During the pandemic, ETS offers a home edition of the TOEFL in some countries and areas of the world. Check out the website for further information, and if that is an option for you. Read about what to expect below 🙂
Let’s be honest here. This is the number one question everybody is wondering about. The answer is that ETS partnered with a company called ProctorU, which offers services for taking exams at home. They (or an AI system) are watching you constantly through your camera and have full access to your computer. However, you can’t see the proctor, which makes the whole situation a bit odd.
The following experiences are based on what a friend of mine told me, who took the test just recently: In the beginning, you are asked to show the close surrounding of your working space. So basically, you are giving ProctorU a short MTV cribs tour of your room. At this point, you’ve already removed everything that is not necessary for the test and put it out of your area of reach. The general procedure should have already been explained to you in one of the emails before the test. So you can prepare everything in advance. Next up, you have to show your hands, ears, and final table setup before starting the test.
During the test, you are not allowed to eat nor drink, which is highly disputable, in my opinion. Being thirsty or hungry can significantly lower your performance and, thus, your test score. Image not being accepted at your dream because of that. What can make you feel a bit uncomfortable is that ProctorU has full access to your computer. They are even taking over your mouse and change your computer settings to their liking. The proctor might also interrupt you by remembering you to follow the official rules (see below). For note-taking during the test, you need a transparency sheet and a removable sharpie pen. After each question or exercise, you have to remove your notes and hold the sheet to the camera.
Overall, the test itself is slightly shorter than the regular TOEFL iBT. However, the whole procedure, including the initial “security check” by ProcturU but can still take up to 4 hours in total. The only real advantage is that you get the reading and listening section results right after the test. These are just multiple-choice exercises and don’t need extra grading by the ETS staff. This gives you an excellent first guess on how you did on the test. Also, you know how many points you still need to pass the requirement set by your dream university. I wouldn’t consider “taking the test from the comfort of your home” as an advantage when looking at the applying rules below.
Below, you find the official rules set by ProctorU. After reading this and getting feedback from my friend, I would HIGHLY recommend taking the TOEFL in one of the test centers (check out this article). Sitting there like a robot staring straight at your computer is just not human. I am not saying you should look around the room or stare at your neighbor’s screen during the test in one of the test facilities. But if you want to stretch your neck or relax your eyes for a second from looking at the screen for hours, nobody cares. Also, you don’t feel like somebody is watching your for fours hours straight.
Actions and behaviors that will be flagged during an exam: