It is TOEFL test day: what you need to know.

You have been preparing for the TOEFL exam for several months by completing independent and integrated speaking and writing practice tests followed by feedback from qualified writing and speaking specialists. You have completed many skill-building exercises to improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and speaking competencies. You even completed a five hour full-length TOEFL iBT practice test from ScoreNexus. Perhaps, you enrolled in an Online TOEFL Course as part of your preparation, and finally, test day arrives. So what will happen right before, during, and after your TOEFL exam?

Right before the TOEFL exam

You should plan to arrive to your designated test center at least 30 minutes early. If you arrive late, you may not be able to take the test, so remember the old saying in American Culture: “The early bird catches the worm.” Moreover, there are security precautions of which you should be aware. ETS may use electronic scanning devices to protect the security of the content of the TOEFL exam being administered. If you do not allow ETS to scan you, you will not be allowed to take the test, and your test registration fee will not be refunded. ETS will also take a picture of you and will place the photo at your assigned seat. This same photo will also be the one which appears on your test score report.

You will also be required to sign a confidentiality agreement in which you promise not to share the contents of the TOEFL exam. If you have eye glasses, ETS may ask you to remove them for inspection. This usually takes a few seconds when checking in and after returning from breaks. Since different test centers have varying ways of heating and cooling the rooms and since test-takers have varying preferences for what is the optimal temperature during testing, ETS recommends that you dress in multi-layered clothing so you can remove clothing when it gets too warm or you can put more clothing on when it gets too cool. In many cases, ETS has storage containers that you can use when you remove extra clothing in the event your test center is too warm. If there is no storage container available, you can hang the clothing on the back of your chair. Or, in some cases, ETS may provide you with a plastic bag, inside of which you can place any unwanted clothing. The plastic bag should be placed under your chair. If you do have the option to place clothing or other items in a storage container and if the storage container is placed in an area outside of the testing area, you will need to sign in again and show your ID after leaving and then re-entering the testing area. This will be counted as an unscheduled break, which means the test clock will not stop during this time. The test clock only stops for the scheduled breaks that ETS allows during the test.

Any items that you may have during the test which are used transmit the contents are the test will be inspected and maybe even seized by forced. You will not be permitted to access any of these personal items during the scheduled breaks. Your clothing and other personal items that you may bring will be subject to inspection by the supervisor. If fact, ETS advises that you do not bring the following to the testing center: neckties, bow ties, hats, scarves, jackets and other outerwear, tie clips, cuff links, combs, barrettes, headbands, and jewelry (other than wedding rings).

There are other security precautions that ETS will take, and, if you fail to comply with any of these requests, you will not be allowed to take the test. For example, you must sit in the assigned seat the supervisor gives you, and you cannot make any schedule changes at the test center. You may be videotaped as you take the exam for security reasons, and your ID verification may include thumb scanning, signature comparisons, voice biometrics, and possibly even other ways of identifying you. ETS wants to make 100% certain that you are who you say you are. Remember that if you are dismissed from the test for failing to comply with any of these security measures, you will not receive a test fee refund.

During the TOEFL exam

If you have a question or concern during the exam, lift up your hand and the test supervisor will come and answer whatever question you have. Remember that ETS does not allow watches, phones, or other electronic devices to be used during the test.

If you have special health or diet needs, which may require you to bring beverages or snacks to the test center, you must make a written request for these considerations before you register to take the TOEFL exam. During the test or during breaks, you will not be allowed to leave the testing room or the building without permission.

Since you will be typing a response to the independent and integrated writing tasks and since you will need to have a general familiarity with keyboards and computers, ETS will have a standard QWERTY English-language keyboard. Therefore, to better understand the overall layout of the keyboard and its accompanying keys, you should consider practicing on this type of keyboard for a few weeks before you take the TOEFL exam. ETS will provide you with a template to help you if you have trouble locating some of the keys which may be in a different location from what you are used to.

Scratch paper will be provided to you, and it is recommended that you use this paper to jot down notes as you complete the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections of the exam. Before asking for more scratch paper, you must use up all the paper that you have already been given. At the end of the test, you will be required to turn in all the scratch paper that you used.

After the test

After about 10 days of having completing your TOEFL exam, you will be able to access and view your scores online. After going to and logging on to your TOEFL iBT account, select the “View Scores” on your dashboard. In addition, in about 13 days after your TOEFL exam, you can also download and print a PDF version of your score report from your TOEFL iBT account. If you requested a paper copy of your score report, it will be mailed to you approximately 13 days after having taken the test. Similarly, in about two weeks, your score will also be mailed to any institutions or agencies that you chose.

If you are not satisfied with your test score, you may re-take the test but no more than once within a 12 day period. If you have made another appointment to re-take the TOEFL exam, you cannot register for another test if it is within the 12 day window of your original appointment. Even if ETS does not identify your violation immediately, the agency will enforce this rule by canceling your scores and not offering a refund of your test fee.