TOEFL iBT – Noisy Prometric Test Center

Raghuram Sukumar TOEFL 18 Comments

TOEFL Experience by Vamsi.

I just want to share my TOEFL experience. I’ve taken TOEFL exam on 26th November. Till 26th morning I’m very confident enough about the scores and I never have second thoughts about my confidence levels.

I thought I can easily score 100 plus. Most of our friends strongly believe in luck factor in cases of GRE, TOEFL and Visa interviews.

I must say that luck is the only factor lacking in my case.

TOEFL Exam Day

On the exam day morning…….. I reached Prometric Testing Center by 9.30 and my exam is scheduled at 10:00 am.

By the time I reached test center I was shocked to see some 100 students gathered around few people who are calling names by checking in the paper list.

For 15 minutes I didn’t even understand what’s happening around. But later on slowly realized that administrators calling out names as per the registration lists they have.

There are 2 counters arranged but few students names are completely missing from all the lists at both counters. Then the fear factor in me alarmed and I started running to both the counters checked twice in all the lists in heavy competition (with students who all are missing their names) and the time was already 11:00 am.

Slowly one person came out of 2nd floor of the testing center and starting calling names of the missing candidates. Some how my name was announced by 11:15 am.

TOEFL  Reading Section – Crazy Sound

I started with my dream exam by 11.30 am. Done well with the reading section and started off with listening section.

Suddenly got deviated by hearing a heavy (LOUD) voice. One student (girl) who’s taking exam with me in the same room sitting behind me started screaming ( I guess she’s giving listening section answers).

Everybody started staring at her in the room and few students smiled at her. Somehow managed to finish with the listening section. But when I started Speaking section I was totally lost my focus due to the LOUD, BOLD and HEAVY voice of her (who’s sitting behind me).

She’s really crazy and she started shouting the speaking section answers and I tried to concentrate but due to heavy noise I lost completely.

Tried to complain about the situation to the invigilators but lost so much of time there.

My frustration also influenced the next (writing) section and stepped out of exam center very soon leaving the exam center with lot of frustration. I thought of giving her a tight slap but just controlled my nerve.

Because even she must be in exam tension. Not only myself but many students lost their focus and time because this immature student.

So friends I would like to request everyone not to panic at the exam centers. Because it affects not only your performance but it may also affect other performance and some times you may face embarrassing situations like someone coming to you pointing on your behavior.

Stay calm and relaxed on the exam day. The pattern of exam is very simple and all you need is little concentration and little luck :-)

Hope my experience will make someone think in a better way……


ETS should address this problem of having test takers site next to each other and have a speaking section.

You are not the first person to complain about TOEFL  and disturbances while nearby test takers are answering Speaking questions.

After you complained about her, what happened? Did the test center staff take action?


  1. Wow, that’s unfortunate. Didn’t the centre have those headphone or earplugs or anything? But even then, I suppose the sound filters through. When I had given the test, I’d also got a bit of a start when someone started talking. In fact, worse, I was feeling shy to talk loudly myself! If you don’t mind, how much did you score finally? Did you achieve the 100+ target?

  2. I am sorry it happened… I faced the same situation.. but in my case LOUDSPEAKER.. was a Guy.. and he wasn’t only loud in Speaking section..Bloody burger was even mumbling in reading section..
    My only suggestion in that case which I followed was, prioritize what is important- Getting a good score in TOEFL or getting mad at the person and lose focus.
    Take a breath , relax and Focus much harder than before..b’coz in the end its your score on line.

    1. Hahaha. Yeah that is sad. Don’t know why Prometric hasn’t done anything about it. They should open up more centers or.. something.

      But it’s more the fault of test takers than the test centers. I mean, they should have common sense. Like, when you’re talking on the phone do you yell? No. Talk in your normal voice, talk like you’re having a conversation, and your answers gets recorded just fine. I mean, before the test starts the software even asks you to speak into the mic so that it can adjust the volume in accordance with the level of your speaking. What is the point of yelling then? You yell, then obviously everyone around you also is going to yell to drown you out, and the testing room is just going to be one big fish market and no one’s answers will be clear. Worst part is that you can’t even interrupt the test to tell the test taker to shut up, so you can’t blame the invigilators also. Job of the invigilators should just be to make sure they give very stern, clear instructions on how to speak before the test, and after that it’s the test taker’s responsibility to follow the rules.

  3. The same thing happened with me. We were around 10 students giving our TOEFL in a small cramped room.
    Everyone began their speaking section at the same time (may be at a difference or 2-3 minutes).
    As a result, there was so much noise and it was difficult to concentrate on reading or listening which accompanies the speaking section.
    In order to not be left behind, everyone ensured all thier voices were louder than another and there was a total confusion.
    On complaining to the invigilators, they told the loud students to lower their voice but it lasted only for the next 1-2 minutes.
    It was a very bad experience and prometric/ETS should definitely take some action and improve the condition.
    Luckily I didnt score as bad as I thought I would.

  4. Its almost common for all those who take a test ! 😮

    There will be atleast 1 candidate who will be shouting in the room, without realizing that he is polluting the environment and also the minds. I think ETS should think about this issue. ‘_’

    Else we should be satisfied that ETS is testing candidates in all types of situations ! 😛

  5. I reached my test center at 8:00 am (even when my exam was 10:00 am). Now in this center they use to make a list of candidates based on first come first service. So, I was 2nd on the list (as I reached at 8). When the time was 10:00 am, they started calling us . I went in the test room and started my test asap. Some problem happened out of the testing room and that prevented other candidates to come in. I was the second one to get the speaking section early and by the time I was finished with my speaking section none of them(except 1) has really started it. I was damn lucky that day. But then also I didn’t get the best score I had in mind(mine is 104).

  6. hey vamsi…u did manage it well.
    guys…had any1 taken the test at nizamabad’s engg college..?
    plz share any ideas if u have regarding that…

  7. Had very bad experience at Arjun International,marine lines center.First depressing moment was when the place was so damm hot that it was suffocating and the AC was almost not working.I had carried my sweater from previous experience of Prometric at andheri but here he didn’t allow the sweater inside and I realized it why he didn’t after going in.Because it was so freaking hot in there everybody was sweating,bad odor and they had bloody ceiling fans and nothing.
    around twenty people speaking with diff of 2-3 mins….one person sitting next to me had a difference of 10 mins and that bloody cheater just copied down my points and speech,and spoke same things I spoke.It is very easy to do so because everybody is sitting so close that your both the elbows will touch adjacent people.Still I somehow managed to concentrate in speaking by removing headphone and putting my finger in ear.
    It was a harrowing experience. Gave it on 3rd Dec.
    God help me with scores.

  8. My toefl exam was on 3rd December. There was a funny incidence. The student sitting behind me started his listening section 25 seconds before I started my speaking section, Funny thing was that I got same questions. So that was my bad luck . If I had started my test after a little bit delay than I will get to know all questions in advance. guys I think that approximately all students giving test at same time will get same questions.

  9. Hello Friends,

    Thanks for all your responses….. I’m the one who who experience and shared the above article..

    Finally my (the one who attracted me with her LOUD voice) affected my listening & speaking scores and I ended-up scoring only 83 to my luck. Now I should take it as an experience or exposure or a lesson may be and re-take the TOEFL. I may run to Chennai this time where things are organized as one of our friends shared his experience in Chennai (Ashok Nagar) testing center.

    I tried to take a deep breath and to relax before getting frustrated as someone said above… But we are humans and that too in a situation of examination….. So luckily got attracted to one who made me to take a re-test…… 🙂

    So that’s it for now………


  10. The difference between the quality of the Prometric GRE centres and Prometric TOEFL centres is appalling! The TOEFL experience seems to be the same for most people. Main problems being that
    1. Some retarded students believe shouting into the mike is somehow better than speaking in their normal voice.
    2. There is no adequate privacy to protect from such a situation, unlike the GRE where each person has their own private 3-walled cubicle with sound proof headphones.
    3. Everyone sitting elbow-to-elbow completes the test at approximately the same rate, so that everyone starts their speaking section at the same time! AND we all get the exact same questions to answer. It is unbelievably distracting to speak impromptu when someone next to you is speaking about the very same thing. and YES students merrily borrow points from their neighbors in the speaking section. Its weird just how easy it is to cheat ! Im shocked Prometric couldnt predict such a scenario, really, its not that hard.

    In my opinion i made a gazillion mistakes in the speaking section, and was kinda expecting a 100-110.. but miraculously i got a 117. So despite the crappy 3rd world test centers, it somehow is still possible to score well.

    1. Hey Adnan, in which Prometric centre did you give your TOEFL exam? If in Gurgaon, please let me know as I want to ask some questions.

  11. Hi,
    I took my GRE on 29th December, 2011, at Prometric center Gurgaon. Every thing was going fine till the 10 min break. After the break I asked the invigilator to provide me with the scratch papers. To my surprise the guy told me to first finish the remaining last page of my previous scratch booklet, before he replenish it with the new one. It was really irritating.
    I carried on with my exam hoping that it would not be hectic to ask for the scratch papers in the middle of the section I was working on, as it was mentioned in the instructions, also told by the invigilator to just raise your sheet and they will replace it.
    The invigilators were not there only in the exam room, nor were they sitting on there desk to observe the camera screens. I raised my hand continuously for 4-5 mins. No one came, I wanted to go out but thought it would be a waste of time and may be the breach of rules. I got totally frustrated and lost all my focus and thus ended up in the worst maths section which got reflected in my scores.

    I would thus like to suggest to these Prometric people to pay more attention on the test takers instead of being busy in there own gossips.

  12. hi everybody. i have booked toefl slot in warangal. this is a non prometric cenetr. is there anything that i should be seriously worrried about it..?please reply as soon as possible

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