3 Best TOEFL Prep Books for 2021

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3 Best TOEFL Prep Books for 2021

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is an acronym for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Developed by American company ETS, it is designed to measure an individual’s reading, speaking, writing, and listening proficiency in American English. 900 schools, in over 130 countries worldwide, have TOEFL scores as a requirement. 

The test is available in 2 formats: PBT, Paper-Based Test, or IBT, Internet-Based Test, with the latter being the more popular option. It is administered by official, designated centers all over the world, and it takes over 4 hours to complete. The test is accepted in the U.K., Australia, and the U.S., being favored over the IELTS in the latter. 


While UK schools only accept IELTS, Canadian and U.S. schools accept both IELTS and TOEFL, test locations for both can be found on their official websites, and both are similarly priced, between 200 and 300 USD. 

Both tests are split into the following four sections: speaking, listening, writing and reading and are designed to test the basic language skills of the applicant. TOEFL is entirely multiple choice, with IELTS featuring a mix of multiple choice and short essay questions. Until 2016, the IELTS was only available in paper format, but since it has also been available over the internet.

The TOEFL can take up to four hours to complete, while the IELTS is two hours and 45 minutes long. IELTS, however, might take more than one day, as the speaking test with the instructor is separate from the other sections.

Now that we’ve explained what TOEFL is, and given you a comparison to help choose between it and IELTS, here are a few prep books that can help you get the best possible score:

1. TOEFL Preparation Book 2020 and 2021 by Test Prep Books

This book offers multiple preparation plans, for those looking to prepare for the exam in different time periods, be it one week, two, or even three. The included study planner can help you organize your revision, allowing you to focus on things you otherwise might not have. 

It includes a quick overview of what is included in the exam, along with test-taking strategies, and is divided into sections, with an introduction, and then moving on to reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It contains practice questions after the key concepts have been covered, to allow applicants to test their understanding and memorization of the concepts.

2. The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, 5th Edition by ETS

Perhaps the most reliable prep book available, this one is the official prep guide by the ETS, the company that organizes the exam. Including real practice questions and explanations for each section of the test, this study guide clearly outlines what is expected for each of the speaking and writing tasks, guiding students on their path to writing the best possible answers. 

Though there is a 6th Edition of the same book, it is, in many ways, a repetition of this book. The guide contains hundreds of authentic test questions essay topics, which are as close to the official test as possible. A complaint by many who have purchased the book, is that the audio for listening skills is slower than it is in the official exam. So keep that in mind if you decide to pick it up, and be prepared for faster audio files in the exam.

3. Practice Exercises for the TOEFL, by Barron’s (8th Edition)

A veritable giant in the test prep industry, Barron’s has consistently put out fantastic test prep books for standardized exams, and its offering for the TOEFL is no different. Filled to the brim with over 1,000 practice questions, Barron’s guide may well be the most comprehensive one currently available on the market.

Though it was released all the way back in 2015, it is still a popular option for most prep courses, since it contains so many practice questions. It was designed to help students succeed on both the paper and internet-based exams, and includes study guides for both test-taking methods.

This guide comes with a full-length test in each format, answers with detailed explanations, and supplementary materials with instructions for evaluating your answers and determining your score.

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Austin has 10+ years of experience in teaching. He has researched on thousands of students-related topics, issues, and concerns. You will often find him writing about the common concerns of students, their nutrition, and what is beneficial for their academics and health both.