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Can you rely on a free TOEFL course that is taught by insiders from ETS - the company behind the TOEFL exam - to show you the secrets to success on your TOEFL iBT exam? Well, this is what students expect to get from the edX TOEFL course - TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insiders Guide.
After reviewing several TOEFL prep courses on the market, we couldn't wait to get our hands on the edX TOEFL course to find out if the TOEFL experts from ETS could really help you get the TOEFL score you desire.
By reading this comprehensive review article, you will know for sure if this course is worth using in your TOEFL iBT prep.
The edX TOEFL course is a good option for students with a very strong mastery of English, who just want to learn the basics of the TOEFL iBT exam.
Is the edX TOEFL Prep Course Right for You?
Who we recommend the course for:
- Students who just want to get fundamental tips and strategies to get a satisfactory TOEFL score
- Students/families that can't afford a paid TOEFL prep course
Who we don't recommend the course for:
- Students looking for support in their TOEFL prep
- Students looking for in-depth strategies for each section of the TOEFL exam
- Students who need more practice material in their prep
edX TOEFL Video Review
To get an idea of what using the edX TOEFL prep course feels like, watch our complete video review below. In this video, our reviewer, Chuky, uncovers the strengths and shortcomings of the edX TOEFL course after several weeks of studying with the paid version of the edX TOEFL course.
edX TOEFL Overview
The edX TOEFL prep course, titled TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insiders Guide, is a six-week self-paced online course developed by TOEFL experts from ETS - the organization that administers the TOEFL exam.
edX TOEFL prep course similarities
Here are the common features of both learning paths of the edX TOEFL course.
- Lessons and resources: Both options contain the exact same course materials such as video lessons and TOEFL practice questions.
- Access to forums: Students on both learning tracks can participate in the discussion boards/forums available on this course.
- Score increase: Both course options have no score increase guarantee.
edX TOEFL prep course distinctions
The main differences between the two edX course options are:
- Access period: On the free course, access to the course content is lost at the end of the six-week period. While the paid option has an unlimited access to the course content after the six-week period ends.
- Pricing: The Verified track can be purchased for $49, while the Audit track is available for free.
- Certificate of completion endorsed by ETS: You can only earn a certificate from ETS after completing the course on the Verified track and not the Audit track.
The course material is broken up into 6 learning modules, where each week focuses on one module. Given that the entire course material is available upon signing up for the course, you could complete the entire course in a much shorter time frame if you desire.
The topics covered in the course material include:
- 1 module introducing the TOEFL iBT exam
- 4 modules with detailed information about the types of questions found in the 4 TOEFL iBT sections
- 1 module containing supplementary tips for success on your test day and beyond
The entire course material consists of about 48 short video lessons, where each video lesson is typically under 5 minutes long.
The videos show a combination of presentation slides and footage of an ETS TOEFL expert speaking. The videos also have some helpful features, such as the ability to change the playback speed between 0.75x and 2x...
And the ability to view an audio transcript on the right hand side of the video. This audio transcript is synced to the video, and could benefit students who like reading video transcripts/subtitles.
The video lessons on the reading and listening modules discuss the different types of questions that appear on these two sections. Each video will give an example of how to identify these questions and will end with some tips to follow when attempting these questions.
On the speaking and writing modules, you will find two sets of short video lessons. The first set of video lessons briefly introduce the structure of each independent or integrated task in these sections. While the other set of video lessons leave you with a few tips on how to approach these tasks.
You will also find videos that explain how the independent and integrated tasks on the speaking and writing sections are scored.
Each video lesson in the course material is followed by a short quiz containing general questions about the content of the lesson. However, these questions do not test your understanding of the core concept taught in the lesson.
Overall, while the video lessons do a good job of introducing the types of questions/tasks on the 4 sections of the TOEFL iBT, we found the test-taking strategies to be too shallow compared to other TOEFL prep courses we've reviewed.
In each video lesson, the instructors usually spend less than 60 seconds discussing tips and strategies for answering each type of question. This amount of time is way too short to teach any valuable lesson on TOEFL test-taking strategies.
In our opinion, you will find more effective video lessons on TOEFL test-taking strategies and skill building in a prep course like Magoosh TOEFL.
The user experience on the edX TOEFL platform is pretty straight forward, both on a desktop and when using the edX app on a mobile device. All the course lessons from the 6 modules can be found on the dashboard and are arranged using a drop-down list.
At the top navigation you will find a navigation bar where you can track your progress on the course, take notes, or ask questions in the discussion board.
The platform also keeps track of the last page you visited. So, whenever you return to studying after taking a break, you can always resume the course from where you left.
Review of edX TOEFL Practice Questions & Tests
The course provides 4 sets of practice questions, each focused on the 4 TOEFL iBT sections, with a total of 33 practice questions.
In the reading section, you will find a single reading passage with 10 practice questions. Where each question represents any one of the 10 different types of questions you will find on the reading section.
While on the listening section, there are 17 practice questions - 5 practice questions are based on a conversation and 12 questions are from 2 lectures.
The speaking section contains 4 questions - 1 question for each of the 4 speaking tasks - while the writing section contains 2 questions - 1 question for each of the 2 writing tasks.
You can find answer explanations to the practice questions on the reading and listening sections. These text-based answer explanations give reasons why a particular answer choice is correct, and why other answer choices are incorrect.
In the speaking and writing sections, you will find sample responses to each question on the independent and integrated tasks. For each task, there will be a sample response that's rated by an ETS grader as a high-level response and another sample response rated as a mid-level response.
As you would expect from a course developed by ETS experts, these practice questions are very similar to those found in official TOEFL iBT prep materials such as the Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT.
However, with only 33 practice questions you would not have enough practice material to prepare for the TOEFL iBT exam. Especially for the reading and listening sections.
In addition, the practice question environment in this course does not look like that of the real TOEFL iBT exam. Thus, you can't rely on this course if you're looking for a realistic practice test experience in your TOEFL prep.
If you want to practice with realistic TOEFL practice questions and full-length TOEFL practice tests, consider purchasing BestMyTest TOEFL or Magoosh TOEFL. In both of these TOEFL courses, you will find several high-quality practice questions and simulated full-length tests.
Support on the edX TOEFL course is very limited. Which should not come as a surprise as the course is available for free. In other words, you get what you don't pay for - which in this case is not much!
The only level of support you can get is an automated scoring of your speaking and writing practice questions and an occasional response from a TOEFL expert to a question you post on the discussion board.
When we submitted our speaking and writing response on the Verified track (paid course option), we expected to get feedback from a human. As the sales page indicated that graded assignments and exams were given only on the paid track.
But to our surprise, the graded feedback we received was the same automated scoring that's given on the Audit track (free version). You can see what your automated score assessments on the speaking and writing sections would look like in the image below.
These automated score reports are generated within 24 hours after completing the speaking and writing practice tasks.
These reports only contain a score range and a general description of responses that fall within this range. You will not find any detailed information about your performance in this score report.
So, outside of a score range, don't expect to receive any personalized suggestions for improvement when you submit your speaking and writing responses.
Which edX TOEFL Prep Course Should You Get?
Given the number of short-comings of the edX TOEFL prep course, we can't recommend this course to any student who is really serious about crushing their TOEFL iBT exam.
In our opinion, this course is good for people with a very strong mastery of using English in an academic setting who:
- Just want to learn the fundamentals of the TOEFL iBT exam, enough to get an acceptable score OR
- Just want to get the verified certificate from ETS (see image below)
If you fall into the second group, then you won't have a choice but to purchase the paid version of the course.
But if you fall into the first group, you can go with the free version, since the course material and the level of support are the same in both versions.
How Does edX TOEFL Prep Course Compare to Other Courses?
So, how does the edX TOEFL prep course developed by "insiders from ETS" measure up to "outsiders" found in other TOEFL test prep providers? Here we pitch edX TOEFL against some of the top TOEFL courses we recommend.
edX TOEFL prep vs Magoosh TOEFL prep
- Magoosh TOEFL offers in-depth video lessons, while the video lesson on edX TOEFL are shallow.
- Magoosh TOEFL has 6 full-length practice tests, while edX TOEFL has no full-length practice test.
- Magoosh TOEFL offers access to an expert instructor for questions, while edX TOEFL has no reliable access to an instructor.
- Learn more about Magoosh TOEFL in our comprehensive review article.
edX TOEFL prep vs Prepscholar TOEFL prep
- Prepscholar uses adaptive learning technology to create a customized learning experience, while edX lacks this ability.
- Prepscholar provides expert graded speaking and writing assessments with personalized feedback, while edX TOEFL only offers automated scoring assessments with no personalized feedback.
- Learn more about the TOEFL course from Prepscholar in our complete Prepscholar TOEFL course review.
edX TOEFL prep vs BestMyTest TOEFL prep
- BestMyTest has 20 full-length practice tests, while edX TOEFL offers no full-length practice tests.
- BestMyTest offers expert graded speaking and writing assessments with personalized feedback, while edX TOEFL only offers automated scoring assessments with no personalized feedback.
- Learn more about the TOEFL course from BestMyTest in our full BestMyTest TOEFL course review.
edX TOEFL Prep FAQs
How much does the edX TOEFL certification cost?
The cost of the edX TOEFL certificate is $49. Buyers of the edX TOEFL Verified track course receive this certificate after completing the course.
How long is the edX TOEFL course available?
Users of the Audit track, the free version of the edX TOEFL course, can access the course material for up to six weeks. At the end of this six-week period, access to the TOEFL course will be lost. While buyers of the Verified track - the paid version - can access the course material after the end of the six-week period.
Is the edX TOEFL a good resource for TOEFL prep?
Following our comprehensive review of both the free and paid versions of the edX TOEFL course, we found the content of the course to be average at best. This is quite disappointing considering that the course was developed by TOEFL experts from ETS - the makers of the TOEFL exam.