Preparing for IELTS can be daunting for international students. While there are many free resources and test materials on the internet, nothing can compare to excellent IELTS books that include practice tests and useful study tips. In this article, we will discuss four different IELTS preparation books, their advantages and disadvantages, and what it includes.

As you probably know, there are two different types of IELTS: General and Academic. Because this site focuses on undergraduate and graduate degrees, we will focus on discussing IELTS books for Academics. Some of the books that we will recommend have great tips for IELTS General as well.

Which Books for IELTS Should I Buy?

There are two categories of IELTS books, which are practice tests and study guides. We recommend buying one book from each category. However, for students who cannot afford to buy two books, you should buy the practice test book rather than study guides instead. Because practicing for IELTS is essential for getting a high score. If you can though, you should buy at least one book from each category. Also, if you need extra practice and can afford to do so, consider buying all four books.

IELTS Books for Practice Tests

As mentioned above, these books for IELTS practice tests will aid in scoring above-average results. Why? Because you need the practice to familiarize yourself with the test format, time restraints, and types of questions. These books contain many practice tests that are designed to be like the actual IELTS tests.

1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book with Answers with DVD-ROM (Cambridge English)

If you can purchase one book, you need to purchase this book for IELTS. It contains EIGHT IELTS practice tests with answers! The book comes with a DVD, which contains the listening part for the IELTS. Also, it contains a decent amount of studying tips, which are very useful.

The preparation book is designed by Cambridge English, which is known for its solid reputation for its English tests such as IELTS and TOEFL. If you need a good IELTS prep book, this is it!


  • Decent Study Material
  • EIGHT Practice Tests
  • Extra practice materials other than practice tests
  • Audio DVD


  • The study guide is not as thorough as the study books below

We highly recommend this book to those who are going to take the IELTS test. This book is the best book on the market for IELTS practice tests, and many customers also agree with this statement. To see the customers’ reviews from Amazon for this book, visit this link!

2. Barron’s IELTS with MP3 CD, 4th Edition 4th Edition

If you are looking for extra practice tests, Barron’s IELTS Preparation book does its job! It contains 7 practice exams, which are formatted exactly like the IELTS test! The advantage of Barron’s is that it is almost half the price of the Cambridge book. Although personally, we think that Cambridge’s book is slightly better than Barron’s. Barron’s is pretty accurate about its test too!


  • Cheaper Price
  • 7 Great Practice Exams


  • Study Tips are not great in my opinion

IELTS Study Guide

This type of preparation book for IELTS focuses on how to take the test, rather than giving practice materials. The study guides in these books are much more detailed than the study tips in the practice tests section. However, they do not provide much practice, which is essential in getting a high score. So, buying these study guidebooks alone won’t raise your IELTS score considerably. However, combined with the practice test books, these study guidebooks will increase your score significantly. Why? because you can practice the tips that you’ve learned from these books in the practice tests to sharpen your skills.

1. Target Band 7: IELTS Academic Module – How to Maximize Your Score (Third Edition) Paperback

Do not let a novice-looking book cover fool you. Although the cover is not great in our opinion, Target Band 7 was written by a former IELTS taker with lots of experience. The author does a good job of dividing each section into small parts. For example in reading, the author divides the reading section into true/false/not given, multiple-choice, and gap tasks and also gives detailed strategies on how to solve them. For writing task 2, the author divides the section into an argument, a hidden argument, and a situation kind.

The main criticism that this book has is the lack of practice tests. The latest edition, however, has included a practice test. But one practice test is not enough for your IELTS preparation. It is vital that you have other books that have many IELTS practice tests so that you can have as much practice as possible.


  • Best book in the market for strategy
  • A detailed explanation of what to do with each question type
  • Helps students answer questions effectively and with less time


  • Only one test included

2. IELTS General Training & Academic Study Guide: Test Prep Book & Practice Test Questions for the Listening, Reading, Writing, & Speaking Components on … English Language Testing System Exam

If you want to have a comprehensive study guide on each section of the IELTS, then this book is for you! It explains in detail test-taking strategies, which are extremely detailed and thorough. You will know exactly what types of questions are in for each section and how to approach each type of question. Other useful information such as common spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes will help the student even more!


  • A detailed explanation of each section
  • Bonus content such as vocabulary, common grammar mistakes, and common spelling mistakes


  • Not many practice tests


We hope that this guide has helped you in choosing which are the best books for IELTS. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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