Top 7 Resources for the IELTS Exam

Top 7 Resources for the IELTS Exam

Introduction to IELTS Vocabulary Resources

If you are a student planning to take the IELTS, one of the first questions that will come to your mind is: How do I study and prepare for the exam? The next question you’ll find yourself asking is: What resources can I use to study effectively?

A quick google search will bring up a bewildering variety of study tools and material, including apps, practice tests, books, and flashcards, among many other blended learning tools. If you’ve already scrolled through pages of material and are here, confused, we have good news for you: we’ve reviewed all these resources and put together a list of the 7 best resources used by students and professors. But before we get started, let’s take a brief look at what the IELTS exam is.

About the IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English-language proficiency exam that has to be taken by individuals migrating abroad for studies or work. For studies, the Academic IELTS is preferred, and for work, the General Training IELTS is required. Countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA require this exam as part of their college application or visa requirements. Basically, what this exam does is test your fluency in spoken and written English, as well as your capacity to read and comprehend information. IELTS scores range from 0 to 9, with 0 being a failing grade and 9 being the highest grade.

For more information on the IELTS, you can visit the official site for all IELTS-related information. Now that you have a brief idea of what IELTS is if you already didn’t know, let’s look at the top 7 IELTS resources you can use to ace your IELTS exams.

 Top 7 Resources for the IELTS Exam

The books, vocabulary flashcards, and multimedia resources listed below have been liked and adopted by students, professors, and schools across the world. Read on to find out what these resources are, where you’ll find them, and the pros and cons of using these materials.

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1. Official IELTS Practice Materials

This comprehensive IELTS resource contains practice tests for the four sections of the IELTS (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing) for both the Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS. A great feature of this book is that it offers sample writing responses and comments by examiners. It comes with a DVD for the Listening test and sample footage of students answering the Speaking test.

The cons of this book are that is relatively short and offers a general idea of the sections of the test, without covering material in-depth. Additionally, most people do not have DVD players nowadays.

Pros: Official test resource, contains practice tests, offers sample examples, useful for teachers

Cons: Brief overview of the test. Does not have online resources

2. Magoosh’s IELTS Flashcards Vocabulary App

This app is designed by Magoosh especially for IELTS vocabulary. It contains online flashcards with 200 words that you can use to acquire the essential vocabulary you require for the IELTS. The highlight of the app is that you get to learn new words, as well as practice these words through repetition. The online flashcards provide the meaning of the word, its part of speech, and example sentences that help you understand the word, along with an audio pronunciation of the word.

On the flip side, you’ll have to go through all the words when you’re revising, as there is no option to review only the words you’ve not mastered. The word’s pronunciation is given only in audio form, not in written form. There is also no option to practice what you’ve learned through a test.

Pros: Interactive vocabulary builder, useful across multiple devices, helps to keep track of words learned, contains essential words

Cons: Does not allow you to review only unknown words, does not contain written phonetic pronunciation, does not have tests

3. Cambridge Vocabulary For Ielts With Answers And Audio Cd

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book with Answers with DVD-ROM contains all the information required to prepare for the IELTS exam. It is a guidebook that contains useful tips, strategies, and examples for preparing for all four sections of the IELTS. It also contains 8 practice tests that simulate the question types asked on the IELTS exam. For the listening section and speaking section, a DVD-ROM is provided.

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The drawbacks of this book are that it does not have online resources and most people do not use DVDs today. The book focuses more on the Academic test, so learners appearing for the General Training test may require additional resources.

Pros: power-packed resource, functions as a complete guide to IELTS

Cons: Not suitable for General Training IELTS. Does not have online resources

4. Educational Software Technologies’ IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards

These 352 IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards are useful for both the Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS. These cards are hand-picked by IELTS experts and equip students with essential IELTS vocabulary across several relevant categories. Each flashcard has the meaning, pronunciation, synonyms and antonyms, and two sentences on it. Additionally, learners can access the online video pronunciation of the word and test their progress through online tests.

The cards contain relatively simple words which are suitable for those who do not know the English language at all. For learners with an advanced vocabulary, these cards may be used as revision material.

Pros: Exclusive tab system, designated categories of words, blank cards for self-prep, audio plus written pronunciation, online resources and tests. Good for visual learners and offers blended learning

Cons: Useful for beginners and intermediate learners, not advanced-level learners

5. Barron`s Essential Words for the IELTS

Barron’s Essential Words for the IELTS is a vocabulary-building book that contains 600 essential words that appear in the IELTS. It offers words segregated by categories and includes MP3 files for the listening section. The activities in the book are designed based on the format of the IELTS exam, for extra test practice. Each chapter contains additional vocabulary-expanding exercises that aid in acquiring vocabulary.

The flip side of this book is that the reading texts presented are slightly different from the actual format and style of the IELTS questions.

Pros: Segregated categories of words, vocabulary-building exercises, contains essential words, useful for vocabulary building

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Cons: Does not have online resources, contains a large number of words

6. Collins Cobuild Key Words For Ielts- Book 1 Starter 

Collins Cobuild Key Words For IELTS contains lists of essential words for the IELTS exam. It covers the keywords and phrases used commonly in English and that appear in the IELTS exam. The words are arranged alphabetically to facilitate easy studying. The book also covers key phrases and terms required for the Academic section of the IELTS.

The drawback of this book is that it contains only beginner-level words. For intermediate and advanced learners, Book 2- Improver and Book 3-Advanced may be more suitable.

Pros: Alphabetical arrangement of words, good for building vocabulary

Cons: Suitable for beginners to the English language

7. IELTS® Vocabulary Flashcards – Learn English Words

This IELTS Vocabulary Flashcard app is an interactive learning tool for acquiring IELTS vocabulary. It contains online flashcards that cover the most important words recommended by Cambridge for proficiency in the English language.  The app offers categorized words, synonyms, pronunciation, and the opportunity to track your progress across each category. The highlight of the app is that it is based on the technique of spaced repetition to provide a smarter way of learning.

One limitation of the app is that it does not the number of words learned, and there is a limited number of online flashcards.

Pros: Interactive learning tool, online flashcards, audio pronunciation, allows tracking of progress, contains essential words

Cons: Does not provide words in context, does not show you a number of words learned


Now that we’ve given you a list of some resources you can use, it’s up to you to decide which type of learning method works best for you. If you’re more of a visual learner, you might decide to choose The Big CD’s IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards, for example. Or if you learn better on electronic devices, you may want to use the CD version of Barron’s Essential Words for the IELTS. Or if you’re a high-performer, you may decide to opt for more than one learning avenue.

We hope this list gave you clarity on the types of IELTS resources available. All the best for your exam!

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