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IELTS Preparation

IELTS preparation can take many forms. Some people like to study in a class, others prefer to study alone. Some people like structured courses, others prefer to plan their own study schedule. Some say the best way to learn a foreign language is to live in that country, while others point out that most people have neither the money or the time to do that. How you prepare for the IELTS test depends on your own situation and preferences.

This section of Your IELTS Guide will help you make the choice that suits you best. This page gives a broad overview of the IELTS preparation options available. Specific advice on how to prepare for each of the modules, listening, reading, writing and speaking, has been provided on its own page giving suggestions, hints and tips on how best to prepare for that particular module.

Classroom Study

There are many advantages to studying in a class. There will be many opportunities to practise your communication skills. A teacher is on hand to answer your questions. However, class study isn't an option for everyone, depending on their circumstances.

For some of you it will be feasible to study abroad. Others will want a local course.


For many, a local course is very convenient. All the advantages of studying in a class accrue. However, there may not be a suitable course nearby.

Courses can be full or part time. To find out what's available in your area look in the local newspapers and contact local schools and other academic establishments.


Studying abroad affords the chance to absorb the culture of the country at the same time as studying. Many will tell you that to understand a language thoroughly you need to be familiar with the culture behind it.

Studying abroad may give you many more opportunities to communicate in English than in your own country. You will become more immersed in the language than if you stay at home.

The obvious problems with studying abroad are related to cost and time. Not everyone can afford the cost of living abroad or has the time to do so. Less obvious are the psychological problems that can occur when living in a strange country for an extended period of time away from family and friends. This should not be underestimated and can easily negate any advantages. Having said that, studying abroad doesn't necessarily need to be long term. Why not combine your studies with a holiday?

Self Study

For those of you who can't, or don't want to, study in a classroom there are a number of study at home options ranging from courses on the internet to self study course books.

Online Courses

Several companies offer online courses. You will probably be allocated a tutor to help and advise you. Some courses use email as their prime means of communication, while others use chat or messenger services sometimes allowing you to speak to your tutor.

Book Courses

A number of books are suitable as self study course books. Sometimes these are designed to be used both in a class or for self study.


There are many good course books on the market but if you want us to recommend one we would have to go for the very popular Cambridge IELTS 7 Self-study Pack (Student's Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge Books for Cambridge Exams).

Other Media Courses

IELTS courses can also be found on CD ROM or a mixture of media, perhaps including books, tapes and CD ROM.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials are not courses as such, but help to supplement your studies. They include practice material, sample tests, vocabulary builders, various exercises, hints and tips etc.


A good example of supplementary material is Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS: All You Need to Pass Your Exams (Vocabulary Workbook). This book provides vocabulary lists and exercises that will rapidly improve your lexical resource.

As for Practice Tests, you will find many sources on our other resources pages but here I would like to recommend IELTS Practice Tests with explanatory key: With explanatory key and Audio CDs (2) Pack: With Key.

To see what other IELTS books are available check out our bookstore.

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