There are thousands of IELTS books out there and most of them aren’t cheap. As an IELTS writing instructor, I have taught using many of these books and can conclude that some of them are overrated. An exam prep book, in my humble opinion, has to go beyond simply providing sample test questions and sample test answers. A good exam prep book needs to be able to describe effective thinking patterns, analytical reasoning and effective test taking strategies.
The following is a list of the textbooks I feel best outline the skills an IELTS test taker should know (click the images for more info):
1. How to prepare for IELTS (British Council, Ray de Witt) – This book provides an excellent summary of all section of the exam, plus helpful tips that clearly show what the student’s thought processes should be while engaging the IELTS test. Personally, I feel the sample questions in this book tend to be more challenging than those faced on the real exam, which makes this study guide a real mental workout for students of all levels.
2. Insight into IELTS (Cambridge Examinations Publishing) – I can hear you students out there groaning! Yes, this old series is definitely among the best IELTS prep books out there. What I like most is the open-ended lesson structures they provide that really show students how to think and how to train themselves to engage the examination with flexibility. I’ve used parts of this book in my classroom for over five years.
3. Kaplan IELTS (Kaplan Publishing) – I feel the Kaplan textbook series (for all tests, not just IELTS) present the test-taking thought process in a gradual and easy to understand manner. I’ve used Kaplan’s IELTS series for both classroom IELTS courses as well as private 1-to-1 classes and students always appreciate the layout of the text, which is very straightforward (perfect for independent study).