So you’ve failed the TOEFL. Don’t give up! You can always retake the exam. The question you may ask is “Do I have time for a TOEFL retake before my application deadline?” To get the answer to that question, you need to look at how soon you’ll be able to retake the TOEFL, and how long it takes to send out scores on a TOEFL retake.
How soon can I retake the TOEFL?
You’re allowed to retake the TOEFL every 12 days. You’ll see your raw scores for TOEFL Reading and Listening in the test center, right after you take the test. If you can tell that your TOEFL score won’t be high enough just from those raw scores, you can schedule a retake immediately. If you think you only need to boost your Reading and Listening scores by a point or two, 12 days just might be enough time to study for a successful retake.
However, chances are that you’ll need to wait more than 12 days before you retake the exam. For one thing, your Reading and Listening scores may not clearly show that you need a retake. Typically, test-takers can’t be sure they passed the TOEFL until they see their official scores, which are accessible online 10 days after the test. At that point, you could still do the earliest permitted retake: a new TOEFL 12 days after the last one. But this would give you only two days to study for the retake. And that really isn’t enough time to get a higher score.
To be on the safe side, you’ll probably need to wait the full 10 days to see if you need a retake. And ideally, you should spend at least a month preparing for a retake. So it’s likely that any retake will happen at least 40 days after the first time you took the TOEFL.
How long will it take to send out my TOEFL retake scores in the mail?
In most cases, TOEFL scores are sent by mail. It can take anywhere from about 3 weeks to 2 months to send TOEFL scores, depending on where your school is located. To make sure your TOEFL retake scores can reach a school in the U.S., a retake should must happen 23 days before the application deadline if your school is in the United States. (A 13 day wait for the scores to be sent out, and an additional 7-10 days for scores to actually arrive at your school.) And for schools outside of America, a retake would need to happen 8 weeks before the application deadline. (13 days for scores to be sent out, 4-6 weeks for them to arrive via international mail.)
How much time you need for a retake?
Based on the figures above, you should take about 10 days to decide if you need a retake, and 30 days after that to study for the retake. If you’re applying to a school in the United States, you’ll need an additional 23 days after that to get your TOEFL retake scores to your school. If you’re applying to a school outside of America, you’ll need to give yourself 55 extra days for score delivery.
So you either need a minimum of 63 days for a TOEFL retake, or a minimum of 95 days for a TOEFL retake, depending on your situation. This is a pretty long period of time either way. But here’s the good news: If you don’t have this much time for a retake, there may be ways to do a retake in a shorter amount of time. And you might also have other schooling options if you can’t do a retake in time for your school’s application deadline.
In my next post, we’ll look at the things you can do if it seems like you don’t have time for a retake.