I should begin by mentioning that while Barron’s forgot to mention the website where audio files for this book can be downloaded. That’s a pretty major problem, since they are not easy to find on Google or via the Barron’s website. If you are still looking for those, check this page.
Overall, I don’t recommend this edition of TOEFL Practice Exercises. That’s a shame because it looks like the book has been extensively revised since the previous edition. The questions here just aren’t accurate enough. There was a time when books with “good enough” TOEFL questions were acceptable, but now there is a wealth of research online about how questions are designed by ETS. Heck, just reading all of the Chinese TPOs will give any author a good idea of how to design questions.
A few issues stand out:
- Reading passages contain a ton of questions that require students to scour the whole passage to find the answer. On the actual test students are told which paragraph contains the answer to the question. The only exceptions are the summary and table questions at the end of the passage. Certain reading passages in the book might contain four or five questions where the paragraph isn’t indicated.
- Many of the “campus announcement” speaking questions include only one speaker in the listening part. This is never done on the real test. Meanwhile, the reading parts don’t always give specific reasons for the stated changes. They are merely descriptive.
- Most of the integrated writing questions lack the requisite number of paragraphs in the reading. Specifically, they lack separate introductory paragraphs. A few of them lack the requisite number of body paragraphs.
It is worth mentioning that this book has an absolute ton of good academic reading and listening practice. Just pages and pages of practice material that is both interesting and at the exact level that students need when preparing for the TOEFL. Not only that, but the inaccurate questions are still wonderful for skill-building. This means that it can still be a key part of a student’s preparation for the TOEFL… as long as they are reminded of how it differs from the actual test experience.