Every English test, exam and course that you can take requires a strong reading list behind it in order for you to attain the highest grade. The IELTS test is no different. So here we have compiled a comprehensive list of recommended books for IELTS preparation.
Setting yourself up to attain the highest band score on the IELTS test will require dedication, discipline, and the highest level of preparation through revision. Admittedly, some of these qualities will depend on the character of the candidate themselves. However, applying self-study techniques from the best IELTS books will no doubt be vital in getting your desired IELTS band score.
Whilst there are many books for IELTS dedicated to helping candidates study and prepare for the IELTS test, there are some which can be more useful than others. In addition, many IELTS preparation books will take an approach which broadly covers every area of the test. Whilst these are beneficial to candidates, there are many cases in which it could be one specific area that needs to be focussed on. In these cases, books which address that element of the test specifically will be much more useful. For example, many of the best books for IELTS may centre around specific components or skills, including Writing, Reading, Speaking or Vocabulary.
So from the general IELTS preparation books (including Barron’s IELTS and The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS) to books written specifically around the different elements of the IELTS test, we have produced this recommended reading list full of IELTS study materials, and perfect for candidates wanting to improve their band score.
1. It’s Not Rocket Science: IELTS Writing Task 2
Many candidates will often find that their weakest area in the IELTS exam is the Writing component. This new book, co-authored by English With An Expert, is written specifically to improve candidates’ competency in Writing Task 2. This book contains many pieces of helpful advice on key areas of weakness in IELTS Writing, such as time management and writing styles–offering support on how all of these can be improved to then succeed.
The book helps to break down some of the complexities of IELTS Writing Task 2 and has one of the largest ranges of model answers for this component available on the market. All wrapped up across 22 easy-to-follow chapters that aim to elevate candidates’ understanding of the band scores to help them achieve their desired band.
2. The Official Cambridge Guide To IELTS
Probably the most well-known and well-recognised book in our IELTS reading list–and one we were sent an advance copy of to review before it was even published.
The Cambridge Official Guide to IELTS is one of the most comprehensive books for IELTS available to candidates. Their full package of IELTS study material includes their ultimate IELTS study guide, the entire collection of reading material for the IELTS test and also some video material that helps candidates improve their speaking and listening skills.
The Official Cambridge IELTS book also includes a huge amount of helpful tips, tricks and resources from past IELTS candidates who have all passed the test with flying colours. Often, resources such as these can be incredibly helpful when it comes to self-study, as a reader can identify better with someone who has been in their position over simply receiving the advice of a tutor.
3. IELTS Trainer
This IELTS resource offers a more structured approach to revising aspects of the IELTS exam. Eight example test modules have been annotated by IELTS exam writers to provide step-by-step guidance on the first two papers. Where the Cambridge Guide offers advice from former candidates, the IELTS trainer book provides the opinion of qualified IELTS professionals on how best to approach certain elements of the test. Adding that higher level of understanding to your own self-study efforts can be immensely beneficial.
The IELTS Trainer book itself also contains other interactive resources, such as audio elements, which help with the Listening elements of the exam. However, as detailed above, the greatest asset of this IELTS preparation book is that it provides excellent sample answers to the Writing and Speaking aspects of the text. All of which have then been annotated by a group of experienced IELTS professionals.
It is worth noting that whilst the tests have been written by Cambridge examiners – we have found them to be at the top end of the difficulty range. Note also that this book only covers the Academic test. Even so the Speaking, Writing Task 2 and Listening components are identical to the General test.
This is a book we use regularly with our one-to-one students!
4. Cambridge IELTS Academic 17
Alongside The Cambridge Official Guide to IELTS, Cambridge University also releases a smaller but somewhat more advanced IELTS academic textbook each year. The 17th edition of this is the most recent and was released in the summer of 2021. One of the crucial elements to this book is that it includes guidance on the scoring system for the IELTS test itself, which allows candidates to familiarise themselves in further detail with what examiners will be looking for.
We highly recommend this resource and suggest you start with the latest edition and work backwards. The earlier the edition the older the test papers it contains – and there have been small changes to the test over time.
Accompanied with this IELTS Preparation book are other interactive resources. Most importantly it contains audio for the Listening tests. It also contains videos of candidates taking the Speaking test so that you can familiarise yourself with how this part of the test works.
A note of warning – these books are published in separate General or Academic test versions – so make sure you purchase the appropriate one for the type of test you are taking!
5. Barron’s IELTS Superpack
Another IELTS book which offers guidance on all of the different elements to the IELTS test, Barron’s IELTS Superpack is probably the second most well-known book in this list. It is hardly a surprise that a piece of IELTS study material carrying the title of ‘Superpack’ includes just about everything a candidate will need for IELTS preparation.
Whilst this does mean that Barron’s IELTS Superpack leaves a little to be desired when it comes to detail on certain elements of the test. The book and its resources provide a huge amount of study material in both writing and audio formats. Something which is great for candidates who find it difficult to retain textbook information and need an alternative way to digest its contents.
We have found the practice tests in this book to be at the easier end of the scale and it is worth noting that this book does not contain official IELTS practice material.
6. Road to IELTS
This is approved and published by IELTS test providers themselves–the British Council. The Road to IELTS is not really a book but a 100% online course for IELTS preparation. It is filled with a vast amount of interactive IELTS study materials, all of which can be used by candidates to increase their ability in different areas of the test.
It is packed with over 100 different resources, including tutorial videos from IELTS professionals, mock papers with sample answers and guidance, and much more. This IELTS preparation course is one of the best available when it comes to putting your knowledge to the test during your hours of self-study.
7. IELTS Task 2 Vocabulary eBook
At English With An Expert, our experienced IELTS tutor, Andy Turner, has seen many students request his guidance after falling short in Writing Task 2 due to significant errors in their vocabulary. He therefore selected this eBook as a highly recommended resource for candidates struggling to eliminate these errors from their own vocabulary.
There are over 200 pages in this eBook, all bursting with expert information on how to improve the overall writing ability of candidates as well as expanding their English vocabulary to ensure they use words in the correct context when approaching Writing Task 2. There are 10 model essay topics along with annotated guidance on how to approach the answers for each of them. Finally, there are some well-designed vocabulary exercises to help you understand key band 7.0 vocabulary.
8. IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic Grammar eBook
Another one of the best books for IELTS is also authored by the insightful Sam Varley. IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic Grammar eBook is designed to fix the common grammatical errors which let down so many candidates in the Writing component of the test. Similar to his previous book, Sam’s Task 2 Vocabulary, this book contains resources that are all specifically aimed at improving the band scores of candidates on a specific task, though this book takes aim at Writing Task One.
The book comes with 10 different model answers, all of which have been written to a band 9 standard. 5 of the 10 answers are annotated with notes specifically around how you can maximise your score on IELTS Writing Task 1.
9. Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7
One of the most recommended books by IELTS Canada, Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7 helps candidates to build on established IELTS understanding and really work toward accessing those higher grades on the test. On top of providing great IELTS study material, this IELTS book also differentiates itself from others by giving candidates advice on how best to manage their study time and how to be more efficient when it comes to structuring answers to essay questions.
Braverman’s IELTS book is packed with model Band 7 and higher answers, and accompanied by well thought out advice on how to apply these exact same methods to your own IELTS essay. All in all, this IELTS book helps not only expand a candidate’s knowledge but also helps them recognise how to solve common problems they will face in the IELTS exam.
Beware though – books that are intended to help you achieve a certain band score can prevent you from scoring a higher one. You may also find errors in the Writing samples, but remember this book is aimed at helping you score a band 7.0 and not a 9.0.
If you are aiming for a 7.0 then this book by a non-native speaker could help you. If you are aiming for an 8.0 it might not!
10. Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS
Similar to the IELTS Task 2 Vocabulary eBook, this is one of the best books for IELTS when it comes to eliminating common errors in vocabulary that are letting a candidate down on Writing tasks in the exam. As a workbook it can be well utilised by candidates who complete the exercises and use it to further expand their vocabulary range, helping them to score well in the IELTS test.
Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS is one of the best IELTS books when it comes to self-study as it uses an incredibly easy to follow format with concise instructions on how activities should be completed to gain the most from them.
This is another book we use with our students!
11. Official IELTS Practice Materials
This is an official book which is aimed at teachers of IELTS. One downside is that it contains only one full practice test – but for those of you with limited time to study, this could help you to focus your time effectively. You should complete at least one full practice test before test day itself!
Whilst the book will familiarise you with the test and give you a realistic idea of what to expect, it is not really sufficient for learning.
This is our recommendation for those with limited time to prepare!
Key Things To Consider When You Purchase An IELTS Book or IELTS Study Materials
Whilst all of the books we have listed above are brilliant learning resources for IELTS candidates, it is crucial that they evaluate their options before purchasing any of them. It is important to work out exactly what your aims and goals are for the book and how you want it to help improve your knowledge.
It may be that you know exactly what band score you need or want to achieve and naturally this will mean some books are going to be more beneficial than others.
Also, as we mentioned in the introduction to this article, you need to work out whether you are looking for general IELTS help or if you need the best book for certain parts of the IELTS test. It is common for candidates to really let themselves down on the Writing section due to a poor understanding of the required vocabulary. Therefore, perhaps a Vocabulary focused book is going to provide the most benefit.
Other Helpful IELTS Study Materials & Advice
When you’re preparing for the IELTS exam, diversifying your study resources can be highly beneficial. While books serve as a valuable foundation, it’s also important to make sure that you keep up to date with any changes to the IELTS exam itself. The landscape of the IELTS exam is not static; it undergoes regular revisions and updates. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the material you’re relying on is up-to-date. Pay special attention to the editions of the books and the freshness of the online content you’re using for preparation. This ensures that you’re practising with the most current strategies and types of questions.
Another key element of effective preparation is taking authentic, full-length practice tests under timed conditions. Although many preparation books offer practice tests, it’s advisable to make sure you’re using these correctly and working under exam conditions to really get the most out of your preparation. There are often IELTS practice exams available for free on the official IELTS website or that can be purchased as separate test packs.
If you are still not sure which IELTS book is going to be most beneficial to your study efforts, then you can contact our Tutors here at English With An Expert. We have years of experience in helping candidates from all around the world increase their band scores via Lessons, Writing Corrections, Video Courses and more.
Contact us today and pass the IELTS test the easier way!