Picture this, not that it will be you, but humor me and put on your imaginary sombrero (that's Spanish for hat, in case you didn't already know). 😄
There might be one time that you take IELTS and you don’t like the results that you get, so what do you do? Maybe you thought that you deserved a higher score? Or, even worse, you expected a higher score? Do you just pretend like it never happened and ignore it? No, of course not, my friend. The good news is you have options!
This week let’s explore this question: When should you pay to have your IELTS exam remarked?
To Remark or Not to Remark, That is Up for Debate
Like most things in life, your decision to remark will have pros and cons. It's not up to me to steer you in one direction or another. Instead, I'm here to help you in deciding which path to take by providing you with the truth behind each alternative. In the end, it is up to you to determine whether or not remarking your exam is worth it, given your particular circumstances.
First, let's start with the facts. Click here to view the process for remarking your test.
These are the steps to take:
✴️ Pick a Module (decide which module you'd like to be reevaluated; I'd suggest all)
✴️ Initiate Your Request (you email the IELTS administrator to ask for a remark)
✴️ Timeframe (your request must be made within six weeks of the date on your TRF)
✴️ TRF stands for Test Report Form (you have six weeks from the date on it to make your request)
✴️ Fee (yes, you have to pay a fee, and the amount varies from each center; usually it's around 25% of the test but it can be as high as $250--or more!)
✴️ Wait (2-21 days to receive your scores)
✴️ Refund? (only if your marks go 🆙)
Why Have All 4 Modules Remarked?
It comes down to basic math. If it is, let's say, $100, to have your speaking test remarked, why not have all four modules remarked as well for the same price, right? After all, this is 100% the case. You don't get a "discount" for only having one module remarked. Conversely, there isn't an additional fee associated with remarking all four sections.
If I were in your position, I would not hesitate in remarking my entire test as the cost would be the same. Therefore, you'd literally have no money to lose or gain by marking only one module over the other. In effect, there's no need to choose, which is nice given that we don't always have options.
Now that you've decided that it makes most (financial) sense for you to have the entire test remarked, let's move on to how you can actually get this started.
An Email to The Administrator
While it's not exactly a love letter, this email is something of importance, so I'd suggest writing something like this:
Dear (first name of the IELTS administrator),
My name is (your full name here) and my candidate number is (your candidate number here, usually it's six digits). I took IELTS on (specific date here, August 4, 2020), and I'd like to have all four of the modules remark.
What is the fee, and how long will it take for me to receive my new TRF? Will it be mailed to me?
Please send me the remarking form, and I'll fill it out completely along with my credit card information ASAP.
Thanks so much.
(Your full name here)
Feel free to save and edit the above in case you ever need to use it. It makes no sense in recreating the wheel, right? There's no need for your time go to to waste, just copy and paste.😉
Of course there is a fee for having your scores remarked, right? Like I said above, the fee for this service varies from center to center, which is why I strongly recommend asking the IELTS administrator for the specific amount for having your test remarked.
Just beware that prices are subject to change at any time. To be more specific, note that prices will go up, it's only a matter of when not if. So, while it may still be 25% of the registration fee to have it remarked, if the registration fee went up, well, so did the fee to have your test remarked.
Once you have the fee paid, you can expect to receive your new results between 2 and 21 days.
More Than 28 Days?
Trust me, I get it. Waiting patiently is hard work, and a trait that not everyone has a lot of, right?
While 21 days is the maximum that you'll have to wait, there might be an instance where you find yourself waiting more than 28 days. Yes, it's rare, but things happen. What can you do? I've got your back, my friend. No need to worry.
This is why it bears mentioning that if you don't get your results within 28 days after initiating the request, please email the IELTS examiner. Here's what you can say, so you don't have to craft another email:
Dear (first name of the IELTS administrator),
My name is (your full name here) and my candidate number is (your candidate number here, usually it's six digits). I originally emailed you on (the specific date, August 15, 2020) to have my entire exam remarked.
It has been 28 days since I initiated my request, but I have yet to receive my results. Please advise as I'd like to have those scores.
(Your full name here)
Once you've done that, there's nothing left to do but wait for a response. When you finally do get a response, what happens if your score actually went up?
Yes, it is possible to get your fee refunded! While it is extremely rare, it does not mean that it cannot happen. The only way that this can happen is only if your score from the remark goes UP. This is useful for you if you originally felt genuinely shocked at your result, and not in a good way.
So, what happens if your original scores were a bit high? The simple answer is nothing. If your score did go down, you will not be penalized as your new marks will remain unchanged. At the same time, the downside to this is that you'll never know whether or not your original marks were too high, which can definitely be meaningful for you should you decide to sit the exam again.
What caused the original scores to be higher than they should have been? Perhaps the examiner was too generous in giving you a 6 in writing when you really were a 5.
The good news is that you will NOT be penalized for it because, after all, you weren't the one marking your own exam. The examiner did, so it's appropriate for the examiner to be penalized, but that's part of the standardization that I talked about here.
Now that the logistics are out of the way, what does this actually mean for you? What are the advantages and disadvantages to a remark?
Let's start with the positive features of getting your test remarked.
➕marked by senior examiners (yes, there is an IELTS examiner hierarchy) which means that they are the most qualified of all examiners in the world. Yes, you read that correctly... in. the. world. This means that whatever their marks are, you can take them to the bank.
➕ your score cannot go down 🔻. This is perhaps the highlight of remarking because you don't ever have to worry about your score decreasing. The fact that you can take a chance and there are zero consequences is an enormous selling point for remarking your entire test.
➕ it's an opportunity to see if your gut feeling was correct. Simply having the ability to remark your test may be the validation to that feeling in your stomach that something was not right. Maybe you knew that it was impossible for you to get a 4, for example, on the writing module, and now that you've requested a remark, you'll finally get definitive answers.
➕ accuracy is provided. In general, a remark gives you the chance to double-check all your scores to ensure they are accurate. You no longer have to wonder what if as you'll soon have the most precise picture of your scores.
As you know, not everything is rainbows and butterflies. There are drawbacks to remarking your exam.
➖it costs money, the same amount to have one module remarked versus two or more. My word of advice for this would be to remark all four sections since you have the chance and it's the same price to remark the entire test as it is to only remark one part.
➖it’s time sensitive. If you don't have 21 days to wait for your scores to be remarked, which for some people, this is the case, then don't pull the trigger on requesting the remark.
➖ clarity will elude you because you'll never know if your score actually went down, only if it went up. What does this mean for you? Well, instead of knowing whether or not you were actually a 6 instead of a 7 during the speaking, your orignal score of a 7 will remain. Therefore, you won't actually be able to adjust and prepare knowing the area (or areas) which you need to improve.
➖ if your score does go up, you'll be issued a new TRF. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but if you are in a time crunch, then this may not suit your schedule.
In A Nutshell
It really comes down to you and how you feel. Remarking is a very personal decision and it’s one that I cannot make for you.
Before you make your final decision, please think about these points:
❇️ pricey, it will cost you money to do this (there is a financial component to this)
❇️ time, your scores are not remarked overnight (depending on your timeline, waiting may NOT work with your timeline)
❇️ no loss to you (your score will not go down; it can only go up.)
❇️ finally, always go with your gut. Do you genuinely feel like you were given the wrong marks? If so, then you already have your answer, my friend.
In the end, weigh both sides, and make sure that this choice is yours, and yours alone. Whatever you decide, know that I'm here cheering you on!
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Until next time, happy IELTSing!