Do I Have Time for a TOEFL Retake?

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 3 days. You may see your raw scores for TOEFL Reading and Listening in the test center, right after you take the test, alhtough sometimes a test center may not do this at the end of your exam. With that in mind, 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, 3 days just might be enough time to study for a successful retake.

However, chances are that you’ll need to wait more than 3 days before you retake the exam. For one thing, your Reading and Listening scores may not clearly show that you need a retake (and again, you may not see the scores in the test center at all!). 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 3 or more days after the last one. But be careful! Just a few days of study really isn’t enough time to get a higher score.

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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, or 30 days, if you start studying during the 10 day waiting period just in case.

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.

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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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13 Responses to Do I Have Time for a TOEFL Retake?

  1. Joana June 28, 2017 at 10:34 am #

    I recently took the Toefl test twice. Briefly telling my story I lived in Australia for one and a half years there I studied academic English and took a semester programme at a local university in 2014. This year, I got a place for a master course in a university and had to take Toefl. I did it without pretty much any preparation as I was pretty busy with my work. I pretty much relied on my English skill and studied a bit of the test structure and then I scored 74. I really struggled in the first test and left the test place with a terrible feeling. It was really hard and disappointing.

    The University suggested me to retake the test, but this time with only one week left to prepare for it. I need at least something between 90 – 100 in order to be accepted. During my preparation for my second attempt, I quit my job and I tried to focused on the comments made by the graders on my performance. In the test day, I felt much more confident and also I think I managed the time better. I really think I have done better, but I can’t tell how much better.

    I have seen many test takers saying that we typically are not able to improve the Toefl score in more than 10-15 points in a short amount of time.

    Based on your experience with students do you think I could expect any improvement from my last test? I would really appreciate your insight!

    I am a great admirer of your work!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

      Hi Joana,

      Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m glad to hear that you felt much better walking out of your second attempt! It is hard to say how much improvement a specific individual is capable of given that it’s really dependent on a number of variables, including the individual involved. Within a short period of time, it is typically difficult for students to experience drastic growth, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Now that the exam is over, I wouldn’t recommend worrying too much about it, as it is out of your hands. If you do have time for another retake, and you feel that this exam may not have done the trick, I would also consider continuing your studies while you await your score, so you don’t get rusty and you can be prepared to retake while not feeling as rushed.

      But, let’s hope for the best! Let us know how it goes, and have a great day! 🙂

  2. Himal Guragain December 23, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    I am profoundly deaf and I was scheduled to take the TOEFL test on Dec/08/12 and I went to the Testing centre on the day but my Scheduled test had to be cancelled due to test issues and apologized me for not making special managements such as extra time and skipping Speaking and Listening section test. I have been waiting for over 14 day for my re-scheduled test and sent email to ETS and I was told that They couldn’t provide exact test day and test centre as they are subject to change. I fear if I may disqualify for the re-scheduled test. Please advise me about how to solve the problems. I need your help and advice in no time.
    Thank you in advance

    • David Recine
      David Recine December 24, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Himal,

      How frustrating! You applied for disability accommodations correctly, in the process described here. However, the test center was not able to arrange those accommodations in time? In that case, you should be eligible for a reschedule. But you’ll want to make sure of that, of course. To make sure you are on track to get a new test date, I recommend you contact ETS disability services. You can find their contact information on the bottom of this web page.

  3. Mandy December 3, 2019 at 7:31 am #

    Hey, I have to retake the toefl test and wanted to ask sth. about sending test results for score recipients. When I’ve added a certain university to the list of recipients on the first test attempt before, do I have to state this university on the list again when retaking the test? Or will the university get my best scores either, even if I don’t add them to the list again?
    I couldn’t figure it out from the text, so it would help me a lot if you commented on my question 🙂 .

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 7, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

      Hi Mandy,

      You will have to indicate your recipient schools on each test that you take. The results will not be automatically sent to schools that you indicated on previous tests.

  4. Stephany March 4, 2020 at 8:44 am #

    I have taken the Toefl test many times, but in my last score (February, 15), I obtained 77 points: R19, L21, S22, W15. If a consider “My best score”, the sum of the highest section score, I had the following results: R21, L21, S22, W21, it sums 85 points. And the university demands that I have a minimum of 87, in fact, I have a conditional letter. In this way, I would like to know your suggestions if I have to retake the test on April 3 or April 25. The classes start on July 27 and I also need time to apply for the visa.
    Thank you so much.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 4, 2020 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Stephany,

      I really recommend that you check out our study plans and Premium program. If you want to improve your score, you’ll need to ensure that you use high quality materials and have a schedule that will help you maximize your scores in all areas. Send us an email at [email protected] if you have more questions 🙂

      • Stephany March 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm #

        Thanks so much 🙂

      • Michelle June 20, 2020 at 6:25 pm #

        I took my toefl test today. And I received my scores for reading 21 and listening 21. My institution demands a reading score of 22.
        Do you think that my score can change in the official toefl results?
        And another question do you have any suggestions to improve my score? Also I found hard the speaking task 4.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 24, 2020 at 10:47 am #

          Hi Michelle,

          The TOEFL score generally does not change, so your official score will probably be the same as your unofficial score. For tips on how to improve, definitely check out this post about how to study for a retake.

          • viola September 23, 2022 at 9:34 am #

            hello I have one concern .I just received my test results and I was below the university’s mark by 3points and now I want to retake the test .my question is how do I do this?

          • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
            Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 30, 2022 at 2:25 pm #

            Hi Viola,

            Here’s an article that I think you’ll find helpful😊 How to study for a TOEFL retake

            Happy studying!

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