log one ; my toefl experience

The TOEFL. Test Of English as a Foreign Language. This is probably, to this date, one of the most important exam I have ever taken. If you read my first article you probably know why I prepare and took this test. This is basically the one thing that could determine whether or not I am able to study abroad next year. This is a English Proficiency Test, scored on a scale from 0 to 120. You need at least 80 in my University to be consider for studying abroad.

What? Why? How?

As explained very scarcely before the TOEFL is the key to be accepted as an exchange student in the US. The test is separated in four parts, each scored out of 30 — obviously 4 times 30 equals 120. Reading: Read academic-level texts, Answer questions about it. Listening: Listen to conversation and lecture. Answer questions about it. Speaking: Just talk to that computer in a room full of stranger. Answer two random questions and then summarise some listening passage. Writing: Just write two essays.

I am currently in the train and don’t want to spend my ride talking about the specific of it, so if you want more information about this test just click here, it will direct you to the official website of the toefl. One more important piece of information: it costs 245$, which was 220€ for me at the time of the transaction. That’s one hell of a lot, especially when people keep telling you that if you score really bad you should just retake it. I really don’t have the means to take it again.

Before the Test & Test Day

A month before my test day, I registered. I spend more time on the internet reading about other people experience than really studying for the test. A week before my test date, my university had a meeting about the toefl. That day I learned that every single test date had been canceled in my town until further notice. Due to what? That’s still a mystery to this day. I had to rescheduled in another town, same date thankfully – and for free – but 100km away (which is probably a little more than 60 miles for you Americans). I had to take the train, for 30€, hope it arrives on time, ride the bus for 20 minutes and then find the room of my most important exam to date in an University I never been too in really little time. Believe me, when I realize that when I woke up at 5:30am on my test day I freaked out.

Anyway, the closer the date was, the more anxious I was. I finally decided to take a TOEFL Practice Exam. It’s basically a copy of the real test but all scored by a computer instead of a human. I scored high, like way higher than I thought I would. 106 out 120. 26 points over what I need. I know that the more I scored, the more chances I have to be selected by my university to go abroad but I never expected that kind of score – well I don’t expect it for the real test either. But still it calmed my anxiousness and I thought that nothing would be able to go wrong. But as I read on the internet: A TOEFL exam where nothing goes wrong doesn’t exist.

Test Day

With all our transportation shenanigans me and a friend who was also taking the toefl actually arrive mostly on time. On our convocation the reporting time was 8:15, we arrive at 8:15 in front of the building. After some really unhelpful advice from the secretary we sprinted to the third floor – or is it fourth if you count the ground floor as the first one – and weren’t even the last to arrive. We had a whole confidentially thing to copy and sign, So technically I am forbidden to talk about anything that happened during the test, to any person or entity, something like that. So I won’t talk about the questions & subjects but to be honest I kinda don’t remember, it was instant memory lapse; I exited the room and forgot everything that just happened.

There is still one thing worth mentioning. Fire Alarm. The University had a planned fire alarm right in the middle of the test. We had several solutions; stop the test and get out, start the test later, or just ignore it and continue. We chose the latter, we act like we weren’t there, closed the door and keep on going. Right in my Listening part. During 10 minutes we had the siren blaring. I had to put the sound to the max and I still had some trouble hearing the voices. So obviously the guy in charge told us he wrote a report so that the scoring center know what happened but my confidence seriously took a toll. I know I did shit right after during the speaking section and I was just not in it during the Writing one, I just wanted it to be over.

Now We Wait

The results are supposed to be up 10 days after the test. I still have 8 more days to wait. In the mean time I have a Webinar about International Mobility in our University so that should take my mind of it for a few hours. But I still cannot stop refreshing the page.

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