Best Books For the IELTS Exam Preparation 2024

If you’re looking for the best books for IELTS preparation, then here’s where your search ends. We not only cover the best books, but also look at all you need to know about the IELTS exam.

You probably know that one of the first steps in preparing for your study abroad journey is preparing for a standardised English test, especially if you are not a native speaker. While there are a number of accepted tests such as the TOEFL, the Pearson English Test or even Duolingo, one of the most popular tests accepted in over 140 countries is the IELTS. An acronym for the International English Language Testing System, this test is widely regarded as the most popular and most accepted international standardised test for non-native speakers who are looking to go abroad for their higher education.

So, if you are considering taking up this test, here is all that you need to know.

Here’s what we’ll explore in this article

Format of the IELTS

Your proficiency in any language can be gauged through the four primary skills – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. These are the four sections that you will be tested on in your IELTS. So, let’s take a quick look at the sections.

Four Sections of IELTS

1. Reading

This is a task that assesses your comprehension skills. A text (from books/ magazines/ journals/ any other source) is given. You will be given 1 hour to answer 40 questions based on it. The format of the questions include MCQs, True/ False, Choosing the right headings, Sentence Completion, Summarising and Short Answers.

2. Writing

In this section, you are expected to complete 2 tasks in 1 hour. In the first question, you are given a piece of visual information. It could be a picture, any type of graph or even a table. You have to describe it in about 150 words. The second question is where you discuss/ debate an argument or a point of view in about 250 words.

3. Listening

In this section, you will listen to 4 different recordings and answer 10 questions for each of them. The recordings can be in different accents including British, Australian, New Zealand and North American. You will be allowed to take notes when the recordings are being played and will be given the last 10 minutes to transfer your answers into the answer sheet. It is important to note that the recordings will be played only once. You will be given about 40 minutes to complete this entire task.

4. Speaking

This is an in-person interview with your examiner. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are 3 parts to this section.

  • In the first part, you will be asked to introduce yourself and answer a few basic questions.
  • For the second part, you will be given 1 minute to prepare yourself to speak for 2 minutes about a topic given by the examiner. You are allowed to make notes and are expected to structure your talk before presenting it.
  • The last part is a discussion based on the topic presented in the previous task.

As our IELTS trainers keep saying, “do not fake an accent!”. The idea that imitating a native accent will help you score higher is a huge myth. The examiners are trained to assess your communication skills, clarity of thought and grammar. Your accent plays no part in your scoring.

Ultimately, the goal of IELTS is to test comprehension from reading or listening, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.

IELTS Academic or General

As a prospective international student, it is natural to worry about which one to apply for – the academic or the general test. The answer is simple. You do not get to choose. When you look at the admissions criteria for most universities, they clearly specify that only IELTS Academic Scores will be considered.

  • If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or anything higher than that, IELTS Academic is the way to go. This is designed for students aiming to attend university.
  • If you are looking to study below the bachelor’s level, such as a diploma or a vocational training, then IELTS General is suitable. Typically, those migrating for work or a dependent visa choose IELTS General.

In terms of difference, the Speaking and Listening tests are the same in both these formats. The difference is in the Reading and Writing sections where the topic can be more academically inclined. The cost of taking up IELTS is the same, irrespective of whether it is General or Academic.

There is also another test type: IELTS Life Skills that assesses only your speaking and listening skills. This assessment is not considered in most professional set ups. Only those applying for family visa, spousal visa or indefinite leave to remain choose this module.

Testing format

Depending on your convenience, you can choose one of the three formats to take up your IELTS exam.

1. IELTS on Paper

This is the traditional method where you will go to a recognised testing centre, sit at a desk with question papers and answer sheets to complete your tests. You will also meet a trained examiner who will conduct your speaking test in person. The results are available typically in 2 weeks after the completion of the test. It is a myth that the paper-based test is harder than the computer test. The difficulty level remains exactly the same. The choice rests entirely up on your convenience.

2. IELTS on Computer

If  you choose this method, you will still go to an official testing site, read your questions on a computer screen and input your answers on the same computer. However, for the speaking section, you will meet your examiner in a face-to-face interview. The results are available in 3-5 days after taking the test.

Here are some advantages of choosing this method:

  • The results are declared much sooner.
  • There is a word count feature in the writing section. This can save time and help you plan better.
  • The computer-based test also allows one-module retake. You can choose to re-take one of the four, if you are unhappy with your performance. However, it is important to note that some top tier universities do not consider this score. So, double check the eligibility criteria of your preferred universities before choosing this option.

3. IELTS Online

This is different from the computer format because this allows you to take up the test from your home or any other private location. The test remains the same but simply gives you the option of taking it from any location. However, it becomes your responsibility to ensure you do not face technical difficulties while taking it up. For the speaking section, you will attend an online video call with a trained examiner.

Two important points to note:

  • IELTS Online is available only for the academic module.
  • Your test report will mention that you took up the test online. While this is not an issue with most universities, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires you to take up your test in an official IELTS test centre.


Each of the 4 sections are rated from 0 – 9 with increments of 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75. The overall score is an average of all the 4 sections with scores ending in .25 rounded up to the next half band and scores ending in .75 rounded up to the next whole band. This is why a lot of universities also specify a minimum requirement for each section, in addition to the total score.

Cost of taking up IELTS

Test Type Fees in INR
IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration 16,500
IELTS on Computer (Both General and Academic) 16,250
IELTS on Paper (Both General and Academic) 16,250
IELTS Life Skills 15,350

Validity of test scores

For international students IELTS scores are valid only for a period of two years, from the date of receipt of your results. There is no way to extend the validity of your scores. You will have to take up the exams again. So, it is important to plan your application, your intake and your IELTS test dates accordingly.

The Best Books for IELTS Exam Prep in 2024

There are various choices when it comes to purchasing a good IELTS guide but what you have to keep in mind is that the final selection that you make should depend on your current level of English proficiency. Along with the right guide, if you have the willingness to learn, patience, and determination, which are the critical factors required to crack the exam, it will be a walk in the park for you. The preparatory books will help you understand the syllabus of the exam along with the previously asked questions and will help you stand out from the crowd.

So, here is a list of preparatory books that will help you crack the IELTS exam.

  • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  • Cambridge IELTS 12-17 Academic Student’s Book with Answers
  • Barron’s IELTS Super pack
  • Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7 Academic Module
  • Collins English for IELTS
  • Official IELTS Practice Materials
  • Mometrix IELTS Book for General Training and Academic 2021-2022
  • Focus on IELTS Foundation: Foundation Coursebook
  • Writing Made Easy – B-Ghud Publications
  • New Insight into IELTS

1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This is one of the most popular guides used for students to crack IELTS exams. This guide is suitable for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. This guide gives you examples and hints from people who have already cracked IELTS and includes six full-length academic practice exams and two full-length general training practice exams. All these factors make this guide one of the best for IELTS preparation.

2. Cambridge IELTS 12-17 Academic Student’s Book with Answers

Designed for the Academic test takers, Cambridge has come out with 17 books to help you prepare for your tests. Of this series, our professors use books 12 through 17 to help students prepare for their IELTS in 2024. The last 5 books in the series are more relevant with diverse topics to practise your four key skills. In addition to individual exercises, each book has 4 full tests for you to practise and check the time taken to attempt all questions.

3. Barron’s IELTS Super pack

Just as the name indicates, this book is a super pack containing all the required IELTS preparation materials. This book comes with three manuals and two audio mp3 CDsto master the listening section. So if you are not in the mood to read, you can always put on the CD and start listening. This book contains fast tricks and tips to score the best score in IELTS and also contains practice and exercise sheets on listening, reading, and writing aspects.

4. Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7 Academic Module

This book is considered significant and one of the best books for anyone who wishes to crack the IELTS exam. This book contains all the tricks and tips along with time management and effective methods of cracking the exam. Written by Simone Braverman, this book addresses even the most negligible concern of the learners, which will help them get the best score. This book contains straight to point techniques and quick solutions that will help you pass with flying colours.

5. Collins English for IELTS

This is a series of practice books that focuses on each and every area like speaking, reading, writing, and listening. There are a number of books in this series. You can choose those that are ideal for the level you are at currently, or based on your target scores. These books will give the learner a deep understanding of all the topics and will also prove the methods to answer all the questions.

6. Official IELTS practice materials

This particular book offers several full-length practice materials focusing on the academic test and the general test. There are two volumes for this particular book, and volume two includes a CD which contains all the helpful videos that will help in improving speaking skills and listening. The best part about this book is that this book gives step-by-step guidance to crack the exam at your best. This book is also used by teachers at IELTS institutions to teach IELTS aspirants. Besides, you can access sample tests, videos and articles from the official IELTS website.

7. Mometrix IELTS Book for General Training and Academic 2021-2022

The latest edition of Mometrix test prep books, for both general and academic modules, includes a number of practice test questions with detailed answer explanations, step-by-step video tutorials for difficult concepts, tips and strategies to bring out your best, a detailed review of all IELTS test sections and a number of sample questions for the 4 modules.

8. Focus on IELTS Foundation: Foundation Coursebook

Written by Sue O’Connell who has been associated with the Cambridge main suite exams for many years, this book is a goldmine of information on the language skills that you will require to take up IELTS. Filled with interesting reading materials, it opens you up to new topics that can also help you in preparing for the speaking skills section.

9. Writing Made Easy – B-Ghud Publications

One of the more affordable options, this IELTS prep text focuses on the writing section of the exam. It has detailed insights on confusables, topic-related words, spellings and hyphenations, structuring a paragraph and so on. It is a great reference material for your writing needs, even beyond IELTS.

10. New Insight into IELTS

Published by Cambridge University Press, the New Insight into IELTS is a comprehensive reference material for preparing and practising for IELTS. The materials build skills gradually, and cover the language and test techniques students need to approach IELTS with confidence.

How to register for IELTS

Now that you have all the information required, how does one take up the exam?
The registration process can be done entirely online.

  • Log on to the official IELTS website.
  • Select the option “Register for IELTS”.
  • Select your test type, date and city. Typically, a centre conducts 4 tests in a month. Once you select your centre, you will be able to see the seat availability status.
  • Complete the online application form.
  • Pay the test fee using a valid credit card.

We hope you have got enough insights about the best books to look for while preparing for the IELTS examination. Let this be your first step towards your big dream of global education. Good luck!

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