Best Books & Online Resources for IELTS

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So you have decided to appear for the IELTS. How to get started? For a student on a budget, or a working professional with limited time, there are ample resources for preparation and self study.

You can easily create and follow a schedule after gathering all required materials.  So let’s get started!

Books/Course materials:

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book with Answers with DVD-ROM (Cambridge English)

The most recommended book by previous test takers, it offers detailed guidance on how to approach each section of the test and the examiner’s expectations.

The book is published after a lot of research and considering the reviews of previous candidates. The CD/DVD provided along with the book help with the listening and speaking sections. Latest edition must be obtained.

Cambridge IELTS 11 Academic Student’s Book with Answers: Authentic Examination Papers (IELTS Practice Tests)

These are the official practice books issued by the IELTS authorities. The candidate must study these from cover to cover for sufficient preparation. The practice tests are a must do before appearing for the test.

Also, for listening and speaking sections, the tests provided in the official website must be done.

IELTS General Training & Academic Study Guide: Test Prep Book & Practice Test Questions for the Listening, Reading, Writing, & Speaking Components on English Language Testing System Exam

This bestselling book covers both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Tests. It can help the candidate to build a strategy on how to approach the exam.

This book is for candidates who are aiming for self study. The guidance provided is invaluable. However, the number of practice questions and tests are limited.

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Target Band 7: IELTS Academic Module – How to Maximize Your Score

This book is aimed at candidates who have very limited preparation time. Provided the candidate already has a good grasp of English, the book will really help with preparation in all areas, and also points out where candidates mostly make mistakes. This book is one of the all time favorites.

Online courses for IELTS Preparation:

Road to IELTS by British council Italy

The candidate can opt for the test version, which is of 10 hours duration and covers the basics, or purchase the full version which is of 120 hours duration.

The test lays down the fundamentals and then proceeds to more challenging aspects. There is instant feedback on progress from British Council experts.

IELTS Academic Test Preparation by EdX

This free online course is offered by the University of Queensland, Australia. It includes test information, guidance, study strategies and develops overall English proficiency and vocabulary. The candidate can study from anywhere, anytime.

IELTS Test Online by Impact Learning Services

This platform is an official partner of the British Council. It offers free resources, as well as three different kinds of subscription depending on how much time the candidate can devote to preparation. The standout part is that there is a test after each lesson.

Video lectures & Online Teachers

This is one of the official websites and is owned by IDP Education. It contains an overview of each section of the test and also the different types of questions asked.

Offers sample tasks such as academic reading along with several practice tests for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General training. At the beginning of test preparation, a student must appear for these sample tests to pinpoint the areas which prove difficult for him/her.

Similarly, at the end, the student must appear for these sample tests to assess his performance and pinpoint core areas requiring improvement.

This website also hosts a blog which is regularly updated with tips on improvement and performance.

This is another official website, as the British Council is a co-owner of the IELTS. Resources available are:

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Free practice tests for each section of the test.

A free IELTS online course to help candidates tackle the exam. The candidate has to sign up at

A free practice manual

Test day advice – formalities to be followed on the test day and procedure during the exam.

Advice from candidates who previously appeared for the test.

Apps – the IELTS prep app which enables candidates to study on the go, and the IELTS Word Power App to improve vocabulary.

Another highly recommended website, Dominic Cole, an English teacher offers completely free IELTS resources for every test section. His in depth analysis of test questions provide accurate tips to tackle different tasks.

The candidate must sign up for free lessons.  

A standout feature of this website is the “Find a teacher” option, which can help a candidate locate an English teacher in their vicinity, and covers such diverse countries such as India, United Kingdom, South Africa, Israel and many more.

By an experienced IELTS teacher and examiner. Has its own YouTube channel The website hosts test information, tips, a vocabulary section.

A favorite of candidates who prefer a visual approach to learning. The videos are short and to the point, and readily understandable.

This is a good option for candidates preferring to learn on the go.

A standout feature is the blog, which regularly posts topics and exercises.

This website has divided the test into component parts and offers detailed strategies, tips, sample questions and recommended books and resources.

Updated frequently with fresh content and strategies.

Highly recommended by previous test takers.

A complete test prep kit for candidates who are more comfortable with a classroom based approach to learning.

Also offers its own mobile apps.

The candidate can download for free “The complete guide to the IELTS exam” eBook, one week or one month based study plans depending on how much time is available, the good question guide, and the speaking topics and vocabulary eBooks.

The Magoosh blog – offers free lessons, answers frequently asked questions, provides solutions to issues candidates are likely to face in the test.

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Standout feature – Newly launched podcast which can be accessed at The podcasts are short, easy to understand, and cover a new topic in every episode. There are seventeen episodes so far.

Final Note:

Choose at least one official preparation material such as books issued by the IDP or the British Council. These will provide the most accurate snapshot of the type of questions most likely to be asked.

Don’t accumulate too many study resources. Follow one or two preparation modules end to end, so that confusion is avoided. This also leaves less time for revision. Note down the questions where you first faced problems, and how you overcame them.

Practice. Practice. Practice. For the speaking section, especially, where the candidate is required to face an examiner who will judge how fluently the candidate can communicate in the language. So practice speaking out loud everyday on a variety of general topics.

Cultivate reading habits. Read newspapers regularly. Observe the construction and flow of sentences and how one point leads to the other. 

For some candidates, listening to English language news, most notably the BBC news bulletins, is helpful for expanding vocabulary, and identifying the contexts in which certain words are used.

IELTS is an old school exam which requires writing with pen on paper. Many candidates will be more accustomed to typing rather than writing two hundred words.

It is essential to practice writing answers, to cultivate speed while maintaining legible handwriting. This is one area where many candidates have faltered simply because of lack of writing practice.

It is essential that the candidate keeps on appearing for mock tests throughout the preparation period, so that areas of improvement can be highlighted.

There is no such thing as too many mock tests. IELTS band score can be improved only through regular mock tests. These are also the most readily available IELTS resource. The websites listed above as well as some others such as and offer such tests.

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