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My TOEFL experience in Denmark (TOEFL dårlig oplevelse)

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New post 16 Apr 2018, 10:01
As there is a requirement to take an English proficiency test for my Masters degree programme at Aalborg University, I decided to take the TOEFL iBT® test. Unfortunately, I experienced that the examination took place in inadequate examination conditions. This negatively affected my ability to concentrate on the tasks and thus reduced my performance drastically.

To strengthen my above statement, the examination environment allowed approximately 20-30 test-takers to undergo the test together in a single room with no sound proofing between participants. This rapidly evolved into a distracting environment where I was unable to concentrate on my own exam. As many participants advanced to speaking and listening parts, they all started speaking to their microphones and the ability to focus was drastically reduced. A random wave of different topics started in the testing room. Moreover, the headphones used for examination were not sound-proof, thus the environment could be clearly audio-perceived.

When I requested from the TOEFL staff for an additional area/room for continuing the test, this was not an available option. I have claimed to the TOEFL representatives that the testing conditions contradicts the Danish Standard DS/ISO/IEC 23988:2007 - Informationsteknologi - Retningslinjer for brug af informationsteknologi (IT) ved levering af vurderinger and I kindly asked for a resit in a noise-free testing environment or a full refund of the testing fee, although they have declined my request, without any relevant argument.

I am extremely disappointed that my genuine concerns are not being taken seriously by TOEFL and I would like to seek legal advice about this serious matter. This outcome effects my future career path, so I'm sure you can understand my desire to have it resolved in a fair manner. All I have requested is to resit the test in an environment that tests my true English skills ability, rather than my ability to block out distractions and I am surprised to learn that you are not willing to support this.

Are there more of you who have similar experiences? Please write your comments bellow, as I intend to seek legal advice for this instance.
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New post 16 Apr 2018, 15:06
As someone who prepared for TOEFL, I am kind of surprised that this was a surprise for you.
All test centers around the world are presented in the same conditions.

Regarding legal actions against test center and ETS, I would advise reading the disclaimer that you signed during/before you took the test.
Moreover, from what I know, you are NOT required to have the ISO certification, so your concerns are non-disputable.
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New post Updated on: 03 Jun 2018, 01:12
Dear mvictor

It is disappointing to hear that all the test centers "facilitate" such testing conditions and especially to read your post, which somehow supports the situation with indulgence. Just because it is a general practice, it does not mean that it is a fair practice.

To extend my comment with an analogy, please consider the role that women played in history and their situation that was practiced and equally accepted by the society many years ago.

Women traditionally ran the household, bore and reared the children, they had no political rights and lived under the economic and disciplinary authority and control of their husbands. Moreover, history shows that there was a lack of women's and gender study programs or departments at the university level.

My question to you is:
Do you not find it surprising to attend TOEFL's language assessment test and be exposed to an environment that distracts the test-takers attention which negatively affects the ability to concentrate on the tasks and thus reduces test-takers performance drastically? Perhaps the word that I would use in this case would be "discouraging".

You see, we as humans always learn from mistakes, as our mistakes show us our weaknesses and thus represent an opportunity to improve.

I believe that our compliance with the general practice will not provide us an opportunity to improve, unless we spot the weakness and take action.

With all the humbleness, I hope my comment does not offend you or anyone, but rather acts as a small symbol of seeking the improvement.

Originally posted by AlexVin on 18 Apr 2018, 23:06.
Last edited by AlexVin on 03 Jun 2018, 01:12, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 19 Apr 2018, 06:12
The world is not a fair place, and as a person who wants to attend a business school, you should have realized that long time ago.
Moreover, ETS specifically states what the conditions are during the test. Nobody is forcing you to take it. Alternatively, you can take IELTS, as it is presented in a totally different way.
Do I find annoying the noise during listening part? Yes, absolutely, but I knew from the start what to expect.
During my test in 2016, I finished Reading and Listening first from my group. I had to wait till everyone else finishes the parts. Did I like it? No, I wasted about 1h of my time, but I had to play by their rules, cause I need to take the test, not them.
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New post 19 Apr 2018, 11:18
Hi AlexVin,

I had the same awful experience - the other test takers were talking very loud, trying to overtalk each other. :D And yes, it's difficult to concentrate when a bunch of other people are trying to outcry each other.

You can contact ETS and try to get a free ticket though - chek out this post:

https://gmatclub.com/forum/my-toefl-exa ... ml#p994477

It is costly to sue ETS in my opinion. You'll spend your time and money and get nothing in the end. After all, all you need is a score.

Good luck!
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New post 03 Jun 2018, 01:09
mvictor wrote:
The world is not a fair place, and as a person who wants to attend a business school, you should have realized that long time ago.
Moreover, ETS specifically states what the conditions are during the test. Nobody is forcing you to take it. Alternatively, you can take IELTS, as it is presented in a totally different way.
Do I find annoying the noise during listening part? Yes, absolutely, but I knew from the start what to expect.
During my test in 2016, I finished Reading and Listening first from my group. I had to wait till everyone else finishes the parts. Did I like it? No, I wasted about 1h of my time, but I had to play by their rules, cause I need to take the test, not them.


Dear mvictor,

I have been thinking much about your recent reply to my post, particularily the sentence that your started with.
I would like to urge you to consider my reply and actually take few days, to process it, before you would eventually reply again.

I agree with one of you statement, and that is: "Alternatively, you can take IELTS, as it is presented in a totally different way."

Would you agree if I would say that if there is no buyer, there will be no seller? Or rather - if there is no demand, there is no supply?

The world and particularily the systems, norms and regulations are governed by us, human beings, no external entities. It is only our decision to buy somthing or not, to create the demand or not. That is why I created this topic. For people, who are aware of the importance and power of their decision.

Rules are there to create an equal framework that would guide us to stride. Any rule that will fail to do so, is rather a rule that is prone to be detrimental and therefore needs to be changed. As everywhere in nature, we are responsible in our world to "adapt" the rules to the real needs, not just to comply and accept the "supply" with resignation.

How else could you imagine improving our world? (see my previous comment)
Or does this question generates such a repugnant throught, that you would insinuate it to be naive? I heard many people in my life without any hope that they could ever change somthing in this world. My answer to that is always: It is up to me and you! Only me and you! Always me and you! You and I create the demand or comply with what is being sold. If you do not like it, do not buy it. This means that you create a different demand, or you choose to support a different one, similar to your needs and values.

Let us have a look again at the sentence that you started your reply with:
"The world is not a fair place, and as a person who wants to attend a business school, you should have realized that long time ago." - Assuming that your have attended a business school, I am eager to ask: For how long (time ago) have your been practising business without being aware of the importance and power of our decisions? Isn´t this naive thouth a ubiquitous thought that is being implied in our societies and business groups, to repress and control opportunities that could spot weaknesses and give us a chance to improve?

To conclude with, I want to send my sincere congratualations for your perfomance at the test.
It is a pitty though that you had to waste 1h of your time and had had to comply with such testing conditions.

Reagrds,
Alex
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New post 03 Jun 2018, 02:08
Dear Akela,

Thank you for your reply and the suggested link.
As you shared with me your sincere thoughts, I would like to share with you two of my favorite quotes:

1. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2. "“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As you can imagine, I contacted ETS numerous times, to draw into their attention that the ETS TOEFL testing conditions contravene Danish, British and implicitly European Standards (DS/ISO/IEC 23988:2007 or DS/ISO/IEC 23988:2007, respectively). After many attempts of formal and concrete argumentation, they came to a consent upon my situation and fully refunded my testing fee, particularly under the constraint of no additional area/room for testing, which, according to regulations, I was entitled to request and make use of.

The most disappointing aspect would be, if they took my request as a complaint and superficially solved my situation, by refunding the testing fee.

Throughout the years, I learnt that solving the issue at the surface would not solve the core of the problem, neither the cause, nor the effects. Therefore the problem would buoyantly pop up repeatedly, as a shallow and empty buoy.
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New post 03 Jun 2018, 10:39
AlexVin wrote:
Dear Akela,

Thank you for your reply and the suggested link.
As you shared with me your sincere thoughts, I would like to share with you two of my favorite quotes:

1. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2. "“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As you can imagine, I contacted ETS numerous times, to draw into their attention that the ETS TOEFL testing conditions contravene Danish, British and implicitly European Standards (DS/ISO/IEC 23988:2007 or DS/ISO/IEC 23988:2007, respectively). After many attempts of formal and concrete argumentation, they came to a consent upon my situation and fully refunded my testing fee, particularly under the constraint of no additional area/room for testing, which, according to regulations, I was entitled to request and make use of.

The most disappointing aspect would be, if they took my request as a complaint and superficially solved my situation, by refunding the testing fee.

Throughout the years, I learnt that solving the issue at the surface would not solve the core of the problem, neither the cause, nor the effects. Therefore the problem would buoyantly pop up repeatedly, as a shallow and empty buoy.


Wow, I'm glad to hear you got a refund.

I hope more people will assert their rights as you did and force ETS to improve testing conditions. Way to go! (:
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My TOEFL experience in Denmark (TOEFL dårlig oplevelse)   [#permalink] 03 Jun 2018, 10:39
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