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TOEFL iBT Book Review:
ETS - The Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT

The Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT with CD-ROM is the main guidebook published by the creators of the TOEFL test, Educational Testing Services. So presumably, it provides you with the most authentic information about the test and also, lots of good advice about how to succeed in the TOEFL.

Generally, the level of the exercises in the book is quite high, so it enables you to judge the language level you will need to attain. After looking through it, if you feel intimidated, go off and study using one of the easier guidebooks such as Longmans, Barron's, or even Delta. Then, you can return to this book again when you have raised your language level.

The most important advantage of this book is the insight it gives you into how the test is scored, particularly in the speaking and writing sections. The accompanying audio CD provides listening passages and sample speaking responses, which can be very helpful to students.

The book itself is divided into 6 sections: test information, reading, listening, speaking, writing and a writer’s handbook.

The introductory section tells you about the main features of the TOEFL, how the iBT is different from previous tests, registration information, some general tips and faqs.

The reading section sets out the ten types of reading questions and gives you ideas on how to best answer each one. There are several practice reading tests with answers and explanations. In general, the level of the reading passages is quite high, so again, you might want to try these exercises closer to the date of your exam, to get a realistic idea of the level of the test.

The Listening section sets out the nine types of listening questions you will encounter on your test, and gives you strategies to raise your score. It provides a useful, extensive list of subjects areas covered in the listening passages, along with several practice tests.

This section explains the format of the six TOEFL iBT speaking questions, provides sample responses and rater evaluations. The many practice exercises in this section are at a level anyone can try to get a feel for what’s involved.

The Writing section includes the official Scoring Rubric used by raters when they check your writing tasks. There are also sample scored responses along with rater’s comments. These are extremely beneficial as they will give you an understanding of the various elements you must keep in mind to produce a high-scoring answer.

Here, you will also find over sixteen pages of writing topics, used in previous versions of the TOEFL. Since the topics on the TOEFL iBT are very similar to these, you should definitely read through this list and practice writing essays on these subjects. At the least, you should make outlines of how you would answer some of these questions.

The last section of the book provides you with a review of grammar, mechanics, usage, style, organization and development. Common errors in grammar, sentence structure and word choice are analyzed. Additionally, the handbook gives you examples of different types of essays and guidelines for revision, editing and proofreading.

So, overall, our advice is to use this book while preparing for your test and refer to it often to see where you stand.