This is a guide for taking the TOEFL test at home in 2021.
COVID-19 has affected the study routines of many students this year, especially those preparing to study abroad. There’s no need to worry: TOEFL provides at-home testing with TOEFL iBT® Home Edition, and ETS has announced that the TOEFL iBT Home Edition here to stay.
New updates bring new questions: How is it different from normal TOEFL testing procedures? What should I prepare? Should I change my studying habits?
If you have reconsidered going to a test center in person or are worried about taking the test at home, this guide has you covered.
Let’s go over the steps on how to prepare for the 2021 At-Home TOEFL test.
What is the TOEFL iBT Home Edition?
The TOEFL iBT® Home Edition is an At-Home test option for people who want to take the test at home instead of going to a test center in person.
The At-Home version of the test, released on March 23rd, 2020, allows TOEFL test takers to test in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
As 700,000+ new cases of COVID-19 emerge worldwide, many students are reconsidering their future education plans.
While many testing centers are finding ways to reopen safely, the bad news is that some testing centers remain unavailable.
You can check your testing region in the official ETS regional list to see if there’s an available test center near you.
However, TOEFL iBT® Home Edition scores last 2 years, and your testing fee includes up to 4 schools that TOEFL administrators send your scores to.
That means you can still prepare for your future, at home.
Whether you’re studying for international studies or language qualification, the scores from your At-Home TOEFL test will be valid with or without the COVID-19 pandemic.
The at-home test material is exactly the same as the in-person testing material.
Studying the content for the At-Home TOEFL is the same as studying for TOEFL normally.
The differences, however, are in the test preparations.
This guide will give you a closer look at the TOEFL iBT® Home Edition requirements.
Check Your Equipment
- Headphones (headsets) are NOT allowed
- Internal equipment means your speaker and microphone already comes built-in your computer/laptop.
- External equipment means separate speakers, microphones, and other audio devices placed outside of your computer/laptop.
- You cannot have any recording devices other than your internal or external microphone.
Speaking & Listening portions can be affected by SOUND QUALITY of your equipment.
- Check your audio quality and microphone feedback before the test.
You can check your audio quality on the sound settings of your device, recording your voice by filming a video, or through mic test sites such as mictests.com.
If your own voice sounds garbled or distorted, it can affect your listening and speaking scores.
You must have Chrome™ or Firefox® for the At-Home TOEFL test.
Once you set up your computer and browser, run ProctorU for final equipment approval.
This is very important! Make sure to run ProctorU BEFORE the test day.
If you fail the ProctorU equipment check, you CANNOT take the test.
- If you are testing with a Chrome™ browser, make sure you download the ProctorU Extension.
- The ProctorU site gives you a link to the Chrome web store to download the extension (No worries, it’s free!).
- Allow ProctorU to access your mic and camera feed by clicking on the pop-up “Allow” on the left side of the search bar.
- If you fail the ProctorU test, scroll down to the “Computer Settings” list to see which tests you’ve passed and which you’ve failed.
It’ll help you narrow down the problems and address them faster.
- When you test, it’s best to run only the ProctorU test site. Make sure you don’t have any tabs or windows open.
- If you have other problems, go to their FAQ page OR chat with a live technician for help.
- If you’re using a Mac to take the TOEFL, make sure you can access your security settings on your exam day.
Surroundings Are Important
The environment is an important factor for any test, and TOEFL is no exception.
Not only should you remain uninterrupted during the 3-hour test, but also the online proctor must be able to see that you are in an approved test environment.
You must be able to show a 360 degrees view of the room, so it is best if your at-home test area is clean and organized.
Try out the lighting in different areas of your home — can the proctor see your face clearly?
Bring a mirror (or use your phone screen) to show your proctor a reflection of your screen.
Avoid public spaces where you cannot control who or what could enter your testing room.
Consider Your Appearance
Lastly, check your clothes.
Make sure to consider your test-day outfit. Is it important to think about clothes? What should you wear?
First, the TOEFL iBT® Home Edition requires your ears to be visible at all times during the testing period.
ETS will take a picture of your appearance for identification on your test day. Then, the picture will be shared with the institutions you send your scores to.
Just like your clean and organized environment, a clean and organized appearance shows proper etiquette.
When you practice proper test-taking etiquette it’s one less thing for you, your online proctor, and the institutions receiving your score to worry about.
No one should waste time staring at a stray hair or a wrinkle on their shirt during the test! Feeling confident in your appearance can boost your focus and keep stress to a minimum.
Tidy hair, clothes, and garments will be the best way to approach the testing process.
Everything must be erasable by the end of your testing session.
Practice taking notes on your erasable surface before the test.
Does it erase well? Can you write smoothly on it?
At home, you can use a napkin or paper towel as an eraser.
Bonus Tip: Bring a skinny erasable marker for easier note-taking!
3 E’s to Remember on Your TOEFL iBT Home Edition Test Day
There are a lot of things to check in this guide, but test-day preparation should NOT be difficult.
To make sure you’re prepared on-screen and off-screen, the ETS Printable Checklist makes each requirement easy to keep track of.
TOEFL is a big test, and 3 hours of intense focus on the material can be stressful.
People are prone to forget a few things while they prepare for the test.
On your test day, simply remember 3 E’s: Equipment, Environment, and Etiquette.
Check your equipment, be aware of your environment, and make sure to show proper etiquette (keep your ears visible!).
If you’d rather watch a quick 3-minute video on TOEFL preparations, you can watch it here:
Video: TOEFL At Home Prep
I hope this guide helps you feel more prepared to take on the TOEFL test at home!
I’d love to hear how you’re preparing for your test!
Are you going to practice speaking in your own room? Is the lighting brighter in your living room?
Stay safe, and we’ll get through this together.
From, your TestGlider Team.