What to Do If Your TOEFL Study Plans Have Been Disrupted Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

TOEFL study plans disrupted by COVID-19 coronavirus - Magoosh

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of our day-to-day lives. The TOEFL exam is not exempt. If you were planning on taking the TOEFL within the next couple of months, you may be concerned about what’s going to happen to your exam date and study plans.

Although we don’t have all the answers, we’ve collected the information currently available to provide you with the most up-to-date advice regarding the TOEFL and COVID-19.

In this post:


How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting the TOEFL?

Many students are experiencing cancelled or postponed TOEFL test dates. ETS is working with local testing centers and country governments to make decisions on whether to postpone testing. If your exam has been postponed, ETS will notify you via email. We recommend checking your ETS account to confirm your testing status. You can also check the ETS website for information regarding exam postponements in your location. If you have additional questions, you can also contact ETS through TOEFL customer service. During the COVID-19 crisis, that customer service page even offers a live chat option!

In addition, ETS is now allowing students around the world to take the TOEFL from their homes, without needing to go to a test center. We’ll discuss this more below, and you can also read the details on the official page for the new TOEFL Home Edition.

For up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is affecting standardized testing more broadly, check out our company blog post.

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My TOEFL exam was postponed—now what?

ETS has provided a couple options for students with postponed exams.

First, ETS is waiving rescheduling fees. This includes students with postponed exams and students who would like to reschedule their exam (whether ETS postponed their test date or not).

Students must contact ETS directly to reschedule their exam without incurring a fee.

Although there is the option to reschedule within your account, students must contact ETS directly to reschedule their exam at no additional cost. You can do this either via ETS’ live chat; by emailing [email protected]; or by calling one of the following ETS phone numbers:

Second, ETS has launched At Home Testing for the TOEFL iBT® Test. As of March 23rd, ETS is providing students the opportunity to take the TOEFL at home nearly everywhere in the world, with the exception of Iran and mainland China. Check here for more information. (Also, if you are form Iran or mainland China, note that an increasing number of universities will allow you to take the Duolingo exam as an alternative to the TOEFL during this crisis. In addition, China is beginning to reopen traditional TOEFL iBT testing sites, and is also offering the TOEFL ITP Plus as a TOEFL iBT alternative. And Iran has reopened its traditioanl TOEFL iBT Test centers.)

In addition to certain location requirements, you must also meet ETS’ computer equipment requirements for the exam. This includes essential items like a computer, speaker, microphone, and camera. Review the full list of equipment and environment requirements here.

David Recine, Magoosh’s TOEFL expert, will be taking this exam in order to share his experience with our students. Check back on our blog and Youtube channel to learn about his experience!

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

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What should I do if I’ve gotten off track with my study plan?

First, know that you’re not alone: we’ve heard from many students who are anxious at this time and have gotten a little off track with their studies This is a common problem even in “normal” times, and it’s especially understandable right now! But we must take a collective deep breath, take care of our mental health, and practice self-empathy if we’ve fallen off track with our studies. Make your well-being your top priority.

We recommend checking out our TOEFL study plans to find a plan that works with your current, perhaps adjusted, schedule. Make changes so it better fits your schedule, and allow time for more mental breaks than normal.

Regardless, don’t feel pressured to get “back on track.” Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that everyone’s lives have been disrupted in one way or another.

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What should I do if I need to cut back on my TOEFL studying?

Again, know that you’re not alone. Many students have felt this at one point or another during their test prep journey.

Try to fit in even a small amount of TOEFL prep each day. This can be reviewing a couple of lessons, doing a few practice questions, or recording yourself speaking (and listening to it the next day). Check out this blog post for more tips on how to study for the TOEFL with just 20-30 minutes a day.

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What should I do if I have MORE time to study for the TOEFL?

Many of us have been encouraged to stay indoors. For some, this could mean more time to study.

Consider revising your current study schedule using this guide. This could mean doing multiple days of your study plan or spending more time reviewing your incorrect answers.

If you’ve got larger blocks of free time in your day now, you also have a unique opportunity to take more full practice tests. Full practice tests are the absolute best way to prepare for real test-day conditions. So if you have more chances to sit down and study for three hours straight, why not use those three hours for a few more full-length tests? Take this extra time to be more prepared than ever, and use those tests to measure your progress and predict your TOEFL score.

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Where can I find free (or more affordable) TOEFL resources?

Here are a few of our favorite resources from around the web:

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What can I do if I’m having a hard time studying for the TOEFL because I’m feeling stressed or distracted?

First and foremost, be kind to yourself..

This is a difficult time. Remember that it’s OK to feel sad, anxious, disappointed or lost. And it’s understandable to have trouble focusing. Let yourself feel this way, and realize that it’s important, and even healthy, to recognize what’s happening and feel bad about it. Take time off from studying if you need to, whether that time off is a few hours, a few days, or more.

And remember, there are a lot of great resources, online and off, that can help you cope. I’ve especially benefited from the Ten Percent Happier Coronavirus Sanity Guide. And here in the United States, the CDC has an excellent page for mental health during the pandemic. Talkspace also offers some good assistance, including a free support group. And if you’re a student right now, your school probably also has resources listed on its website..

You may also be helped by this simple breathing technique. It’s designed to calm your nervous system. You can do this for 5 minutes any time. It can be especially useful when you are about to to study or work, or right before your TOEFL exam:

Breathe in for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Release for a count of 8. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

I’ve found that this simple, quick breathing exercise goes a long way.

How you can stay focused in stressful times.

Like many of us (including most folks at Magoosh right now!), you might have trouble staying focused on work and study. Remember that this is normal. Stress makes concentration and memory retention harder. But once you’ve accepted this, you can set up your work a little differently. Set more small goals and fewer big ones.

For example, you can tell yourself “Right now, I’m going to quiz myself on a dozen vocabulary words.” Or you could commit to doing one TOEFL Reading passage and question set at a time, instead of sitting down to do a whole Reading section.

Focus on goals that feel very manageable and achievable. You’ll still be making progress. You may even make as much progress as you did before. But most importantly, you’ll progress in a way that helps you regain any lost confidence.

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What options do I have to adjust my study plans if I am a Magoosh TOEFL student?

Are you a Magoosh TOEFL Premium subscriber, or thinking about signing up? we’re pausing and extending student accounts for free as needed.

Also know that the Student Help Team isn’t just here to answer questions about English, the test sections and questions, or your account. We can also help you with test anxiety and other concerns. Feel free to reach out through the purple Help button on your dashboard. Or you can send a direct email to [email protected].

We’re following the situation closely, and we’re doing our very best to give you the help, support, and answers that you need.

We know this is tough. We’re here for you.

Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!