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As a response to the global “Covid-19 Crisis” of Spring 2020 — ETS, has announced that they have a new “edition” of The TOEFL iBT Exam — The TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. With this new “edition” of the exam, a person who is not able to get to an official TOEFL Testing Center, is supposed to be able to take the exam from the safety & comfort of their own home — as long as they meet certain requirements.
- You Must Pass An Equipment & “Environment” Check
- You Must Have A Room In-Which You Will Not Be Disturbed For The Entirety Of The Exam
- You Must Live In A Country That Hosts The TOEFL iBT Exam (Other Than China & Iran)
We will start the “Environment Check” because — after only a brief examination, this seems like the worst part of the entire situation. The idea of being able to take the TOEFL Exam at home is brilliant! But what they require of you (or more appropriately, how they restrict you) is draconian, fascistic, and frankly quite stupid on many levels.
One of the stupidest (and likely most dangerous for the test-taker) is that there seems to be no way to actually “Check” many of the things on this list until you are actually IN the exam. Which means that if they deem your “Environment” to be “inappropriate” — then, quite-possibly, you could loose your money on the exam because they can say that you did not comply. (Many of these restrictions are probably those of ProctorU, and not ETS, but either way they suck!)
- You Must Have Privacy During The Test & You Must Be Alone — (no one else may enter the room while you are taking the exam)
- You Must Be AT HOME — (It will not be permitted for you to be in a public space while you are taking the exam)
- Your laptop or computer & Keyboard Must Be On The Table Or Desktop Surface — (which means that the keyboard must somehow be visible on-camera during the exam)
- Your Table or Desktop Must Be Completely Cleared Of Any “Non-Approved” Items — (no mention of what these are besides)
- You Must Sit In A “Standard” Chair — Not An “Over-stuffed” Chair — (these are the terms used on the ETS Website)
- Food And Drinks Are Not Allowed During The Exam — (a bit fascistic, especially considering that water-bottles are allowed at a traditional testing-center, but that’s what they say)
- (apparently) Your Ears Must Remain Visible During The Entire Test — Not Covered By Hair, A Hat, or Other Items — So by definition, this means that headphones are (ridiculously) not allowed.
- (apparently) You Must Be Dressed “Appropriately” For The Exam — However (once again) this is quite fascistic as what is considered “Appropriate” is not defined. Therefore, this “Rule” does not seem enforceable — (But since they can very easily decide to keep your money for whatever reason, I guess you should dress like you would if you were going to an actual Testing Center)
- (as stated on the web-site) “…Avoid wearing such items as jewelry, tie clips, cuff links, ornate clips, combs, barrettes, headbands and other hair accessories…” — No reasons for why they say this is given — (apparently they are against personal expression)
- (apparently) You May NOT Take Notes On Paper!!! — This is apparently for “Security” Purposes, but since this is a HUGE step “backwards”, and it is FAR MORE restrictive than taking the exam at an official testing center, I would consider this restriction to be a “Deal-Breaker”
- You May Only Take Notes Using:
- A White-Board — which almost no one has “At Home”; if at all
- Some Paper In A Plastic Sleeve, Writing With Erasable Marker — which is complete NOT feasible, and will be virtually useless to you on the exam
Well… I’m glad I started with this one, because if I didn’t have to take the exam in the next month or two I would DEFINITELY wait until the official Testing Centers opened back up again. First of all, the fact that they want to tell you what kind of chair you can sit in and how clean your desk must be is absolutely absurd!
There is no way to “cheat” on the TOEFL exam because there are no answers that a person might have before the actual test. And having a glass of water or some other items on your desk is not going to give anyone an un-fair advantage. It only gives them some ridiculous form of “power” over you while you are in Your Own Home!!!
And the fact that they want to tell you what you can and can not wear — even down to the jewelry is incredible fascistic, rude, and has absolutely no sense regarding their supposed security!
So right off the bat, this Home Edition seems like a step backwards, even though the idea sounds very good. But if you are fine with them treating you like a criminal, then check out “The Equipment Check” Below.
This portion of thier requirements makes a LOT more sense than “The Environment Check” — because, at least with these ones, most people can “qualify”, they are far more logical, and they don’t have any draconian “rules” of conduct which they have no right to enforce. Unfortunately for anyone who uses Linux… Well… you’re screwed.
- You Must Have A Laptop Or Desktop Computer — you will NOT be able to use a tablet or a mobile device
- You Must Use Windows Operating System — If you are a Linux or Apple User (a HUGE portion of the world) then you are not welcome to participate
- You Must Have Working Speakers — Not Headphones!!! — These can either be the internal speakers of the laptop of external speakers on the desk-top. Headphones are not allowed… for “Security” purposes
- You Must Have An Internal Or External Microphone Which Is Not Part Of A Headset — But as we all know — internal microphones are crap & can make it so that your recordings for the Speaking Section are not clear enough to be graded. (Unfortunately, you will not find this out until either the beginning of the exam [at which time it will be too late to cancel] or until after you have finished the exam, when you receive an email stating that you must take the exam again… at your own expense.)
- You Must Have A Working Camera Which Is Not Part Of The Computer — This is because you will be asked to show a 360° view of the room, so the “Proctor” can see that your “Environment” is up to his or her liking, and that you are not somehow “cheating”. (Once again, you will not know if your room is “appropriate” until the exam starts, and so if it is not up to their liking… you are screwed once again.)
- It Is Stated That The Camera Can Be “Internal” But This Does Not Make Sense, As It Also States That You Have To Be Able To Show Your Keyboard To The Proctor — And although this may be possible to do by partially closing the laptop to the camera is pointing at the keyboard, anyone who has done this knows that there are also lighting problems in this situation. The Proctor needs to be able to see you, your keyboard, and your notes (because we all know that you are a dirty cheater!)… Something which is virtually impossible with a web-cam… And there is no mention of lighting.
So these are not so “un-common” but they are a bit stupid none-the-less. And as I state above, I’m sure that most of them are because of ProctorU, and not so much with ETS. But the idea that this is only available to Windows users is pretty far behind the times.
So as you can see — my view on this new “Edition” of The TOEFL Exam are QUITE different than in the first video. For this reason, I will NOT be explaining to you the entire process of how to go about registering for this edition of the exam, because I do not want to be responsible for sending ANYONE to take The TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition.
There is simply too much about the information that is given which is NOT explained. And far too much of what IS explained are HUGE “red flags” as far as I am concerned. And this is not related to my opinions about one’s personal Freedom, but is based upon the MANY reports that I have received from test-takers over the years about the customer service that they have (NOT) received from ETS… And now with this “Edition” of the exam, they are involving yet another organization that seems FAR more restricitve and quite frankly Nazi-esque.
So I Will Simply End This Article By Saying…
If you can wait a few more weeks (or however long it takes for this so-called “Covid Crisis” to finally be taken-down, world-wide… Then wait! It WILL come to an end.
And then you can go back to taking the exam at an Official Testing Center where you will be able to speak with a REAL human being who can answer your questions about the exam, and you will ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO TAKE NOTES ON A NORMAL PIECE OF PAPER!!!
Have An Excellent Day!
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