on 25 February 2002
This book is a "classic" that combines skills, strategies and practice. It has three very complete sections (Listening, Structure and Written Expression, Reading Comprehension) of instructional material accompanied by a very large number of exercises. A fourth section refers to the Test of Written English (TWE) which is now incorporated into the TOEFL exam as the Essay section. Although this section is much shorter than the others, it is still very useful. In contrast to many of the books which simply provide practice tests or exercises, this book has an instructional component that actually teaches something before it tests you on it.
Although the book is five years old, and the TOEFL test itself has passed through a number of changes (most notably the current computer-based format), the book continues to be among the best available for students who need to actually learn, and not just familiarize themselves with the test format.
The Listening section trains the student in the skills required on the test, starting with the very basics: distinguishing similar sounds in single words, word meanings, expressions of time, quantity and comparison, idioms, phrasal verbs and so on. Then the book proceeds to short conversations, and ultimately to longer, more difficult conversations.
The Structure section is excellent and very comprehensive, with the answer section providing the correct choice along with very clear explanations.
The Reading Comprehension section begins with 30 pages of vocabulary building practice which is pretty heavy going, but could be useful for a student who is willing to work very hard to improve his/her vocabulary. The rest of the section is very good training in the skills and strategies necessary for analyzing the reading passages.
The book also contains three practice tests, one of which is diagnostic and refers the students to various sections of the book for each wrong answer.
In summary, this is a good, solid instructional tool which, as a teacher, I keep referring students back to, despite all the newer materials on the market. I am eagerly awaiting the new edition.