IELTS Preparation Resources and Advice

IELTS preparation resources and advice

You’ll find the answers to the following questions in this guide:

  1. What are the best books to improve my proficiency level and IELTS band score?

  2. Where can I find some practice tests? What are the best books?

  3. How do I start my test prep?

  4. What are the official online practice materials?

  5. What do I need to do on the day before the test?

  6. What should I take to the test venue?

  7. Where can I receive personalized feedback on my writing?

Books that will help you improve your skills


  1. Cambridge Grammar for IELTS with answers by Paulin Cullen

  2. Cambridge common mistakes at IELTS intermediate and advanced by Julie Moore and Paulin Cullen


  1. Vocabulary for IELTS intermediate and advanced by Paulin Cullen

  2. Cambridge collocations in use intermediate and advanced by Michael McCarthy

  3. Oxford Word Skills (idioms and phrasal verbs) intermediate and advanced

  4. Vocabulary for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 by ESL Fluency

Reading skills and academic vocabulary:

  • Longman Focus on Vocabulary 1 and 2. These are not IELTS books, but you’ll kill two birds with one stone going through these books. You’ll improve your reading skills and learn the academic words in context.

Listening skills:

  • Open Forum 1, 2, and 3. These are not IELTS books, but if you want to improve your listening skills before doing the actual IELTS tests, you should start with these.

Writing skills:

I would suggest Mcmillan’s “Improve your skills, writing for IELTS series,” but you also need personalized feedback on your work as well. This is where an expert should come in. If you receive bad advice from an inexperienced person, all your hard work will waste away.

By the way, something I always tell every test taker is that they need to start reading non-IELTS materials like well-known website articles and magazines if they are aiming for band 8+.

practice tests books

  1. Cambridge IELTS books starting from number 12.

  2. Collins Practice Tests for IELTS

  3. Cambridge IELTS Trainer

  4. Longman IELTS Tests Plus

How to prepare for the test

Here’s what you need to do:
  1. The first thing you need to do is get to know the structure of the test.

  2. Take a mock test or do a practice test at home under the exam conditions to find out if you can achieve your desired score.

  3. If your score was lower than what you needed, start working on your weaknesses and then evaluate your skills again. Do this until your weaknesses fade away.

  4. Only practice with materials from reputable sources like Cambridge (Cambridge IELTS 12+). IELTS test builder 1 and 2 are also excellent for first-timers.

  5. Don’t do practice tests every day because it’s a waste of time. You should work on your weaknesses and then do a practice test so that you see some improvement.

  6. You also need to practice with non-IELTS materials. Listen to radio stations, talk shows, and podcasts from the UK, the USA, and Australia. This way, you’ll get used to different accents. This is very important for the listening module.

  7. Pick a writing topic and do some research on the Internet. This way, you’ll learn some ideas and vocabulary items about the topics that are common in the writing section.

In short, become a better language user first if you want to score high in IELTS.

You can work on your reading and listening on your own; however, when it comes to writing and speaking, you might need some help from an expert.

Official online practice materials

The following seven URLs are all from the British Council or IDP. You can use them to practice for free. 

IELTS on computer familiarisation tests:


Free online IELTS Writing practice tests:

Free online IELTS Writing practice tests | Take IELTS (

The British Council’s free weekly IELTS webinars:

IELTS test preparation materials paper and CD:

IELTS Test Preparation Materials – IDP

Free IELTS sample test questions:

Free IELTS Preparation App:

What to do the day before your test

  1. Watch English movies and talk shows.

  2. Start thinking about your routines, plans, and activities in English to prepare yourself for an entire morning of English.

  3. If you have a friend or family member that speaks English, try having a nice chat with them.

  4. Talk to someone fun. You’re going to take the test tomorrow, so you need some of those happy hormones to boost your mood and energy.

  5. Prepare what you need for the test today. You don’t want to look for your passport tomorrow morning!

  6. Have a light, nutrient-rich dinner and go to bed early. Don’t consume anything that would inhibit brain functions.

  7. Finally, think about all the achievements you’ve had so far, big and small. This will boost your self-confidence. You’ve got this! It’s just a little test! Go ace it!

What to take to the test venue

  1. The exact same valid ID or passport you used to apply for the test

  2. Two HB pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener

  3. You are allowed to bring a clear bottle of water with the label removed.

No other items will be permitted in the test room. A room will be available to secure personal items such as watches and smartphones.

How to receive personalized feedback on your writing

You need to work with a qualified and experienced tutor to improve your writing skills and IELTS band score. Many students ask if instant feedback tools are a reliable source of receiving feedback on their writing. The answer is no because if they could evaluate writing tasks accurately, the British Council and IDP wouldn’t pay examiners to score papers.

If you are looking for a certified ESL tutor to help you on your IELTS preparation journey, you can sign up for our IELTS writing course or send your tasks for a detailed evaluation.

This post will be updated from time to time to include the best practice materials and advice.

Note: ESL Fluency is an independent website run by an independent Cambridge-certified ESL tutor. We do not represent the above-mentioned organizations or any other educational institutes.

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