One way to categorize the tools and resources available to students preparing for the TOEFL is according to cost. Typically, web-sites provide a lot of great, free information, with test prep books providing a bit more structure at a low cost. E-Books and online programs are a bit more expensive, but can sometimes leverage unique methods to help you improve. Finally, classes and private tutoring are a sure way to accelerate your TOEFL preparation, but they come with a significantly higher cost.
We recommend starting with free or lower cost options, and then slowly considering more expensive options if you actually need them. The key is to get a lot of practice and take enough practice tests to monitor your progress over time.
Web-sites and forums
At this point in time there are two main web-sites we recommend for those preparing for the TOEFL.
The first is ETS.org , which is the official web-site of the Educational Testing Service, which designs and administers the TOEFL. It provides a range of information about how to sign up for the test, who accepts its results, when it’s offered, etc. It also provides access to a range of free and paid test prep resources (e.g., test prep books, flashcards, etc.).
The second site we find helpful is called Dave’s ESL Café This site provides a variety of information, including:
- A Q&A section
- Grammar lessons
- Pronunciation tips
- Quizzes to test your progress
- Slang to remember
- Forms to interact with others
Physical Test Prep Books
At TOEFL Tutors and at our parent organization, MyGuru, we always recommend starting with any “official” guide that is published by the organization that administers the standardized test. For the TOEFL, that guide is the Official Guide to the TOEFL, 4th Edition
Once you’ve purchased this book, there’s no real need to purchase repetitive books. Instead, the next step would be to invest in a focused book or two on specific topics, such as:
- Essential TOEFL vocabulary from Princeton Review
- Essential Words for the TOEFL from Barron’s
- Reading Comprehension from Minute Help
Flash card systems are popular because they help you improve your vocabulary, which his obviously critical for the TOEFL. Here’s one popular flashcard system.
If you search the web, you’ll no doubt come across the below E-Book. It seems to have been around a while, and gets positive reviews. It’s easily downloadable via the below link.
Online TOEFL Solutions
Click here to learn more about ETS’s official suite of online TOEFL resources (i.e., practice questions, explanations, practice tests, etc.)
Another interesting resource is BenchPrep, which offers an online and mobile TOEFL prep courses. Click the below log, click view courses, and search for “TOEFL” to learn more.
Private TOEFL Tutoring
We maintain a network of experienced, patient TOEFL tutors (as do many other web-sites). Click here to request a TOEFL tutor. We can accommodate online and in-person tutoring.
Whereas a test prep book, e-book, or flashcards might cost $15-$45, private TOEFL tutoring might cost $30 – $45 per hour. However, the benefit is that you’ll be getting customized, expert help from someone certified to teach the TOEFL. Instead of spending days or weeks nailing a concept, you might get it in an hour or two. Generally, if you have the means, private tutoring is a sure way to really accelerate your TOEFL preparation.
We are currently researching the many online and in-person TOEFL classes that are available. Check back soon for recommendations.