As a professional test prep teacher who constantly works with aspiring TOEFL candidates, I always need more practice tests. Some preparation courses offer up to seven practice tests with their preparation books, like Barron's and Cambridge, but - quite simply - they are not ETS, the company that makes the TOEFL! And McGraw-Hill plays up on this point quite well, slapping the ETS logo right on the top of the cover: "The People who Make the Test."
This is the book's biggest advantage. No matter how good the other companies' content is, and no matter how insightful their tips and strategies are, when it comes to the actual full-length practices tests, they are simply trying to simulate the actual TOEFL test experience with their practice versions. ETS is actually giving you five real, authentic TOEFL tests, brought back out of retirement, not simulations. So factors like the overall level of difficulty, the accuracy or authenticity of the reading and listening material involved in some of the questions, or the actual topic selections for speaking and writing tasks, are all genuine and realistic with ETS Official TOEFL iBT Tests - Volume 1.
Obviously, the lack of a CD-Rom that simulates the actual interface of the test, keeps track of time limits, integrates the audio tracks when needed, and scores the results automatically, is a huge disappointment. This is an expected standard for today's test prep material that virtually every TOEFL preparation book has been providing for years. This oversight sadly deprives TOEFL candidates of the comfort, familiarity, and confidence that come with being prepared to take the test as it will appear on a computer on test day.
Furthermore, students who have not studied the Official Guide to the TOEFL Test (from ETS), those who are not familiar with the detailed system of scoring the four sections will likely not understand how to score their results using this book alone. There seems to be literally no guidance offered to candidates for scoring the Reading and Listening Sections, and very little guidance for scoring the Speaking and Writing Sections. Students who use this resource should know the 30-point scoring system for each section, and how the different kinds of multiple-answer questions are scored (in the Reading and Listening Sections), as explained in a separate publication, the ETS Official Guide to the TOEFL Test.
Also, I would much rather prefer another TOEFL test or two over the 94-page "TOEFL Test Prep Planner" in the back of the book. Sorry, but I fail to see the benefit of padding the book with general resources. It is a benefical planner, but it has already been published online by ETS as a free resource. I'm putting down $36 for authentic TOEFL tests, not freely available resources.
Despite the negative things I've mentioned, I would still recommend this resource to TOEFL candidates who have used all three of the practice tests in the Official Guide. Use all the official TOEFL iBT Tests in this book before using the practice tests from other companies.
Of course, I don't need to recommend this book to serious TOEFL tutors. I would assume most of them know how important it is and bought it months ago when it was released.
With no CD-Rom and the other flaws mentioned, this book could not get anything higher than two stars for anyone other than ETS. A generous three stars goes to the return of five retired TOEFL tests!
5 sets tests base on audio is a bit unpractical for IBT test, I wonder why cannot it be the same as Official Guide to the TOEFL Test With CD-ROM, 4th Edition, which have the tests on a CD program that more similar with the real IBT test.