I appeared for the TOEFL test on 20th Feb, 2022 at my home. Giving some background, I am an average English speaking Indian and my mother tongue is Hindi. I have completed my education in English and currently a working professional in Software Industry. I scored 91/120 (Listening : 25/30, Writing : 24/30, Speaking : 23/30, Reading : 19/30 ) in TOEFL and following will be a short description of each step starting from registration for the test to receiving scores along with the mistakes I did and some suggestions to help you excel in the test.
I registered for the test on 15th January by making an account on the ETS website and selected the Home Edition test and timeslot as morning at 10:10 AM on 20th Feb. And then I checked out by paying through my debit card. I received an email confirming the registration.
I prepared with below 2 Udemy courses and some Youtube channels. I practiced with each exercise. I tried to go through the content as much as possible.
The Complete TOEFL iBT Success Course (NEW VERSION) : This is a short course. I recommend first completing this one and then proceeding with the next course.
TOEFL iBT (26+) Complete Preparation Course! : This is comprehensive and detailed course for preparation. The content of the course is top notch and will prepare you for the exact test scenario and pressure.
- IELTS and TOEFL with Juva and her playlists on TOEFL.
- TST Prep TOEFL for mock questions.
- PrepScholar TOEFL for mock questions.
For Essay Writing topics, you can download this PDF which contains all the topics which can be asked in the writing section. My essay question is present in this PDF.
For Speaking practice, you can use Google Docs voice typing to convert speech to text and see your speech getting displayed on the document.
The TOEFL speaking is evaluated by a software which resembles Google Docs speech to text converter and there is a human evaluation as well. Here is a list of questions to practice on your own: TOEFL speaking topics to Practice.
3. Exam Setup and Pre-requisites
Strictly read the points given on this link at least one day before the exam to setup the test environment- Equipment and Environment Requirements for At Home Testing. The link contains all the required info about Computer, ETS Browser download and equipment check, Speaker, Microphone, Camera, Tabletop and seating, Clothing and appearance, Note-taking materials.
I opened above link one day before the exam and I checked my system compatibility with ProctorU, then downloaded ETS browser for Windows, then I removed all books and electronic items from my room and kept the Ids and Passport on the table. Also, for note-taking you can have one white board or white sheet with erasable markers, please keep one white board eraser (cloth or marker eraser). I bought these ones from Amazon and used one board with two markers in the test without any problems.
4. Exam Time
On the day of exam, I dressed up all corporate formal and logged into my ETS account to enter the test before 10:10 AM but the link only opened 5 minutes before the time of test. Side note — the link will not work after 20 minutes of the scheduled time. After logging in, there were automated system checks and a representative joined after some time. She asked me to take tour of the room of all four corners and walls (I picked up the laptop and showed her). Then she asked me to show my ears and shirt sleeves.
She then allowed me to proceed for the exam, a link appeared and I clicked on it to enter the exam. After two sections there was a break of 10 mins and she allowed me to use restroom. :D
I received results after 1 week of giving the test. There was an email sent to me from ETS. I logged into my ETS account and checked the scores.
Mistakes I did :
- I started late after registering the test, most of my preparation took place one week before the exam. I did not completed both the courses 100%.
- I practiced very less for the reading section. This section requires you to have timed practice and attentiveness. In the actual exam, I found the reading passages to be difficult because of lack of vocabulary and being unable to handle the pressure of the clock, I hurriedly tried to skim through passages to get the right info. I wasted my time in the first passage and as a result other passages got affected.
- For listening section, either I knew the answer or I did not, for the ones I did not know the timer started blinking after more than 35 seconds spent on the question, which made me nervous and I clicked on any random choice.
- For speaking and section, I could have done better by having more clear words along with practice and I did not get these evaluated by someone.
- Improve vocabulary, it will help you throughout the test.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! I can’t stress this enough. Practice reading, listening (movies), note-taking, speaking daily as much as possible .
- Get your writing and speaking reviewed by someone who is better than you. Preferably native English speaker.
- Give plenty of mock tests, simulating actual test conditions.
- Don’t be self critical if you can’t apply a strategy as described by the instructor. Develop your own strategy to solve questions, you will only figure this out through practice, listen to expert’s strategies as well and try to implement them.
I was scared of this test, treating it like a mountain. But I had to just start and go for it. I know my score is not excellent but it made me learn so many things which I would not if I did not give this test. To all test takers — You can do it! Practice as much as you can and all the best! Nothing is impossible.