I know that everyone can agree with me when I write:
It is very difficult trying to find the perfect solution for your IELTS preparation.
A lot of the study guides are geared toward certain sections or subjects on the exam, and some are an overview of both types.
There are so many different options. The IELTS is a very difficult exam, and it plays a huge part on your future.
Because of these reasons I have created this list of the best IELTS prep books. All of the info below should make it very easy to choose which study guide is right for you out of those recommended.
Please note, all external links for the products below (geni.us links, etc.) link to the corresponding Amazon.com page for each product.
IELTS Prep Book Comparison Table
Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student's Book
Barron's IELTS Superpack
Target Band 7: IELTS Academic Module
Ace the IELTS: IELTS General Module
Cambridge IELTS 10 Student's Book
|Practice Exams / Questions||8 practice tests||8 practice tests||1 practice test||1 practice test||4 practice tests|
|Pages||402 pages||1608 pages||92 pages||90 pages||188 pages|
|More Details||Read full review >||Read full review >||Read full review >||Read full review >||Read full review >|
Best Overall IELTS Prep Book
The Official Cambridge Guide is our best overall study guide on our list of the top IELTS prep books.
This prep book is a very good guide to learn what to expect on the exam. It thoroughly goes through each section of the test so that you are not surprised what is to come on exam day. You won't be scratching your head on exam day because you did not know what is coming.
The Cambridge Guide is the only official guide made from the actual test writers. This means that the sample exams and questions are very similar to what you will see on the actual exam. You won't be surprised on test day by question types that you have not seen before.
This guide includes plenty of practice test and questions so that you will always have enough repetitions to be prepared for the test.
The Cambridge Guide also includes:
1) 8 official practice tests
2) Skill-building exercises that cover all of the question types in the exam
3) Videos of the speaking test and all the listening material on the DVD or online
4) Exercises are based on research into real candidates' exam answers
One flaw that this prep book has that it does not have enough concept review on the topics compared to other prep books. If you are looking for in-depth concept overview, you may need to purchase a supplemental review book. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is our top choice on our list of the top rated IELTS prep guides.
- Really good at helping you to learn what is on the exam and what to expect
- Made by the official test writers
- Tons of practice questions and tests
- The concept review is not very comprehensive
#2 Best Overall IELTS Prep Book
Barron's IELTS Superpack is our second best overall study guide bundle on our list of the top IELTS study books.
This “superpack” has very good theory reviews on reading, writing and speaking. In all of these sections you will learn everything that you need to know for the exam.
The review is very exhaustive and comprehensive and everything from concepts to test taking strategies will be covered. You won't be flabbergasted on exam day by topics that you have not studied for.
There are also an abundant amount of practice questions and exams in this study guide bundle. You certainly will not be worried about having enough problems to practice with.
Barron's also includes:
1) 8 full dual exams and 2 academic tests
2) Audio prompts for all of the tests' listening and writing modules
3) Sample responses for the writing and speaking modules
One weakness with Barron's is that the listening practice test examples are somewhat different from the actual test. This may make you somewhat surprised on exam day when you see the different questions on the actual test.
Another flaw with Barron's is that some of the practice exam questions are of lower difficulty than what you will see on the actual exam. It is not a very good feeling to be overconfident from easy practice questions and be let down when you see questions with higher difficulty on test day.
Because of these flaws, Barron's Superpack is our second best overall study guide bundle on our list of the top IELTS review books.
- Very good concept review on the reading, writing and speaking portions
- Plenty of practice exams and questions
- Listening practice test examples were somewhat different from what you will see on the actual test
- Practice exam questions are sometimes at a lower difficulty than the actual exam
Best Value and Top Pick for Academic Module IELTS Prep Book
Target Band 7: Academic Module is our top overall IELTS book for the academic module and also a best value pick.
Even though this prep guide, at 92 pages, is very short, it is very concise and to the point. You do not waste time learning things that you do not need to know for the exam. Because of its conciseness, it is very good for time-strapped test takers.
Every single technique and tactic in the book is focused on maximizing the student’s score on every section of the exam by growing their task-solving quickness and proficiency. It will also prepare you for the ways that the test makers will try to trip you up on the exam. Because of these exams strategies, you won't be tripped up over basic questions where they try to trick you.
Target Band 7 also includes:
1) A full practice test
2) Secret "dos and don'ts" about the exam
The one main flaw of Target Band 7 is that there is not a super in-depth review. This book is very good for students that already have a decent grasp on the English language and are looking to quickly increase their score into the band that they would like to achieve. Target Band 7: Academic Module is our best overall IELTS prep book for the academic module and one of our best value picks.
- Very short, concise and to the point
- Prepares you on the ways the test writers will try to trip you up on the exam
- No in-depth concept review
Best Value and Top Pick for General Module IELTS Prep Book
Ace the IELTS: General Module is our top choice for the IELTS general module and also a best value pick.
The book is very well laid out and has a well-documented procedure for tackling the test. This process really increases your confidence and eases your nerves for exam day, helping to increase your score.
At only 90 pages, this prep book is very short but it does not waste your time. You only learn the things that you need to know for the test and nothing more. Your brain is not filled with information you do not need to know. The practice question difficulty is also up to snuff. The higher difficulty questions prepare you for test day so you won't be surprised with more difficult questions.
This review guide also includes:
1) A full length practice test
2) Tips, techniques, strategies and advice focused on maximizing students’ score
The one weakness with this prep book is that there is no exhaustive overview of the subjects. This book is more geared towards students that already have a good grasp on the English language and that are just looking to quickly increase their exam score. Ace the IELTS is our top pick for the IELTS general module and also a best value pick.
- Well laid out exam tackling process
- Very short, concise and to the point
- Not a complete concept review guide
#5 Best Overall IELTS Prep Book
Cambridge IELTS 10 Student's Book with Answers is our 5th best study guide on our list of the best IELTS study guides.
This study guide contains real and authentic practice exam questions from the writers of the actual exam. This means that the problems and practice quizzes capture the actual difficulty of the questions that you will see on exam day. You will not be shocked on test day by questions that are more difficult than what you have studied for.
Since this book is geared towards sample questions and answers, there are plenty of rehearsal tests so you'll never run out of things to prepare with.
Cambridge also includes:
1) 4 authentic past papers
2) 4 complete tests for academic candidates, plus extra reading and writing modules for general training candidates
3) A comprehensive section of answers and tapescripts
The one main weakness of Cambridge is that there is no exhaustive review. Since this book is geared towards test questions, they leave out a lot of the review that you need if you are not as proficient in English. Cambridge is our 5th best study guide on our list of the best books to prepare for the IELTS.
- Real and official practice test questions
- The number of practice tests and questions is phenomenal
- This guide is focused on Q&A so it has no in-depth review
Our suggestions offer the most cost effective way to study for the exam without breaking the bank. Even though The Official Cambridge Guide is a very good guide and has tons of practice questions, it is also one of the most expensive options. For time-strapped or low budget studiers, this may not be the best choice. The easiest and best way to improve your score on the exam is to focus studying on improving your weaknesses. Because of this, we suggest to:
Buy The Official Cambridge Guide if you are looking for the best overall study guide and do not care about price or length. If you are looking for something shorter and cheaper that focuses on the academic module, then pick up Target Band 7: Academic Module. And, of course, if you are looking for a study guide that focuses on the general module, then pick up Ace the IELTS: General Module.