IELTS Preparation Books

There are hundreds of IELTS preparation books on the market and choosing the right one can make the difference between studying effectively and getting not getting the score you need. Which IELTS preparation book you choose will also depend on what band score you are aiming for and which skills you want to focus on.

As an IELTS teacher I have either used or looked at nearly all of the IELTS books on the market and below are my recommendations.

I have no affiliation with any of the companies and will make no money from the recommendations, so you can be sure that all of my advice is fair and without bias.

Best All-Round IELTS Book

IELTS preparation books

The Official Cambridge Guide is a very comprehensive book that covers writing, listening, speaking and reading. It also has 10 practice tests at the back so you can effectively practice what you learn.

Who is this book for?

This book is for someone who is confident about their English level already and wants to familiarise themselves with the test format. I would recommend it for anyone hoping to get a 6.0 or above in the test.

Who is this book not for?

You shouldn’t buy this book if your English is pre-intermediate or below, because the language used requires a certain level of English.

Positives

All aspects of the test are covered in a user-friendly way. There are tips and hints on every page and the practice tests really help students consolidate what they have learnt.

Most publishers print one book for writing, one for reading and so on. This book covers all four skills so you don’t have to carry four books around with you.

It is published by Cambridge who also write the test, so you know that all the information is reliable.

Negatives

At over $50 it is a little bit expensive for some students.

Cambridge writes it so they are not going to help you too much. They are not going to give you any insider knowledge about how the test is marked or how you can gain an advantage, just a good overview. Cambridge want to keep the test as reliable as possible and that means they can’t give you as much advice as some of the more independent publishers.

Score

4/5

Best IELTS Book for Lower Levels

IELTS preparation books 1

Some people only require 4.0-5.5 on their test and they should therefore choose a book that is a little simpler and made for their needs.

The Collins ‘Get Ready for IELTS’ series is the best book for this level. It has been developed with lower level students in mind and covers both English skills and IELTS skills.

Who is this book for?

Anyone hoping to get a band score of between 4.0-5.5.  This book is suitable for someone who likes to study at home and does not need lots of supervision from a teacher.

Who is this book not for?

Anyone aiming to get a score over 5.5. This book might not be suitable for someone who needs lots of help and in this case it might be better to hire an IELTS teacher to help you.

Positives

Each chapter covers a common IELTS topic and this allows students to build their vocabulary as they learn IELTS skills at the same time.

There are short tips on nearly every page that cover the core things students need to know. There are also practice activities throughout the book to help students consolidate their knowledge.

It is obvious that the people writing the book have lots of experience teaching IELTS to lower levels and all of their advice is sound.

Negatives

The only thing it lacks is maybe some practice tests, but these can be accessed online for free from other sites.

Score

5/5

Best IELTS Book for Intermediate Students

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MacMillan publish a series of book called ‘Improve your IELTS Skills’. There are three books: writing, reading and listening and speaking combined.

These books are very comprehensive and allow students to prepare for the test without the aid of a teacher. All chapters have a focus on both exam technique, grammar and vocabulary. There are exercises for every chapter and this gives students a sense of progress and assures them that they are on the right track.

Who is this book for?

This is for someone hoping to get between 5.5 and 7.0 in their IELTS test and someone who wishes to prepare for IELTS without a teacher.

This book is also for someone who wishes to improve their grammar and vocabulary.

Who is this book not for?

Lower levels might find this book a little difficult to understand.

To get the most out of this book it requires motivation and self-discipline, so if you are the type of person who needs a teacher to motivate you, this book might not be for you.

Positives

The author of this book, Sam McCarter, is recognised as an expert in his field. Sam not only knows the test inside out, he also gives very specific techniques and advice for each question type. For example, there are a number of different reading question types and Sam offers tailored advice for each of these different kinds of question. There are also a number of different types of writing question and each requires a different approach and this is also addressed in the book.

Despite it being aimed at higher levels the book is practical and easy to understand.

Negatives

I would like to see some more examples of very good answers. It would be very helpful if there were band 5 answers and then show how these could be improved and a corresponding band 8 answer.

It would also be good if students were given some practical advice about where and how they can practice their writing and speaking skills at home.

Score

4/5

Best IELTS Book for Higher Level Students

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Delta Publishing’s IELTS Advantage series of books is by far the best resource for students hoping to get above a band 7.0.

I should point out that my site ‘IELTS Advantage’ and this book share the same name, but are in no way connected. I was unaware of this series of books until I searched for my own site on Google and these books showed up. So I should say again that I am in no way affiliated with this publisher.

Who is this book for?

This book is for someone who already has a good level of English and wants to improve their exam technique at home and score at least a band score of 7.0.

Who is this book not for?

Anyone at pre-intermediate level or below.

Positives

Giving students suggested fixed phrases and collocations is a big strength of this book.

There are lots of example essays and speaking sample answers which really helps students because it allows them to compare their own work with good examples.

There is a summary of the main points at the end of every chapter that helps students recall the most important information.

The reasoning behind each activity is explained and linked to the exam.

Negatives

They have done a great job with what they have covered, but I think they could have made the book much longer and covered every aspect of the IELTS test. This book had the potential to be the definitive guide to IELTS but they missed a few things out which is unfortunate.

Difficult to find outside of the UK.

Score

4/5

Best IELTS Book for Practice

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The best books for practice are Cambridge Examination Papers. There are now 10 books in this series and they provide four practice tests in each book. They are published by the same people who make the actual tests so they provide an invaluable insight into the test.

Who is this book for?

Anyone doing the IELTS test.

Who is it not for?

The majority of the past papers are for the Academic paper, but there are also some General Training papers in each book.

Positives

They are a very good reflection of the actual test so you can see exactly what is expected. They give you a good idea what your score will be in the reading and listening tests and give you sample answers for the writing test.

Negatives

Often Cambridge gives sample answers that are band 4.0 or 5.0. Looking at poor sample answers is a valuable thing to do but I think it would be better if they also gave  a band 8 or 9 answer for the same essay.

You are not going to improve your English skills with these books and if your English level needs to improve you would be better finding a general English book.

There are lots of fake books out there, especially Cambridge 10. Be very careful that you don’t get one of the fake books because it is probably very misleading.

Score

4/5

Best IELTS Book for Vocabulary

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced helps students learn the vocabulary they need to gain above 6.5 in the IELTS speaking and writing tests. It will also help you with the listening and speaking tests. Not only does it cover specific topic-related vocabulary that is common on the IELTS test, it also helps students with collocations, synonyms and paraphrasing.

Vocabulary is a key part of IELTS success and should be taken very seriously by anyone needing a high band score.

Who is this book for?

Someone who has a good level of English already, but might need extra help with vocabulary.

Who is it not for?

Lower level students.

Positives

Good practice exercises to help students remember new words.

Handy word list at the back of the book.

Allows you to practice your IELTS skills at the same time as learning new vocabulary.

Focus on common IELTS topics like health, environment and technology.

Focus on synonyms and collocations, which are essential for getting a high score.

Negatives

Might be a little too difficult for lower level students.

A little bit overpriced at $34

Score

4/5

I hope you have found this article useful and these books help you with your IELTS Preparation. Do you agree with my selections? Do you have any other recommendations?

Please let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments:

11 Comments

  1. Jessica says

    For what kind of students is designed “Barron’s Super Pack”?what score can we expec by studying this book?

  2. ISIL SILAHTAROGLU says

    There is a new series of Improve Your IELTS Skills for lower level students aiming at 4.5-6 band score. They are also very good when starting with pre-intermediate level students.

  3. Abdullah Barakat says

    This article helped me a lot, thank you.

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