At-Home TOEFL: Part 3 – Getting Set Up for Your “At-Home” Test

Jaime Miller Uncategorised 0 Comments

This blog post continues from a larger series:

In this post, I’m clarifying the particular environment that you must have.

As of Sunday, March 22 at 4:45 PM California time, this post is not finished. I sent an email to ETS with some questions that need answers. You should expect to see updated information in the next few days as we get more information.

I will use the word “proctor” again and again in this article. You may want to look in up in the dictionary, or read my definition below:

“a proctor” = noun, the person who gives you the test

The proctor will give you the at-home TOEFL test. You will communicate with the proctor, and you must comply with certain security policies.

Note-Taking Equipment

Your options are either:

a) a whiteboard and fine-tip “dry erase” markers and an eraser
b) a single “sheet protector” and fine-tip “wet erase” markers and a wet paper towel and a dry towel (which you don’t mind getting stained)

In order to quickly and easily take notes, I recommend that you use wet-erase markers. Many markers have quite fat tips which makes it hard for you to read your notes.

Wet-erase markers are also sometimes called “overhead” markers or “AV” (short for Audio Visual) markers. You do not want permanent pens. For hopefully obvious reasons, you need pens that erase when you wipe them with water.

The company, Staedtler, produces a line of wet-erase, non-permanent (water soluble) markers called “Lumocolor.” They are like your regular pens and they come in 3 line widths:

  • super fine:  0.4 mm
  • fine: 0.6 mm
  • medium:  1.0 mm.

Read the package carefully to know what size you’re getting. Click here to buy a pack of .6 mm pens here.

If you cannot find them at the link above, just copy-paste these search terms into Google. You can find them from another online store:

staedtler lumocolor wet erase .6 mm


staedtler lumocolor wet erase 1 mm

Your Computer

When you take a real TOEFL iBT test, you use an actual computer. For the same reasons, you must use either a laptop or a desktop for your at-home test.

Also, your computer must run on the Windows Operating System.

Communication Equipment

Ladies, you are allowed to wear a head covering for religious purposes. However, both of your ears must be completely visible for the entire at-home TOEFL test.

Everyone is prohibited from using “a headset” or “earphones” for the at-home test. In other words, none of these are ok:

In order to hear the proctor and listen to the test, you either need to buy or borrow one of the following. Any of these is ok:

In order to speak to the proctor and record your responses on the Speaking section, you either need to buy or borrow one of the following. Any of these is ok:

Your computer must have a functioning camera. Why? The first reason is because the proctor will check that you are the person on your passport or identity card. The second reason is because you will spin the camera around and show the proctor the room that you are in. If you cannot show a 360 view of your room, you should expect a problem and a delay with your test.

Plugging It All Into Your Computer

These days, most laptops have just 2 or maybe (if you’re lucky) 3 ports for external USB devices.

If you need extra ports in order to plug in all of your devices, you can get one of these very cheap. The device is called a “USB hub” and you can find them with 4 or 5 ports, for usually under $20.

Click for the next Part