This will be the last in my series about updates to the Official Guide to the TOEFL (5th Edition).

Let’s start with chapter 4 (speaking):

Page 171: The reading part of speaking question 3 is now described as 80-110 words long. In the fourth edition it was described as 75-100 words long.

Page 175: The reading part of speaking question 4 is described as 80-11- words long. In the fourth edition it was described as 75-100 words long.

Flannel shirts have been removed from many of the illustrations in this chapter.

Next, chapter 5 (writing):

It must be noted that the sample integrated writing question on page 196 is still wrong. It does not match the structure used on the real test.

Page 207: The warning “be sure to use your own words. Do not use memorized examples” has been added to the end of the sample independent writing question/

Page 208: Same as above.

Page 208: The following tip is given (to explain the warning used above):

“When you develop your response, do not use examples or reasons that you memorized word-for-word previously (at school, for example). Raters will not consider examples or reasons expressed in a completely memorized language to represent your own writing.”

Page 212: The warning is also given.

Page 217-220: This is interesting. The 4th edition contained 185 sample independent writing prompts that were described as being used on the test. These were likely from the old CBT version of the test, as they were also in the first edition of the guide, which was written even before the iBT version had been given 185 times.

The problem with this list has always been that it contains questions that don’t match the three main styles used on the test (agree/disagree, preference, multiple-choice).

The list of 40 now contains 20 questions from the 4th edition, and 20 new questions.

22 of the questions are agree/disagree style questions, which is the most common style nowadays. The remaining 18 are a mix of preference, multiple choice, and incorrect styles. Two of the questions are really long prompts, which is a recent trend. These are both new.

Moving on, a quick look at the practice tests included with the 5th edition:

  1. The new test included in this edition is TPO 18. That means it is a very, very old test. That sucks.
  2. The order of listening questions has been adjusted. This is mostly to stick “why does the professor say” questions to the end of each set, but there are other changes as well.
  3. The new warning has been added to each independent writing question.
  4. The sample integrated writing question in test one is still an incorrect style. That drives me crazy. It has been 14 years since the first edition of the book came out!
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