Official Guides for the TOEFL Test

Overview of the Official Guide for the TOEFL

There are many books on TOEFL preparation available, but The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test derives its credibility from the fact that it is written and sanctioned by ETS, the creators and administrators of the exam. The Official Guide, available at variable cost from online bookstores or for $25.00 on the ETS website, includes general information on the TOEFL, thorough discussion of each of the exam's four sections, and three full-length practice tests with answers and answer explanations. The Official Guide also comes with a DVD that allows students to take the TOEFL iBT in the same computerized format as they would during an actual TOEFL administration.

The Official Guide's General Discussion of the TOEFL

The first chapter of the Official Guide, entitled "About the TOEFL iBT Test," features instructions on how to use the book and DVD, a description of test format and characteristics, overviews of each test section with photographs of test screenshots, information about test scoring, and a sample score report. Readers will also find tips for TOEFL skill development and answers to frequently asked questions.

Official Guide Coverage of TOEFL Sections

Each section of the TOEFL iBT is the subject of a separate chapter in the Official Guide. The chapters discuss the types of exercises (such as reading or listening passages), the types of questions, and the skills each type is intended to evaluate. There are also representative practice questions for each section included in these chapters, along with detailed explanations of both correct and incorrect answer choices. Grading rubrics that detail the evaluation criteria for the speaking and writing sections are provided, which allow test-takers to know in advance how their responses will be assessed by ETS graders. Coverage of TOEFL writing is supplemented by a chapter entitled "Writer's Handbook for English Language Learners," which includes instructions for developing writing skills, a glossary of relevant terms, and tips for editing and proofreading.

Official Guide TOEFL Practice Tests

The three practice tests in the Official Guide are presented in both printed and DVD formats. The former is advantageous for its portability, while the latter prepares students for the actual testing experience. Scripts for the listening section are given in printed form in the book itself, but students may listen to the audio for these scripts on the included DVD. Each practice test includes answer keys and thorough answer explanations. An appendix entitled "Performance Feedback for Test Takers" lists the characteristics associated with various levels of competence on each section.

Additional TOEFL Materials Available from ETS

The online store on the ETS website offers several additional TOEFL titles, all of which have been created by ETS. The TOEFL Value Pack Prep ($52.00) includes online access to banks of practice questions and a copy of the Official Guide eBook. Official TOEFL iBT Tests is a two-volume series that features a total of 10 full-length practice tests. Each volume is accompanied by an interactive DVD, and the cost per volume is $25.00. Students preparing for the TOEFL iBT may also purchase the TOEFL Online Prep Course ($89.00), a six-month subscription to 80 hours of online TOEFL content that includes diagnostic pre-tests, speech recognition software, automated scoring, and over 500 total activities.

Official TOEFL Prep Resources for Test-Takers with Disabilities

Practice materials for TOEFL students with certain disabilities are available on the ETS website. For test-takers with vision issues, practice questions for each section are offered in Word or PDF format with medium or large print. Such resources allow some types of disabled students to practice the TOEFL under more favorable conditions and preview some of the accommodations that ETS offers to test-takers with disabilities.

Official Guides for the PBT

Official guides for the TOEFL paper-based test are not currently sold at the online store on the ETS website, and official materials on the PBT can be difficult to acquire from commercial booksellers. A number of unofficial titles on PBT preparation, however, are available at the major online bookstores.

Using Official Guides

All students preparing for the TOEFL should purchase a copy of the Official Guide and become familiar with its contents. Official guides are helpful practice tools, but they should not be considered comprehensive preparation resources. Very few students master the TOEFL based on the Official Guide alone, and self-study methods in general are unreliable and incomplete.