Everything Has an Expiration—Even IELTS

Welcome back!


You look into the fridge to make your favorite dish or breakfast item—perhaps, this involve’s cheese or whole fat, plain yogurt (okay, maybe it’s just me!)— and something does NOT smell right. In fact, you are positive something is off not just because of the horrible odor in your fridge, but also because of that pesky thing known as the expiration date. For food, the expiration date is clearly written on the item; however, with respect to IELTS, it is not as obvious.


Yet, if you do your homework, which you absolutely should, you’ll find out the answer. For today’s question, we will explore: When do IELTS scores expire?


So... When Do They Expire?


The simple answer is two years after the original test date. Here’s a quick example: if you took IELTS on September 19, 2020, two year later would be September 19, 2022. That sounds easy enough, right? Just make sure to not make this mistake.


Crisis Averted


You are about to learn an important secret. Well, it’s not so much a secret as prescient advice. Come closer, friend. Not that close—remember 6 feet or 2 meters—there must be sufficient space between us. 😉 Some may think that the two year expiration date comes into play once they receive their scores. THIS... IS... INCORRECT! Go ahead, reread that last sentence. Really, reread it, please.


There are three options for receiving your IELTS results:

  1. 13 days after taking the test (paper-based candidates)

  2. 3-5 days after taking the test (computer-based candidates)

  3. 21 days via the mail (for those who take the paper-based test)

Sure, you may be able to view your scores up to 13 days later, online that is, or up to 21 days via the mail, but that is not when the clock starts ticking. The moment you arrive and sit for your exam, your IELTS expiration clock begins. This means that you are not given a two or three week “buffer”. Instead, the two year expiration date is set in stone and does not change under any circumstances.


Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, why would you need your scores after you take the test?“ And you’re correct to think that it doesn’t make sense to need or request them once you’ve received them. BUT—imagine—yes, put your imagination caps on, it’s story time. Pretend for a minute that you received your scores and sent them to whomever requested them. Great, right?! Now, picture that 1.5 years later you are no longer content with the life that you’re living. Oh, maybe you want to switch jobs or go back to school, who knows, right?! It IS the future after all.


Being that you have a two year grace period until you must retake the test, you can send a quick email to the IELTS administrator who can assist you in obtaining your TRF (Test Report Form) within that same period. A lot can happen within two years. Therefore, it really is key to have a handy email on standby should you need it. Need an example?


Oh, here you go, friend.


Dear ____________, (first name of the IELTS administrator/testing coordinator)


My name is _________ (your complete first and last name) and my candidate number was _________ (write down your candidate number on the date of the test, so you have this information handy). I took the IELTS test on ____________ (month, day, year or day, month, year), and I”d like to obtain an additional TRF. Please send the additional TRF to: ______________ (the complete mailing address of the institution you wish to send it to). Please let me know how much I have to pay and how long it will take to receive this.


Thank you, and I appreciate your help.


Best,


____________ (your first and last name)


There you have it. Now, really, right now, this is what you must do:


1. Copy and paste the above message into your email

2. Place the draft of the message into a folder labeled IELTS along with the year in which you took the exam

3. Let it sit there until/if/when you need it.

4. If/when you do, you will have peace of mind that it is all done for you.

5. Give yourself a slap on the back for being proactive! (Optional, but always fun!)


Why Only 2 Years?


So, why is it that your test isn’t valid forever? That’s a great question! The answer is not as nefarious are you may believe. Just like how people change jobs, move countries, and enroll in new programs, a person’s proficiency in English changes as well. This can mean that, within those two years, your score fluctuates—either up or down. The only way for someone to find out his/her English proficiency at any given moment is to take IELTS.


Fortunately, or not, depending on your results, this may be positive or negative. If it’s negative, you definitely have room to improve. Conversely, if your score was quite high, this requires maintaining your English proficiency, which may dip depending on your life circumstances.

Make sense? Good!


Test Center Closed?


Yes, it is a valid point of concern should your original test center be closed. If that’s the case, you can click here to request an additional TRF.


This is an incredibly powerful and helpful link because you get to ask and receive an answer regarding your TRF (Test Report Form). Getting clear and specific answers to your questions is the best!


Why do some test centers close? Hey, it happens. Not every test center will remain open two years from now. What is the next step? What are your next steps? What do you have to do? The good news (yes, there is always good news) is that you can take a deep breath and rest assured that all hope is not lost. The only difference is that the person you reach out to will change, not the structure of how you will receive your TRF. Also, note that there is a fee for requesting an additional TRF, and the fee varies from center to center. Of course, the fee for an extra TRF now will definitely be different in two years. In other words, like most things in life, the fee will go up, not down.


Where Can Additional TRFs Be Sent?


Listen up, friend—this part is for you! If you wish to request an additional TRF for yourself, well, you are out of luck. Unfortunately, additional TRFs can only be sent directly to the institutions requested. If you simply wanted another copy of your TRF, you will not get one. Yes, this is true...

for now. Sure, that policy might change, but don’t hold your breath.


However, if your job, school, or immigration office requires an additional TRF, the option is there for you to send it to one—or all— of those organizations. You’d still have to pay the fee, but you can have peace of mind in knowing that there is flexibility with the time that you have to send out these additional TRFs without retaking IELTS. Be sure to remember that you only have two years from the date in which you sit the test to request more TRFs, though.


Is this two-year time frame identical for each variety of IELTS— academic or general training? Or, is there a separate schedule depending on the type of test you take?


General Training v. Academic


In short, there is no difference between academic and general training (GT) candidates. Lucky you, right?! The same two-year timeframe that you are given for your scores to remain valid is the same for either type of test taker. This is excellent news because it means that there is a standard that is uniformly applied. Yay for uniformity and standards!


After all, two years is more than enough time to sort through your visa, academic, and/or migration scenarios. Within that timeframe, you will definitely determine whether or not you need an additional TRF and, if so, to whom you need to send it. Remember, this cannot be to yourself or to another residential address, though.


In a Nutshell


Extra, extra, read all about it! Remember that from a hundred years ago. Or, perhaps, you don’t recall because you weren’t alive back then. 😀


In life, every thing (living or not) has an expiration date. From the moment you wake up, there are only so many hours in the day for you to work until your body will succumb to sleep. And, guess what?! That’s perfectly fine AND normal, by the way. There is only so much that we can push the body until it rebels and says, “that’s enough... no more.”


IELTS scores are the same way. Thus, when you take your test, your scores are not valid for an eternity. Rather, you are given two years to request additional TRFs until you need to retake the test. It might sound like a short time period but remember, a lot can happen in two years. A lot of life can happen.


In two years, you might realize that the job you once loved doesn’t bring you any joy, only misery. The ability to request a TRF—within those first two years—offers you the opportunity to rewrite your story. You don’t need to remain in that awful job. What you can do is send a copy of your TRF to the new place where you just got an interview or an offer, so that you can revive that spark of joy back into your career and life. That’s the ultimate power of an additional TRF. It puts you in control of your own future. Pretty neat, huh?


Now, at this precise moment, you’re ready for the recap!


❇️ 2 years— that’s the magical number of years in which your results remain valid

❇️ If you need scores that are older than two years, you are unfortunately out of luck.

❇️ You have an email at the ready, in the event that you need to request an extra TRF

❇️ TRFs can only be sent to organizations, not to your home or residential addresses

❇️ 2-year timeframe applies to both GT and Academic candidates

❇️ Test center closed? No, worries! Click here for more information.


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Until next time, happy IELTSing!

©2020 by Lori Llarena, The IELTS Whisperer.