Retaking the TOEFL: What Are the Risks?

Lately, this blog has been getting a lot of questions from anxious Magooshers who are considering a TOEFL retake and want to know the risks.

What are the financial risks of retaking the TOEFL?

The main financial risk of retaking the TOEFL is having to pay additional test fees. The most expensive of the TOEFL test fees is the test registration fee. This fee varies a lot from country to country.  But generally, you’ll pay at least $150 to register for the TOEFL, and may pay up to $300. (The good news is that the registration fee for a retake is the exact same as the fee you pay for first-time TOEFL registration.)

There are other possible financial risks as well. If you’re in a real hurry to retake the TOEFL, you may need to pay a late registration fee of $40 for your retake. Then there are the costs of continued TOEFL prep. If you need new practice materials to continue studying, or feel the need to hire a tutor or buy newer, more helpful books and lessons, the extra costs can really add up. For adequate retake prep, you could pay anywhere from a few extra dollars to hundreds of extra dollars.

What are the risks if my retake score is actually lower than my previous score?

What if your TOEFL score is actually lower on the retake? It’s not common, but it does happen from time to time. In some ways, this situation isn’t very risky. For one thing, universities only want to see your highest TOEFL score from the last two years, not your most recent one. If your earlier TOEFL score is your best score, that’s the only one you need to send in.

Of course, the possibility of a lower retake score definitely carries some financial risk. If you get a lower TOEFL score when you retake the test, the registration fees and study costs you paid for the retake won’t just be money spent — those funds will be money wasted. So study hard for your retake!

If I take the TOEFL multiple times, are universities more likely to reject me?

The answer to this question is “absolutely not.” University admissions offices don’t care how many times you take the TOEFL. They just care about your highest score, as mentioned above. In addition, universities can’t see how many times you’ve taken the TOEFL unless you let them see this. Each time you take the TOEFL, a new score report is created. This score report is independent from score reports for other times that you’ve taken the exam.

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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!