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Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019

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Test of English as a Foreign Language

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language - in other words, it is English Language Proficiency test that all US Business Schools require International applicants to take. The new Internet Based Test or TOEFL iBT is scored from 0 to 120 but schools do not look at it from a scoring standpoint but rather Pass/Fail. Many schools will set a certain minimum that applicants must get. If you are a native speaker or have been educated at a Western College that used English as the main language of instruction, there is a good chance that TOEFL requirement will be waived. US Residents and graduates of US colleges do not need to take TOEFL.

TOEFL iBT at glance

The TOEFL iBT test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.

Who needs the TOEFL test?

  • Students planning to study at a higher education institution
  • English-language learning program admissions and exit
  • Scholarship and certification candidates
  • English-language learners who want to track their progress
  • Students and workers applying for visas


The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test, 5th Edition


This is only a preview. The full review of this brand new guide can be read here

The Official Guide to the TOEFL® iBT, 5th Edition - REVIEW

The brand new TOEFL Official Guide for the iBT, 5th Edition came out since a while, and I have to admit that I snubbed it for some awkward reason. Perhaps because ETS recycles its contents over again from one release to another.

However, when I take a look, finally, to this release I was a bit surprised to see a new fourth test into it. Suddenly the first impression I have had is: wooowww.

So guys, ok, cut the chase and go down to the business of this new guide from the head down. :-)

PROS sides of the story

  • Looking at the menu of the left side when you open the ebook (yes, I have to admit my thumb is intense green. I rarely buy a paperback version of a book) the content compared to the previous version of the guide - the 4th Edition, here my review - are pretty much the same. However, the organization is more slender and efficient. For instance, General Skill-Building Tips is divided into sub-chapters to reach them more easily based on your will to see them related to what is your intention: I wanna read the tips regarding the reading part rather the listening one, and so forth. In the previous guide, the section was a monolith: you had to scan through the pages to reach the section you wanted to cope with. Remeber: a better organization will result in a more efficient work from you, reaching faster your goal: learn as much as possible to tackle this test of English.
  • I really do love, since ever, the Writer's Handbook for the English Language Learners. Not only it is sky-high but also is useful for those who wanna a better understanding of the mechanisms of the English language behind the curtain. The section contains sections such as usage, style, mechanics, organization and development and last but not least: advice for the writer. You do even have tiny advice section called: work in the workplace, in which is suggested how to write memos, letters and else.of course, it is not the English Oxford Dictionary but is really spot-on for the purpose and much more.
  • Here comes what I call the blast: a brand new fourth test fed to the student. As I said in the preface of this review, that is the major point in favor for those who wanna buy this new guide.

    Three new passages:
    • Industrialization in the Netherlands and Scandinavia - A medium difficult passage but really well crafted by ETS
    • The mystery of yawning - a very convoluted passage with a good number of shifts in its unfolding
    • Lightining - once again: a medium upper-level passage that I really do live because it is a scientific content-related

      The listening section

Here the review of the previous 4th edition

The Official Guide to the TOEFL® iBT, 4th Edition - REVIEW

Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 1 (2nd edition) & 2


As soon as you have exhausted the OG and you do wanna more practice, authentic material, tough passages and unbelievably 10 (ten) tests straight from the authors of the TOEFL, well, with these two books you are satisfied. They are also in ebook edition on the official ETS Toefl store for the fairly cheap sum of $25 bucks a piece. Moreover, the books come along two DVDs software that simulate exactly the real test into the test center. Of course, they are not face value.You do not have a trace of a strategy, even though the OG does have as well; the OG barely scratches the surface under this light. In these two books you have only and solely the tests and the official answer but not the official explanations.

For the Reading and Listening sections, Answer Keys are provided. For the Speaking and Writing sections, there is no single correct answer for each question. The Answers section has descriptions of what you need to do to get a high score. You can also evaluate your responses using the scoring rubrics pro-vided in Appendix A. In the Speaking section, if you have recorded your responses on a recording device, you can compare them with the descriptions in the Answers section and with the rubrics.

This quote is definitively a plus of these practice Official Guides.In particular, in the appendix A there are the Speaking and Writing Score Rubrics which show you with clear examples how you can deliver high-level response in both sections (probably the most challenging of the four, see my strategy guidance below).These are the best books to get if you want access to a lot of practice tests. Practice tests are one of the best ways to prepare for the TOEFL, so you’ll want to be sure to take several of them during your preparation.

Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test


This is, without doubt, my favorite book for the test suddenly after the OGs.Not only the book provides you with seven full-length tests on the included CD, but also they’re even more similar to the real TOEFL software than is the software on the Official Guide CD. Moreover, it provides the students with one of the best tools for English skill-building: paraphrasing, note taking, vocabulary, pronunciation. The negative side is probably that the material is slightly harder than you really need to achieve the best score during the exam. Of course, this is not a huge downside. Indeed, it might be only a good thing in the mid-long distance TOEFL race, improving and make more robust your fundamentals.

The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test


The same considerations made for the Cambridge book could be done for this as well: loads of material, easy-to-read explanations of strategy, step-by-step training exercises, and audio included (online, for free.)The book have been released quite a while ago but it aged very weel. One one hand because is really well written, on the other hand because the format of the test didn't change so much since then.

5 lb. Book of TOEFL Practice Problems


A new book from Manhattan Company, full of quailty practice contents.
See my review \(here\)

Venerable mention are the following books:

TOEFL iBT Strategy for the highest score

Before to get in to an in-depth strategy review for the test, it is mandatory to figure out some premise:

1) You should not get confused by the millions of strategy guidelines to overcome the speaking section rather how to write the best independent task. Yes, it is important to have a clear-cut strategy and being well prepared for the test day but you do not need a high level blueprint such as for the GMAT or GRE.

2) The consequence of point one leads us probably to what is the pivotal premise we are talking about: to score well on the TOEFL what is king, is your level of English skills as whole, in general. If you have a poor vocabulary or do not really understand what are you asking for when you read the prompt for your essay, then the most sophisticated staretgy will not save you to score poorly.People that are able to read, grasp the meaning of reading such as The New Yorker or The Smithsonian rather than The Economist have not so may difficulties to score good on the test. However, there is a glitch: as I mentioned earlier, people score good but I didnt say they score well. This is because:
  • The Toefl is a test to measure your skills in an Academic environment, for academic English proficiency. Built by ETS for US Business School entrances. As it turns out, most of the people are not used to such stage level.
  • Even native speaker have deadlocks during the test simply because the test measures your skills in a short amount of time, in a framework that is NOT your natural or daily reading or speaking routine. I.E., the first indipendent speaking task asks you to give an opinion on a familiar topic. Prepare in 15 seconds and responce in 45 seconds. Frankly speaking: this is ridiculous, simply because almost nobody wake up in the morning and talk in that way. But the problem is that you must deliver such kind of response. The majority of the BS want at the very least 25 in the speaking section. Not only that, considering that we communicate via words and speeches,it is important scoring well in the speaking section, that to give you just an example.In conclusion, overcoming the TOEFL test is not only a question of strategy or the richness of your vocabulary but is an amalgam of several factors. Your English level skills and strategy must be appropriate for the purpose.
  • Do not get disorient from video or blog's articles that suggest you: prepare for the TOEFL in seven days, high top level score. Bang. NO. This is misleading, most of the students need to study hard AND smart. Here we do have some stats about:

    • The average score for all test-takers is 80 points (R 20, S 19,7, L 20.2, W 30.3)
    • The average score for students applying to a high school is 71 points (16.9/16.9/19/18.7)
    • The average score for students applying to a two year college is 73 points (18.0/17.6/18.7/18.7)
    • The average score for students applying for undergraduate studies is 78 points (19.1/19/20/19.9)
    • The average score for students applying to graduate school is 84 points (21.4/20.8/20.7/21)
    • The average score for people applying for a professional license is 82 points (20.3/20.4/20.8/20.4)

As you conclude, the TOEFL standards for an high score are quite stringent.

Reading Section

Before to start practice a lot for the test you must be aware what you are face off during. It is really important to stick out the following


Probably the most important advice I might give you for this section of the test is to stay focus on at your best. The arguments are arcane, abstruce, convoluted, twisted in to the form. Do not get lost, do not rush throughtout the passage. One one hand an handfull strategy is to read the first and the last sentence of each paragraph for having a general sense of it but you risk to lose the grasp as whole and to have hard time tackling important questions such as: summarize the passage via key points at the end of the questions lot. You should find the best approach that works for you. For me, for instance, works to read the entire passage but not to skim it. Of course, this strategy is good for those people that have a good reading and understanding of English in general and in particular of scince or humanity passage. ( I admit that I am a voracious reader).

Deepening: look at my post Best resources to tackle each section of the TOEFL iBT for a thoroughly strategy.

Listening Section

In the second section of the test, we certainly split our strategy in two branches for delivering the best answers and gaing the best score; generally the conversation took in place in a library, classroom, inside the professor's office or similar scenarios:

1) In a more general way, your skills are sphaped by your habit to listening music, see movies, or every kind of instructional video or not in English. For instance: I really do love horology and all is what related to watches; The Urban Gentry is one of the most popular watch-channel on youtube, but aside this, the guy speaks with an high-level of English with a little british accent due to his origin. Well, this is an example how to improve both your vocabulary and your comprehension. Of course, if your main interest is cooking rather than every kind of possible argument: history, art, nature this is a way to go.
2) Specifically, improving your Listening score is also a matter to know how is the test, what are the types of questions you will answer, the way to take notes and so forth.


Deepening: look at my post Best resources to tackle each section of the TOEFL iBT for a thoroughly strategy.

Speaking Section

Every student has his/her weakness or strengths: someone is more comfortable with the writing section and struggle with listening or reading is facile like drink a glass of water but speaking is a nightmare worst than Freddy Kruger.
Nonetheless, in my personal opinion the speaking section is the most challenging among the four. You can write a good essay memorizing a template, you could fail a question during the reading section but understand the whole lot, you might grasp the gist of a conversation but speaking is a completely different thing. We do not communicate on a daily basis writing a romance, we do not listen 100% what the world says us regularly,we do not read what for us is a waste of time. However, whether we wanna be at the center of our society, in the middle of a more or less vast community we must speak: coherently, cogently, if any we need to speak specifically about the argument we face out.

As a matter of fact, your speaking performance and consequently your score is the result of your confidence, fluency, of your preparation to deliver exactly what the prompt are asking for, in the allotted time frame.

Almost all the TOEFL websites dedicated for your preparation or the best youtube channels, that explain you how to tackle the speaking part ot the others, address in a very efficient way to cope with the 6 questions using template to deliver your answer. This is a good strategy as long as you are confident in your speaking. However, this approach has a flaw. Look at the following template
Main point
“A time when I…”
“In my opinion…”
“I would advise my friend to…”
“I think that…”
“I feel this way for two reasons.”
“This was ------- for two main reasons.”
“I would make this suggestion for two main reasons.”
First reason
“First…” + “To be more specific…”
Second reason
“Second…” + “For example…”

Quite straighforward and useful. This is a possible prompt and answer to the very first task: the indipendent task in which you must talk about a personal experience. You could address a pure experience or a three reasons one or an opinion or an advice.

A friend of yours is having frequent disagreements with his parents. What advice would you give your friend about resolving this problem? Include details and examples to support your explanation

I would advise my friend to join a public speaking club on campus. I would suggest this for two main reasons. First of all, this would give him a chance to talk in front of others without feeling much pressure. To be more specific, he won’t be graded on the quality of his presentations, so he can practice this way without worrying that mistakes will affect his academic record. Secondly, other members of the club will likely have experienced some of the same anxieties that he is currently feeling, and will be able to offer relevant advice and suggestions. For example, when I was in such an organization during my freshman year I was given a lot of really appropriate tips. As a result, I excelled when presenting in my actual classes
Source: toeflresources

The underlined words are made to create compound sentences and the bold part because of trasnsitional phrases.

Until now all is fine, which is great. Where is the flaw have we pointed out before ??

Well, if you will have during the exam a slightly shift in the prompt or for some reason you get stuck during your speaking, following the template in a hardcore-way, without being flexible, you could end up getting lost and jeopardizing your speaking performance.
It is not mandatory to follow this template; as long as you are fluent, you are consistent delivering your response, you will not have so many pause in your speach such as: muh ah or repeating so often the same words, you are understandable and a good pronunciation, the you will be great as well for the higest score.

Considering this prompt

What do you think your life will look like after retirement? Use reasons and details to support your response.

Response to this prompt

I don't see myself as a person who will ever fully retire. I like to keep busy, and I have trouble relaxing. If I want to spend a few hours reading or listening to music I usually schedule it into my date book. I find that if I don't force myself to relax from time to time I always find some sort of project or work to do. Though I may not want to hold a paying job in the medical field when I am older, I will probably volunteer in a third world country rather than retire. I'm lucky that I've found work that I am interested in. If I grow tired of my job I may feel differently when the time comes.

As you can see, this answer was graded as an high-level response. And it does not follow the template above.
You do have possible templates for every of the 6 questions during your speaking section. Use them but do not stress to much on these. Use them as a guidance or one of your tools in your arsenal to crack the section and achieve the best score.

What we are mentioning til now is also corroborate by the Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 2 that is the latter realesed by ETS and should be the most update version and the closest material to the real test.

Look at this prompt extracted by the OG

Talk about an important experience that you recently had. Describe what happened and explain why it was important to you.

The response in mp3 can be downloaded here.

This is how the grader descibes the response given and scored as high-level response.

This is a fully developed response to the question. She describes her experience study-ing abroad in Spain and gives a few examples of the importance of the experience (learning a new language, new culture, and so on.); she also gives a longer explanation to describe the experience of living alone for the first time. Although she doesn't provide a lot of sup-port for the importance of the event, she does mention several things such as learning a new language and living in a different culture for which the importance is implicit. She doesn't sound like a native English speaker, and there are occasional mispronunciations, but her speech is clear throughout and she uses correct, precise language and vocabulary to describe the topic.

No template. No a schematic approach. Only a good answer in terms of cogency, fluency and pronunciation. That's all.

Deepening: look at my post Best resources to tackle each section of the TOEFL iBT for a thoroughly strategy and see the ETS speaking rubric as attach at the bottom.

Writing Section

During the writing section of the TOEFL, you must cope with two kinds of essays:

  • an independent essay - which takes three types of form: Agree/Disagree Type; Three Choices Type; Preference Type.
  • an integrated essay - In this section you will first read a short article about an academic topic and after that you will listen to a lecture on the same topic. You mission is to describe how the lecture opposes the reading. You may only listen to the lecture once, but you can look at the article while you are writing your essay.


For the indipendent essay you should know that the essay ETS ask you to write is barely a draft of an essay in an academic environment. Nothing of Shakespeariang reminiscence. Moroever, we can talk about TEOFL essay, GMAT AWA or even GRE argument Essay: they are the same, no matter what. If you wanna take a look an in-depth analysis how to structure your essay see GRECLUB Guide to AWA - The clear-cut. Now we will get into an official indipendent essay from OG graded the most: 5 points.

Do you agree or disagree with the follow-ing statement? Technology has made children less creative than they were in the past. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

The well organized essay, as response

Technology is today part of the everyday life; we are surrounded it by it and can't live without it. But despite all the good things that derive from technology, I strongly agree that there are some ways that technology causes children to think less.

For one thing, there is almost no infor-mation that cannot be found on the internet. When it comes to reading, many high school students agree to refer to "notes" sites instead of reading a complete book assigned by their teachers. These sites usually map out the important stories, passages, and characters for the student. This destroys creativity by not allowing the student to understand the story on his or her own and discover the true per-sonal meanings of the assignment. An activity such as reading is suppose to question one's intellect and challenge one's thinking but with these sites available, kids now rely on the infor-mation given and fail to appreciate and grow that is the purpose of reading many books.

During other activities encountered in school, such as projects, children now tend to rely on the internet to come up with ideas. I have observed this many times. When a creative assignment is given by the teacher, instead of brainstorming ideas together, children just hop on a computer and search for ideas on the internet. It's one thing to use the Internet as a tool as oppose to using it inces-santly and not letting your imagination and creativity take charge.

Other forms of technology such as video games and TV has a great impact on using up time that used to be devoted to imagina-tion and creative activities. Before TV and computer, children invented their world just on their own using their fantasy when build-ing things with blocks or being outdoors in the nature. They used simple things for con-structing adventures and had great ideas for new games together or alone. This means they learn to be creative and also self-determined and self-conscious. Nowaday, how can they learn these skills when passively watching TV or doing what the computer says?

In summary, there is a lot about technol-ogy that takes away from chances for children to be creative and develop creative skills.

As you can see: first of all you do have a hook: an interesting sentence that describes the topic of the essay without stating your main point.
Then the first paragraph in which you state what the prompt says and counteract it with specific reasons and a possible example. A second paragraph with the same structure. A conclusion with a restatement of what you have just explained.


For the integrated essay the way to attack it is different.Considering this passage from OG

Archaeologists have recently found a fossil of a 150-million-year-old mam-mal known as Repenomomus robustus (R. robustus). Interestingly, the mammal's stomach contained the remains of a psittacosaur dinosaur. Some researchers have therefore suggested that R. robustus was an active hunter of dinosaurs. However, a closer analysis has made the hypothesis that R. robustus was an active hunter unlikely. It was probably Just a scavenger that sometimes fed on dinosaur eggs containing unhatched dinosaurs.
First, R. robustus, like most mammals living 150 million years ago, was small—only about the size of a domestic cat. It was much smaller than psittacosaurs, which were almost two meters tall when full grown. Given this size difference, it is unlikely that R. robustus would have been able to successfully hunt psittacosaurs or similar dinosaurs.
Second, the legs of R. robustus appear much more suited for scavenging than hunting: they were short and positioned somewhat to the side rather than directly underneath the animal. These features suggest that R. robustus did not chase after prey. Psittacosaurs—the type of dinosaur found in the stomach of R. robustus—were fast moving. It is unlikely that they would have been caught by such short-legged animals.
Third, the dinosaur bones inside the stomach of the R. robustus provide no evidence to support the idea that the dinosaur had been actively hunted. When an animal has been hunted and eaten by another animal, there are usually teeth marks on the bones of the animal that was eaten. But the bones of the psittaco-saur inside the R. robustus stomach do not have teeth marks. This suggests that R. robustus found an unguarded dinosaur nest with eggs and simply swallowed an egg with the small psittacosaur still inside the eggshell.

Here is the audio of the lecture by a professor download

Your goal in a nutshell is this. Always is the same during the test


You have to spot point one in your reading and counteract this point based on what the professor says in the audio: he/she talks about the same topic actually weakening what the reading states. The same for point two and so forth. This is the way you must go, your strategy to tackle the integrated essay.

This is a possible answer graded the highest score by ETS.

The lecture completely refutes the reading passage. The professor use the following points to indicate that R. robustus could have been actively hunting baby psittacosaur and similar sized baby dinosaurs.
First, although R. robustus was small, it was much bigger than baby psittacosaurs dinosaur, more than twice in size. This means R. robustus was big enough to hunt baby psittacosaurs.
Second, even though R. robustus had short legs and they were positioned somewhat to the side, these features are not sufficient indications that R. robustus could not run as fast enough to be successful predator. The professor pointed out that Tasmanian Devil, a morden-day successful predator whose legs share similar "disadvantages", can run as fast as 50 KM/H and is an active and very success-ful hunter today. So its possible R. robustus could run just as fast and therefore be as suc-cessful in hunting.
Last but not the least, lack of teeth marks on the dinosaur bones is not enough evidence to support conclusion that the dinosaur was not actively hunted. Studies of fossil records show that though R. robustus had powerful jaws but also, it did not use its back-teeth for chewing because its back teeth had no wear and tear. So we can also guess that R. robustus could had swallowed the baby dinosaur whole and therefore not leaving any teeth marks.

It is quite clear how the student attacks the lecture point by point.First, the lecture says this but the professor says that. Back and fourth, in a sort of checks and balances. During the task it is extremely important to jot down some notes to have track of the points made in the reading part and the counterpoints of the lecture.The good news is that you always have the passage on the left of your screen.

A possible template.

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Main idea of the listening: In the lecture, the speaker discusses...

Main idea of the reading:However, in the reading, the writer...

Paragraph 2: First Shared Topic
An idea from the listening: The lecturer / speaker says that … + extra information(try to write 2 or 3 sentences)

An idea from the reading:The author / writer states that … + extra information(try to write 1 or 2 sentences; this can be difficult because sometimesthe information in the reading is very short; maybe you can combineideas from different parts of the reading)

Paragraph 3: Second Shared Topic
An idea from the listening: The lecturer / speaker also says that … + extra information(try to write 2 or 3 sentences)

An idea from the reading: The author / writer states that … + extra information(try to write 1 or 2 sentences; this can be difficult because sometimesthe information in the reading is very short; maybe you can combineideas from different parts of the reading)

Paragraph 4: Conclusion

Deepening: look at my post Best resources to tackle each section of the TOEFL iBT for a thoroughly strategy and see the ETS speaking rubric as attach at the bottom.



Further Resouces

Disclaimer: the material shared in this guide is owned by ETS®, in primis and secundis the books from which the same material is extracted are owned by me.It is shared only for educational purpose.

toefl_speaking_rubrics.pdf [133.95 KiB]
Downloaded 307 times

To download please login or register as a user

toefl_writing_rubrics.pdf [141.86 KiB]
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Originally posted by carcass on 01 Apr 2017, 10:56.
Last edited by carcass on 23 Jul 2018, 10:39, edited 5 times in total.
Update 01/05/2018
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New post 21 Apr 2017, 03:40
Thanks for creating this thread, this was really useful to me
Joined: 23 May 2017
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New post 23 May 2017, 05:17
Thank you for advices.
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New post 12 Jun 2017, 09:59
Thank you for the information. It really helps!
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New post 19 Jun 2017, 19:32
It is really helpful. Do you have a link to download ebook? Thanks.
Joined: 07 Jul 2017
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New post Updated on: 23 Jul 2018, 10:38

Welcome to the TOEFL FAQ section. Here you will find comprehensive information about everything you need to know about the TOEFL Test. This is a must read for someone who is completely new to TOEFL. If you are familiar with TOEFL, you would find valuable resources here as well.

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Originally posted by zyrakate on 12 Jul 2017, 09:15.
Last edited by carcass on 23 Jul 2018, 10:38, edited 5 times in total.
Edited by Carcass
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New post 20 Aug 2017, 05:54
Thanks for the post. It is really helpful.
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New post 24 Sep 2017, 22:24
Many thanks
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New post 17 Oct 2017, 08:17
Hi My name is Marya, I am looking for a study partner to practice over skype for TOEFL exam. I would be available form 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM ETZ (eastern time zone)
My skype ID is Csexam14
Looking forward to hearing from you friends!
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New post 14 Dec 2017, 04:30
yeah, It really helping to me.

Posted from my mobile device
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New post 05 Feb 2018, 04:23

Books for Test Preparation

These books are excellent at teaching different strategies to solve different types of questions. They will explain in-depth of how to solve the questions effectively to guarantee a good TOEFL score. However, their TOEFL practice tests are either too difficult or too easy compared to the actual test.

Books for Practice Tests

These books provide excellent TOEFL practice tests that accurately portray the actual difficulty of the test. The practice books that I will be recommending contains only the authentic practice tests that were previously used as actual tests. However, these books contain little to no explanation on how to solve different types of questions.

I recommend buying at least one strategy book and one practice test book. If you have more money to spend, I recommend buying more practice test books rather than buying more test preparation books so you can solve more authentic practice questions and boost your score. If you buy at least one test preparation book and one practice test book, you will learn strategies from the strategy book and practice your strategies on authentic practice questions.


This are the recommended TOEFL books to help in your test preparation. As I stated earlier, you should buy at least one test preparation book and one TOEFL practice test books to get a good score.
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New post 22 Feb 2018, 21:01
thanks i really need this book for my ielts test preparation that helps me out thanks again
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New post 28 Mar 2018, 20:12
Thanks for all the resources. It's really helpful.
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Apr 2018, 05:46
Top 18 Quality Books That Will Help You Prepare for the TOEFL Test 2018
Are you looking for a great TOEFL book?

I hope so! A nice book can be your best friend when you are studying for the TOEFL.

There are a few good reasons why you should add books to your TOEFL preparation, even if you are already taking a TOEFL course or making your own practice tests.

Books are versatile study tools that can assist you with all aspects of test prep, not just grammar and vocabulary.

TOEFL is such a well-known test that there are countless (many) great books written on everything related to it, from speaking topics to note-taking strategies.

Books complement any study strategy you may consider using. You may take a TOEFL course, hire a tutor or study by yourself… but in every case, you will most definitely need a TOEFL textbook and several other books to help you.

There are plenty of books written about TOEFL in languages other than English. You can probably find a textbook written with some explanations in your native language! This is invaluable for students with an intermediate level of English or lower. What is more, a lot of books may be available entirely in your native language and sold in your local bookstores.

Here are just some examples of topics TOEFL books may cover:

Test structure and format
Assessment of language skills
Targeted exercises and topics to improve grammar, writing and reading skills
So, what kind of TOEFL book should you go look for?



These textbooks cover all aspects of the test and prepare you for all of its sections. This kind of TOEFL textbook works great as a general study guide. No matter which other books you use, you should definitely pick one of these and rely on it for your overall test preparation.


This is the official textbook released by the organization that administers the test. It gets republished fairly regularly and contains the most up-to-date information on the TOEFL and its requirements. This is the safest bet when you want to have the most relevant and useful information.

There are three good things about the Official Gide:

1. It has the most truthful description of what you see on the TOEFL iBT

2. The practice sets at the ends of the chapters

3. The three practice tests on CD (and in the back of the book)

But none of it is perfect, oddly. The description of the test comes with almost no strategy or advice. For example, there is nothing about skipping a text in the reading section or looking at the first question before you start reading. Also, there aren’t very many practice sets for some question types, such as speaking. And one of the practice tests in the back is old and imperfect, from just after ETS had started making iBT, before they made small adjustments to the format. Even the CD is imperfect—the software is not exactly the same as software you’ll use on test day, although it is similar.

But there is still no better way to get realistic practice tests for a low price, and especially to get them on the computer, like a real TOEFL iBT.

Having the “real” questions gives students an accurate sense of the level of difficulty and what is actually expected of them on the day of the test. Finally, the book concludes with a helpful section at the end, the “Writer’s Handbook,” that explains basic English language principles.

Overall, this is a great choice for TOEFL preparation, although test-takers are well advised to supplement the guide with other study aids that contain additional model exams.


This book is updated every year. It is a comprehensive resource for TOEFL preparation that has good listening and speaking exercises and sound advice on test-taking strategies. If CDs are not your preference anymore, the book also gives you access to MP3 file downloads and online exercises.


The major advantage of this well-written, academic resource by Kaplan are the practice tests. Every textbook provides test examples and mini-tests, but this particular TOEFL book includes the biggest number of practice tests available. Along with the standard CD/MP3 resources, you also get instructional videos!


Each of these books focuses on one specific element of the TOEFL and your preparation for test day. For example, some of them focus on one individual test section—either Reading, Writing (Independent and Integrated), Listening or Speaking. They may also assist with other isolated aspects related to TOEFL contents. If you feel like you need to focus on, for example, reading or writing, look into getting some of the specialized TOEFL guides.


This book will allow you to test your heart out once you have had enough studying! It is best reserved for weekly and monthly progress evaluations, but this book should nonetheless be listed close to the top of our recommendations, as it provides five more authentic tests in addition to three you get in the official ETS textbook.

This book also contains five latest TOEFL practice tests that ETS administered. Like the Volume 1 of the iBT Tests, this book also comes with an interactive CD-ROM which is similar to the real test.

Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 2

Each of these books contains five complete past TOEFL exams. The TOEFL iBT books are the best to use for practice TOEFLs because they are written by the same people who make the TOEFL and the practice tests included are all retired real TOEFL exams. Like the Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, this means that you can be sure that the practice tests will be very similar in format, style, and content to the actual TOEFL which some unofficial practice tests don’t always succeed in.

Each TOEFL iBT book includes a DVD-ROM so you can take the practice tests either on paper or on the computer. This means you can take practice tests in the same format you’ll take the real TOEFL in. In addition to high-quality practice tests, these TOEFL preparation books also include in-depth answer explanations so you can understand why a particular answer is correct.


Once you know what to expect from the TOEFL, you need to practice, practice and practice more. This exercise book has over 1,000 different exercises for all test sections, including sample essays and speaking task answers. There is also a full practice test, in case you do not have enough of these already!

Practice Exercises for the TOEFL

Practice, practice, practice – this is what this Barron’s TOEFL book stands for.

Designed for the most thorough of students, this guide and its new MP3 CD-ROM offer together over 1,000 realistic practice exercises and explanations for listening, speaking, structure, reading, and writing. It is suitable for preparation for both the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL ITP(Institutional TOEFL Program).

This test study guide includes one TOEFL iBT practice test and one ITP practice test. Both contain answer evaluations and can be scored. As an added bonus, Barron’s equipped this 2015 edition of the book with a new chapter that offers an overview of the most used TOEFL vocabulary words as well as new skill-building practice patterns.

Mainly because of the amount of questions and answers, this is a good tool to supplement and boost your studies.

“Excellent book , very well organized and explained. I would suggest it to all who are looking for a good general review for TOEFL.”
“As an English teacher for foreign language students I truly recommend this material.
A comparison between what it offers versus the investment required will clearly show how significative it is for non native speakers.
The division among the abilities (Listening, Reading and Grammar use) is well balanced and well driven to TOEFL Test.
If you are studying for TOEFL or any other similar test, believe me it will be of great help.”
“Took the test once and wanted to retake it. Wanted a book to give me sample questions to refresh what type of questions I see on the test. After using this book for two weeks, listening section score went up 10 points. Speaking section went up 6 points.This book comes with answers to all multiple choice questions and explanations for all answers. The answer key and CDs were all very easy to use.”

This book targets the very necessary vocabulary skills every TOEFL taker should have. The book focuses on approximately 500 essential words that will help you do well on the test. Because vocabulary building is a highly personal subject—no two students are alike in what they know and what they do not know, everyone knows a different set of vocabulary—this guide is best used as a complementary vocabulary resource rather than a primary one.

This well-organized Barron’s book is another study aid meant to supplement traditional TOEFL books. As such, it contains a list of roughly 500 essential words with definitions for taking the TOEFL.

It also provides an overview of the TOEFL’s most important features, offers tips on how to expand one’s vocabulary, and gives instructions on how to use dictionaries, thesauruses, and flash cards.

In addition, there are practice tests that give readers a chance to apply their new knowledge and evaluate themselves.

“I recommend this book to all my TOEFL students. This summary perfectly reflects the sophisticated low-frequency vocabulary needed for the TOEFL and it’s mixed with high-frequency words to create a rounded set of vocabulary. However, as a student, don’t expect to read this book in a week or two and have memorized all words. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to remember and use these words naturally.”


240 Writing Topics is an very thorough book. It outlines and breaks apart the different components of the essay and then teaches you how to write them using a variety of common topics. This book shows you again and again how to structure and phrase your argument to support your thesis.

-120 Writing Topics
-120 Model Essays
-120 Essay Outlines
-1200 Model Sentences

Great for

-ESL Learners
-High School Students
-Test Prep Students
-College Students

I would recommend this a s practice book for ESL students studying for any type of competency exam. It’s a complete education on how to correctly write an essay.


These two books share the same contents, so buy one or the other to practice your speaking and writing skills. You do not need both together, you just need to choose based one your needs. Do you need to practice writing more? Do you need to practice speaking more?

Studying by yourself for both of these TOEFL sections is challenging without a doubt, but each book can be a great assistant! Each provides over a hundred topics that you can write on and speak about out loud. All of the topics have been taken from retired TOEFL tests. The book also contains model essays, good essay outlines and a lot of examples of elegant, grammatically correct sentences. These will help improve your oral and written skills alike.

-120 Speaking Topics
-120 Sample Answers
-480 Useful Expressions
-480 Grammar Questions

Great for
-ESL Learners
-High School Students
-Test Prep Students
-College Students


True, there is no separate grammar section on TOEFL. However, grammar is essential for getting high scores on Writing and Speaking sections. You can never practice too much grammar.


Check Your English Vocabulary for TOEFL by Rawdon Wyatt provides a resource for students studying towards the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, which is a requirement for entry for non-native speakers of English at over 6,000 universities in 100 countries worldwide.

This workbook provides a resource for students studying towards the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, which is a requirement for entry for non-native speakers of English at over 8,000 universities in 130 countries worldwide.
Fully updated for this fourth edition, it includes a range of fun activities to help students build and improve their English vocabulary at TOEFL® level, and is suitable for both self-study and classroom use.

“Perfect for vocabulary and helped me the most in my writing. After studying the book and doing the exercises I started to come up with high vocabulary in my writing responses and it boosted my thinking fluency.”


This is one of the most popular guides to English grammar, now in its 11th edition, and it is easy to see why everyone likes to use it. It is well-written, accessible and very concise. The grammar rules are all very clearly explained without getting too complicated. Apart from all the grammar rules that are discussed and explained, it also offers lots of examples, worksheets and tests.


Cambridge University Press is the leading publisher on TOEFL preparation books. This book is the best preparation book on the market (Barron’s close second) because it thoroughly reviews all four sections. It contains many practice skills found in Barron’s and even more.

This book is especially excellent for students who struggle in the writing section. It covers the not only the basics such as developing full paragraph essay and recognizing the main points but also the specifics such as including the specific examples from the text.

There are seven online tests included in this book. The practice tests are the most accurate representation of the test format, not the difficulty of the test. In listening sections, other programs start the clock whenever you start to listen, but on the actual test and in Cambridge, the clock starts running when you started to answer the questions. The Cambridge online tests are the most accurate representation of the test format of the TOEFL and also give your score after each practice tests.

Although the test format itself is the most accurate, the test difficulty and the practice materials are harder than the actual test just like Barron’s. So, don’t be harsh on yourself whenever you have scored lower than your average score.

The detrimental flaw of this book is the high cost. There are two versions of this book: book without audio CDs and book with audio CDs. The book without audio CDs costs around 50 dollars, and the book with CDs costs around 80 dollars. Without the audio CDs, you won’t be able to use half of the skill-building exercises, so the audio CDs are essential to buy. Compared to the cost of Barron’s book which comes with audio CDs, it is extremely expensive.

This book is for students who are aiming to receive 100+ on your TOEFL. If you are not aiming for above 100, then don’t waste money buying this expensive book. Also, if you don’t want to spend much money on practice books, the Barron’s book is an excellent substitute of this book for students who are aiming above 100. However, if you do have the money and willing to spend it, this book is an excellent choice.


When you need just a little bit of extra help with your English language studies, it is a good idea to look for resources targeted specifically at non-native English speakers. The book takes into account the most common difficulties ESL learners encounter with English grammar, using examples and accessible language to explain concepts clearly.


While dictionaries are not textbooks, they are useful book for anyone who wants to take the TOEFL! Dictionaries are inevitably found on the desk of every English language student. And for a good reason!

You cannot study a language successfully without having a good dictionary on hand. A dictionary that translates English words into your native language can be helpful when you are really confused about an English word’s meaning. However, when studying for the TOEFL you will also want to have an English-to-English dictionary, so that you can read descriptions of English words in English. This will teach you even more vocabulary and let you practice your reading comprehension. So, you will need a dictionary that is made for English speakers.

Another useful tool is a thesaurus. A thesaurus is like a dictionary, but instead it will give you lists of synonyms—different words that all mean the same thing. So, if you look up the word “happy,” you will see “glad,” “jolly,” “gleeful,” “jubilant” and more words that also mean “happy.”

A thesaurus is your best choice of book for improving your vocabulary and making sure that you do not repeat the same basic vocabulary words over and over again while speaking and writing. It is also great for practicing reading comprehension while learning new words. You can look up an unknown word and try to understand its meaning based on its synonyms.

The most authoritative and, indeed, the most well-known and therefore most easily-located dictionaries worldwide, are published by Oxford University Press. You may choose to own a different one, but any Oxford dictionary is well worth the investment due to its rigorous editing process and regularly released new editions.


Barron’s TOEFL iBT 15th Edition[TOEFL Materials and Resources, Get TOEFL Tips, Tricks & Practice Test]

I highly recommend Barron’s TOEFL book because of the following reasons:

The 150-page strategy guide is very comprehensive.
It contains many practice materials to solidify your test-taking skills.
The audio CDs contains every recording for listening practice questions.
The CD-ROM contains eight practice tests which simulates the actual test taking conditions.
At the back of the book, there are comprehensive explanations for each question on the model tests. This 150-page explanation is very detailed, and you will recognize your weaknesses and strengthen them by using this book.
The cost of this book is inexpensive compared to other TOEFL preparation books.
Barron’s book is one of the best TOEFL books for test preparation. To help you to determine if Barron’s book is right for you, I will breakdown each section of this book.

A. Introduction

This book begins with frequently asked questions about the test, general test-taking tips and advice, how to use this book, and study habits to prepare for TOEFL. These are very informative for new test takers to know what to expect on the test day which will make them confident on the actual test.

B. Detailed breakdown of each section and specific strategies for each section

This book does a wonderful job of listing every possible type of questions in each section and checklists that you should follow for each type of questions. For example, the reading section has fourteen possible types of questions such as interference, classification, and insert; the listening section has ten possible types of questions such as purpose, main idea, and connection; the speaking section has six different types of questions such as experiences, preferences, and examples; the writing section has two different types of questions which are synthesis of opposing ideas in integrated essay question and opinion in independent essay.

Not only does the book list every single possible types of questions that could appear on the test, the book gives specific detailed checklists for each possible type of questions. For example, there are about twelve items on checklists for each types of questions. Also, the book lists the point value and the frequency that a certain type of question appears on the TOEFL test.

After the strategy guide, the book enforces those strategies and checklist through many practice problems. The detailed explanation at the back is really helpful because you will know which types of questions are your weaknesses and focus on those weaknesses to strengthen them.

C. Academic Section

After the Barron’s book has gone over specific strategies for specific sections, it has a section called Academic skills that apply to all four sections.

Campus Vocabulary

Campus vocabulary is a list of approximately 200 academic vocabulary that are frequently used in TOEFL. It includes the word’s definitions, example sentences, and the grammatical use in the sentence. There is also an interactive program which includes all the campus vocabulary in this book. If you are interested in this free program, visit this site.

Taking Notes

The Barron’s book has excellent guides about taking notes and exercises to practice this skill. These excellent strategies teach students to properly take notes such as dividing the paper into columns, separating content into major and minor points, noticing key words and phrases, and using abbreviations and symbols for faster note-taking. Also, the comprehensive lists of keywords, key phrases, abbreviations, and symbols are very helpful.


Paraphrasing is rewriting the idea into your own words. This skill is important in all four sections because those sections contain questions about paraphrasing. Skills such as substituting synonyms, using different grammatical structures, and using key phrases help you to improve your paraphrasing skills greatly. After the guide, it has many practice questions to reinforce this skill.


Summarizing is using your own words to shorten an idea into few words. Summarizing is like paraphrasing but using fewer words than paraphrasing. Barron’s book teaches many summarizing skills such as condensing the ideas, combining sentences using clauses of addition, result, contrast, and reversal, and identifying the main points. After the guide, it contains questions to strengthen your skills.


Synthesizing is combining two ideas into one which is important for integrated speaking and writing tasks. This book gives useful advice on synthesizing such as recognizing key words and phrases that denote relationships and step-by-step guide on reading and writing synthesis tasks.

D. 8 TOEFL Practice Tests

Barron’s book contains 7 practice tests and 1 extra test on the CD-ROM which is a total of 8 practice tests. The CD-ROM simulates the all 8 practice tests accurately like the actual tests. Also, in the back, there are two audio CDs for skill-building exercises for each sections.

The test questions in the Barron’s book does not accurately reflect the difficulty of the real TOEFL test. Barron’s questions are little harder than the real TOEFL test which could be beneficial because the actual test will seem easier than the questions in Barron’s. So, do not be discouraged if you miss more questions than you normally would. For books that contain questions with same difficulty as the actual tests, keep on reading!

E. Explanation

One aspect that I absolutely adore in the Barron’s Test is the detailed answer explanations of every question in every practice test. The explanation section itself is over 150 pages long! This section contains very detailed explanation of the reason behind each answer. For example, it will state that a certain answer is right because of this specific phrase. Also, it contains sample answers and checklists for every speaking and writing section so you can check your answer. The detailed explanation will help students to recognize their weakness and to strengthen their weakness through constant practice.

F. Conclusion

The Barron’s book is extremely helpful because of the thorough strategy guides for each section and the detailed explanation on the back. Although Barron’s book has its flaw of not reflecting the actual difficulty of the test, you will be much more prepared for the actual tests.

Barron’s book should be your first-choice strategy guide because of its thoroughness and its low cost. This book costs around 25 dollars on Amazon which is very cheap compared to other strategy books on the market.


For a student who is studying for over a month and needs some more substantial practice, the Complete Guide is the fastest way to get more high-quality practice material and good skill-building material. It’s not cheap, and it can be a little hard to find, but this book has almost everything a good self-study book should have: loads of material, easy-to-read explanations of strategy, step-by-step training exercises, and audio included (online, for free.) The biggest problem is that there are no answers in the book—you have to buy a separate answer book for that.

This book is really an amazing tool for you to encounter detailed questions in the listening section. The practice tests require you to listening carefully and pay attention to detail. There are many questions related to the order of facts given in the lecture or true/false questions. Hardly could people choose the right answer without grasping the whole passages. This kind of question is the most difficult one in listening, so people who have mastered other types should work on this book to complete all of the skills.


This classic McGraw Hill’s study guide still remains one of the best TOEFL books for intermediate-level students looking to build up their vocabulary. Although not a substitute for a full-fledged TOEFL test manual, working with this handy guide will help you familiarize yourself with 400 target words that are particularly common on the TOEFL exam.

The words are organized into eight categories (Nature, Science, Mind and Body, etc.) and various subcategories, which facilitates the learning of new terms and expressions. Each subcategory is organized as its own lesson. Lessons start off with 10 target words, followed by definitions, samples, and TOEFL prep exercises that require readers to correctly apply these target words.

In its current updated 2013 edition, 400 Must-Have Words for the TOEFL even comes with an app featuring flashcard-style vocabulary quizzes.

Simple, yet effective!


This exciting book is very different from other study guides as it focuses on increasing your TOEFL score by targeting its speaking and writing sections.

First, the main strategic approach it follows in doing so is “argument mapping.” This multi-faceted innovative technique helps to effectively develop and deliver written and spoken arguments by using, for example, deductive and inductive approaches or by developing a number of sophisticated writing strategies.

Second, the guide contains instructions on crafting high-scoring responses for the test’s various speaking and writing tasks, explores rhetorical skills and opinion development, and discusses how to limit errors and improve scores by revising your responses.

In sum, this is a very clever, effective, and thought-provoking manual.


Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT is a complete test preparation course. It represents an excellent, feature-packed resource for anybody looking to boost their TOEFL score.

The guide is organized in thirty-five learning units that cover the TOEFL’s Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections. Each unit begins with an exercise to focus the reader’s attention, followed by introductory explanations, strategic advice for each section, and thirty-four timed quizzes. The quizzes in particular give the guide a playful and fun component and make studying for the test less stressful.

Another helpful feature is the book’s sample study outline with suggested topics and quizzes or tests that should be covered each week. Students can elect to use this outline to structure 15 weeks worth of TOEFL test preparation. The book is also accompanied by a CD with nine hours of MP3 tracks that can be played on iPods and similar devices. The CD contains the audio portion for all exercise, tests, and quizzes that are part of this guide.

Overall, an excellent choice and good alternative to TOEFL books by the major publishers such as Barron’s or Kaplan.

“Strengths: The biggest strength of this book is the amount of practice. The book contains numerous practice exercises for each and every type of question. This puts it heads and shoulders above other books in that regard. If you have a weakness for listening inference questions, this is really the only book where you can flip the appropriate section and isolate that question type. There are dozens of exercises for each and every type of question. In addition to the individual question types, there are practices that combine two or three question types, as well as all question types, plus four full practice tests. It gets a big A+ for the sheer number of practice questions. Another strength of the book is that the information about question types and answer formats is, for the most part, quite accurate. It may be strange, but this is not necessarily the case for some of the other major TOEFL prep books. If you follow the instructions and examples in this book, you’ll fare pretty well for the real test. Finally, this book has a detailed answer key that provides pretty good explanations of why a given answer is correct. In this regard, a book really can’t compare to a teacher or tutor, but the Delta book does a good job.”


Some say that once you understand humor, you have mastered the language. It is up to you to decide whether that is the case or not! A lot of jokes from this book, while being funny, will also help you improve your understanding of American English idioms and puns. Have fun with it!

Great American Humor: 1000 Funny Jokes, Clever One-Liners & Witty Sayings

There are thousands of books on TOEFL and hundreds of thousands of books for ESL students. How can you choose the best one for you?

By simply deciding exactly what you need. What are your weaknesses? What do you need to learn more about? What are the hardest parts of the TOEFL practice exams for you?

One of the easiest ways to get more knowledgeable about a particular aspect of the English language is to find a book about it. A specialized textbook may help you address the weak spots of your English, while also preparing you for the test.

Books cost relatively little and nowadays they are easily accessible online. They can be an attractive option if you want to study by yourself or do not have the means to take a whole course.

You are sure to find a useful one for your TOEFL journey—just start with the books recommended above!
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jun 2018, 23:13
Hi Guys! Which book do you recommend for studying for the TOEFL? The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test (iBT edition) or Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jun 2018, 04:47
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2018, 07:30
carcass wrote:
If you read this guide, just upon your head, you will know which book is best in decreasing order.


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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2018, 21:05
Can someone please post the same for IELETS?
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2018, 02:14
Hi I will be taking my gmat on oct 7 and I would like to know when should i give my toefl exam ?
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New post 10 Aug 2018, 01:21
Good collection of TOEFL iBT Books. Thank you for this post.
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Re: Best TOEFL iBT Books, Test and Strategy Review 2019   [#permalink] 10 Aug 2018, 01:21

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