There are a few good TOEFL books. There are a lot of bad ones. I hope this article helps you make the right choices. I’ll update and revise this list throughout the year as new books are released. At the end you can find a list of stuff I don’t like, and a list of stuff that will be published in the future. You can also skip to my master index of TOEFL book reviews.
Last Updated: June 25. 2021
For an Overview of the Test…
The Official Guide to the TOEFL (6th Edition) is the book with the best overview of the test. Everyone who is studying for the TOEFL (or teaching for the TOEFL) should have a copy. It describes all four sections of the test and the question types in each section. It also includes plenty of examples and four complete practice tests. Note that is also contains a few errors and inaccurate sample questions (particularly in the chapter on integrated writing and the first practice test). For a closer look at the test, check out my complete review.
For an additional overview of the test, I recommend a couple of online TOEFL courses from our friends at TST Prep. Sometimes a course is better than a book, of course. First up, check out their Score Builder Program, which is a twenty hour course covering the entire test. The program also includes ten practice test and a bunch of extras. A cheaper alternative is their TOEFL Emergency Course, which is a bit shorter. In both cases, try the coupon code “goodine10off” to get a 10% discount on your purchase.
Finally, I recommend Barron’s TOEFL iBT (17th edition). This book has improved quite a lot in the past couple of editions, and I think it can be a valuable study tool. The accuracy of its practice tests and questions isn’t as good as the above two sources, but there is quite a lot of content in the book. It contains eight complete practice tests along with additional practice questions. It contains decent chapters on vocabulary and grammar.
For Practice TOEFL Tests…
First up, I recommend Volume One and Volume Two of the Official TOEFL iBT Tests Collection. Each book contains five good practice tests. The most recent editions (look for their green covers) were heavily revised by ETS, and finally represent perfect practice tests! Everyone preparing for the TOEFL must complete these practice tests. All of them!
Next I recommend the ten practice tests sold online by TST Prep. These are the best practice tests you will get from a third-party publisher. Again, try the coupon code “goodine10off” for a 10% discount. Note that they are the same tests you will find in the Score Builder Program mentioned above.
As a special bonus, they’ve also got one test available as an e-book on Amazon. I’m credited as an editor on that test!
For TOEFL Reading…
I really like Kathy Spratt’s “Mastering the Reading Section for the TOEFL iBT“. Now in its third edition, this book is viewed by most students and teachers as the definitive TOEFL reading book. Indeed, it’s the only one I recommend. It covers all of the TOEFL reading question types and provides strategies that might help you solve them. It is updated for the new TOEFL.
For TOEFL Listening, Speaking and Writing…
Well, there isn’t much available for these sections of the test. There are a few old scraps you might check out, though. They are:
- Magoosh TOEFL has some good material about the listening section in their course. The course also contains some good content about the reading section, and some bad content about the speaking and writing sections. You can read my complete review.
- Collins has a book called TOEFL Listening and Speaking Skills. It is decent, but old.
- Collins also has a book called TOEFL Reading and Writing Skills. It’s alright.
For TOEFL Vocabulary…
I don’t usually recommend TOEFL vocabulary books. I don’t think that studying vocabulary lists is helpful, and the new TOEFL introduced in 2019 has fewer vocabulary questions. That said, students always ask me to recommend books. I generally suggests that they get “Essential Words for the TOEFL” from Barron’s. I like the difficulty level of the words, and it contains a bunch of realistic practice questions. As an alternative, you might check out McGraw-Hill’s “400 Words for the TOEFL.” It contains practice questions as well.
For TOEFL Grammar…
Don’t buy a “TOEFL Grammar” book. Just get the 5th edition of “English Grammar in Use”from Cambridge University Press. This book has been around forever, and it is still fantastic. After getting a copy, you can check out my list of recommended units to study. if you want even more content, Cambridge sells a supplementary book with more practice questions. Note that this book is also published as “Grammar in Use – Intermediate.”
For lower level students (writing scores below 20), I recommend something a bit easier like “Basic Grammar in Use.”
Upcoming TOEFL Books
There isn’t much on the horizon, but a few things are worth mentioning:
- ETS will sell a bundle of all three of its books starting in August, 2021.
- ETS will also sell a bundle of its two test collection books in August, 2021.
Stuff I don’t Recommend
- Princeton Review’s “TOEFL iBT” – Decent, but the alternatives are much better.
- Barron’s “TOEFL iBT Writing” – Bad practice questions
- Anything at all from Kaplan – Bad, Bad, Bad
- Best My Test – Not Great
- EduSynch – Weirdly similar to Best My Test
- Nova’s “Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL” – Curse of Knowledge?