What to do if your IELTS score isn’t high enough.

info-31185_1280I’m really hoping that you won’t need any of the information I’ve written here.  If you’re reading this page, it’s probably because either your IELTS score isn’t high enough or you want to know what to do if it happened to you that your IELTS score was too low.

OK, so let’s go through the process.  You get your IELTS TRF (Test Report Form) and are disappointed with the result.  What’s your immediate reaction?  ‘It’s not fair!’

I understand that doing the IELTS Test has cost you time, money and effort but I want you to forget that for a moment and to step away from yourself and the situation.  Look at the situation as objectively as you can and ask yourself if your result really isn’t fair.  Is your English level really as good as you think?  Tough question I know.

Now let’s look at some practical tips:

•    The first thing to do is to look at your IELTS score. How far below the score you need is it?  Did you achieve the score you needed in any of the modules?

Depending on your answer to the above questions, you might contact the institution which requested this score and try to persuade them to still accept you.  Obviously this is only really an option if your score was just slightly below the required score.

Of course some institutions will refuse this request; others may assess your situation and be open to the idea.  In any case, as my grandfather used to say ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

•    If you really are convinced that you have been given the wrong IELTS score, you can ask for a re-mark.  Bear in mind that you have to pay for this and my understanding from students is that the fee is about three quarters of the price to sit the actual IELTS test.

This fee is refunded if you are given a higher score for the re-mark. You must really ask yourself if you honestly think your IELTS  score is wrong; did you have any problems in the test which may have affected your score e.g. you didn’t complete both writing tasks.

If you ask for a re-mark, you must do so within six weeks of the date of your IELTS test.

•    For a lot of people, the only option is to retake the IELTS test.  Now, before you go and re-book, you need to consider if you need more IELTS preparation and how much you need.

If you got an IELTS band score of 4, you are probably not going to get an IELTS band score of 6 if you re-sit the test after two weeks.  In my experience, it usually takes three months of intensive study to improve your score by one band.  Interestingly enough, before May 2006, candidates had to wait three months before re-sitting the IELTS test.


So, back to the timeless wisdom of my grandfather; ‘Don’t despair, it’s only an exam.  You can always do it again’. These words were always in my mind when I failed my driving test four times!

Not getting the IELTS Band Score you need can be an emotionally difficult time.  Do try to keep a clear head and consider the options I have put forward in this post.

On a final note, as I stated in the introduction to this post, I sincerely hope you won’t need any of the advice in this post because you’ll get the IELTS band score you need first time.  Read the tips in my other posts and set yourself out a clear study plan to help you achieve your aim.


Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

5 thoughts on “What to do if your IELTS score isn’t high enough.

  1. Dear Allana,

    I need 7 band each in four components but in my last exam I scored 6 band in writing and others was above 7, I was only scared of word limit as it was around 350 – 380 words in task 2 and task 1 was 160 – 180 words. However, after my exam I was very confident of getting 7. since, I try to follow the rules in the exam. For instance, planning, introduction includes topic sentance and thesis statement, Body with three different paragraphing and concluding statement. Moreover, I finished my writing before the schedule time and recheck my work and also I am confident that I address the questions.

    Hence, I send my result for recheck and waiting for the result.

    Now, My question to you is, What do you think, how pupil should approach in the writing exam to get 7 band? What is the extra bit to enhance the writing skills to 0.5 band or 1 band?

    Thank you

    Yours sincerely,

    Saheb Ghosh

  2. Dear Saheb,

    First of all, you should congratulate yourself on your listening, reading and speaking scores, good luck with your re-mark and if you do have to re-sit IELTS, don’t forget to prepare well for all four skills, not just writing.

    From what you’ve written, it sounds like you’re confident you did everything ‘correctly’ in the writing test, so hopefully this will be reflected in your re-mark.

    Please let me know the result of your re-mark so I can address your question (let’s hope you don’t need me to!).

    In the meantime, take a look at the writing band descriptors in my links section and compare Band 6 and Band 7.


  3. Dear Allana,
    I took my Ielts test last year, but it was very disappointed . The University required me to get Band 7 . unfortunatly my overal band was just 6 !.and now i just have booked to re-take the test again in 26th of February.
    I don’t feel like I need more prepration, but I’ll do my best to get that “far” Band 7 🙁

    wish me luck and thank you vey much .

  4. Dear Allana,

    I need band 7 in each of the modules IELTS GT test. I appeared twice and each time got ended up getting 6.5 in writing and rest 3 are 7 band.

    How to improve my writing band score so that i will get more than 7.

    I am planning to write again in 1 month time.

    Please share me advice and tips. Appreciate All your help.

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