Review of IELTS books

Preparing for the IELTS exam can be nerve wracking at times, but it doesn’t have to be. There are millions of free online IELTS preparation resources available to help you along the way. As long as you have patience, a willingness to learn and determination, you will do well.

Some students feel that they stay more focused when they study from a book rather than from a website or YouTube Video. Trust me, it's easy to get distracted by those cat videos and bottle flip challenges that keep popping up while you are watching your favourite YouTube IELTS teacher. So, I've a put together a list of top IELTS preparation books that you MUST study from. These books will help you better understand what will be on the exam and how to obtain a high score. While the list is in no particular order, one may suit you better than others. Here we go!

1. Official IELTS Practice Material

Written by the IELTS partners including Cambridge ESOL examiners and material writers with many years of experience preparing IELTS tests, this book shows how the IELTS tests are assessed and provides some valuable tips. The book contains practice tests for Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (both Academic and General Training). It also has Listening, Reading and Writing answer sheets. Additionally, Listening and Reading practice test answer keys and Listening tapescripts are also provided. The best part about the book is that it has sample candidate Writing responses and examiner comments, sample candidate Speaking tests and examiner comments. The CD contains a Listening test for candidates to practise and three examples of students taking the Speaking test.

The only drawback is that it has only 1 full IELTS test. So if you are looking for a lot of practice tests then this book is not for you.

1. Official IELTS Practice Material

2. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

If you want to buy only one book for your IELTS preparation then this is the one. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is THE definitive guide to IELTS. It contains all you need to succeed in the exam. Skill-building exercises cover all of the question types in the exam for both the General Training and Academic Modules. The authors of this book have done a lot of research into real IELTS candidates' exam answers - and the mistakes they make. This book helps you avoid the same ones!

EIGHT official practice tests and a focus on test-taking strategy help you maximise your score. Videos of the Speaking test, and all the listening material, including the tests, can be found on the DVD-ROM or downloaded via an accompanying App from iTunes or Google Play.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

3. Barron’s IELTS Superpack

This Barron's Superpack combines all of the necessary Barron’s IELTS materials into one, thus the name Superpack!  By buying this Superpack, you get more than 30% off the price of items purchased separately.

The IELTS Superpack includes:

  • Barron's IELTS: Get comprehensive prep with 4 Academic Module practice exams and 2 General Training Module practice exams, plus extensive subject review and access to audio tracks online.
  • IELTS Practice Exams with MP3 CD: You'll get 6 Academic Module practice exams and 6 General Training Module practice exams with comprehensive answer explanations, plus audio material online and on CD.
  • IELTS Strategies and Tips with MP3 CD: Learn expert strategies to help you answer questions efficiently, plus get access to audio material online and on CD.
  • Essential Words for the IELTS: Build your vocabulary with 600 words that appear most frequently on IELTS exams, plus access to audio online and on CD.
Barrons IELTS Superpack

4. Cambridge Grammar for IELTS

Grammar is by far the biggest challenge for IELTS students. It is the main reason why most students get stuck at 6.5 in writing. Cambridge Grammar for IELTS provides complete coverage of the grammar needed for the IELTS test, and develops listening skills at the same time. It includes a wide range of IELTS tasks from the Academic and General Training Reading, Writing and Listening modules, and contains helpful grammar explanations and a grammar glossary. A Student's Book 'without answers' is also available.

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS

5. IELTS 14 Academic Student's Book

There is no doubt that Academic IELTS is a lot tougher than General IELTS. If you are looking for Authentic Academic IELTS examination questions then this book provides the perfect practice because they are EXACTLY like the real test. Inside IELTS 14 Academic Student's Book with Answers and Audio you'll find FOUR complete examination papers plus details of the different parts of the test and the scoring system, so you can familiarise yourself with the test format and practise your exam technique. This book comes with answers, tape scripts, sample writing answers and audio.

IELTS 14 Academic Student's Book

When selecting from the various IELTS preparation books, carefully consider what you want to get out of them. While some books are made more general, others provide academic training. The academic IELTS preparation books offer far more information than the general training books.

Finally, don’t forget to consider reviewing your writing and speaking portion of the IELTS exam from an experienced IELTS teacher, as they can provide you with personalised feedback that a book may not otherwise do. If you have already written a writing task or recorded a speaking audio, submit it for review below.

As they say, practice leads to perfection!

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