ESL/TOEFL Student Gift Guide: Practice Presents for Purposeful Test Prep

ESL TOEFL Gift Guide.png

Affiliate disclosure:  In the spirit of full transparency, the following post does contain affiliate links.  What this means is that if you purchase a product through one of my links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Don't worry; I only recommend products that I have used and loved.

7 Tested and Approved Gift Ideas for ESL Students

Around the holidays, gift giving guides are ubiquitous. For every interest, you can find a collection of top presents. Instead of searching simply by age and gender or hobby, consider getting the TOEFL test prep student a practical gift. At multiple price points ranging from ultra affordable to a complete splurge, gift givers and receivers alike will love these items. This carefully curated list with help language learners on test day and beyond.

Gift Guide Round Up.png


1| Planners

A new year means a fresh start. Get ready for the new year with a new planner. Planners come in all sorts of shapes and sizes--literally. Get one well suited for that person on your list by considering when and why it will be used. Is this going to sit on a desk? Is it designed to teach one new vocab word every single day? Go in with a purpose instead of being persuaded by pretty images alone.

One of the more versatile planners out there is the Panda Planner.  Not tied to a particular calendar month, this planner can be used whenever you are ready.  Get a planner that comes with bonuses like ebooks and mini courses designed to help you set better goals and beat procrastination.


If the TOEFL is in your future, why not get a planner specifically designed for test-takers.  Created to help maximize vocabulary at times when you need it and to pace practice for success, the 12 Month TOEFL Planner is the definitive planner for students who take their test prep seriously.  Pre-order now to get special pricing.

12 Month TOEFL Planner.png


2| Books

Books and students, a classic pairing.  But with so many to choose from, what books should you buy?  Students studying for the TOEFL should absolutely own The Official Guide to the TOEFL as it contains the most realistic test prep. And while there are other test prep books that can be purchased based on the specific needs of the person prepping for the exam (you can read about the criteria you should consider here), don't limit yourself to test prep books alone.

Language learning books can help provide valuable tips while the reader is still practicing English.  As a result, these books are working on multiple levels.



Similarly, books that are about social interactions tend to be another good choice.  While many are designed for native speakers of the language, they still provide excellent advice in terms of mindset struggles and psychological tricks in order to help you gain confidence when using English in the workplace or to make friends at school.

Productivity books are another excellent option.  Everyone wishes they had more time.  While many productivity books are geared towards the workplace and entrepreneurs, there are many valuable takeaways for students of all backgrounds.  Learn how to make the most of your study time when prepping for the TOEFL or even a final exam by implementing the tips found in books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or my personal favorite, The One Thing.  I can't say enough about this book.  It will help keep you focused on the right goals for moving you forward instead of getting caught up in the minutia.



3| School supplies

Spoil yourself or the student in your life with a plethora of school supplies so there is never a delay studying because a pen can't be located.  Having all the supplies you need on hand will help eliminate some of those excuses that pop up.  

In fact, sometimes the desire to use the new items will be the extra incentive someone needs to stop putting things off and start studying instead.  Affordable and easily tailored to match one's interests, school supplies are a great gift that students can take with them to their classes and dorm rooms after achieving their goal scores on the exam.

4| Headphones

A quality pair of headphones is a must.  Headphones give students more access to listening practice as you can listen in situations that normally would be off limits, like during a commute.  Headphones are particularly important for getting ready for tests like the TOEFL because the listening passages won't be coming through speakers on an instructor's desk like they might if enrolled in an in-person TOEFL prep course but instead will be coming directly through headphones on test day.

If you are looking to splurge on top-of-the-line headphones, Apple's AirPods might be exactly what you are looking for.  If you are addicted to listening to podcasts to improve your English, these are a great gift.  They are easily the best pair of headphones I've ever used.  Because you do not have to worry about being tied up with cords, you can listen to English wherever you go and during whatever task, whether that is doing yard work outside, washing the dishes, or going for a run.  This investment will be worthwhile long after exam day because you will be able to listen to audio books (for those in the public domain, you can use Librivox and for others consider Audible) which might come in handy when you have tons of reading assignments to juggle.



If you want a pair of headphones most similar to those used on the TOEFL (not to mention, more affordable), look into over-the-ear headphone varieties instead.  They will give a similar feel to the ones you'll encounter at the testing center (and for a fraction of the price of Beats.)



5|  Caffeination and hydration

Coffee shops and college students are another unstoppable duo.  Students are frequently caffeinating themselves to stay alert through long cramming sessions, and the research is there to back up the relationship between caffeine intake and memory.  In fact, more research is being conducted as to the long term effective of caffeine consumption and cognitive abilities as well.  Be eco-friendly when getting your coffee in style with this reusable travel mug.



While most people envision students sipping on coffee, more important for your mental and physical health is to simply stay hydrated.  Bring your reusable water bottle with you to those long library study sessions.  According to the research, staying properly hydrated can have quite the impact on mood and focus, so you will want to make sure that are drinking water while studying.  Learn from those who have gone before you.  Studies show those who drink water during exams score slightly higher on exams, and that students are more likely to bring water with them after their first year.



6| Tablet or laptop

The iBT in TOEFL iBT stands for internet-based test; it is, therefore, essential that you are prepping on a screen.  First, you want to make sure that you are comfortable typing your answers for the Writing section of the exam.  That means that if you use a tablet, make sure that you have a full-sized wireless keyboard.  I love the feel of typing on my Apple Wireless Keyboard.  In fact, I love using it with my iPad to type blog posts just like this one.



When deciding whether or not you need a tablet or laptop, consider what is needed before and after taking the TOEFL.  Do the study materials purchased require a CD drive in order for you to effectively take the practice tests?  Are you going to take online lessons and need to be able to split the screen between a website and your tutor's image?  What type of assignments will be given in your university program?  Will you need to compose papers or create multimedia projects?  Do the schools that you are considering issue laptops to all undergrad or graduate students? 



7| Premium subscriptions

The last category of gift is to upgrade from free to paid services of your favorite subscriptions.  

Get all the Power Ups in Trello so it is entirely customizable.  While I would definitely suggest implementing the Calendar Power Up if you are sticking with the free version, by upgrading to the next level, you can add in Card Aging, Card Snooze, Card Repeater, and Deadlines, for those who are motivated most by visual input.

Have a digital study partner that you community with over Slack?  Do you always watch the same tutorials video Google Hangouts?  Allow it to integrate with Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or Google Hangouts so it becomes the central hub for everything you need to get done and keep organized.  

Though audiobooks have been around for decades, Audible's service is the gift that keeps on giving.  Audible has such a wide range of titles, it will be easy to find book after book that keeps your interest (and keeps you actively listening to English). Perfect for those who want to improve their English but are always on the go, consider a subscription to Audible so you can keep the enjoyable practice up even when traveling.



While Grammarly's free edition is remarkable, kick things up a notch with Grammarly's premium edition.  Get a ranking out of 100 on every piece you compose as well as insight into all the advanced issues.  Far cheaper than a tutor and on call whenever you need it, this is the single best gift you can get for the language learner or serious student in your life (even if that person is you!)


Key Takeaways

Whether you want to get something for the language learner on your list or this is a gift for yourself, you can't go wrong with gifts that cultivate strong study habits for this test and all the rest to come in the university program to come.

Want a free gift right now?  Get 30 days of TOEFL essay prompts right away-- and get ready for more free gifts in your future!


One month TOEFL writing prompts.png
Privacy Policy