Three essential pieces of equipment you need for TOEFL and why

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Because TOEFL is such a unique exam, students often find themselves lost in what to use for studying. The following post aims at helping you choose the best materials, which are not necessarily the most expensive and/or highest quality things.

So here's what you will need:

1.  Not just a computer: a lap top


Your greatest TOEFL test taker ally: a lap top computer. I am a user of Apple and love my and MacBook Air, but I also need to inform you: you will do your test on a PC. However, it won't make that much difference if you are practicing with a different operating system, as you will only be allowed to use the TOEFL program during the test. The only issue you may find is for platforms like Mac, Linux and Chrome some software might be incompatible. I use Barron's and it runs on both Mac and PC. 

One thing you might be asking yourself is: but does it have to be a lap top? Can't it be a desktop

The answer is: YES, it has to be a lap top. After all, the best way to practice for the test is by going to noisy places with your computer and headphones, since the room on the day of the examination will not be quiet and silent, and you will have to talk to your computer whilst strangers are sitting next to you doing their own thing.

2.  Those massive headphones with a huge microphone that make you feel ridiculous


On the day of the test you will not be able to take your own headphones. The center will provide them for you, which will consist of noise cancellation headsets with built in microphones. As you may have guessed, the quality of these are will certainly have to meet some standards of quality, but do NOT go to the text expecting a pair of Beats by Dr Dre or Bose. What you are getting is average quality equipment, which means you are better off using cheaper headphones to practice. After all, it's better to be prepared for the worst.

Does it have to be a headset? What about earbuds?

Using similar equipment to what you will have on the day of the test is essential for familiarization. Therefore, highly recommend you use a headset instead of earbuds; As a matter of fact, I have never heard of a center which provided the latter. I genuinely recommend a cheap headset with a built in microphone. Rock that massive call center agent headset at a coffee shop or in your university's cafeteria. This is certainly going to make you feel less awkward.

3. The American layout keyboard

I am not saying you need to buy a keyboard, but as per standard, the characters on the keyboards used during TOEFL need to be organized the American way. In some centers in Brazil, for example, because our keyboard is slightly different (we have a few extra characters and diacritical marks), the computers keys are set the American way, and they may glue little stickers with the characters/letters that are different. If you do not familiarize yourself with that, however, can make you slower at typing, which means you are better off changing your computer to American Keyboard so you don't get lost with such a small thing. 

Best of luck,


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