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We know better than most how daunting test prep can be, and one of the number one issues we’ve had students tell us about is the problem of choosing test prep materials. After all, how do you decide what book can teach you what you don’t know yet?
Well don’t fret, we’ve compiled our master list of go-to resources for the TOEFL and we’ve even broken down some details about what the resources are best used for and why you might choose to use them.
A few points before we dive in:
- It is often the case that the best test prep resource is the one that comes from the maker of the test. This is true pretty much across the board, and you can see below that the “Official” books make it onto all of our lists. When you use materials from the makers of the test, you increase your chances of seeing familiar content and structure on test day, which typically leads to a higher score. Win win! There are also often good supplements to the official books, and those are the other entries you’ll see in each section.
- There are an awful lot of good free resources out there, and there are an awful lot of bad free resources out there. We’ve listed free resources here that we know and trust. Definitely feel empowered to branch out and search out your own resources too, just keep in mind that you want to do your best to judge the quality before you go all in on a particular source from the internet. If you have questions about anything you come across out there in the wide world, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re always happy to answer questions about materials.
- When you’re preparing for a test, think carefully about how much time you’re budgeting for preparation, and let that help inform how many materials you get. For example, if you’re cramming for 3 weeks before the test, you likely won’t be able to make it through 4 test prep books in that time, and even if you did, you likely wouldn’t be retaining what you need to succeed.
- Our best advice is to start by taking a practice test to pinpoint where you need to prepare the most, then think about your schedule and choose what you need from this list of recommendations to help you succeed. Good luck with your preparation!
- Purpose: Content + Strategy + Practice
- How to Maximize Your Use: This is one of our go-to recommendations for TOEFL preparation. The book is laid out section by section, and the author has been updating the content for over 40 years -- Pamela J. Sharpe, PhD is dedicated! The most recent edition has 8 practice tests, and plenty to work with. There are good explanations for answers, and there are scoring guides for Speaking and Writing responses. There are some comments from reviewers that not everything is exactly in line with what you’ll see on the real test, but the general feeling is that the Barron’s book asks harder questions than you’ll actually see on the test. In our opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because if you train at a more complex level, test day is likely to feel more like a breeze. However, you can supplement with the Official Guide from the makers of the test to cover all your bases.
- Purpose: Content + Strategy + Practice
- How to Maximize Your Use: Since this book comes from the makers of the test, you can be sure you’re seeing relevant content contained in this text. The book comes with 4 practice tests, and explanations that are quite good. Self-scoring guides are included and useful when trying to assess your own performance.
Believe it or not: Youtube
- Purpose: Practice
- How to Maximize Your Use: While sometimes it can be difficult to gauge quality of online information, Youtube has some good free resources when it comes to TOEFL. You can start by searching for something like “TOEFL Listening Practice” and you’ll find quite a few videos that are recordings from actual practice tests, so you can use this for lower stakes practice if you don’t want to burn through your full-length practice tests. Some of the more robust channels that offer TOEFL videos will even include links to transcripts as well. One of our favorite channels for this purpose is Learn Toefl With Daniel -- this channel has Listening, Speaking, and Writing videos to choose from.