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TOEFL Tip #100: Use the Correct Keyboard

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on May 20, 2011

We’ve talked before about the importance of being able to touch-type on the Writing Section of the TOEFL. The faster and more accurately you are able to type, the more time you will have to develop your ideas and then go back to check for mistakes. For touch-typing to be useful on the TOEFL, make sure that you are using the correct keyboard.

The standard keyboard in the United States is the QWERTY keyboard. Keyboards are named for the first 6 letters of the top row, from left to right. This is the keyboard you will use for the TOEFL exam, so you want to be very familiar with it long before sitting down at the computer in the testing center.

While most keyboards based on the Latin alphabet – the letter system for English and many of the European languages – have numbers along the top row, and most of the letters in the same place, there are small but important differences among keyboards designed for different languages.

In addition to the QWERTY design, there are two other major layouts. For example, keyboards in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are QWERTZ, switching the locations of Y and Z. French keyboards are AZERTY, switching A and Q and W and Z, and moving the M to the left of the L. In addition, many keyboards for languages other than English will have extra keys, or key combinations, to easily make the accents and other special characters specific to a language, such as ñ, â, £, Æ.

There are also keyboards that convert between Latin and non-Latin letter systems, for example Russian, Arabic, Greek, and East Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese.

As we have discussed previously, you should incorporate English as much as possible into your daily life, including your keyboard. Although you might be very comfortable typing English on a non-QWERTY keyboard, these small differences in layout can slow you down on the exam if you have to search the keyboard for letters that are not in the places you are used to. Make sure that you’re using a QWERTY keyboard for English so you can be better prepared on test day.

Categories: TOEFL Preparation,Writing

3 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. prinuatabut

    wrote on November 26, 2011 at 6:38 am


    I’am new here. I’am sorry if the this category is not the right place for this post but I was hoping that somebody here on would be able to help me with SAT vocabulary.

    My exam in next month and not sure how do I mug all these words

    Any tips ?

  2. Strictly English TOEFL Tutors

    wrote on November 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Hi Prinuatabut.

    Strictly English does not prepare students for the SAT but we can suggest that you look at Veritas Tutors at They might have some materials for you!

  3. Veritas Tutors

    wrote on November 29, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Hi Prinuatabut,
    Veritas can certainly help you prepare for the SAT. For more information, please email us at, or visit our website. We’d love to share some materials. We hope to hear from you soon!

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