Last week, IELTS IDP announced that they are planning to introduce a new test called the IELTS One Skill Retake. This will give students the opportunity to retake only one section of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing or Speaking) in the IELTS test if they did not achieve the score they aimed for the first time around. Obviously, the introduction of the IELTS One Skill Retake could have a high impact on the time it takes test-takers to achieve their target scores, but there are still many questions left unanswered at this stage. For example,
- Will you be able to take the IELTS One Skill Retake once, or many times?
- How much will it cost?
- And will all professional bodies and governments accept the IELTS One Skill Retake certificate?
This is what Nick and I will be discussing in today’s episode. Below, you can find a summary of the episode, which includes all of the links to useful materials 🚀
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The new IELTS One Skill Retake – what we know so far!
On Thursday October 27th, a long announcement appeared on the official IDP website introducing the IELTS One Skill Retake. However, the original statement was taken down almost immediately and replaced by a shorter text that simply read:
IELTS are launching One Skill Retake with availability initially in eligible Australian test centres only. More information will be available soon, so keep an eye on our website for more.
However, this is the world of IELTS, and many test-takers had already taken screenshots of the original message before it was removed. What appears below is a recreation of the original message on the official IDP page:
IELTS to introduce One Skill Retake
Test takers of the world’s most popular high-stakes language test, IELTS, will soon have access to a new feature to help them boost the score they need to achieve their global learning and career goals.
Expected to be available in November at limited IDP IELTS centres in Australian capital cities, One Skill Retake will allow test-takers to retake one section of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) in the English test if they did not achieve the score they aimed for the first time around.
Warwick Freeland, managing director of IELTS IDP education, said One Skill Retake had been introduced after listening to test-taker feedback.
“With the right preparation and support we know our test takers achieve the best score the first time round. However, we listened to our test-takers, and they told us they wanted the opportunity to retake one section of the test if they didn’t get the score they were aspiring for on test day. With One Skill Retake, test-takers can get their study, migration or work applications back on track.”
In its first launch phase, the test takers who choose a One Skill Retake will receive a second form that can be used for migration and study purposes by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
One Skill Retake demonstrates IELTS commitment to customers achieving their best scores and supporting organisations to attract the right candidate. When it is launched organisations will be able to offer their candidates the flexibility to achieve entry requirements without compromising on applicant quality
One Skill Retake will be initially introduced in Australia in November. More information will be available in early November
What questions do we have about the IELTS One Skill Retake?
Obviously, this first message about the IELTS One Skill retake poses more questions than it answers. However, what is clear is that IELTS has listened to test-takers and understand the need to introduce the ability for students to re-take only one part of the test instead of being forced to re-take all four.
This is particularly important for students whose scores fluctuate in more than one area. For example, they may find that they go between a 6.5 and a 7.0 for Speaking, but are always stuck at a 6.5 for Writing. Nothing is more frustrating for students in this position to finally achieve a 7.0 in Writing, only to receive a 6.5 for speaking in that attempt. Now, students will be able to “hold” their 7.0 in Writing and only re-take Speaking.
However, there are still a number of points that remain unclear:
- The original message said that the scheme would start in Australian capital cities. However, it is not stated if this is just a pilot scheme (i.e. one that is being tested before being rolled out across the world), or if they are simply the first centres to offer the IELTS One Skill Retake and others around the world will be soon to follow.
- There is also no mention of the cost of the test or how many times a student will be permitted to take the IELTS One Skill Retake. Will it be possible to take the test repeatedly, or is this just simply a one-off second chance after the completion of a full test?
- There is also no indication of whether the second form will be accepted by other institutions other than the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Will you be able to use the IELTS One Skill Retake to apply for residency in Canada? Or to apply for PLAB of the NHS foundation? My guess is that each of these institutions will have their own policy, so we will need to wait to find out.
- Will the service also be offered by the British Council, or will this only be available at IDP test centres?
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What do we think about the IELTS One Skill Retake?
Over the last 5 years, IELTS has done a lot to show that it wants to respond to the needs of test-takers. It has introduced a Computer-Based test, which is not available in almost every country where the Paper-based Test is run. It also introduced the IELTS Indicator test during the COVID restrictions, which allowed test-takers to sit a less-secure version of the test at home so that they could prove their level of English to Universities, and the new full IELTS Online Test is still being developed, which may one day allow test-takers to take the full version of the test in the same way.
I feel that this is another way that IELTS is trying to modernise the test as it seeks to compete with the newest ones entering the market, such as the Duolingo Language Test. Having to retake the full exam when only one score is low has always been a sore point for test-takers and giving them a way to retake just one element more cheaply and quickly is obviously a step in the right direction.
However, many test-takers already suffer from taking the test too many times in the “hope” of reaching their target scores, and I worry that if there is no limit on the number of times that a student can sit the IELTS One Skill Retake, this trend will only worsen. However, with so many questions left unanswered, I think that only time will tell if this new directive from IDP will be successful or not.
What I think is clear, however, is that IELTS is looking to the future and responding to the needs of test-takers, which can only be a good thing.