Well, I’ve started uploading videos about the “new” speaking section on the TOEFL, which will start being offered in August. Basically, questions 1 and 5 are removed, so the rest will be renumbered.

Here’s the video about question one:

I will upload videos about the other four questions later this week. Stay tuned!

Hey, I found library copies of the new editions of the “Official iBT Tests” books (Vol. 1, 3rd edition, Vol. 2, 2nd edition) to see what was new.

The text seems to be 100% the same, except for a couple of references to online materials in the introduction. The old editions already had the reordered listening questions from the Official Guide (4th edition) and the varied Integrated writing prompts from the Official Guide (3rd Edition). Those are continued here, of course.

The “Tests” books do NOT contain the longer independent writing prompts (with the warning about memorized examples) found in the Official Guide (4th Edition).

The only difference I can see is that the tests are now delivered on DVD, rather than CD. I didn’t examine every page, though, so let me know if there is something I can double check for you.

For the record, these are 2019 publications. However, they will be somewhat obsolete when the TOEFL changes in August 1 of 2019. When that happens ETS will include an “insert” in future printings of their books that describe the new version of the test. This does not mean they will update them! The insert will just be a piece of paper that describes the changes. ETS does not know when the actual text of the books will be updated.

Update from 2020:  ETS has hinted that new editions of some of their books will be published this year, but nothing has been made official.

These changes were just announced by ETS about an hour ago, so stay tuned for more information. The changes will start in on August 1.


Each reading passage will have ten questions, instead of 12-14. The number of reading passages will remain the same (3-4). It will take just 52-74 minutes to finish the reading section (instead of 60-80).

There will be 3-4 lectures in the listening section (instead of 4-6). The number of conversations will not change. The number of questions will not change. It will take 41 to 57 minutes to finish the listening section (instead of 60-90 minutes).

There will be one independent (instead of two) and three integrated speaking questions (instead of three). It will take 17 minutes to finish the speaking section. I don’t know which questions will be eliminated.

The whole test will take just 3 hours instead of 3.5 hours.

This was all just announced, and this is all I know for now.

For more information, check out ETS:


Will report more as I learn it.

Video Version

Official Guide to the TOEFLI want to finish off my series on the 5th edition of the Official Guide to the TOEFL by listing everything in the book that is wrong or just misleading.

This is the kind of information that I think is very important for both students and teachers. I remember when I started preparing students for the TOEFL and put too much trust in textbook publishers. I ended up teaching useless lessons with inaccurate material.

While I have noted quite a few problems with this book, it is worth noting that the Official Guide is still the most accurate prep book for the TOEFL. Yes, the stuff from third-party publishers is way worse. I’ve considered writing lists of all the stuff wrong with those books, but it seems like it might be a waste of both my time and my money.

Anyways… here’s what I spotted:

Chapter 2: Reading

Each of the practice sets (Page 60-67, 69-73) have 13 questions. On the real test there are 14 questions per set. Students using these sections to time their ability to complete a set should adjust their clocks accordingly.

Chapter 4: Speaking

The description of speaking question 1 (page 166) says that students “will be asked to speak about a person, place, object or event that is familiar to you.” The example question fits this description. However, the real test includes at least three other styles of questions which are not mentioned. Descriptions can be found here.

Likewise the description of speaking question 2 (page 168) insists that students “will be presented with two possible actions, situations or opinions… and will be asked to say which of the actions or situations you think is preferable.” The example question fits this description. However, the real test includes at least three other styles of questions which are not mentioned. Descriptions can be found here.

Notably, the “advantages and disadvantages” styles in questions one and two are not mentioned anywhere. They are described at the links above.

Chapter 5: Writing

The sample integrated writing question (page 196-198) does not match the structure used on the real test. On the real test the reading will have four paragraphs. In the book it has two. On the real test the lecture will have four “paragraphs.” Here it has three. On the real test the reading points and lecture counter-points are presented in a “mirror” style and come in the same order. Here that is not the case. Students can consult this guide for a proper depiction of the integrated writing question.

Page 198 suggests that sometimes the lecture will support the argument made in the reading. On the real test that never happens.

Pages 217-220 contain a collection of 40 sample independent writing questions. About 12 of them are of a style that does not match what is used on the real test. Since the book does not describe the three main styles, students should read this blog post that does.

The Practice Tests

The integrated writing question in practice test one does not match the real test. Again, the structure does not match what is used by ETS nowadays. The reading contains just three paragraphs, and the lecture does not rebut the reading’s arguments in the proper order.

The rest of the practice tests seem fine.