What Happens if I Get a Low Score in the TOEFL or IELTS?

Low Scores in TOEFL/IELTSWhat is the Minimum Score Required?

Most American Universities regard a score of 80 (out of 120) in TOEFL, as an acceptable minimum score for admission. However, students applying to high-ranking colleges generally need a minimum score of 100 on TOEFL or, a score of band 7 (out of 9) on the IELTS. What happens if you get a lower score than you require? Does that mean that admission is not possible?


What if I have Less than the Minimum Score Required?

For students, a low score does not necessarily mean an application reject. University admissions committees assess English proficiency based on other application criteria, apart from test scores. In case your score is less than the minimum required you may need to take an English Language course in the University, followed by a test. This course will have to be taken along with the regular curriculum and you will be required to pay an additional fee for it. The best thing to do is to retake the TOEFL and improve your score before joining the University. That way you can get an exemption from the remedial English course.


Good News for Indian Students

However, there is good news for Indian students. In 2011, the country average for India was 92 in TOEFL, much higher than the global average (which was about 68) and also the minimum requirement of 80 for American colleges. Institutions requiring an IELTS assessment, generally accept a minimum score of 6, which is also the present global average. Again, students from India fared marginally better than this figure with a mean score of 6.1. Hence, if you’re the “average Indian student”, you will probably do well on whichever English assessment test you take.


How Can I Improve My IELTS/TOEFL Score?

But, what if you have already done the test and have a low score? How do you prepare? (Find out about coaching for TOEFL and IELTS.)


Preparing for TOEFL

  • A good idea is to start well in advance, since you will need adequate practice to get used to the TOEFL format.
  • Starting early is especially important if you are weak in grammar
  • TOEFL TV on the YouTube site – this will give you an overview of the exam and strategies for tackling it

After you have done this preliminary work, take a diagnostic test to find out where you stand


Preparing for IELTS

  • Read the following recommended books
    • Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy (Cambridge University Press)
    • Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings (Cambridge University Press)

If you still feel uncertain about whether you can get the required score, join a good coaching class where you can get personalized attention.

Training for TOEFL and IELTS