Retaking the IELTS

If you are planning on an IELTS retake, you can schedule a new test as soon as you like. But slow down! Before scheduling your retake, here are some things to consider first.

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Things to Consider Before an IELTS Retake

Do you have other options aside from an IELTS retake?

When your IELTS score is bad, you may have other options. You may be able to get your target school to be flexible on their score requirement. Or you may be able to find a different program that will accept you with the score you have. You also might personally find that it’s easier to get a qualifying score on an alternate test such as the TOEFL.

Check out our articles on whether you should resit the IELTS, your options if you received a bad IELTS score, and requesting an IELTS rescore.

When do you need to send your IELTS scores?

Find out when you need to submit your IELTS scores. You will need to take an IELTS exam at least 13 days before this deadline. Sometimes, schools will take scores after this deadline, but it is rare. Once you’ve found what the score deadline is, you can see if there are IELTS exams offered before then.

Are there exams offered before this deadline?

Find out when the next exam is at the nearest testing center. If the closest exam center doesn’t have an opening for an exam before your deadline, check other exam centers that you can get to.

Get a higher IELTS score? Start your online IELTS prep today with Magoosh.

If no testing centers have an opening, don’t give up! Seats become available when people fail to complete their applications. This happens all the time. Check the exam registration website every single day. If a seat opens up for a particular date, then you’ll be able to register for that exam. Register for your IELTS retake immediately! There may only be a single seat available, and if someone else registers before you, then you’ll lose your opportunity.

Go back to the top of our post on preparing for an IELTS retake.

Preparing for Your IELTS Retake

Retaking the IELTS? Reschedule freely.

This is the easiest part. As I’ve said, you may schedule an IELTS retake whenever you like. Unlike most other standardised tests, the IELTS places no limits on how many times you may sit the exam per year, or how frequently you may schedule a testing session.

So you can reschedule as quickly as you want, or as slowly as you want. Think about how long you need, and how soon — or how much later — you should take the test again. Then do whatever you must in order to have a better test day the next time around.

Retaking the IELTS? Consider what went wrong the first time.

Did you study enough?

If not, then make a good, well-organised study plan for your your retake. Check out our article on how to study for the IELTS in one month.

Did you study with the right materials?

Official IELTS practice materials from, IELTS Essentials, and the British Council, are a must. You should also get your hands on some official IELTS books from Cambridge University Press if you can. And any third-party IELTS resources should be reputable and very similar to the real thing.

Did you have a low IELTS score because you struggle with some aspects of English?

If you did particularly poorly in one section or another, focus on your weaknesses. Maybe you need to work more on your speaking, reading comprehension, accent reduction, written grammar, or other specific skills. Our diagnostic quizzes for Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing can help you evaluate which areas need more attention.

Did you have trouble with certain skills or strategies?

As you carefully assess your skills, you may realise that test skills hurt your score. Sometimes IELTS test-takers get low marks because they use poor strategies for multiple choice questions. Make sure your skills at organising essays and spoken responses are also sufficient for an improved score on your IELTS retake.

Were you feeling well on test day?

In some cases, a person may have gotten a low IELTS score simply because they were ill or were not well-rested when they last took the exam. In that case, self-care and improved luck may be all you need for a successful retake!

Go back to the top of our post on preparing for an IELTS retake.

How to Stay Motivated for Your IELTS Retake

Think Positive

I know that this sounds a little new age, but extensive research shows that regularly telling yourself a positive statement can actually help make that statement come true. Create a positive IELTS statement that you say to yourself every morning before you get out of bed, and every evening before you drift off to sleep.

Find Someone to Hold You Accountable

Find someone that you can rely on to regularly ask you about how you are doing with your IELTS studying. Make a commitment to work on the IELTS for a set amount of time each day, and tell your friend about that commitment. Ask them to regularly check in to see how you are doing. Trust me, telling your friend, family member, or colleague that you didn’t do your studying today because you were tired or too busy is much harder than just letting yourself down.

Get Some Praise

It is easy to become discouraged with studying and your IELTS scores. So here, I want you to find someone else to evaluate your work. This someone needs to be able to give you regular positive encouragement on your progress, big and small. A professional ESL teacher is best; however, any native English speaker that you can regularly meet with to check your progress will be great for this.

Track Improvement

Be sure to remind yourself regularly how far you have come. To start, set achievable, short-term goals. Maybe for IELTS Writing you have the following goals: “By the end of week 1, I will know how to write a concise introduction. By the end of week 4, I will be able to write Task 2 within 50 minutes.” Next, evaluate yourself each week to see how you are improving. This will help refresh your confidence and remind you that your hard work is having a benefit.

Picture Your Goal

Why are you taking the IELTS exam? Are you trying to get your dream job? Do you want to have a better life to provide for your family? Maybe you want to immigrate to Australia so that you can live with someone you fell in love with abroad. Find your reason, then put up a picture or note that reminds you of that reason. Put it up somewhere you will see it regularly throughout your day: on your phone, above the desk you study at, on your bathroom mirror. Regularly reminding yourself of the end result will help keep you motivated for your IELTS retake.

Good luck!

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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14 Responses to Retaking the IELTS

  1. Twinks August 14, 2017 at 11:03 pm #

    If I have already sent my IELTS score to the university, can I retake the IELTS and send the university my new scores ? will they consider it ?

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi Twinks,

      Usually, if you send more scores before admissions deadlines hit, your newer scores will replace your older ones on your applicant profile. 🙂 You can always ask the admission departments directly to get the answer from them, too. 🙂

  2. Vinutha G H August 23, 2017 at 10:00 am #

    when I want to retake IELTS test suppose if I get a low score, then should I do the Payment again???
    And how long will the results take to come for academic module??

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

      Hi Vinutha,

      Every time you take the IELTS, you need to pay the fee, so if you choose to retake, yes, you will pay again. As for the results, IELTS results are available 13 days after taking the test.

  3. Juntha October 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi, I took the ietls and got a 7,5, but I think i could get a higher score in speaking, If I take the exam and, eventually, get a 7,0, can I send my old scores to the school?

  4. Rachana December 28, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

    Can only one module be given like if scored less in Listening can it be given again?

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 30, 2017 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Rachana,

      Unfortunately, you will have to retake the entire exam again. You cannot take just one section.

  5. jasvinder kaur February 13, 2018 at 8:42 am #

    hi , as soon as listening start after 3 questions my headphone stopped working 1missed 4 questions. they said u continue with your exam. after listening they said we can’t play as it is rule of british council.
    I complained and mailed but no reply . what they do in these situations.

    • David Recine
      David Recine February 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

      Oh man, that’s a tough one. When something like you’ve described happens, you definitely do have a legitimate complaint. If you wait a long time and there’s still no reply, you may want to contact the British Council directly by phone, either by finding the BC number for the country you live in, or calling their British Council customer service phone line in the UK.

  6. Ankita November 4, 2019 at 5:53 am #

    If first time I am take a test in general training then I am able to do my second test in academic.

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 2, 2020 at 5:00 pm #

      Hi Ankita,

      Yes, you can take either test in any order. Just make sure that you are spending your time preparing for the test that will help you to achieve your goals!

  7. Sam March 19, 2022 at 3:40 am #

    I got a 5 band is my first attempt. can you tell me how to improve speaking section

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 9, 2022 at 11:37 am #

      Hi Sam! Check out our IETLS Speaking Archives from our blog for lots of great information on how to improve! 😀

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