At the request of students over on Facebook, I’ve been contacting various schools and organizations to ask if they will accept scores from the new “At Home” edition of the TOEFL.  The results of my queries are as follows, but remember that these are totally unofficial.  You should probably confirm with the organizations themselves, as things could change.

Will not accept the scores:

-National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

-Washington Physical Therapy Board

-Florida Board of Nursing

-North Carolina Board of Nursing

Will accept the scores:

-Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT)

-USC Gould Law School

-Dalhousie University

-Penn Dental Medicine

-VCU School of Dentistry (Virginia Commonwealth University)

-NYU College of Dentistry 

-Arcadia University

-University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

-Tufts School of Dental Medicine

-UIC School of Dentistry 

-University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

They don’t know:

-Texas Education Agency (TEA)


According to an email sent to me, the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) will not accept the new “At Home” edition of the TOEFL iBT.

Update: the NABP website also mentions that the home edition of the TOEFL will not be accepted:

ETS has closed testing sites and, therefore, the TOEFL iBT is temporarily unavailable to FPGEC candidates. FPGEC does not accept remote proctored exams or “My Best” scores. 

Here’s the content of the email:

Thank you for contacting the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®). The at home version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) offered by ETS is NOT accepted by the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC®) program.

While many take the TOEFL iBT as part of admission requirements for universities where they would receive more English training and evaluation over the course of their school program, the FPGEC program cannot rely on such training and instead its requirements are dependent on the integrity of the TOEFL results.

For these reasons, the TOEFL is a high-stakes exam for prospective pharmacists. In accord with our other high-stakes exams, we require a secure testing environment within the United States. Furthermore, NABP does not accept “My Best” scores or scores taken outside of the secure testing center.

Further information on the TOEFL iBT requirements is available in the FPGEC Candidate Application Bulletin.

As promised, ETS will be launching the “TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition” of the test starting March 23.  This version is meant to satisfy students who are unable to visit a test center due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

As of that date, it will be available in the United States, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong and Macau.  Presumably, other countries will be added in the future.

For more information, visit ETS’s website.

It has the same test questions and the same grading format will be used. It is also the same length. The test will, of course, be taken at home.  Security will be provided by a live proctor from ProctorU who will watch you take the test.  A few rules are worth mentioning here.  They are:

  • Students must use Windows (not Mac OS or Linux)
  • Students must use a laptop or desktop (not a phone or tablet)
  • Students must use a QWERTY keyboard.
  • Headsets or earphones are not allowed.
  • A microphone must be used, but it must not be part of a headset.
  • A camera must be used.  It must be able to move around and give the proctor a 360 degree view of the room.
  • You may not take notes on paper.  You must only take notes on a whiteboard (erasable) or a transparent film (erasable).
  • You must be alone in a room.
  • Your computer must be on a desk with nothing else on the desk.
  • You must sit in a standard chair.
  • You must have a handheld mirror or cellphone (with camera) that you can use to show your computer screen.
  • There are various rules regarding clothing.  Your ears must be visible.
  • There is a ten minute break after the listening section and you must return on time.  No other breaks are allowed.

Before taking the test, students must download and install the ETS Secure Browser and test their equipment with ProctorU.

After that, students should register for the test with ETS , using their regular ETS account.  Make sure to specifically register for the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, rather than a test at a test center.  After that you will get an email from ProctorU and must select a time for the test.

If you take the test leave a comment down below and let me know about the experience.


A report on Inside Higher ED  confirms that ETS will soon be launching a version of the TOEFL that students can take from their own home.  The article quotes Srikant Gopal, executive director of the TOEFL program, who says that the new test will be introduced by the end of March in selection locations outside of mainland China that are currently affected by the Coronavirus.  Curiously, the report only indicates that it will be launched within mainland China “as soon as possible.”  

Update:  this has now been confirmed on the ETS website.



A few weeks ago, I recommended a book that will help students improve their ability to read about scientific topics.  Today I want to share a quick review of The Little Book of Big History, which can help students improve their ability to read articles about history.

This book attempts to tell the entire history of the earth in a series of fairly short articles.  What I like about this book is that the articles are just about the same length as the articles in the reading section of the test (about six paragraphs).  Moreover, the language used in the articles is at about the same level as the test.  They seem to have a Flesch Reading East score of about 40 to 50.  That makes them a bit easier than the test, but it is close enough.

The selection of topics is great.  Indeed, I noted a bunch of topics I’d like to use to create my own reading practice tests (not to mention some integrated writing practice questions).  Topics here include things like:

  • Hunter-gatherer technologies
  • The beginning of art
  • Mass extinctions
  • Domesticating animals
  • From barter to money
  • Credit, debt and investment

Depending on how much time you have, I’d recommend just reading five or six of these per day, along with a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words.  Consider keeping a list of new words to study from later.

To use the book most effectively, perhaps skip the first part (which deals with the creation of the universe, and the last two parts (which deal with slightly more modern topics than are used on the TOEFL).

If you do pick up the book leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

ETS seems to be working on a new version of the TOEFL currently called “TOEFL Ladders.”   This new version may be offered alongside the traditional versions of the test (Internet Based and Paper Delivered). Not much is known at this time, but as information becomes available I will add it here.

Currently, some students have been given surveys asking their opinion about “TOEFL Ladders.”  The surveys seem to indicate:

  • It will be taken from home.
  • It will be shorter than the iBT.
  • All scores will be available immediately.
  • It will be cheaper than the iBT.
  • Scoring will not involve humans.
  • Additional score reports will be free.

Of course, all of the above could change.  Or the test might never be introduced.

Overall, the test seems to be somewhat similar to the Duolingo English Test.  If you guys learn anything new, leave a comment below or send me an email.  I’ll update this page as I learn more.


Here is a rough transcript of the description that ETS has sent to some students:

TOEFL Ladders

Overview: Measures the English language proficiency for people seeking admission to an education institution, immigration to an English speaking country, Employment in an English speaking workplace.

How the Test is Taken

Test Sections: The test is taken in ONE session for reading, listening, writing and speaking

Test Format: Reading, listening, writing and speaking are done at a computer.  The test questions are presented at a computer and the test taker types the answers using a keyboard.

Speaking is done by talking into the computer using a headset with a microphone.  During the speaking portion of the test, a webcam will record you while you speak your answer to the first questions. The video recording will be made available to institutions where you send your scores.

The test is conducted and proctored by remote proctors over the Internet.

Where the Test is Taken

At home.

Total Testing Time

Approximately 1.5 hours

Re-Taking the Test

No limitation on the number of times you can take the test.  There is no waiting period required between tests.

Receiving and Sending Scores

Score Availability: Unofficial scores for reading, listening, writing and speaking are available immediately after the test.  Official scores are available three days after the test.

Sending Scores (test taken only once): Scores from the entire test are sent.

Sending Scores (test taken more than once): Two sets of scores are sent to score recipients: a) scores from the test administration of your choice will be sent as usual, b) in addition, MyBest Scores – a combination of your highest section scores for reading, listening, writing and speaking from all the tests you took in the past 3 years will be automatically included in the score report.

Number of Score Reports: Unlimited free score reports. Recipients can be designated at any time.

Scoring Method (speaking and writing): Automated Scoring


Half the price of the TOEFL test you took most recently.