18 Top Quality TOEFL Books That Will Help You Prepare for the Test

Are you looking for a great TOEFL book?

I hope so! A nice book can be your best friend when you are studying for the TOEFL.

There are a few good reasons why you should add books to your TOEFL preparation, even if you are already taking a TOEFL course or making your own practice tests.

Books are versatile study tools that can assist you with all aspects of test prep, not just grammar and vocabulary.

TOEFL is such a well-known test that there are countless (many) great books written on everything related to it, from speaking topics to note-taking strategies.

Books complement any study strategy you may consider using. You may take a TOEFL course, hire a tutor or study by yourself… but in every case, you will most definitely need a TOEFL textbook and several other books to help you.

There are plenty of books written about TOEFL in languages other than English. You can probably find a textbook written with some explanations in your native language! This is invaluable for students with an intermediate level of English or lower. What is more, a lot of books may be available entirely in your native language and sold in your local bookstores.

Here are just some examples of topics TOEFL books may cover:

  • Test structure and format
  • Assessment of language skills
  • Targeted exercises and topics to improve grammar, writing and reading skills
  • Vocabulary

So, what kind of TOEFL book should you go look for?


18 Books to Get You Ready for the TOEFL

TOEFL Textbooks

These textbooks cover all aspects of the test and prepare you for all of its sections. This kind of TOEFL textbook works great as a general study guide. No matter which other books you use, you should definitely pick one of these and rely on it for your overall test preparation.

1. “ETS Official Guide to the TOEFL Test,” 4th edition

Official Guide to the Toefl Test (Official Guide to the Toefl Ibt)

This is the official textbook released by the organization that administers the test. It gets republished fairly regularly and contains the most up-to-date information on the TOEFL and its requirements. This is the safest bet when you want to have the most relevant and useful information.

2. “Cracking the TOEFL iBT,” 2016-17 Edition

This book is updated every year. It is a comprehensive resource for TOEFL preparation that has good listening and speaking exercises and sound advice on test-taking strategies. If CDs are not your preference anymore, the book also gives you access to MP3 file downloads and online exercises.

3. “TOEFL iBT Premier 2016-2017 with 4 Practice Tests”

The major advantage of this well-written, academic resource by Kaplan are the practice tests. Every textbook provides test examples and mini-tests, but this particular TOEFL book includes the biggest number of practice tests available. Along with the standard CD/MP3 resources, you also get instructional videos!

Specialized TOEFL Books

Each of these books focuses on one specific element of the TOEFL and your preparation for test day. For example, some of them focus on one individual test section—either Reading, Writing (Independent and Integrated), Listening or Speaking. They may also assist with other isolated aspects related to TOEFL contents. If you feel like you need to focus on, for example, reading or writing, look into getting some of the specialized TOEFL guides.

4. “Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 2”

Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 2

This book will allow you to test your heart out once you have had enough studying! It is best reserved for weekly and monthly progress evaluations, but this book should nonetheless be listed close to the top of our recommendations, as it provides five more authentic tests in addition to three you get in the official ETS textbook.

5. “Practice Exercises for the TOEFL with MP3 CD,” 8th Edition

Once you know what to expect from the TOEFL, you need to practice, practice and practice more. This exercise book has over 1,000 different exercises for all test sections, including sample essays and speaking task answers. There is also a full practice test, in case you do not have enough of these already!

6. “Essential Words for the TOEFL,” 6th Edition

Essential Words for the TOEFL, 6th Edition (Barron's Essential Words for the TOEFL)

This book targets the very necessary vocabulary skills every TOEFL taker should have. The book focuses on approximately 500 essential words that will help you do well on the test. Because vocabulary building is a highly personal subject—no two students are alike in what they know and what they do not know, everyone knows a different set of vocabulary—this guide is best used as a complementary vocabulary resource rather than a primary one.

7. “240 Writing Topics: with Sample Essays” and

8. “240 Speaking Topics: with Sample Answers”

240 Speaking Topics: with Sample Answers (Volume 2) (120 Speaking Topics)

These two books share the same contents, so buy one or the other to practice your speaking and writing skills. You do not need both together, you just need to choose based one your needs. Do you need to practice writing more? Do you need to practice speaking more?

Studying by yourself for both of these TOEFL sections is challenging without a doubt, but each book can be a great assistant! Each provides over a hundred topics that you can write on and speak about out loud. All of the topics have been taken from retired TOEFL tests. The book also contains model essays, good essay outlines and a lot of examples of elegant, grammatically correct sentences. These will help improve your oral and written skills alike.


True, there is no separate grammar section on TOEFL. However, grammar is essential for getting high scores on Writing and Speaking sections. You can never practice too much grammar.

9. “TOEFL Grammar Guide: 23 Grammar Rules You Must Know to Guarantee Your Success on the TOEFL Exam!”

TOEFL Grammar Guide: 23 Grammar Rules You Must Know To Guarantee Your Success On The TOEFL Exam!

Not only is this book easy to follow, but it is also written about grammar specifically with the TOEFL in mind. It tackles the rules of English grammar that are most useful for the test in an easy-to-understand, logical way.

10. “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation”

This is one of the most popular guides to English grammar, now in its 11th edition, and it is easy to see why everyone likes to use it. It is well-written, accessible and very concise. The grammar rules are all very clearly explained without getting too complicated. Apart from all the grammar rules that are discussed and explained, it also offers lots of examples, worksheets and tests.

11. “The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment”

The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment

Explaining grammar with writing tasks in mind, this book is a great tool for addressing your grammar weaknesses when writing TOEFL essays. It is easy to follow and covers a lot of different writing assignments, of course, including essays.

12. “Practice Makes Perfect: English Grammar for ESL Learners,” 2nd Edition: With 100 Exercises

When you need just a little bit of extra help with your English language studies, it is a good idea to look for resources targeted specifically at non-native English speakers. The book takes into account the most common difficulties ESL learners encounter with English grammar, using examples and accessible language to explain concepts clearly.


While dictionaries are not textbooks, they are useful book for anyone who wants to take the TOEFL! Dictionaries are inevitably found on the desk of every English language student. And for a good reason!

You cannot study a language successfully without having a good dictionary on hand. A dictionary that translates English words into your native language can be helpful when you are really confused about an English word’s meaning. However, when studying for the TOEFL you will also want to have an English-to-English dictionary, so that you can read descriptions of English words in English. This will teach you even more vocabulary and let you practice your reading comprehension. So, you will need a dictionary that is made for English speakers.

Another useful tool is a thesaurus. A thesaurus is like a dictionary, but instead it will give you lists of synonyms—different words that all mean the same thing. So, if you look up the word “happy,” you will see “glad,” “jolly,” “gleeful,” “jubilant” and more words that also mean “happy.”

A thesaurus is your best choice of book for improving your vocabulary and making sure that you do not repeat the same basic vocabulary words over and over again while speaking and writing. It is also great for practicing reading comprehension while learning new words. You can look up an unknown word and try to understand its meaning based on its synonyms.

The most authoritative and, indeed, the most well-known and therefore most easily-located dictionaries worldwide, are published by Oxford University Press. You may choose to own a different one, but any Oxford dictionary is well worth the investment due to its rigorous editing process and regularly released new editions.

13. “Oxford Dictionary of English”

This is the classic version that contains both American English and British English words and expressions.

14. “New Oxford American Dictionary”

New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd Edition

This one is a comprehensive illustrated dictionary focusing on American English.

15. “Pocket Oxford American Dictionary & Thesaurus”

This is a mini-edition of the “Oxford American Dictionary” that combines a dictionary and a thesaurus. You can carry this one around and take it to class or to a library when studying.

16. “Oxford Thesaurus of English”

A thesaurus is an essential vocabulary-building tool that focuses on synonyms and antonyms of English-language words, phrases and idioms. It is most suitable for upper intermediate and advanced students. This comprehensive Oxford thesaurus will help you write better essays and speak clearer without using the same words over and over again.

Something Fun

Studying should not be all grammar and pronunciation. It should also give you something fun to do, so that you can improve your English skills for TOEFL while relaxing and enjoying the process.

Here are just two examples of books that are not targeted to TOEFL takers at all, but offer excellent insight into different aspects of the language nonetheless—and they are also hilarious.

17. “Celebrate the American Way: A Fun ESL Guide to English Language & Culture in the U.S.”

Celebrate the American Way: A Fun ESL Guide to English Language & Culture in the U.S. (Book + Audio) (English as a Second Language Series)

Just as the title suggests, this humorous English textbook provides insight into American culture that is at once entertaining, warm and informative. It is a great resource for TOEFL students who are taking the test to apply to an American college or university.

18. “Great American Humor: 1000 Funny Jokes, Clever One-liners & Witty Sayings”

Some say that once you understand humor, you have mastered the language. It is up to you to decide whether that is the case or not! A lot of jokes from this book, while being funny, will also help you improve your understanding of American English idioms and puns. Have fun with it!


There are thousands of books on TOEFL and hundreds of thousands of books for ESL students. How can you choose the best one for you?

By simply deciding exactly what you need. What are your weaknesses? What do you need to learn more about? What are the hardest parts of the TOEFL practice exams for you?

One of the easiest ways to get more knowledgeable about a particular aspect of the English language is to find a book about it. A specialized textbook may help you address the weak spots of your English, while also preparing you for the test.

Books cost relatively little and nowadays they are easily accessible online. They can be an attractive option if you want to study by yourself or do not have the means to take a whole course.

You are sure to find a useful one for your TOEFL journey—just start with the books recommended above!

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