'll cost about US$100+ - which is about half of the cost of the actual test itself - but if your result is changed to a higher band score, you will receive a full refund.
Is it advisable to request for a re-mark? Firstly, there probably isn't any point asking for a re-mark if you hope your Listening or Reading score will change. That's highly unlikely since these two tests are easy to mark (your answers are either right or wrong) and there probably won't be any mistakes on the examiner's part. If you hope for a better Writing or Speaking mark, then you could think about asking for a re-mark. But it's probably only best to do so if you only require a half-band increase in your results. That's something that is possible. It's highly unlikely that your score in Writing or Speaking will increase by 1.0 or more - if so, the examiner who marked you the first time was not doing a good job!
Some students ask me whether IELTS will be fair. Yes, I believe they will be. They are not going to purposely fail you so you spend more to take another exam with them! The examiners doing the re-mark will be different and they will not know your initial score.
Do note that it takes up to 3-4 weeks for you to get the result of the re-mark.
b) Take the IELTS exam again when you're ready
This is probably the option most students should take. But I stress the part "when you're ready". Please DO NOT register for an IELTS exam date that's too soon! That is the number 1 mistake that students make. They don't give themselves enough time to improve before taking their next IELTS exam and then when they receive the same score again in the next test, they wonder why this is so. Please don't make this mistake!
You need to give yourself time to improve. As much as you want to pass as soon as possible, don't book your next date too early or you'll just be depending on luck to see you through. Very often, you're not going to get lucky and pass. If you haven't taken the time to improve, how can you expect a higher score? Without adequate preparation and time for improvement, you'll very likely get the same score and you will end up wasting a lot of time and money and get discouraged in the end.
So the big question you may have is, "When will I be ready to take my next IELTS test?"
6) How many hours should you study before re-taking your IELTS test?
While it's possible to tell you exactly when you'll be ready to get the score you need, there is a guideline you can follow based on what your previous test score was and what you hope to get.
IELTS actually has (or rather had) a recommendation of how many hours you should study to increase by a one overall band score.
In its 2002 IELTS handbook (p. 22), some guidelines were given:
IELTS 2002 Handbook, p. 22
Recommendations for hours of language tuition are influenced by a number of affective variables. It has been shown that individuals can take up to 200 hours to improve by one IELTS band.
What this basically means is that if you got a 6.0 for your overall IELTS score and you need a 7.0, you probably need to study for around 200 hours! Yes, that's a lot! But let's say you only need to improve 1 of the 4 skills by 1.0. Say, for example, you got 7.0 for Reading, Listening and Speaking, but only 6.0 for Writing. Based on the above guidelines, you should spend about 50 hours to improve one skill by 1.0. If you need to improve one skill by 0.5? That would be about 25 hours of study.
Please remember that these are just guidelines. There are a lot of factors and variables involved. And do remember that the quote mentions "up to". For some people, it will take that long. For others, it won't take that long. Everybody is different.
But overall, I think this is a good guideline to follow. After all, if each test costs more than US$250, it's better to play safe and put in the required number of hours of study (or even go beyond that number) if you don't want to fail again and waste another US$250+. Therefore, if there's no urgency in getting your result, just follow the above guidelines.
7) What and how should you study before re-taking your IELTS exam?
The above section touched on the number of hours you would need to study before you take your IELTS test again. In this section, I'll be addressing the important issue of exactly how to spend your study time and exactly what to study.
Having taught hundreds of IELTS students in Singapore over the past 5 to 10 years, one thing I've realized is that students don't know how to study correctly. This is especially so for students who have taken the exam once before and failed to get their desired score. Such students think that if they want to improve in their score, all they have to do is practice more or do more practice tests! This is almost a sure recipe for failure again. Let me explain why...
a) Testing yourself versus learning and improving
Students fail to understand that there's a great difference between a) testing yourself by doing a lot of practice papers AND b) learning and improving. The truth is that if you only do a lot of practice papers, you'll be more prepared for the exam, but that doesn't mean you'll be learning new things and improving your score!
I know students who took the exam many times. Nobody should be taking the exam too many times. If someone is doing that, it means that he's not really improving in between his tests. If you're not improving and getting better, why take the exam again as you'll only get the same score! And that's exactly what happens to many students. The problem is that students think that by doing a lot of practice papers, they would improve. That's only half true. Doing a lot of practice papers is merely testing yourself. It's not helping you to improve!
In order to improve, you need to do some things better! But doing the same thing (doing more and more practice tests) over and over again isn't going to make you do it better. It's just going to make you more familiar with the test. That's all!
In order to improve, you need to learn new things and do things differently and better. You may need to improve your vocabulary or your grammar. You may need to learn different strategies. You first need to know what you're doing wrong. Then you need to do it better. If you don't know what you're doing wrong, practicing over and over again is not going to make you score better, it's only going to make you better at getting the same score!
For example, I know students who got 6.5 for their Writing. And they took it a few times and they still got 6.5. This is a very common situation. They told me they practiced a lot and yet got the same result many times and it was frustrating. When I asked them what they meant by "practicing a lot", they told me they wrote answers to many Writing questions. I explained to these students that writing out a lot of answers doesn't guarantee you'll score higher the next time. You see, one way your Writing is evaluated is by the grammar you use. Therefore, if you don't improve your grammar (practicing your writing will NOT improve your grammar unless you intentionally work on your grammar!), you're not going to improve in that area. It's irrational to think you'd improve in your Writing score if you don't understand how your Writing is evaluated and if you don't improve in the areas you're weak in. Practicing alone will NOT automatically improve your grammar or other areas you need to improve in! If anything, if you don't know how to improve your grammar and yet you keep writing out a lot of Writing answers, practice is going to make your grammar mistakes permanent! It's going to make your grammar mistakes habitual. You won't improve this way - you'll just get the same score over and over again!
Practice doesn't make Perfect. Practice makes PERMANENT! And if you keep practicing your Writing with the same grammar mistakes, you'll make your grammar mistakes more habitual and permanent and you'll make your Writing score permanent!
b) Improving in your 4 skills
I'm going to give you some extremely valuable tips on how to improve in the 4 skills of the IELTS exam: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. These are tips that you don't always read or hear about and which many students don't know about. As I mentioned in the previous section, most students think wrongly that the way to improve and get a better IELTS score is merely through practicing a lot. Below, I'm going to share exactly how I believe students can actually improve - and this is not through mindlessly doing a lot of practice papers.