Changes in Chapter 1 – Test Overview

My copy of the sixth edition of “The Official Guide to the TOEFL” has finally arrived!  Starting today, I will describe all of the changes in this edition.  I’ll begin, of course, with chapter one, “About the TOEFL iBT Test.”  After I have finished with all of the chapters, I will provide a general review of the book.

Page 1-2:  The description of the test in this edition makes it sound a lot more prestigious than before.

Page 5 (important): The book now mentions that “for the speaking and writing responses, ETS uses both certified human raters and artificial intelligence (AI) scoring to provide a complete and accurate picture of a test taker’s ability.”  

Page 5 (important):  The book now mentions that “after finishing the test, test takers will be able to view their unofficial scaled scores for the Reading and Listening sections.”

Page 5:  The “test format” chart now reflects the current number of questions in each section. The charts for each section later in this chapter do as well, and I won’t mention them below.  But see the END of the article for a possible discrepancy. 

Page 5 (important): The book now mentions that  “you may hear some native English-speaker accents that are not from North America, such as British or Australian.”  It includes as link to some samples, but I couldn’t find them.

About the Reading Section

Page 7: As indicated, the chart here reflects the current number of questions.  Which is “10 questions per passage.”  This probably misleading/incorrect information. See my final note in this article for more information about this. 

Page 9 (important): In the reading section “category chart” questions have been renamed “category table” questions.  The book indicates that “some table questions are worth up to 2 points and others are worth up to 3 points, depending on the number of correct answers expected.”  In the past, these questions were always worth 3 points.

Page 10: A new question is used to illustrate the reading “table” question.  The sample is worth 3 points.

About the Listening Section

Page 12 (important):  The lectures are described as being “4-5 minutes long.”  Previously, they were described as being “3-5 minutes long.”

About the Speaking Section

Page 17: The book now refers to the updated number of questions in this section (4) and the duration of the section (about 17 minutes).  It also refers to the fact that the section is partially scored by “the automated scoring system.”

About the Writing Section

No changes.

About Test Scores

Page 21:  The book indicates that each speaking response will be scored by a different rater.  Previously, the same rater might have scored two of your responses.

Page 22-23: The book now mentons MyBest scores, and that score reports are received after 6 days (instead of 10).  It makes clear that “Official Score reports will be sent directly to your designated recipients within eleven days after you take the test.”  It is nice to have that in writing now.

Page 24-25: The new (and less detailed) score report is depicted.

General Skill-Building Tips

Page 33: The previous edition says “do not panic.”  The new book says “do not become overwhelmed.”  I LOLed.

Test Delivery

Page 36 (important): Page 7 says that the reading section has 3-4 passages, with 10 questions per passage.  Page 36 says that the reading section has 27-40 questions.  Those descriptions do not match. However, this reflects my earlier comments on this blog about how sometimes there are just nine questions in a reading passage.  This happens when the “table” question is worth 3 points.  Indeed, this is the case in several of the practice reading sets later in the book!

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What about the reading practice tests, are they still the same or they changed?


Would you recommend this book or not?

Jeremy Chang

Hi, Mike! Would you recommend the 5th edition or this one (6th edition)?


I already have the 5th edition. Do you think that it is worth to spend money on this new version?