Books will not prepare you for the TOEFL exam!

“Why would anyone want to use a TOEFL book to prepare for the exam?” I thought as I read the student’s question at “How much can I improve if I use Bruce Rogers book The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test?

Books are limited in how much practice they can offer their students. Yes, books offer reading, listening, speaking, and writing practice, and I believe the Roger’s book even offers some grammar and vocabulary practice. However, the official TOEFL exam is completely online and requires students to record 45 and 60 second audio responses for the independent and integrated speaking practice tests. In addition, students are required to type 30 and 20 minute responses for the independent and integrated writing tasks. How will students get used to recording their voices and typing responses online if they are using a book? Of course, the answer is they will not get that much needed practice.

In addition, books do not provide valuable feedback from TOEFL iBT speaking and writing specialists after students complete speaking and writing practice test. It isn’t enough to simply study grammar from a book and complete multiple choice and sentence completion exercises. For example, just because students read about adjective clauses doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use the complex grammar structures in their speaking and writing tasks, and in many cases, even if they do use them, they may not use them correctly. Therefore, if students take an Online TOEFL Course like “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” they will be able to get meaningful feedback to monitor their progress.

To illustrate the glaring deficiencies of a book, let’s suppose that a student has problems with his intonation. If this student is completing speaking practice tests online and if the student is sending them to a TOEFL iBT speaking specialist, the specialist will notice the tonal difficulties and will be able to model the correct tonal patterns of English to the student. More importantly, the specialist will be able to recommend specific lessons and long-term strategies to help the student to speak more naturally. A TOEFL book will not be able to offer this type of corrective feedback, so students will have no way of knowing what they are doing right or wrong when it comes to completing their speaking and writing tasks.

How about helping students understand specific writing problems with which they may be having? For example, what if a student is having problems with depth and complexity of thought? In other words, the student is using generalizations in the body paragraphs as supporting details. However, in order to score high, the student will need to provide 1-2 specific details in each paragraph in order to effectively defend the arguable topic sentences in each body paragraph. A student will not know if he has these topic development problems if he is using a book.

Finally, hopefully by now, you can understand the value of online TOEFL course. I almost forgot to mention that students who join my course can complete speaking and pronunciation practice daily so they can get feedback to continually monitor their progress.


Michael Buckhoff,

Online TOEFL Preparation Course