Best Books For IELTS 2021: The Super Five

Taking IELTS preparation without any definitive set of books would be a disastrous plan to take. Haphazard planning about materials can kill your preparation time and hinder your progress. Test-takers waste their majority portion of preparation time by using and practicing questions from the wrong test materials. After a month or two, when their exam is knocking at their door, they realize that they shouldn’t use those materials. Alas!

I saw another exciting group, an overconfident group, who often think that without practicing from the official materials and following proper instruction, they can score a high band score in IELTS. Unfortunately, it would be an unrealistic way to go for IELTS. By practicing previous questions from the official test materials and reviewing official instructions, you can score way more than you think.

In this blog, I will give you a brief recommendation on the best books for IELTS. For your advantage, I split my content into three parts.

List of the 5 Best Books For IELTS Preparation:

  1. Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  2. Cambridge IELTS series (10-15)
  3. Official IELTS Practice Materials 2
  4. IELTS Trainer
  5. IELTS Practice Test Plus 3

Official Materials are The King:

If you want to prepare yourself for any standardized tests, e.g., IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, SAT, and ACT, always remember one thing: official materials are the ultimate materials. The people who made the test knew better than any other third-party test-prep company.

Their question quality and instructions are highly qualified and hold enough water. On the other hand, materials from third-party test-prep companies like Barrons, Magoosh, or Princeton often provide false hope and illogical faith to believe.

So, which are the best official materials for the IELTS exam? Surely, the British Council and the University of Cambridge. In my observation, you should follow three official books for your IELTS preparation without any hesitation.

Those books are:

  1. Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  2. Cambridge IELTS series (10-15)
  3. Official IELTS Practice Materials 2

Now, I will describe how you should approach these four books to extract 100% efficiency, in your preparation time, within the shortest possible time. I will also add the pros and cons of each of the four official books. So, let’s start.

1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS:

best books for ielts
The official Cambridge guide to ielts

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS is the most suitable IELTS official book to review the IELTS test structure and practice official questions. This one is the most preferable within our recommended 5 best books for ielts.

Major Features:

  • 8 official academic practice tests and 2 general training practice tests.
  • Strategical description to tackle each of the four sections of the IELTS exam.
  • Model writing answers and proper direction to write both IELTS task 1 and task 2.
  • 100 crucial exam tips given throughout the book.
  • Official speaking sections attached to their DVD.


  • Reading and listening answer scripts with detailed analysis.
  • Mimic the real IELTS test.
  • Enough tests to brush your skill-sets.


  • No regular update option.
  • The irony is question quality still matched perfectly with the recent tests. Cheers!
  • Only 2 practice tests for the IELTS general training exam
  • It does not offer an option to practice the IELTS questions online.

How you should approach this book?

  1. Firstly, read the overview and strategy section to grasp the IELTS test fully.
  2. Then take a practice test. Check your answer from the answer keys, and read their given analysis if you have any confusion.
  3. For writing, align your writing paper with their model answer and understand the difference between your task and theirs.
  4. For speaking, practice their given questions with your friends and record the session. Later, review your record file and find out your weaknesses.
  5. After taking your test number 1, note down all your mistakes. Make a plan for your next test, and repeat the same process.

2. Cambridge IELTS Series (8-15):

best books for ielts
Cambridge english ielts academic 15

This series of books, published by Cambridge University Press, probably one of the most popular and often used practice materials for the IELTS exam. Everybody knew about this series of books, but very few knew how to extract the best out from these gold mines.

Till today, 15 books of this series have already been officially released. The number 15 is the latest and most updated one by default. In my observation, books 1 to 7, the standard of the questions and question patterns do not mimic the current standard and design of the IELTS test.

However, you can still use those books for your reading habit development purpose. Besides, speaking questions and writing questions are still usable for primary practices.

If I have to recommend, then book number 8 to book number 15 will be the best choice to take. From 8-15, you will get 32 proper practice tests of IELTS. So, there is no headache about IELTS practice tests.

Major Features:

  • Each of them (1-15) contains four complete sets of IELTS practice tests.
  • Relevant answer keys and audio mp3 attached with DVD.
  • Writing sample answers with exact band scores and comments from the official IELTS examiners.
  • Detailed audio scripts so that test-takers can improve their listening section.
  • Mimic the real IELTS test perfectly.


  • This single set of books is enough to crash your IELTS exam.
  • Speaking model questions of these books are excellent. You can get similar speaking questions in your real test if you practice from here.
  • These books are the best to measure your Reading and Listening band scores.


  • Answer keys without any detailed description.
  • No chapter about the IELTS test structure and instructions.
  • Sometimes, you can get a more challenging question set in your real exam if you neglect the most updated books (12-15).

How you should approach these books?

  1. Before starting your practice from these books, make sure you know the IELTS structure and question patterns.
  2. Take one full practice test every day/ every alternative day / every after two days, depending on your test date.
  3. After taking a test, convert your score to the band and keep a log of that.
  4. Analyze your mistakes, learn new techniques to deal with more challenging types of questions.
  5. Make sure you won’t make the same mistake again and repeat the process.

3. Official IELTS Practice Materials 2:

best books for ielts
Official ielts practice materials

It is a well-designed and straightforward IELTS book for a beginner. The Official IELTS practice book’s content is not large but enough to initiate IELTS preparation from scratch. This book will be a great choice if you want to familiarize yourself with the IELTS test structure and question pattern.

Major Features:

  • A full set of practice tests for both Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS.
  • Details description about mark to band conversion.
  • Answer keys and audio scripts of the practice test.
  • The self-interpretation strategy of the IELTS band score.
  • How to assess the writing and speaking section in IELTS.
  • Sample answers of both the writing and speaking module of the IELTS test with examiner’s comments.
  • Three sample speaking videotapes of candidates (inside DVD).
  • Official answer sheets of Reading, Listening, and Writing section.


  • The clear and precise way of writing. No unusual information.
  • A complete practice test with detailed explanations and sample answers.
  • It has score interpretation methods and official answer sheets.


  • It contains only a limited amount of practice tests for advanced-level students.
  • You may find reading passages and questions a little easier than current standards.
  • There is no way to practice online. You have to buy a hard copy.

How you should approach this book?

  1. First, try to understand the IELTS exam structure and score prediction method.
  2. Then, go through the speaking assessment criteria and writing assessment criteria.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the official answer sheets and sample speaking videotapes.
  4. Take the practice with a fixed time and check your answer from the answer keys.
  5. Find out the mistakes, make a plan against those mistakes, and move to the next practice material.

The Finest Practice Books Outside Official Materials:

If you are already done with all your official materials and still need some practice to improve your score or take overall control on the IELTS exam, you can use the unofficial materials. There are several unofficial materials out there in the market.

However, not all have the quality to match with the official materials. In my observation, two books can challenge and produce practice questions like the official books. So my recommended number 4 and 5 books are:

  1. IELTS Trainer by Barbara Thomas and Louise Hashemi
  2. IELTS Practice Test Plus 3 by Clare McDowell and Venessa Jakeman

So, let’s talk about the significant features of these two books. 

4. IELTS Trainer by Barbara Thomas and Louise Hashem:

best books for ielts
Ielts trainer

The IELTS trainer is not an official book, but the Cambridge University Press publishes it. B. Thomas and L. Hashemi wrote this book. IELTS Trainer is well-organized, excellent practice material for the IELTS test. Time and time, user test-takers rate this book highly. It is one of the best IELTS books for self-study.

Major Features:

  • It has detailed and necessary information regarding the IELTS test.
  • It contains six complete IELTS academic practice tests.
  • Step by step guide to ace the IELTS test.
  • Extra grammar, vocabulary, and writing practice section to improve student quality.
  • Answer keys with a profound explanation.
  • Model speaking and writing answers and audio CDs feature all the listening activities.


  • Proper guide and tips for the IELTS examination.
  • Extra grammar, vocabulary lessons.
  • It contains reading answer keys with explanations.


  • This book is specially prepared for the Academic IELTS exam. No practice test for the General IELTS exam.
  • You may find reading passages a little more challenging than the above-mentioned official materials. However, it is okay, and it will be helpful in your actual IELTS exam.
  • It has no description of the IELTS score prediction methods and official sample answer sheets.

How you should approach this book?

  1. Before starting practicing this book, make sure you completed all the official materials.
  2. Review your previous error logs and start practicing from test number 1.
  3. Focus on your mistakes while solving practice questions.
  4. Read sample speaking and writing answers and develop a sense of conscience for your speaking and writing exam.
  5. Take the vocabulary and grammar lessons seriously, and make the best out of those.

5. IELTS Practice Test Plus 3 by Morgan Terry and Judith Wilson:

best books for ielts
Ielts plus 3

IELTS practice test plus 3 is the latest book of this series, and it is an exquisite book to study for the IELTS exam. This book has everything a student wants from practice material. This book was first published in 1995, then edited several times and the fourth and final edition came in 2015.

Both writer, Morgan terry and Judith willson, are highly qualified IELTS teachers over the last 30 years. They did this work with the cooperation of Pearson Education limited. So, without further delay, let’s talk about its content.

Major Features:

  • The complete breakdown of the IELTS exam structure.
  • Exam strategies and necessary tips.
  • Six complete IELTS academic tests and one general training test.
  • Writing assessment section with sample answers and direction to improve.
  • Special: Vocabulary lessons on 8 important topics of the IELTS exam.
  • Detailed answer keys and transcripts.


  • High-quality question and analysis.
  • Extremely helpful vocabulary lessons.
  • Writing assessment chapter with valuable direction to improve.


  • Advanced materials-so not a good book for a beginner.
  • A smaller amount of IELTS general training practice tests.
  • You may find its reading passages a little challenging compare to others.

How you should approach this book?

  1. Before starting practicing this book, make sure you have completed all the official materials.
  2. Review your previous error logs and start practicing from test number 1.
  3. Focus on your mistakes while solving practice questions.
  4. Make the best out of the writing assessment chapter.
  5. Take the vocabulary lessons seriously, and make the best out of those.

Finally, If you have followed these 5 best books for IELTS, it will help you to get a high band score in the IELTS exam.

Read More About IELTS:

12 Best IELTS Listening App For Android In 2021
How To Calculate IELTS Listening Band Score?
What is a Good IELTS Score?

FAQ For Best Ielts Books:

Which book should I buy for IELTS?

The official practice materials are the best books to start your IELTS preparation. Among official materials, the Cambridge IELTS series (1-15) is the most popular one. 

Is Cambridge enough for IELTS?

Cambridge series is one of the popular IELTS material. If you know the IELTS exam structure properly and know the necessary tricks and tips, then this series of books are enough to crack the IELTS exam.

Is IELTS harder than Cambridge?

If you practice earlier books of the Cambridge series then you may find real IELTS harder than expected. However, the latest books, Cambridge 12-15, are well matched with the real IELTS standard. 

Which is the most difficult section in IELTS?

The difficult section of IELTS depends on person to person. Some people are naturally more exposed to reading more than others. So, they find the reading section very easy. Others find it difficult to cope with. Overall, in my observation, the writing and reading sections are the hardest two among the four.

Can I take IELTS preparation in 15 days?

To ace any exam, you need proper planning and exact materials. Apart from that, if you have a strong English basic then crashing IELTS within 15 days is not a hard task to finish. On the other hand, if you don’t have a strong English basic then you need more than 15 days to get used to it, let alone crash it with even hands.