Book Review: Official iBT Tests Vol. 1, 4th Edition

The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test

Although the Official TOEFL iBT Tests Vol. 1 isn’t new, it is the cheapest way to get a lot of high-quality practice material—five full official practice tests for less than the price of one TPO test.

But in the recent past, this book has had a large flaw: it was not updated to reflect the 2019 changes to the TOEFL iBT. Fortunately, this has finally been remedied. This new 4th Edition of Official TOEFL iBT Tests contains five full-length tests, now with the shorter Reading, Listening and Speaking sections seen on the current exam.

Third Edition vs. Fourth Edition

The new edition of Official TOEFL iBT Tests, Vol. 1 is different now because it’s updated to the new test format. But it’s also different from the Third Edition in a number of other ways.

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First, the Fourth Edition no longer comes with a CD. Instead, if you want to take the tests electronically, you’ll download software with an access code that accompanies the book. I should mention that the software isn’t perfect, though. It’s the same software that comes with the Official Guide. In both, there are small ways in which the software is different from the software you will see on test day, including:

  • A different timer for Listening. It counts down while you listen, but it shouldn’t.
  • You can choose the order you take the sections of each test in. You can also temporarily leave a section to go to a different section. These are nice practice features, but be aware that the TOEFL won’t work like this on test day.
  • The speaking section is not recorded.

Nonetheless, this software is great to use for both full-length mock tests and as a resource for individual texts, recordings, and questions to practice with. At the moment, this and the other official TOEFL books (The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test and Official TOEFL iBT Tests Vol. 2) are the best books available for that, because the material is so similar to what you will see on test day.

Volume One vs. Volume Two

There is one confusing detail. This blog post is about the second edition of Volume One. ETS has also released another important book: the fully updated Volume Two.

Volume Two offers tests in the same format as Volume One, but it has newer content: five practice tests with completely different texts, recordings, and questions. Not only that, but Volume 2 offers something very valuable that Volume One doesn’t; this second volume has sample responses to all of the Speaking and Writing questions, complete with scorer commentaty.

If you get both books, then, you have 10 full practice tests to help you build those skills in Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. And you have some great extra support for Speaking and Writing in the second book!

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