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5 Unexpected Surprises that can happen on TOEFL Test Day

Many students have reported their experiences with taking the TOEFL test. Sometimes, the test goes exactly as planned. However, there are rare instances when something surprises them. 

Here are 5 Unexpected Surprises that can happen on the Day of Your TOEFL Test

1. The TOEFL Test Center may be really Strict! (or not!)

All test centers should be uniform, but in reality, they are not. One test center may ask you to remove everything from your pockets, take off your jacket and show them your prescription eye glasses so they can check for any device that would allow for cheating on the test. They will forbid you from bringing anything into the test center and you will lock up your valuables in an assigned locker before entering. The environment in the test center might be very quiet. Other test centers might be noisy. Other test centers may allow certain items in. Whether you have a strict test center or not, be prepared for either. It is helpful if you know someone who has taken the test at a specific site before. You can ask them about their experience at that location.

2. A Test Taker Is Shouting into a Microphone Right Next to You!

Many students are surprised when they discover the room will not be completely silent during the test. Depending on the test center, students may be scheduled to begin the test at different times. So, it is possible for one student to be working on the Listening Section while a student nearby will be on the Speaking Section. It’s important to focus on your own task. Do not be distracted by noises around you. Practice taking sections of the test in environments that aren’t completely quiet to prepare for this possible situation.

3. You Get Four Reading Passages!

Yes, this happens a lot. The TOEFL test makers need to test out new questions for future tests. If you get a fourth reading passage, that means you are testing out new questions for the test makers. Lucky you! You become a kind of mouse in the TOEFL experiment. The creators of the test will assess whether the questions are fair based on a statistical analysis of the results from many students who also had this kind of passage. This passage will not count towards your score. You won’t know which passage will not count, so you must try your best on all four. You will still be given 20 minutes to read and answer the questions for each passage for a total of 120 minutes to complete 4 Reading Passages. If you only get 3 Reading Passages, you will have some extra listening to test out!

4. You See A Question Type that You’ve Never Seen Before!

Don’t panic! Breathe! You’ve prepared for the TOEFL and you know all the Question Types, but you may get one question that you haven’t practiced much or at all. It’s only natural that the TOEFL test makers want to stay ahead of you. TOEFL Test Preparation books may not be completely current up to the test you take on that day. For example, you may get a question that asks you to identify the relationship between two paragraphs in the reading passage. You may not have practiced this particular question extensively, but you have practiced understanding the purpose of the author or the purpose of the passage. This is the same skill. The TOEFL will not change radically from the test prep materials available. .

5. Your Computer Doesn’t Work!

You’re working hard on the Reading Section and suddenly your computer freezes. The Listening Section has begun but there’s a problem with the headphones and you can’t hear anything. Oh no! What do you do? Don’t panic. When the computer malfunctions, it is up to the test center staff to correct the problem. Raise your hand until the test proctor comes over to you. Explain the problem. It might be corrected within just a few moments. It might take longer. Stay relaxed. Know that the time on the test will not begin again until the problem is solved. If, for whatever reason, nothing can be done to solve the problem then your test will be rescheduled for another day for free. Do not stress over this. If this happens, use it as an opportunity to breathe deeply. Think of it as an additional, unexpected break. This is your chance to practice your meditation skills right in the middle of the test.

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