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I Took the TOEFL Home Edition: Here’s How it Went

Header image for the blog post "I Took the TOEFL Home Edition." Shows hands typing on a laptop computer.

The short version of this story: The TOEFL Home Edition is an official TOEFL test you can take from home… and I took it! Most steps of the process went smoothly for me, with minor glitches here and there. I was able to resolve those issues with help from an ETS test-taker advocate.

Right now, if you are anywhere in the world other than mainland China or Iran, ETS will allow you to take the TOEFL Home Edition. (Note that Iran and China have started to re-open their TOEFL iBT test centers, and that China also offers the TOEFL ITP Plus as a potential TOEFL iBT alternative.) This Home Edition is a real TOEFL that comes with a real score report, accepted by universities, immigration offices, and employers around the world.

But what is it like to take the TOEFL Home Edition, and how does the experience differ from taking the TOEFL in a test center?

Below, I share my TOEFL Home Edition experience. Please note that this, of course, is just one experience. Yours will likely be similar, but no two testing sessions are exactly the same.

For a shorter summary of my experiences, watch my vlog:

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

And if you want a how-to-guide of the steps you should take to book and complete the TOEFL Home Edition, check out my other post: How to Take the TOEFL Home Edition.

With all that in mind, read on for the full description of my TOEFL Home Edition experience:

Meeting the Technology Requirements

I have an older laptop and less-than-perfect wifi, so I was a little worried I’d fail the ProctorU system test. Fortunately, I encountered only a few problems, and they were all easily solvable.

At first, I didn’t pass the Internet speed test. But then I switched from my house wifi to my cell phone hotspot and was able to pass that bandwidth check perfectly. I was a little bit worried that ProctorU would make me turn off my cell phone during the test (they didn’t, they just watched me place my silenced phone face down on the other side of the room), so I also tried an alternate fix: moving my laptop closer to my wireless router. That also worked!

After passing that check, I then got online with ProctorU’s live chat support, and asked if I could meet with a real proctor, so that my system could be fully tested by a human being. ProctorU recommends this, and I’m glad I did it. For one thing, having a real proctor test out my computer gave me peace of mind that my computer would indeed work on test day. For another, this allowed me to receive my chat applet download link before test day. This link is needed to open the chat window with the proctor.

Booking the Exam

I had a few technical errors while booking the test with ProctorU. However, a call to TOEFL’s customer service resolved my issues. They matched me with a personal advocate from their Test-Taker Advocacy Department, who quickly followed up. Sure enough, within 48 hours, I was on my way to taking the test! (UPDATE: All bookings for the TOEFL Home Edition are now done direclty through ETS, with the same system that’s used for booking the TOEFL in a test center.)

My Test Day Experience

Getting Started

On test day I clicked the chat applet link I’d been given when I had a proctor test my system. I was connected to a proctor within 15 minutes. Wait times can vary a little, but expect to wait less than a half hour for a proctor, even at peak testing times

My proctor spoke to me via text and voice. He took control of my computer, opened up the ProctorU web page, and made sure I’d downloaded the ETS brower that hosts the actual exam.

Security Check

From there, my proctor walked me through the security check. He took a photo of me and a photo of my driver’s license, and had me pan my camera around the room, to ensure that my immediate testing area (my desk) was clear of prohibited items, and that no prohibited items were within my reach. Actually, the desk I normally use in my room is quite cluttered and full of items I shouldn’t have in my testing area. So I tested on a small foldout table; bringing that into my room was much easier than clearing my desk.

Finally, my proctor made sure I had a permissible surface for taking notes on. In my case, I used a clear plastic sleeve with a piece of paper inside of it and a dry erase marker. (A whiteboard also would have been acceptable.) Once that was taken care of, the proctor launched the test.

Taking the Test

There were few minor bugs in my testing experience. The onscreen sound check for the test wasn’t displaying properly, but that is a known issue; my proctor and I understood that it wasn’t a real problem. There was also some lag time between questions, where the screen would freeze up. (This could have been due to my WiFi speed.) Luckily, the timer didn’t run during the lags. Finally, at one point during the test, something went wrong on the proctor’s end and they had to pause my exam for a minute or two while they opened up some browser windows and readjusted some settings. That was a little disorienting, but certainly not the end of the world.

At the end of the exam, I reported my scores and reconnected with my proctor so I could show them that I had erased my notes. And that was that!

The Takeaway

The TOEFL Home Edition is a tremendous help to test-takes all around the world during this pandemic. It’s my hope that this may even last beyond the current crisis as a convenient alternative to in-person testing. (UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post, ETS has decided to make the TOEFL Home Edition a permanent alternative to in-person testing, even after the pandemic. So cool!)

Of course, no new system is perfect. But if you run into any trouble with the TOEFL Home Edition, don’t worry. Most glitches won’t create any serious problems. And for the few problems that are serious, contact ETS and ask for a test-taker advocate; they’re a great help if you need them!

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54 Responses to I Took the TOEFL Home Edition: Here’s How it Went

  1. lea.azaelia April 25, 2020 at 9:00 am #

    I have a question concerning the notes since unfortunately ETS or ProcturU do not reply to me: when and how often am I allowed to erase the notes in order to take new ones in the next upcoming section? Thanks!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 1:02 pm #

      Hi Lea, I don’t believe there is a limit to how often you can erase your notes.

      • Nabdak January 31, 2021 at 12:19 pm #

        I applied for the home edition test which was scheduled for tonight.. but I couldn’t solve the connection problem, so proctorU assistant said that I should reschedule the test.. the ETS customer service hadn’t replied yet and the auto-reply said they may answer within 5 days.. I am really frustrated

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 16, 2021 at 7:21 am #

          Hi Nabdak, I’m really sorry to hear this! I hope that your issue was solved quickly.

  2. Tahir May 4, 2020 at 8:45 pm #

    David, how about the result report? Is it mentioned on the report that you took TOEFL home edition? Or it is just like a regular test report?

  3. Usamah Derwaish May 13, 2020 at 12:05 am #

    Sir I have done TOEFL preparation from Magoosh and have taken TOEFL Home Edition Test yesterday. This test involved lot of technical glitches and test exaggerated for 6 hours. This happened three times and at once I had to wait for almost an hour, at that time I believe to have lost connection with proctor as my camera light was not on. But at the end I was able to complete exam. Due to these problems I was very disappointed, exhausted, and eventually lost my concentration. I want to retake the exam for that I have reported this to ets but I want to know how I can I get test taker advocate.

  4. Shardul Samdurkar July 7, 2020 at 6:53 am #

    What can we use to erase the notes after every question? Is a cloth or duster allowed?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:48 pm #

      An eraser or cloth is allowed to erase the markings on the whiteboard.

  5. Dhruti July 19, 2020 at 5:13 am #

    Hello!
    I am also taking the TOEFL Home edition test next week. Could you please confirm if they allowed you to take notes during the speaking section while listening to the audio?
    Also, how did you match up with a real time proctor? Does everyone get one?

    Thank you!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 24, 2020 at 10:24 am #

      Hi Dhruti, I recommend directing all logistical questions directly to ETS so that you get the most current information.

      • Gurleen kaur August 13, 2020 at 7:32 pm #

        Is TOEFL iBT home edition accepted by IRCC for study?

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 28, 2020 at 1:45 pm #

          Hi Gurleen, I recommend that you contact them directly to determine their admissions requirements.

  6. Eh K'Nyaw July 28, 2020 at 8:53 am #

    Hi, in the test itself did you use mobile phone hotspot or WiFi? I live in the rural Myanmar and don’t have access to wifi, but I get strong 4G signal.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:47 pm #

      I believe that David used WiFi, but I know some students who have used their mobile hotspot. Just make sure to test your equipment to make sure it works before your exam day! The ETS website has resources to help you test your equipment.

  7. Meena Priyadharshini August 6, 2020 at 9:05 pm #

    I am taking the exam from home in two days. Had the audio check done this morning. The audio quality seems to be really bad and patchy. The system audio is otherwise fine. Many people are complaining about the same. Can you please let me know if you faced bad audio during the system check or guide me on what has to be done in this case?

  8. Anupam August 13, 2020 at 4:13 am #

    Hi,

    I took my Toefl ibt on Monday the 10th August. But my status is still ( August 13) showing
    ” to be scheduled”.
    Was there some problem with my test?
    What do I do?
    Anupam

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 28, 2020 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Anupam, I recommend that you contact ETS directly for any question related to your account.

    • Aron August 31, 2020 at 1:02 am #

      I also face the same problem as you Anupam. I gave the TOEFL Test in 24th. Have you received your scores?

  9. Shashank August 24, 2020 at 2:52 am #

    I was giving my TOEFL home edition and I couldn’t give my speaking and writing section due to some technical issues but writing and listening went smoothly. I want to know whom should I contact. I am feeling a little nervous.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 28, 2020 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Shashank, please contact ETS directly to report the issue. Here’s the website: https://www.ets.org/toefl/contact

    • Vijayalakshmi Chidambaram September 23, 2020 at 7:36 pm #

      Even u faced the same issue , Haow were you able to solve it? Rescheduled one more exam or got the refund for the incomplete one?

    • prashant November 26, 2020 at 3:33 am #

      Same happened with me. After the break, I was terminated due to some “security breaches”. Not entirely sure what it is. Contacted ProctorU and TOEFL, but they asked to wait for 7 days to get an explanation. I am planning to retake the test. What happened with you? Did you retake the test, and were you re-funded?

    • prashant November 26, 2020 at 3:38 am #

      Same thing happened with me. After the break, I got terminated due to some “security breaches”. When asked ETS, I am being asked to wait for 7 days to get an explanation. Did you retake the test? And did you get a refund for orginal one?

  10. Bindiya Trambadiya August 31, 2020 at 1:49 am #

    I just want to ask that to take toefl home edition i need to have wifi or should I use dongle or my mobile hotspot?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:22 am #

      Hi Bindiya,

      Make sure to run the ProctorU systems check well before test day. Your dongle or hotspot might work. If you have trouble, contact ETS directly.

  11. Sumit September 8, 2020 at 9:42 am #

    Hello i want to just clear that will USA immigration Accept TOEFL special home edition. Because in my city some Consultant are said that this exam will not except for immigration only choose for university. Plz help me .

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:14 am #

      Hi Sumit, please contact the immigration and visa office directly for the most up to date information on visa requirements.

  12. Sushmita Goswami October 13, 2020 at 9:31 am #

    I am about to take the TOEFL home based edition next month. I just want to know the following things.

    1. What would be the consequences if anyhow I got disconnected due to internet issue? Will I be able to continue from where I left?

    2. Am I allowed to use any external microphone something like this?

    https://www.amazon.in/Digital-Cancellation-Condenser-Interviews-Lectures/dp/B08K9GJPK2/ref=sr_1_20?dchild=1&qid=1602604511&refinements=p_n_condition-type%3A8609960031&s=electronics&sr=1-20

    3. Will I able to use any bluetooth speaker to hear?

    Can anyone please help me?

    Thanks

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 28, 2020 at 2:52 pm #

      Hi Sushmita, please direct all technical questions about the at-home test directly to ETS. They can give you the best and most accurate information.

  13. Sunandan Malviya October 28, 2020 at 3:33 am #

    Hi David,
    I had the exact same problem where the proctor could hear me but the green bars were not appearing. The proctor instead of proceeding forward like in your case asked me to contact ETS for retaking and to get a new microphone or borrow another PC.
    Since the Proctor could hear me I do not think I need another PC. Is that correct and that next time I should just ask the proctor to proceed even if there are no green bars ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 28, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi Sunandan,I hesitate to advise you to try to move forward and go against the advice of the proctor. They likely would not let you proceed. I think the best thing for you to do would be to follow the proctor’s recommendation.

  14. Annie October 29, 2020 at 3:35 am #

    Hey

    Thanks for the information! I had a doubt regarding the writing section of the Home Edition TOEFL exam. Do we type our answers or write it on paper?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 30, 2020 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Annie, the TOEFL Home edition is a computer-based test, so all of your answers will be typed into the computer. You can see a full list of policies and procedures here 🙂

  15. Aman Khalfay October 31, 2020 at 8:07 am #

    Am I allowed to read loudly during the reading section?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:09 am #

      Hi Aman,

      If you’re taking the TOEFL in a test center, you’ll probably be in a room with others and reading aloud would be disturbing. Contact your test center directly to ask about their policy.

      If you’re taking the TOELF at home, you should contact ETS directly to ask about their policy for reading aloud. They may have a policy against it to discourage cheating.

  16. Arpita November 9, 2020 at 7:57 am #

    after how many days of giving the test will we get the score card which we can upload on the application for the university which we are applying for

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:03 am #

      Hi Arpita, you will receive your official score 6-10 days after taking the test. Make sure to check your school’s requirements for uploading and sending results.

  17. Cath_Honnay November 11, 2020 at 3:16 am #

    Can we use the camera directly on our laptot or do we need a extra webcam in order to passe the test ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:02 am #

      The webcam on your laptop should be fine, but you can contact TOEFL directly if you are unsure!

  18. Tanvi November 13, 2020 at 12:49 am #

    Is TOEFL iBT home edition accepted by IRCC for study

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 13, 2020 at 8:01 am #

      Hi Tanvi, you’ll have to confirm directly with IRCC for the best and most accurate information.

      • Tanvi November 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm #

        Have you any email id or phone number to contact it. Because i have try none of the received call

      • Tanvi November 14, 2020 at 10:43 pm #

        Can you please give me email id or contact for ircc.

  19. amir November 26, 2020 at 3:42 am #

    I gave the Home Edition today. After the break, I got terminated due to some “security breaches”. When asked ETS, I am being asked to wait for 7 days to get an explanation. For people with similar experience, Did you retake the test? And did you get a refund for orginal one? I have to retake the test soon to meet the deadlines.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm #

      I hope that your issues were resolved! There may be other students with similar experiences who can share them here.

  20. Mateo Miranda Jarmillo January 13, 2021 at 6:59 am #

    Hi David, I have a question, reading the exam rules in the proctor webpage, it says that there´s not 10 minute break but in the toefl webpage the 10 minute break is allowed, Did you have the 10 minute break during your exam?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:35 pm #

      Hi Mateo, this is what I see in the TOEFL Online site:
      There is a 10-minute break after the Listening section when you may leave your seat. If you don’t return on time, your test will be canceled and your fee won’t be refunded. Unscheduled breaks aren’t allowed.

      You will have a 10 minute break 🙂

  21. Faith Alcantara January 26, 2021 at 3:26 am #

    I will be taking the TOEFL exam this coming February 3. I have a couple of questions. What will happen if i get disconnected during the exam for more than 10 minutes? Will they reset the timer or will I continue working on the remaining time left? Thank you.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 16, 2021 at 7:25 am #

      Hi Faith, please contact ETS or ProctorU directly for questions about technical issues during the test. They can provide you with the most updated and accurate information.

  22. Lipsa February 3, 2021 at 3:52 am #

    Hello Mr Recine, I read your experience with the TOEFL Home Edition. I would like to know about your experience with the speaking and writing section. Especially the writing section, like how much time they give you and dring the speaking test it is one on one or we are supposed to speak to the computer?

    -Lipsa

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 16, 2021 at 7:20 am #

      Hi Lipsa, the general format of the TOEFL hasn’t changed. Even in the testing center, you are taking the test on a computer. For the speaking test, you are given a series of prompts and record your answer. For the writing section, you have an hour to write both essays. You can read more about the format of the test in our complete guide to the TOEFL.

  23. Ashish February 6, 2021 at 11:44 am #

    In how many days i can expect the home based toefl xam result?


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