A couple of months ago, I had a student who regularly scored around Band 6 in our mock speaking tests. He took the IELTS exam here in Seoul and two weeks later received his results. They’d given him 5.0 in speaking, meaning he couldn’t go to the university he wanted to. Naturally, he was distraught and asked me whether he should get a remark.
My first question was, “Did you perform any differently than you normally do in our mock tests?” He said that he hadn’t, and so I told him that it was an incorrect score; there was no way this student had scored 5. IELTS examiners like to say that the scores are almost always accurate, but in my years of teaching the exam, this is not what I’ve found. They often make mistakes.
Even in situations like these, the decision about whether to get a remark isn’t always that easy. It takes almost 2 months for you to receive your new score, so it’s actually quicker for you to take the test again (2 or 3 times!). Another thing to consider is that getting the test remarked is also almost as expensive as taking it, although if they change your score, you will receive a full refund.
If you decide to get a remark, please note that it’s officially called an Enquiry on Results, and you must apply for it WITHIN SIX WEEKS of taking the test. Application forms can be found here, although you’ll need to contact your local test centre first, the details of which can be found on either the British Council or IDP websites. You can choose to have the whole test remarked, or just an individual section.
One thing to remember is that if there’s a difference of 2 bands or more in your speaking and writing sections, your test is remarked automatically. In other words, it’s probably best not to apply for an Enquiry on Results if you scored a 5.0 in writing and 7.0 in speaking; your test will have already been marked twice.
Fees vary from country to country, and if your score is not changed, you won’t receive a refund. Also, while you’re waiting for the test to be remarked, your original score cannot be used to apply at an immigration office or university.
Lastly, it should be noted that the remarked score is final. Test recordings and answer sheets are sent to a team of experts in either Melbourne or Cambridge, and they reassess your test without knowing your original score. You cannot appeal against this score.
So what happened to my student? His other scores were good, and in the writing section he actually scored better than normal. Because of this, he only applied for a remark of his speaking score, which was a good decision. Remember – scores can go down as well as up. Seven weeks later, he received his new score: Band 6. He’s now studying for an MBA in England.