6 Best TOCFL Prep Books and Textbooks

TOCFL stands for Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language test. It is a standardized test for non-native Chinese speakers to evaluate their skills in the Chinese language which was developed by National Taiwan Normal University.

TOCFL test is taken by thousands of people all over the world because it is widely accepted and its accuracy. TOCFL is collectively based on three types of tests which consist of TOCFL Listening and Reading, TOCFL Speaking, and TOCFL Writing.

TOCFL has six levels/tiers which determines the expertise of the foreign speaker expertise in the Chinese language. The higher the tier, the higher their skill. The tier is subject to being selected by the speaker which the test will base on. So, if you want a good score on your TOCFL test, you need to prepare well for it. And for that, you need special books to cause most Chinese textbooks are designed for Mainland China, which uses Simplified Chinese Characters, whereas Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese Characters. These are very different and learning simplified characters won’t let you read traditional characters.

Specialized TOCFL books are designed specifically to guide you through the preparation process with plenty of materials and exercises. In this article, we have reviewed the six best TOCFL prep books for you which you can use to prepare yourself for your upcoming TOCFL exam with a decent score.

1. A Course in Contemporary Chinese Textbook by National Taiwan Normal University

This is the official choice of the National Taiwan Normal University as it is regulated By the people who designed the TOCFL, for the TOCFL. So apparently, this book is one of the best choices out there for you.

This is a complete course split into six volumes that teaches Chinese, both spoken and written. The total six-volume series is split into two where the first 3 volume focuses on spoken and the last 3 volume focuses on written skill. This is a comprehensive course that provides adequate learning materials and proper exercises for good preparation.

The volumes are perfectly arranged and organized which makes it easy for learners to comprehend. Each volume comes with a textbook, a workbook, and a learner’s manual. When it comes to the written spoken part containing in lesson 1-3, it focuses specifically on the application of the language and daily conversations, and lesson 1-3 contains the advanced applicability of Chinese language and written aspects with regards to functional, structural, and grammatical aspects.

This book has been highly appreciated by people all over the world because of how organized it is and its utility in advanced stages. There are plenty of exercises that are easy to follow and keep track of as well which makes it an excellent TOCFL prep book.

2. A Course in contemporary Chinese workbook

A Course in Contemporary Chinese has two editions that are textbook and workbook. The previous review was on the textbook one and this one is about the workbook edition. This contains different resources than the textbook which is highly recommended and practice is critical.

This is also a six-volume series as well as the textbook one which provides additional materials and exercises to ensure proper skill development in Chinese on par with the lessons provided. There are teacher resources available which you can skip.

This workbook distinguishes it from other books because it is very well organized and student-friendly. Students can follow it easily and enhance their proficiency. This lesson puts emphasis on the grammatical aspect with many exercises and has a deep explanation about any probably grammatical errors. It focuses on one grammatical section at a time maintaining a systematic approach making it easy to comprehend for students. There are adequate example sentences with reference to the rules as well.

3. Practical Audio-Visual Chinese (3rd edition)

This is the 3rd edited version of Practical Audio-Visual Chinese which is updated according to the changes in the language throughout the years. It is divided into volumes 1-5, a total of 5 volumes. This is one of the most comprehensive books that is widely followed in language courses to teach non-native speakers.

If you are an intermediate learner and looking for something suitable that will help you to achieve a fairly decent grade in your upcoming TOCFL test, this can be a great pick for you. It is designed specifically to cooperate with intermediate learners. This is the perfect book for students to learn traditional Chinese.

Apart from traditional characters, there are Pinyin, Tongyong in MPS, and English. This book comes with a CD, workbook, and a teacher’s book. The CD contains all the text in the book that is read in Chinese.  

There is a grammar section that contains specific instruction and plenty of exercises. The exercises will help you with proper pronunciation and avoid grammatical mistakes in the long run. Moreover, there is a vocabulary section that contains plenty of words to be used in daily day-to-day life.

4. The Ultimate Illustrated Chinese Grammar Guide

If you want to learn advanced Chinese (Band B- Level 3,4) whether it’s spoken or written, probably you are looking for this. This is a book that specifically on grammar for advanced learning with appropriate illustrations to help you understand better.

Usually learning grammar is very boring however this book is very different from traditional grammar books. This is a very engaging book that makes learning grammar much more interesting. It comes with tons of exercises and illustrations which makes grammar easy to comprehend. And these are arranged according to difficulty so you can learn starting from the easy ones and proceed towards the harder ones.

This book will introduce you to a very systematic approach to learning grammar. You will move on from one topic to another topic one by one. And the exercise will help you to achieve your desired skill level and proficiency in the language. If you finish these exercises, you will get an overall understanding of the language and be able to apply it on a daily life basis. Overall, this is a solid book for learning advanced Chinese and you will be able to secure a decent score with the help of it.

5. Integrated Chinese 4th edition

Integrated Chinese is a book that is designed to teach beginner Chinese learners the necessary skills that they need to communicate Chinese in everyday life. It was first published in 1997 which gained much popularity since its initial release. It got updated according to the changes brought in the language from time to time with more effective materials. The 4th edition is the latest one that is available right now.

Integrated Chinese is available in four volumes which are designed in a way so that people without any basic knowledge about Chinese can comprehend. It focuses on every skill necessary for communication purposes such as speaking, reading, listening, and writing. These books come with excellent illustrations and tons of exercises that you can use to polish your skills.

Integrated Chinese 4th edition comes with all the necessary materials such as Workbook, Textbook, Character Workbook, a DVD, and free audio downloads which will be very helpful throughout the process.

However, this course is not TOECL specific but teaches traditional Chinese language, and it’s quite cheaper than other options which makes it a decent prep book for traditional Chinese learning.


Kindle TOCFL Practice Test: The abovementioned books are some of the best that you can buy right now for TOCFL preparation. However, if you want more practice tests, and you have an Amazon Kindle, you can opt for this practice test. 

Books can be quite expensive but if you don’t want to spend that much but still pass the TOCFL test, this book is what you are looking for. It is very affordable and one of the cheapest options out there which you can purchase at a nominal cost. This book has materials for you to learn grammar and enhance the depth of your vocabulary skills which will be of great use for your TOCFL preparation. 

Easy Chinese for You: This is a versatile book that aims to develop Chinese language skills for beginners who have no prior knowledge. If you are a beginner and want to learn the basics for carrying on regular life communications, this can be a great pick for you.

This is a well-organized book with a very systematic approach that teaches grammar and commonly used vocabulary. It is designed specifically for beginners that makes it very easy to comprehend. Moreover, it comes with sufficient examples and exercises as well.

Final Words

Learning a new language is not easy and requires patience and willpower but it’s more or less the same for learning anything. But by taking help from any of the aforementioned books, learning can be easy and fun as well. Whether you are preparing for TOCFL or just want to learn Chinese, you will find these books very handy and useful. So pick a book that suits your purpose and your budget as well.

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