Review: Top 10 best books for IELTS exam preparation 2021

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There are lots of things you can do to prepare for your 2021 IELTS exams, and IELTS books are a resource. Most of them will cover all aspects of the exam, give you sample test and answers and give you some useful tips and strategies to help you conquer your nerves on exam day.

The best books for IELTS general will give you well-rounded guidance to approaching the exam.

10 Best books for IELTS general preparation

  1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  2. Barron’s IELTS Superpack
  3. Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7
  4. IELTS Practice Tests Plus 2 with Key and CD Pack
  5. Cambridge IELTS 15 Academic Student’s Book with Answers
  6. Road to IELTS
  7. IELTS Trainer
  8. Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS
  9. IELTS (Academic) 5 in 1 Actual Tests eBook Combo
  10. English Vocabulary in Use

Read on to discover our round-up of the top 12 best books for IELTS general preparation.

1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS 

Suitable for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

Designed to help you achieve a high score in your IELTS exam, this book gives you hints and tips from people who have done the course themselves. Step-by-step guides will help you plan, prepare for and pass your IELTS exam with the best grades possible.

This makes it one of the best books for IELTS general preparation.

Why we like it:

  • It’s based on information gathered from people who have taken the IELTS test themselves.
  • Will help you prepare for all the sections of the IELTS exam.
  • Gives you strategy advice that is relevant and possible to implement.
  • Detailed answers are provided for all 8 of the full-length practice tests.
  • It includes a DVD with listening and speaking tests.

What could be better:

  • It’s better for getting to know the exam format and structure rather than learning new things.

2. Barron’s IELTS Superpack

Complete with strategies and tips

Ideal for both academics and professionals, this is one of the best books for IELTS general preparation. The comprehensive IELTS preparation pack gives you literally everything you need to help you score highly in your IELTS exam.

Why we like it

  • It comes with two practice exams and 2 audio CDs
  • The Essential Words included are great for giving focus to your IELTS preparation
  • It’s got lots of information included and is great value for money
  • It’s very comprehensive

What could be better:

  • It’s not designed for absolute beginners
  • The amount of information included makes it good value for money, but it’s still expensive

3. Simone Braverman’s Target Band 7

Great for those who want to achieve a high score in their IELTS exam

Easy-to-understand with clear tips and strategies that are easy to put into practice, this is a book written by someone who has taken and IELTS exam themselves. It gives solutions to problems you might encounter, loads of tips and it gets great reviews from students, whpo say it is one of the best books for IELTS general preparation.

Why we like it:

  • Gives you good tips on test strategy including how to use your time more effectively and work more efficiently
  • It’s clear and easy-to-read
  • It’s written by someone who has taken the IELTS tests themselves


What could be better:

  • Some of the sample tests don’t have answers
  • There are no full IELTS exams included

4. IELTS Practice Tests Plus 2 with Key and CD Pack

A great practice book which covers all 4 tests and the strategies you’ll need to score highly

Suitable for General Training exams as well as those studying towards their IELTS Academic, this is a great resource of practice exams, particularly as it goes through the analysis of what makes a correct and incorrect answer. It has useful tips and the audio scripts will really help you improve.

Why we like it:

  • It gives you lots of ideas about strategies
  • Sample answers with annotations and explanations
  • There are 6 full tests included
  • It’s really easy to use


What could be better:

  • It doesn’t cover anything new as it just focusses on test strategy
  • You’ll need to combine it with another guide in order to get the most out of your IELTS prep

5. Cambridge IELTS 15 Academic Student’s Book with Answers

Authentic examination papers give you a really good idea of what to expect when it comes to your IELTS exam.

The most up-to-date version of this well-respected series, this book is aimed at IELTS Academic students it contains 4 tests as well as a really good answers section which is invaluable for helping with your IELTS preparation and improvement.

Why we like it:

  • Good tips which are divided up by section
  • It’s good at explaining the different question types which helps you prepare well
  • It goes into a lot of detail


What could be better:

  • Not ideal for complete beginners
  • The information isn’t brilliantly laid out

6. Road to IELTS

Okay so it’s not technically a book. Road to IELTS is an interactive online course offering mock papers, tutorial videos, and other interactive exercises. You can download free IELTS practise papers, and if you’re registered for the test through the British Council, you can get some free videos and interactive activities.

You can also pay $50 for the full version, which includes a complete online course, over 300 activities, and nine practise tests. 

Why we like it:

  • It’s interactive and engaging.
  • Gives you great practise exams.
  • Lots of free features. 

What could be better: 

  • Full version is fairly expensive compared to other books and resources. 
  • You only get 90 days access, even on the paid version. 

7. IELTS Trainer

IELTS Trainer gives you six full practise tests, and helps you build up to success in your IELTS exams. It is one of the best books for IELTS preparation because it guides you along your IELTS journey, giving you step-by-step advice on the first two papers. 

One happy customer on Amazon said that IELTS Trainer is “the best way to train yourself for the exam day.”

Why we like it:

  • Includes CDs for listening tests, as well as sample exams for other sections.
  • Comes with answers. 
  • Guides you through two test papers.

What could be better:

  • Only suitable for Academic IELTS preparation. 
  • Doesn’t focus on grammar. 

8. Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS

This is a vocabulary book for you if you need to expand your vocabulary before your IELTS exam. 

Why we like it:

  • Suitable for both IELTS General and Academic.
  • Wide range of vocabulary to help you improve your scores. 

What could be better:

  • Aimed at the intermediate level, so not suitable for beginners. 
  • Only focuses on vocabulary – you will need to use other resources to help you fully prepare for the test.

9. IELTS (Academic) 5 in 1 Actual Tests eBook Combo

This is considered one of the best eBook combos for IELTS General. The pack of five eBooks covers all four sections of IELTS, including the latest questions.

It features sections covering listening, reading, writing and speaking of the Academic module. It also provides answers provided by IELTS experts.

This makes is one of the best books for IELTS preparation for 2021.

Why we like it:

  • The pack contains 41 listening tests and 35 reading tests with answers.
  • There are also sample answers and essay ideas for 84 IELTS questions in writing task 1 and 100 in writing task 2.

What could be better:

  • This book isn’t as good for a classroom setting and is better for studying from home.

10. English Vocabulary in Use

This book has a reputation for being the best-selling vocabulary reference and practice books right to advanced level.

It comes in different editions depending on the stage of your learning and is comprehensive and easy to use.

Why we like it:

  • Vocabulary is explained and presented on the left-hand page with follow-up tasks opposite.
  • Each book covers over 3000 new pieces of vocab

What could be better:

  • The book only covers vocabulary so other resources will be needed to study effectively.
  • It requires a new book to be bought each time your vocabulary progresses.
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