At least once a week, a student asks me if they should get a TOEFL score review (for speaking or writing). The short answer is: “probably not.” The long answer is: “if the cost is no problem, you should do it.”
However, if you want more information, here’s what you should note:
- In my experience, a score review results in an increase about 10% of the time. The rest of the time, the score stays the same. In rare cases, the score goes down. This rate is the same for both speaking and writing.
- However, I have heard from some students who have gotten large increases, up to four points. I can’t really explain this.
- ETS says it takes 1 to 3 weeks. Lately, though, score reviews seem to get finished in just two or three days. But don’t plan on getting one back so quickly.
- During a score review, the e-rater (for writing) and SpeechRater (for speaking) are not used. This isn’t published information, but ETS has confirmed it when asked. This means that score reviews are done entirely by humans. If you think that you were punished by the automated scoring systems, you might want to request a review.
- The person doing the score review will not see your original score. They will not be biased by your old score, but they will probably be aware that they are doing a score review.
In terms of money:
- The score review is really expensive. Eighty dollars for one section. However, if your score changes this money will be returned to you. This is not a published policy, though, so it could change at any time.
Note that most students are not able to request a score review since it is not possible if your scores have been sent to institutions. If you selected some free score recipients when you signed up for the test they will get the scores right away, and thus you will not be able to request the score review.