Since it is the end of the year, here is a quick run-down of the best TOEFL books and courses available today. I remind you that I have used and examined everything that is listed here, so if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.  I’m a picky teacher, but (I hope) a fair one when it comes to materials. Don’t consider the order I’ve listed these materials as a ranking system.  I don’t rank stuff.

Best Online TOEFL Courses in 2022

1. TST Prep Score Builder Program

Pros: This remains the gold-standard for third party courses. It includes a 20 hour video course, 1000+ activities, 1000+ practice questions, 10 practice tests and other stuff.  It has the most accurate practice tests and questions of any third-party publisher.

Cons: It costs $197, which some might consider expensive.  However, you can use the coupon code goodine10off to get a 10% discount.  TST Prep also runs sales now and then, so check their social media.  A sale + the coupon will make this a deal.

2. Official iBT Prep Course

The Prep Course is new for 2022!  Yes, ETS is now selling its own online course.  It costs $130.

Pros: Since it comes from ETS, all of the practice questions in this course are 100% accurate.  That’s important.  I really like the strategies for the writing and speaking sections, as they clear up a lot of misconceptions held by students.

Cons: It contains no video lessons; the lessons are all text. Also, the course contains far fewer practice questions than the TST Prep course does. There is no option to take even one complete practice test all at once.

3. GregMat+ TOEFL

GregMat’s TOEFL course became super-popular in 2022.  Young people adore it.   It costs $5 per month.  Just remember to cancel the auto-renew.

Pros:  The strength of this course it its simplicity.  It consists of about 60 videos.  And that’s it.  It doesn’t have any activities, PDF files, sample tests or clunky UI to navigate.  It is just a bunch of videos that explain test-taking strategy.  In this way, it complements what is available online for free quite well. This appeals a lot to younger students, I think.  It is also really frigging cheap. It also includes access to Greg’s GRE lessons.

Cons:  The videos use questions from ETS sources like the website and the official (green) books to illustrate the strategies. Many buyers will already have seen them before they buy the course.  And, uh, I’m not sure if Greg is really allowed to use them in this way.

Best TOEFL  Books in 2022

 

1.  The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test, Sixth Edition

I think everyone should read the Official Guide to the TOEFL.  It is a perfect starting point for almost everyone planning to take the test.

Pros: This book contains the most detailed description of the test available.  It also contains four practice tests.

Cons: The integrated writing question in the first practice test is inaccurate.  The software used to deliver the practice tests is somewhat flawed (the listening section timers are wrong)

2. Official TOEFL iBT Tests Volume One, and Volume Two

These two books complement the above guide.  They each contain five practice tests.  They represent the ten best practice tests currently available.  Every serious test-taker should use them.  Note that they use the same somewhat flawed software to deliver the tests that the Official Guide uses.

3. Barron’s TOEFL 17th edition

Barron’s TOEFL is the last TOEFL book from a major third-party publisher that still gets updated.  Once there were many TOEFL books, but now there is one. 

Pros: This is a pretty good TOEFL book.  It contains detailed strategies.  The strongest aspect of the book is its massive collection of practice tests.  It includes eight full tests and eight more “practice tests” which contain 1/3 of the usual content.  That’s a ton of practice.   New in 2022 is a kindle version sold via Amazon.

Cons: There are a few little inaccuracies here and there (like in all third-party materials), but not enough to turn me off of the book.  

4. Princeton Review TOEFL 2022

Princeton Review still has a TOEFL book, but it doesn’t get updated (they just change the cover and title each year).  The only changes I’ve noticed in recent editions are typo fixes. I think this will be the last year I list it on the blog, unless it gets a proper update.

Pros: This book is okay.  It has some solid strategies and one decent practice test.

Cons: It has just one practice test.  Just one!  It also contains inaccuracies that probably won’t ever get fixed.

5.  Mastering the Reading Section for the TOEFL iBT: Third Edition

Kathy Spratt’s TOEFL reading book has a cult following online.  People love it.

Pros: Kathy focuses on what she knows best – the reading section of the TOEFL.  The book contains detailed strategies and original practice questions.  It is really cheap.

Cons: You’ll have to look elsewhere for help with the rest of the test.

Forthcoming in 2023

I believe that Collins will publish new editions of their TOEFL books sometime in 2023.  I like the current editions, but they are really old.

As I hear from publishers, I will update this post.

The TOEFL Information Bulletin was updated this month.  Most of the changes are to URLs that were adjusted in the recent overhaul of the TOEFL website.  But there are some curious changes to the section on invalid scores.  TOEFL score cancellations are a popular topic on social media nowadays, so this is important to note, I think.

Here is the version from last month:

ETS may also cancel scores if, in its judgment, there is substantial evidence that they’re invalid for any other reason. “Substantial evidence” means evidence that is sufficient to persuade a reasonable person. The substantial evidence standard is lower (meaning it requires less proof ) than the “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “clear and convincing,” or “preponderance of the evidence” standards. Evidence of invalid scores can include, without limitation, discrepant handwriting, discrepant photographs, unusual answer patterns, or inconsistent performance on different parts of the test.

Before canceling scores pursuant to this paragraph, ETS notifies the test taker in writing about its concerns, gives the test taker an opportunity to submit information that addresses those concerns, considers any such information submitted, and offers the test taker a choice of options. The options may include voluntary score cancelation, a free re-test, a voucher for a future test, or arbitration in accordance with the ETS standard Arbitration Agreement. The arbitration option is only available for tests administered in the United States at the time of testing.

Here is the NEW version (I have highlighted some important changes):

ETS may also cancel scores if, in its judgment, there is substantial evidence that they’re invalid for any other reason. “Substantial evidence” means evidence that is sufficient to persuade a reasonable person. The substantial evidence standard is lower (i.e., requires less proof ) than the “reasonable doubt”, “clear and convincing,” or “preponderance of the evidence” standards. Evidence of invalid scores may include, without limitation, discrepant handwriting, discrepant photographs, unusual answer patterns, or inconsistent performance on different parts of the test.

Score cancellation decisions are not subject to appeal to ETS. For test takers within the United States, before canceling scores based on substantial evidence of invalidity, ETS notifies the test taker in writing about its concerns, gives the test taker an opportunity to submit information that addresses those concerns, considers any such information submitted, and offers the test taker a choice of options. The options may include voluntary score cancellation, a voucher of a future test, a free retest, or arbitration in accordance with the ETS standard Arbitration Agreement. The final decision whether to cancel scores based on substantial evidence of invalidity is made by the ETS Office of Testing Integrity after reviewing any information addressing ETS concerns submitted by the test taker.

A few things are worth noting here:

  1.  Canceled scores have never been subject to appeal, but it is interesting to see that stated in print.
  2.  It is interesting that the United States is mentioned in the second line.  To date, test-takers around the world have been notified.  I wonder if this will change moving forward.  I will let you know.
  3. In some cases, scores have been canceled without test-takers being given the opportunity to submit information.  This includes security problems in the home edition, cases where ETS feels that test-takers have received assistance, and in cases of suspected plagiarism.  I wonder if this will change moving forward.

It is also worth noting that the old “Why and How ETS Questions TOEFL Scores” page on the ETS website is no longer online.  That’s a shame, as it contained a lot of useful information.  I wonder if that represents a change to how cancelled scores will be handled moving forward.

It appears that foreign language testing has been suspended in Vietnam.  Like… all of it.  That includes the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, TOPIK, NAT, HSK and other tests.  According to the ISEF Monitor:

Questions around the administration of language proficiency tests in Vietnam came to a head this month when the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) announced new requirements for test providers on 8 November 2022. In effect, the MOET statement set out that exams for foreign language proficiency can only be given by organisations that have received official permission from the Ministry to do so.

The move follows a series of suspensions of testing schedules announced in September and October, including proficiency exams for Chinese (HSK, HSKK), Korean (TOPIK), and Japanese (NAT-Test). Sittings for other exams, including PTE and TOEFL, were postponed as early as 10 September.

Following the Ministry’s 8 November announcement, the two major IELTS providers operating in Vietnam, the British Council and IDP, said that they too were postponing testing until further notice. 

I’ll write more on this story as it develops.

Update, November 20:

According to The PIE News:

The British Council Vietnam has now received approval from the government to resume testing at 10 of its centres.

IDP Education will also resume IELTS testing at four of its test centres in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Danang. Exams are still suspended at IDP centres in 37 cities across the country as the organisation awaits further approval from the education ministry. 

l updated the Duolingo/TOEFL score requirement tracker for November.  I was actually surprised to spot a couple of changes.  Carnegie Mellon increased their Duolingo score requirement by 10 to a total of 135 points.  That ties them with Columbia for the highest Duolingo score requirement.

I also noticed that the University of British Columbia now requires students to submit a waiver if they are going to use Duolingo Scores in their admission.

School

Spring 2022

DET / TOEFL

August 11
DET / TOEFL

September 4
DET / TOEFL

October 10

DET / TOEFL

November 16

DET / TOEFL

MIT

120 / 90

120 / 90

120 / 90

120 / 90

120 / 90

U of Toronto

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

Cornell

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

UBC

125 / 90

125 / 90

125 / 90

125 / 90

125 / 90*

Emory

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

130 / 100

130 / 100

U of Arizona

100 / 70

100 / 70

100 / 70

100 / 70

100 / 70

Carnegie Mel.

125 / 102

125 / 102

125 / 102

 125 / 102

135 / 102

Brown

125 / 100

125 / 100

125 / 100

130 / 100

130 / 100

U of Utah

105 / 80

105 / 80

105 / 80

105 / 80

105 / 80

Rice

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

UCLA

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

120 / 100

Columbia

125 / 105

125 / 105

135 / 105

135 / 105

135 / 105

Dalhousie

115 / 90

115 / 90

115 / 90

115 / 90

115 / 90

City College of SF

85 / 56

85 / 56

85 / 56

85 / 56

85 / 56

De Anza College

95 / 61

95 / 61

95 / 61

95 / 61

95 / 61

Imperial College London

115 / 92

115 / 92

115 / 92

115 / 92

115 / 92

U of Chichester

95 / 79

95 / 79

95 / 79

 -- / 79

 -- / 79

The Open Doors data for 2021/22 is now available. The number of new international students in the USA hit 261,000, up from about 145,000 in 2020/21. That’s represents almost a return to pre-pandemic levels.

There are a total of about 948,000 international students in the USA right now. That’s down from about 1.07 million pre-pandemic.

The PIE News has a nice summary of the data, and links to the original sources. They say enrollments are “soaring.”

According to SEC filings from a few days ago, revenue for the Duolingo English Test in Q2 2022 was $8,192,000.  That’s a 22% increase over the same period a year ago.

At $49 a pop, we might extrapolate that the test was taken 167,000 times in the quarter. The actual number is probably a little bit higher due to discounts and free tests.

 

Here are the historic revenues (all USD):

Q3 2022 – 8,192,000
Q2 2022 – 8,036,000
Q1 2022 – 8,080,000

Q4 2021 – 8,095,000
Q3 2021 – 6,695,000
Q2 2021 – 4,833,000
Q1 2021 – 5,035,000

Q4 2020 – 4,197,000
Q3 2020 – 5,607,000
Q2 2020 – 4,598,000
Q1 2020 – 753,000

 

Update: Study in USA will probably give away a $30 code at this free online eventRegister now to attend.  If ETS publishes the code on their social media after the fact I’ll share it here as well.

Update: ETS just released a bunch of “Black Friday” coupon codes for the TOEFL iBT.  Students in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, and the United States can save $47 if they register before November 28.    In Brazil, use code TOEFLCYBERBR.  In Canada use TOEFLCYBERCA.  In Colombia use TOEFLCYBERCO and in the United States use TOEFLCYBERUS.  Each can only be used by only 500 people. Click for terms and conditions.

Update: I think that all attendees of the free EdAgree Test Prep Workshop on November 29 will get a $30 coupon code for the TOEFL iBT.   You can find registration details over here.  You probably have to attend (online) to get the code, but I recommend registering even if you don’t plan to attend since it might also be sent via email.  I won’t share the code here unless it goes out on social media.

Update:  According to the Official TOEFL Facebook page you can save $30 by using the coupon code “SPORTS30” if you register before November 18, 2022.  Check out the terms and conditions.

Update:  Study in the USA has a new worldwide code that is valid until October 21.  It isn’t on social media now, so you should visit their site to get it.  Just click and scroll to the end of the article.

Update:  According to ETS Japan, students in Japan only can use the coupon codes “ETSJ1026” and “TOFURE1026” to save $46 when they register in October.  I think they have an unlimited number of uses.

Update: According to the Official TOEFL Facebook page, you can use the coupon “COLLEGE30” to get a $30 discount on TOEFL iBT registrations, and “COLLEGE10” to get a $10 discount on TOEFL Essentials registrations.  This will be valid until September 29, or until the maximum number of uses has been reached.  Also be sure to check out the terms and conditions.

Update:  According to the Official TOEFL Facebook page, you can use the coupon code “JULIANA30” to get a $30 discount on TOEFL registrations completed before September 22 of this year.  Be sure to read the terms and conditions.

Update: You can use the coupon code “CHOICE30” to get a $30 discount on TOEFL registrations completed before September 7.  You don’t need to take the test before then… you just need to register for it. Once again, this code comes from a partnership between ETS and Study in the USA, so be sure to check them out.   You should also read the terms and conditions.

Update: You can use the coupon code “JENNIFER30” to get a $30 discount on TOEFL registrations made before August 23.  This code comes from a partnership between ETS and Study in the USA, so be sure to check them out.  You should also read the terms and conditions.

Update: ETS Japan has distributed a bunch of codes for use in Japan.  Try SAYAKA22TOEFL (link) or TOFURE22TOEFL (link) or ETSJ22TOEFL (link) to get $61 off your registration until September 15 (or while supplies last).

Update: You can use the voucher code “DARREN30” to get a $30 discount on TOEFL registrations until July 26, 2022. Just enter the code at the final screen in the registration process. Go ahead and read the terms and conditions over here. This code was provided through a partnership with Study in the USA, so be sure to visit them.

I saw on the official TOEFL Facebook Page that if you enter the promo (voucher) code “VALERIA30” you can get a $30 discount when you register for the test.  This seems to work in all countries and for both the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL IBT Home Edition.  Note that the stated expiration date is July 14, so use it soon.  Read  the terms and conditions over here.

The 990 form for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the year ending September 2021 is finally available for public inspection.  Currently it is available direct from the IRS.  It isn’t yet on Propublica.  If you do a search on the IRS website, note that the search engine is case sensitive.  If you can’t figure it out, just click here.

A few highlights:

  • Total revenue for the year was 1.1 billion dollars, an 11% increase over the previous year.  Revenue is down about 11% compared to the final pre-pandemic year.
  • Net income is 47.6 million dollars, compared to a 70 million dollar loss the previous year. 
  • Total assets reached just over 2 billion dollars, a 9% increase over the previous year.
  • Salaries and employee benefits for the year totalled 375 million dollars, a 12% decrease from the previous year.
  • Two employees received compensation totalling more than one million dollars.
  • Pipplet produces income.  Good for Pipplet.

These numbers will soon be out of date, as the independent audit of ETS for the year ending September 2022 will likely be available next month.

The Duolingo English Test now has a “faster results” option.  For an additional fee of $40, test takers can get their results in just 12 hours, instead of the usual 48 hours.  This could be useful for people with really tight deadlines.  Read about it here.

This is a great example of how Duolingo is building a better “Test Taker Experience,” a topic I’ve written about extensively here on the blog.  That said, the development surprised me, as it isn’t something I’ve included in my lists of suggestions for testing companies.  It is a welcome development, nonetheless.

One of Duolingo’s great strengths is its nimbleness, and ability to implement things like this really quickly.  For legacy testing providers implementing positive change sometimes seems akin to turning an aircraft carrier around.  Note how the IELTS didn’t get a home version until a few months ago, or how the TOEFL didn’t get automated speaking scoring until 2019.