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Registering for the TOEFL & What To Bring

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  • 0:01 TOEFL Administration
  • 0:25 Registration
  • 2:30 After Registration
  • 3:33 Test Day
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Too many students prepare academically for the TOEFL, but then get bogged down in the administration. Don't let that be you! Here's how to register so everything goes smoothly.

TOEFL Administration

So, you want to take the TOEFL. You're probably already stocking up on test prep books - and that's all well and good, but while you're thinking about the test, don't forget the registration process! Registration for the TOEFL is how you sign up for the test and reserve your testing time. It can get complicated and confusing, and the rules are very strict, so it pays to work on it in advance. Here, you'll get a walkthrough of exactly what you'll need to register and what to bring on test day.

Registration

When it comes to TOEFL registration, the most important rule is to do everything as far in advance as you possibly can. There's no such thing as too early! The easiest way to register for the TOEFL is to do it online at the ETS website. You can also register by phone or by mail - check the ETS website for instructions for your country.

You can register as early as three to four months before the test date. You'll have to register for a specific test center, and test centers fill up fast, so the earlier you register, the better. If you register late, you're less likely to get the test center you want, so sign up as soon as you know you'll want to take the test.

Regular registration closes seven days before test day, not counting the day of the test. Late online registration closes three days before test day, and you'll have to pay an extra $35. Late phone registration also costs an extra $35 and closes at 5 p.m. local time the day before the test. To register you will need:

  • A payment method. For online registration, you can use a credit or debit card, an e-check, or a PayPal account. For phone registration, you can use a card or an e-check. For registration by mail, you can use a card, a money order, or a personal check. The precise fee varies by country, so check the TOEFL website for details.
  • An ID with your full name, signature, and photograph. You'll have to provide your ID information to register. Specific ID requirements vary by country, so check the TOEFL site for which IDs are acceptable for your country.

Whether you register online, by phone, or by mail, you'll have to provide information about yourself, including your name, date of birth, and ID information. You'll choose a test center and reserve your spot there. At registration, you'll also be able to designate up to four score recipients - these are people or schools who will get your scores after the test.

After Registration

As soon as you register, you'll get a registration number. Write the number down and keep it somewhere safe. After that, you can mostly concentrate on your test prep, but just to cover all your bases, here's what to do if something comes up between registration and test day:

  • If you need to add or change score recipients, you can do it online until 10 p.m. local test center time on the day before the test. After that time, you'll have to pay an extra fee. You can also pay an extra fee to have scores sent to more than four recipients.
  • If you need to reschedule, you must leave at least three full days between your request and your test date, not including the day of the test and not including the day of your request. For example, if you're registered to test on Wednesday, you need to reschedule by Saturday. If you reschedule late, you'll lose your test fee.
  • If you need to cancel, you also have to do it at least three full days in advance. If you cancel on time, you'll get half your test fee refunded. Otherwise, you won't get a refund at all.

Test Day

If you don't need to cancel, you'll eventually arrive at test day. The 'early' theme continues here. Plan to arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before your test is scheduled to start. If you get there later than 30 minutes in advance, you won't be allowed in. If you come from a culture where 'clock time' is not very important, bear in mind that it is very important for the TOEFL, and the test administrators are extremely strict about it.

On test day, you should bring:

  • The registration number you got when you registered. If you didn't write it down when you registered, you can get it by going to your online profile.
  • The same photo ID you used to register. Your name must appear exactly the same. If it's not exactly the same, you won't be allowed to test. The ID also needs to have a photograph and your signature. TOEFL administrators are downright fanatical about IDs, so triple-check to make sure:
    • The name you registered with EXACTLY matches the name on your ID, including punctuation, spaces, and your middle name if you have one.
    • Your ID has a photograph and a signature.
    • Your ID meets the requirements for your particular country.
    • Your ID is written in English-language letters.

Also, bring as much backup ID as you have because the test center staff may ask you for secondary ID if there's any problem with your first one. There's no such thing as too much ID.

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