Just in case that helps, I've taken the test today and I've worn earplugs all the time.
Thankfully I did that because it was the worst test room, organization, etc I've ever seen in my experience doing these kind of exams (toefl(2), toeic, french exams, gmats, etc).
No separations between desks and we were like 30 guys in a very small room. My elbows were almost touching the guys next to me. I had direct view to the guy in front of me, and the guy next to him, and so on. Half of the headphones didn't work and while some guys were trying to concentrate in the reading passages, the others were shouting "describe the city you live in, describe the city you live in, DESCRIBE THE CITY YOU LIVE IN!!!" louder and louder. No luck, they didn't work guys. In fact, they seemed from 1980s. I saw 3 guys doing the exam in CRTs screens that remembered me my old 486 computer.
Honestly, it was like doing the exam in a McDonalds.
And that's not all, the exam was scheduled to start at 9 AM, and at 8:30 we were already grouped next to the room door, but we were outdoors! you know this is Hong Kong, 32 degrees and 98% humidity. The guy was calling one by one and by the time I entered the room it was 9:30! and I was sweating like if I were in my way to finish a Marathon. And then, the freeze with full power air conditioning.
I didn't ask if I could use earplugs as I was expecting a negative answer and I wasn't going to risk my entire exam. There were no cameras, and the ONLY guy there was always busy trying to find headphones working. So I decided to put my earplugs, forget about the world and focus on the exam.
Really, what an experience! but no doubt the earplugs saved my exam.
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