The TOEFL, which stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language, is an exam that tests your ability to speak, write, read, and listen to English. According to Statista, non-native English speakers need to take this test to show English language proficiency for a variety of reasons. These can include a job, an undergraduate degree, or a graduate degree. You can prepare for this exam with the best TOEFL prep books.
There are plenty of free TOEFL prep books and other resources available to help you ace the exam. In this guide, we’ll list the best TOEFL prep books. We’ll also share other resources like educational apps and YouTube channels with TOEFL practice tests.
Should I Take the TOEFL?
Yes, you should take TOEFL if you are applying to a university program in an English-speaking country or if you are considering an international job. Good TOEFL scores are a mandatory admission requirement for non-native English speakers in many universities in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Common TOEFL Sections You Need to Prepare For
- Reading Section. The TOEFL reading section tests your ability to read and understand the English language. It consists of three or more reading passages with 10 questions each. You have to read the passage and answer all the questions in 54 to 72 minutes.
- Listening Section. The listening section assesses how well you understand conversations in English. You will listen to two types of audio clips in this section, lectures and conversations. There are usually three to four lectures with six questions each. You will listen to two or three conversations with five questions each.
- Speaking Section. The speaking section has four tasks that assess your English speaking skills. The first question is an independent speaking task where you have to think of a response. The rest of the tasks are called integrated speaking tasks, where you have to read, listen and speak.
- Writing Section. The TOEFL writing section is 50 minutes long and has two tasks. In the first question, an integrated writing task, you have to read or listen to a short passage and write a response. In the second independent writing task, you have to write a personal essay or an opinion depending on the topic. Start writing every day to improve your writing skills to study for this section.
The 10 Best TOEFL Prep Books to Help You Get Ready
1. ETS The Official Guide to TOEFL iBT Test, Seventh Edition
- Best for: Practice tests and sample questions
The latest edition of the Official Guide to TOEFL iBT Test by ETS gives you a great overall description of the test. This guide is written by the company that administers the test, so you’ll be ready for the real exam. It includes four authentic practice tests with answers keys and hundreds of practice questions. The book comes with sample audio clips to improve your listening skills.
2. Mometrix TOEFL Preparation Book
- Best for: Video tutorials
Mometrix TOEFL Preparation Book is a comprehensive resource for TOEFL exam preparation. With educational videos, it has a complete review of basic skills for all four sections. It also includes test-taking tips for each section
3. ETS Official TOEFL iBT Tests, Fourth Edition
- Best for: Taking additional official practice tests
This prep book by ETS contains five full-length official tests from previous years. These authentic practice tests can give you a good idea of what to expect on test day because the difficulty levels of the practice exams are the same as the actual exam.
4. The Princeton Review’s TOEFL iBT Prep 2021
- Best for: Writing and speaking section
The Princeton Review TOEFL iBT Prep contains key concepts and practice drills to help you ace all the exam sections. Prep material includes exercises where you’ll learn to identify the main idea of a passage or organize your thoughts for the writing task. This book also has a dedicated English grammar review section to help you review the basics.
5. Barron’s TOEFL iBT
- Best for: Practicing reading section
Barron’s TOEFL iBT is one of the most comprehensive study books after the ETS official guide. It has over 1,000 practice questions and eight online practice tests. Barron’s TOEFL iBT guide also has detailed instructions for each test section. The prep book offers supplemental materials including video lessons and a grammar review for speaking and writing sections.
6. Barron’s Essential Words for TOEFL
- Best for: Improving English vocabulary
Barron’s Essential Words for TOEFL is an excellent resource for anybody struggling with higher-level vocabulary. It lists the most-used words in the TOEFL reading section with definitions and sample sentences. The prep book also has hundreds of exercises that can help you memorize the new vocabulary quickly. It is a comprehensive study guide for vocabulary building.
7. Nova’s Speaking and Writing Strategies for TOEFL iBT
- Best for: Writing and speaking skill practice
If you want a book that can help you sharpen your writing and speaking skills, you should consider Nova’s Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT. This book uses the basic strategy of argument mapping to help you do well in the writing and speaking sections. It includes step-by-step instructions on writing basic, advanced, and emergency responses.
8. Kaplan’s TOEFL iBT Prep 2020-2021
- Best for: Simulated practice tests and video lessons
Kaplan’s TOEFL iBT Prep Plus 2020-2021 shares a wide range of expert test-taking strategies. It has four full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations. The practice test teaches you how to use these basic strategies in the actual exam. You’ll also get on-the-go study material, on-demand video lessons, audio files, and an online practice test.
9. 400 Must-Have Words for the TOEFL Test
- Best for: Vocabulary
McGraw Hill’s 400 Must-Have Words for TOEFL can help you improve your vocabulary and writing strategies. In addition to 400 commonly used words in the TOEFL exam, you will also get access to 150 activities, vocabulary questions, and exercises. It also has example sentences, basic grammar, and other valuable tips.
10. The Princeton Review’s TOEFL iBT Prep
- Best for: Simulated iBT exams
The Princeton Review’s TOEFL iBT Prep is an excellent guide with expert strategies for all sections. The book offers grammar reviews to brush up on basic English skills and time management techniques to help you get through the exam day without missing a question.
Free TOEFL Books and Resources to Help You Get Ready
- ets.org free online resources
- TOEFL TV Official Channel on YouTube
- TOEFL GO! Official App
- edX’s TOEFL Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide
- Magoosh Guide to TOEFL iBT
Best TOEFL Prep Books FAQ
Prepare for the TOEFL using a prep book, practice tests, and a variety of practice questions. Start preparing for TOEFL at least two to three months before the exam date. Use full-length tests and practice different writing strategies to find which ones are most comfortable for you. If your English language proficiency is low, take an online class.
No, taking the TOEFL is not free. At most locations in the US it costs $235 to take the TOEFL, however, the examination fee varies by location. You can check the test fee on the ETS official website.
It isn’t a good idea to prepare for TOEFL only 15 days before the exam. Although TOEFL is a straightforward exam, many students struggle to manage time during the exam. Practicing different types of questions and different writing strategies can help you improve your score.
The TOEFL isn’t a difficult exam if you know English well. You can easily score good marks if you have a strong command of the English language and English grammar. You always take an online English course to improve your skills before taking the actual exam.
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