Best Book for IELTS

How to Select the Best IELTS Book

IELTS being such a reputed and standardized exam, it is well understood that one requires systematic planning and preparation to perform well in the exam. From self-study to joining a preparation course, there are a number of ways you can prepare yourself for the test. An impressive range of IELTS books and resources (online and offline) is also available. Here are some tips to select the best book for yourself. The article also includes snapshot reviews of some of the best titles available in the market today.


IELTS tests your proficiency in using English - for the basic facets of communication like reading, writing, listening and speaking. It is therefore true that any good English language book can help you improve your skills. However, if you are short of time and need to focus better, it is imperative that you choose the IELTS-specific materials available.

The British Council has some of the best books that can help you prepare well for the test. The British Council is a trusted name in the industry, more because of their long association with test as a joint owner and delivery partner. Other big names in the book market include Barron's, Cambridge, and Kaplan.

Tips for Selecting Books

Here are some tips that can help you understand why and how to choose the best one:

  • Studying with the help of a book that is designed with IELTS in mind can not only improve your language skills, but also customize them to what is being tested in the exam.

  • Practice maketh perfect. Many review aids contain practice materials and sample questions and test papers for you to practice. This makes you familiar with the test format and types of questions and thus enables you to perform well on the day of the actual exam. These also help you practice and take tests at your convenience and find out where you actually stand.

  • IELTS books come in a wide variety - you find books that include resources on all the four sections of the exam, or on particular sections only like listening, speaking, reading and writing. Some of the books are specifically designed for the Academic version of the test, while there are some others for the General Training version. You get to select the best book for your need.

  • A book containing the whole syllabus is good, if you need to focus on all sections equally. While selecting the book, make sure that it provides answers to practice questions and also the rationale and explanation to each of the answers.

  • If you are just looking for practice materials and questions, you could buy question banks or titles covering only sample test materials.

  • If you are looking to improve your test taking techniques, there are a few such books designed for IELTS that might be of help to you. However, you must consider these as supplementary materials only and focus more on the subject-matter titles.

  • If you need materials to improve your techniques or methods or need tips to improve your skills, there are books that focus only on these aspects.

  • Getting to know what other test takers think might help at times. You could check with people who have already taken the exam or those who plan to take it. Many students, for instance, seem to think that Oxford or Cambridge titles are the best for preparation.

  • Online reviews are sometimes quite reliable, to find and choose the book for yourself. Many experienced IELTS teachers and other language experts provide their opinions and reviews online through blogs, etc. Some of the sites that you could scan include:

Review of 3 Best IELTS Books

Here are snapshot reviews of three popular and among the best ones:

1. Cambridge IELTS 7 Self-study Pack (Student's Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (IELTS Practice Tests)

This is one of the most widely accepted must-haves for the test preparation and is a complete, self-study material. It offers all required materials to make you familiarize yourself with the exam and a lot of tips and tricks to improve your performance. The authentic practice materials in this book are from Cambridge ESOL - the IELTS test designers. It contains four tests for Academic test takers and extra Reading and Writing modules for General Training takers. The CD set that comes along with the book contains audio materials for Listening tests.

2. Barron's IELTS with Audio CDs: International English Language Testing System (Barron's IELTS: International English Language Testing System)

This is again a comprehensive title for IELTS aspirants, with materials covering all aspects of the test and with a variety of question types asked in the exam. The audio CDs that come with the book, includes practice materials for the Listening part of the test. The practice tests included reflect recent tests and are good materials for preparation. Lin Lougheed, the author of this book, is established and successful as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher.

3. Kaplan IELTS

This title from Kaplan, the masters in the exam preparation industry, is considered to provide in-depth review materials, required tips and strategies for test-taking, and real-like practice tests for all the four sections of IELTS. The book is a comprehensive package for both Academic and General Training takers. Practice questions are provided with detailed answers and rationale; the CD that comes along contains matter in British English accent for practice.

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