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What to Expect

Because so many individuals and institutions rely on TOEFL® test scores, there are rules that need to be followed at the test center to ensure the test is administered in a fair, secure manner.

Watch our TOEFL iBT® Testing Site video for a preview of what you can expect on test day when you:

  • Arrive at the test center
  • Check in
  • Take the test
  • Submit or cancel your scores
  • Sign out

Watch now

Knowing what to expect can put you more at ease on test day. Here is what typically happens:

Before the Test

  • Plan to arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before your specified start time. If you are late, you may not be able to take the test.
  • ETS reserves the right to verify your identity at registration and/or at check-in at the test center, which may include:
    • Biometric voice and photo identification
    • Fingerprinting/thumbprinting
    • Video recording
    • Signature comparison
  • Before the test, you will receive instructions from test center staff regarding where to store personal items. You may be asked to empty your pockets, pull up your sleeves and raise your slacks/pant legs above your ankles for visual inspection. You will not have access to your personal items during the testing session except for food, beverages and medication, which may be accessed during breaks.
  • To ensure unauthorized aids are not brought into the testing room, additional visual inspection of clothing, footwear and ID documents may be conducted. You may be required to remove your eyeglasses for close visual inspection. These inspections will be done at check-in and upon your return from breaks. Unless an inspection is required for use or possession of an unauthorized aid during the testing session, removal of footwear is prohibited in the testing room.
  • ETS also reserves the right to ensure the security of test content using electronic detection scanning devices (for example, hand-held metal detectors/wands). Failure to comply will result in dismissal from the test center, and your test fee will not be refunded.
  • Your photo will be taken and placed at your assigned seat. It will also appear on your score reports.
  • You will be asked to sign a required confidentiality agreement.
  • You may be required to remove your eyeglasses for close visual inspection. The inspection takes a few seconds and will be done at check-in and when you return from breaks.
  • Dress in layers so that you will be comfortable in varying room temperatures. If you need to remove an item of clothing during the test (for example, a sweater), you will be instructed to place it in the storage area provided by the test center at check-in. If no storage area is available, the item may be hung on the back of your chair. If you leave the testing room to go to the storage area, this will be considered an unscheduled break — you will be asked to sign in and out of the testing room and show your ID. Note: The test clock will not stop during this time.
  • ID documents are the only personal items you are allowed to have in the testing room. Phones, watches or any other electronic, recording, listening, scanning or photographic devices are not permitted during the test or during breaks. In some test centers where there is no secure storage space available for your personal belongings, you may receive a plastic bag in which to store them. The plastic bag will be placed under your chair.
  • If you are seen using or accessing any electronic device and/or transmitting test content — including but not limited to text messaging, email and photographs — your device will be inspected and may be confiscated. You may not access personal items during breaks, other than food, non-alcoholic beverages or medications.
  • Clothing and other personal items are subject to inspection by the test center supervisor. You may also be prohibited from wearing certain clothing or hair accessories in the testing room. Items that may be inspected and/or prohibited include, but are not limited to:
    • neckties
    • bow ties
    • hats
    • scarves
    • jackets and other outerwear
    • tie clips
    • cuff links
    • combs
    • barrettes
    • headbands
    • jewelry (other than wedding rings)
  • Test centers and ETS assume no responsibility for personal items you choose to bring to the test center.
  • Your seat will be assigned by the test administrator.
  • No schedule changes can be made at the test center.
  • Testing premises may be video recorded for security reasons.
  • If you refuse or fail to follow any instructions of test center staff, you will not be permitted to test and your test fee will not be refunded. Any violation of these or other procedures during the test or during breaks may result in dismissal from the test center and/or cancellation of your test scores.

During the Test

  • If you need help for any reason, raise your hand.
  • Phones, watches or any other electronic devices are not permitted during the test or during breaks.
  • If you have health-related needs requiring you to bring equipment, beverages or snacks into the testing room or to take extra or extended breaks, these accommodations must be requested before you register for the test. Procedures for requesting accommodations are described in the Bulletin Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-related Needs.
  • Test takers cannot leave the testing room or the test center building without permission during the test or during breaks.
  • A standard QWERTY English-language keyboard is used for the test. It is a good idea to practice on this type of keyboard prior to the test so that you are familiar with the layout and function keys. In some countries, the common keyboard used is configured to QWERTY and a template is provided to each test taker to help with locating the few keys that are in a different location.
  • Scratch paper is provided and must all be returned at the end of the test. You must use up all your scratch paper and return it to test center staff before you can ask for more. Do not tear or remove part of any of the pieces of scratch paper.

After the Test

  • Your scores will be posted online approximately 6 days after the test date.
  • You can view your scores through your ETS account, either online or via the TOEFL® official app.
    • Online: Log in to your account and select "View Scores" on your home page.
    • Via the TOEFL® official app: Select the "Scores" tab at the bottom of your Home page. Tap the menu next to the appropriate test date and select "Score Details."
  • You can also download and print a PDF version of your score report from your account within 8 days after your test.
  • Scores are also mailed to you (if you requested a paper copy) and sent to the institutions or agencies you selected, approximately 11 days after the test date.
  • You can take the test again to improve your scores. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, but you cannot take it more than once within a 3-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test within 3 days of your original appointment. This policy will be enforced even if a violation is not immediately identified. If a violation is identified after scores have been reported, ETS will cancel the scores and notify any recipients of the cancellation by sending them a copy of your cancellation letter. Your test fee will not be refunded.

Reporting Suspicious Behavior – Test Fraud Hotline

Contact ETS to report behavior that may interfere with test security or cause a disturbance. All reported incidents of fraud are taken seriously and investigated closely. All information is held in the strictest confidence.

1-800-353-8570 (Toll free for test takers in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada)

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