IELTS Remark: Should I Request An EOR?

One of the worst things about IELTS is the disappointment and frustration you feel when you don’t get the scores you need. Maybe you’ve missed your required overall band score by just 0.5 or, despite a good overall band score, you didn’t get the score you needed in one part of the test (probably writing!) This is a very common experience for many of you, but fortunately, IELTS offers you a second chance: the IELTS remark. This is a process offered by both The British Council and IDP, and allows you to ask for your IELTS test to be marked again.

Should I ask for an IELTS remark?

The re-marking process is a way of ensuring that the test is fair. It’s true that sometimes, examiners disagree over the correct band score, so it’s a way of ensuring that test takers can be confident about the assessment system.

“Should I apply for a re-mark of my IELTS Test?” is one of the most common questions I get asked by IELTS test takers. The answer, though can be a bit complicated, so I’ve written some questions you should ask yourself before deciding.

Key Facts about the IELTS Remark

  • IELTS calls the re-mark process an “Enquiry on Results” (EOR).
  • A re-mark is when your IELTS scores are checked by another examiner in the UK or Australia (i.e. not in your local IELTS test centre).
  • Your new examiner will not be told your original IELTS scores.
  • You can request a re-mark of the whole test, or any part of it (Listening, Reading, Writing or Speaking). The re-mark fee is the same. The more parts you wish to have re-marked, the longer the re-marking process will take.
  • IELTS Speaking Remark: the examiner will re-mark your speaking test by listening to the recording of your speaking test (this is why your speaking test is recorded!).
  • IELTS Writing Remark: the examiner will check both your Task 1 report and your Task 2 essay.
  • You must apply for an Enquiry on Results (EOR) within 6 weeks of the date of your listening, reading and writing test.
  • The re-marking process can take up to 6 weeks, although it can take just a few days 
  • During the re-marking process, you cannot use your IELTS scores for university or immigration applications.
  • The fee for a re-mark varies between IELTS test centres, but it in most countries the IELTS remark fee is between US$90 and US$130
  • Your fee will be refunded if your scores change

So should you request a re-mark of your IELTS score? Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself:

1. Do you want your listening or reading scores re-marked?

Listening and reading are assessed against a list of answers, and these answers are either right or wrong. The only way a re-mark will change these scores is if there has been a basic marking or clerical error. This is very unlikely, so a listening or reading re-mark would have no effect.

2. Did you miss your required band score in writing or speaking?

Writing and Speaking are much harder to assess than Listening and Reading. Examiners have to do some interpretation to match your writing or speaking to the IELTS assessment criteria, and it is a fact that examiners may disagree over the band score you should get in these 2 parts of the test. However. examiners rarely disagree by more than 0.5 in your writing or speaking score.

This means that if you missed your required band score in either writing or speaking by just 0.5 (e.g. you got 6.5 in writing but you need a 7.0) then a re-mark might be a good idea

But read questions 5 to 10 as well!

If you need an increase in a whole band (e.g. you got 6.0 in writing but you need a 7.0), then a re-mark is less likely to be beneficial. Increases of more than 0.5 are rare, but they are not unknown. Examiners do make mistakes…sometimes!

3. Do you need an increase of 1.0 (or more) in your overall band score?

For example, you got a band score of 6.5 overall, but you need 7.5.

In this situation, an IELTS remark is very unlikely to be beneficial to you. Re-marks rarely change the overall band score by more than 0.5. 

4. Do you only need an increase of 0.5 in your overall band score?

For example, you got a band score of 7.0 overall, but you need 7.5.

This is a bit more complicated! You need to do some calculations:

To get a Band 7 overall, the scores of your 4 tests must add up to at least 27 points. For example:

  • Listening 7.0
  • Reading 7.0
  • Writing 7.0
  • Speaking 6.0

If you add the 4 scores, you get 27: 7.0 + 7.0 + 7.0 + 6.0 = 27.0

This means the average score is 6.75 (27 ÷ 4 = 6.75). To get your overall score, IELTS rounds the number UP to 7.0.

To get a Band 7.5 overall, the scores of your 4 tests must add up to at least 29 points. For example:

  • Listening 8.0
  • Reading 7.0
  • Writing 7.0
  • Speaking 7.0

If you add the 4 scores, you get 29: 8.0 + 7.0 + 7.0 + 7.0 = 29.0

This means the average score is 7.25 (29 ÷ 4 = 7.25). To get your overall score, IELTS rounds the number UP to 7.5.

Ok so far?!

So, to know if a re-mark will be beneficial, you need to add up your 4 scores. What do they add up to?

Example 1

Let’s say your scores for the 4 tests are like this:

  • Listening 7.5
  • Reading 7.0
  • Writing 6.0
  • Speaking 6.0

Add the 4 scores up: 7.5 + 7 + 6 + 6 = 26.5

Remember, you need 27 points to get a Band 7. This means that you only need an increase of 0.5 to get a Band 7. So in this example, an IELTS remark is more likely to be beneficial, because you only need an increase of 0.5 in either writing or speaking (remember, listening and reading will almost certainly not change).

Example 2

Let’s say your scores for the 4 tests are like this:

  • Listening 7.5
  • Reading 6.0
  • Writing 6.0
  • Speaking 6.0

Add the 4 scores up: 7.5 + 6 + 6 + 6 = 25.5

Remember, you need 27 points to get a Band 7. This means that you need an increase of 1.5 to get a Band 7. So in this example, an IELTS remark is very unlikely to be beneficial, because you need an increase of 1.0 in one part of the test (e.g. writing), and an increase of 0.5 in another part of the test (e.g. speaking).

Here’s a table with the minimum number of points you need to get each band score overall:

To get 9.0 overall, you need at least 35 points
To get 8.5 overall, you need at least 33 points
To get 8.0 overall, you need at least 31 points
To get 7.5 overall, you need at least 29 points
To get 7.0 overall, you need at least 27 points
To get 6.5 overall, you need at least 25 points
To get 6.0 overall, you need at least 23 points
To get 5.5 overall, you need at least 21 points

So add up your 4 scores and see how much your total needs to increase. The smaller the increase needed, the greater the chance that a re-mark will be beneficial.

Other Questions To Ask Yourself about the IELTS Remark.

5. When do you need your scores?

If you need to submit your IELTS score to a university or immigration department soon after your test, re-marking can cause problems.

Firstly, getting your test re-marked can take time, especially if you want to get more than one part of the test checked. It can take up to 6 weeks to get your test re-marked. This means that you might not get your re-marked scores until after your submission deadline. (But ask your local IELTS test centre about how long it might take to do a re-mark – IDP and the British Council can often do it in a few days to a few weeks).

Secondly, during the re-marking process, your original scores are ‘locked’ and you cannot use them in an application to a university or immigration department. So you won’t be able to submit your original scores, and you won’t have your Test Report Form, as you must return this to your test centre.

When do you need your ielts remark?

6. Can you afford to pay for an IELTS remark?

The IELTS remark is not cheap. The re-marking fee varies between test centres, but it is often around $90 to $130. In some countries it is even more expensive, so check with your local test centre. You will lose the fee if the re-mark doesn’t change your score, so if you are not confident that a re-mark will be beneficial to you, you’d be better off putting the money towards a re-sit rather than an IELTS remark.

can you afford ielts remark

7. Do you usually get higher band scores for writing and/or speaking when practising?

Has a teacher assessed your writing and speaking skills? Do they consistently give you higher scores than the ones you achieved in the actual IELTS Test? If so, then it may be worth applying for a re-mark.

However, this depends on the quality of your teacher’s assessment. Interpreting the IELTS assessment criteria for writing and speaking is not easy, and so it is possible that your teacher is giving you scores that are too high. So you also have to ask yourself whether you trust your teacher’s assessment skills.

8. Have you done the IELTS Test before? Did you get higher scores for writing and speaking?

If you got higher scores for speaking in a previous test, then it is possible that your scores in your most recent test were marked too low. IELTS examiners use a variety of questions to determine your IELTS speaking band score, and they assess against criteria which focus more on speaking skills rather than the content of your speech, so assessments shouldn’t normally vary too much from test to test. So if your speaking band score is a lot lower than a previous speaking test (e.g. 1.0 or more), then a remark of your speaking test might be a good idea…

…but only if your previous test was quite recent. If it has been a year or more since your previous IELTS speaking test, and you haven’t been using English much in the intervening period, then it is likely that your English language skills will have weakened a little. This is normal. This may explain your lower score. In this instance, I would not recommend a re-mark.

Writing, however, is different. Test takers often get different scores for writing in different tests. This may be because they misunderstood the writing task, or wrote a Task 2 that was ‘off-topic’, or that one (or both) tasks were too short, or the essay question was simply ‘too difficult’. So I wouldn’t recommend a re-mark unless your band score is significantly lower (1 band or more) than a previous test.

Again, if your previous test was a year was some time ago, and you haven’t done much essay writing in English since, then your lower score may simply because your writing skills have weakened.

9. Is one of your scores significantly lower than the other three scores?

For example: 

  • Listening 8.0
  • Reading 8.0
  • Writing 6.5
  • Speaking 8.5

In this score profile, there is a significant difference between the Writing score and the other three scores. This kind of score is known as a “jagged profile” and the IELTS Administrator at your local test centre will ask a second examiner to re-assess the writing test. This is quite a common occurrence.

However, if the second examiner’s assessment is only 0.5 bands different to the first examiner’s assessment, the first assessment will not change. A change in your score only occurs in response to a formal EOR (Enquiry On Results).

This means that if you apply for an IELTS remark, there is still a chance that your weak score might change, but probably only by 0.5.

How large does the difference need to be to get a remark in your local test centre? IELTS Examiners do not know the exact rules as it is a decision made by the IELTS Administrator in your local test centre. However, it’s likely to be a difference of 2 bands between writing and speaking, or between one of these and another skill.

10. Do you feel “confident” about your results?

I’ve heard many students apply for an IELTS remark simply because they are “confident” they did better in writing and / or speaking than their IELTS scores suggest.

If this is you, ask a second question: what is your confidence based on?

Do you know, from doing practice tests and by getting feedback from experienced teachers, that you can get the scores you want?

Are you sure you answered the writing tasks correctly? (I know many students who think they answered the question correctly, who simply didn’t).

Is your confidence based on a knowledge of the IELTS assessment criteria? Do you fully understand how IELTS is assessed? Do you know what examiners are looking for when they assess your writing and speaking? Getting a high band score in writing, for example, is NOT about using fancy vocabulary and long sentences; it’s about presenting and supporting your ideas in a clear, logical way.

If your confidence is simply “bravado” or “wishful thinking”, I would not recommend a re-mark. If your confidence is based on knowledge about your abilities, about your performance in the test, and about the IELTS test, I would be more likely to recommend a re-mark.

IELTS Remark: A Summary

A re-mark might be beneficial if you are sure you answered the writing tasks correctly AND you consistently get higher scores for writing and speaking in practice AND…

…you only need an increase of 0.5 in either writing or speaking

OR

…you need an increase of 0.5 in your overall band score AND the total points of your 4 tests added together is only 1 point below what you need (e.g. if your total points are 26, and you need Band 7).

A re-mark will not be beneficial if you need higher scores for listening or reading, and it is unlikely to be beneficial if you need an increase of 1.0 or more in either writing or speaking. In these cases, you’d be better off re-sitting the exam rather than getting a re-mark. (You might even get your required scores more quickly this way!)

Actual Examples

Here are some messages I have received from students, with my advice:

Hussain

I got 7.0 in listening, but I need 7.5. Should I go for re-mark?

My advice: No. Your band score for listening will not change.

Sergey

My scores are:

  • Listening 7.5
  • Reading 7.5
  • Writing 6.5
  • Speaking 7.0
  • Overall 7.0

I need 7.5 overall, and minimum 7.0 in each part. Should I apply for a re-mark?

Should you go for an IELTS Remark? My Advice:

You only need an increase of 0.5 in writing to get a minimum of 7.0 in each part. This increase will also push your overall band score to 7.5 (your total points will be 29, which is an average of 7.25, which is rounded up to 7.5). I would recommend a re-mark if you are sure you answered the writing tasks correctly.

Nguyen Thy

I got my IELTS results but I am disappointed with writing.  I need 7.0.

  • Listening 7.0
  • Reading 8.0
  • Writing 6.0
  • Speaking 7.0
  • Overall 7.0

Should you go for an IELTS Remark? My Advice:

It is very unlikely that your writing score will increase by a whole band score (from 6.0 to 7.0). Also, it’s possible that your test would have been re-marked in your local test centre anyway, because there is a difference of 2.0 between your lowest score (writing) and your highest score (reading). Don’t ask for a re-mark.

Kristina

Here are my results. But I need 7.5 overall. Is a re-mark worth doing?

  • Listening 7.5
  • Reading 7.0
  • Writing 6.5
  • Speaking 6.5
  • Overall 7.0

Should you go for an IELTS Remark? My Advice:

You only just got a Band 7. Your average mark is actually 6.875 (27.5 ÷ 4 = 6.875), which is rounded up to 7.0. To get a Band 7.5 overall, you need your total points to increase from 27.5 to 29. This is very unlikely to happen. Don’t ask for a re-mark.

Davide

I didn’t get the results I need! I got my overall overall score, but I need 7.0 in writing and speaking. Should I go for remark?

  • Listening 7.5
  • Reading 8.0
  • Writing 6.5
  • Speaking 6.5
  • Overall 7.0

Should you go for an IELTS Remark? My Advice:

It’s unlikely that you’ll get an increase in BOTH writing AND speaking. It’s possible, but only go for an IELTS remark if you’re sure you didn’t make any clear mistakes on the writing test (e.g. writing too few words or writing an off-topic essay).

IELTS Remark: Final Points

I hope these questions have been useful in helping you decide whether to apply for a re-mark.

IELTS assessment of writing and speaking is not an exact science – indeed, examiners see it is more of an art – and examiners do make mistakes. Some test takers do find that their scores change after re-marking, but note that IELTS do not say how many re-marks are successful.

My best advice is to make sure you are fully prepared before you take the IELTS test. 

Your Comments

Have YOU applied for a remark of your IELTS scores in the past, or are you doing it now (or even thinking about it)? I would be very intersted to find out how it’s going or how it went. Did your scores change – and if so, how? How long did the re-marking process take? Please share your experiences in the comments below. Thanks!

Posted in IELTS Preparation, IELTS Speaking, IELTS Writing Task 1, IELTS Writing Task 2.

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