Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

In this episode, we’ll answer an oft-asked question about the IELTS textbooks you need to prepare for your next exam.

We received this email from a listener:

My IELTS fear is how will I prepare for IELTS, and what books should I study with. How should my study plan be? The important thing here is what are the best books to prepare for IELTS, because there are a number of books out there and I don’t understand which ones are effective.

First and foremost, let’s acknowledge our general philosophy on textbooks. Basically, they are not the most effective mode of receiving information and practicing.

Textbooks cannot be updated, unlike online courses such as 3 Keys IELTS, which we continuously improve to reflect the current IELTS exam requirements.

Another issue with relying on a textbook is that it will never be enough. You can’t get feedback on your Speaking and Writing, namely. Plus, even the best textbook needs to be supplemented with other material in order to fully prepare you for the exam.

Nevertheless, if you are just beginning to prepare for IELTS and would like a general overview of the question types and level of language you’ll see on the test, we recommend IELTS Foundation.


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Another piece that textbooks won’t give you is the sense of community and motivation that studying with others provides. Our closed Facebook group, for example, provides great support for our students.

For practice tests, however, books are helpful! This only after you’ve studied and practiced all the strategies. The only series you need is the Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests.

As to the student’s other question about how to prepare a study plan, you need to create a solid schedule for yourself. Each ability needs to be built up step-by-step.

What NOT to do when buying textbooks:

  • Don’t buy the book if it has another language besides English.
  • Only trust books by major publishers- Macmillan, Cengage, or Cambridge.

What do you think of today’s textbook talk?

Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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