IELTS Preparation: Courses, books, examples, tips and exercises to better prepare you.

Taking an exam without preparation is not the most sensible thing in the world, as in all the exams we have taken from elementary school to university, study and planning make the difference when taking an academic evaluation.

That is why certain elements are necessary to prepare successfully for an IELTS exam. Elements such as books, learning methods, exercises, etc. It is through those small steps that you can prepare for the future to be able to succeed in this exam.

From Speakingathome we can help you to be one of these instruments that will help you

Books for the IELTS test

The first step that allows students to prepare for the IELTS is the classic rectangle of bound paper, but it is important to know how to choose which book can serve us and different people have a particular opinion of which is better and which is not.

  • The Official Cambridge IELTS Guide: It is the main book that all educators talk about, it has a great list of exercises to practice daily and it comes with a DVD with the elements for listening and speaking. The book has sectionsAcademic and General, which gives you the bonus of not having to buy a specific book that you may not be able to get. The disadvantage is that most of these books in circulation already contain some old and out-of-date exercises.
  • Complete IELTS: It is a specialized book for students who want to reach a score of 6.5-7.5 in academic tests. The book has 8 thematic units with activities to ensure students practice the skills for each of the four IELTS tests. It also contains a practice test to familiarize students with the exam format.
  • English Collins for IELTS: It is a book created by the British Council and is serialized specifically for young learners, which makes it easy to understand. It has several practice tests, but it doesn't even have a CD-ROM, instead it gives you a link to listen to the audios online.
  • Common mistakes at IELTS: It is a book that helps you avoid the most common mistakes of the IELTS exams. It comes with an access code so you can get the practice tests you need.
  • Top tips for IELTS General Training: This book is designed for those who want to take the General Training exam, it also comes with examples and explanations of exactly what each part of the exam means. The book gives advice on how to review the answered exercises and comes with examples.

IELTS Test Tips

There are several ways to prepare for the IELTS exam but we recommend the following:

  • Organize schedules effectively: Human beings have, for the most part, an attention span of 45 minutes for every hour if we study theoretical texts. It is advisable to take these minutes and take a 15-minute break and then continue, since sitting for 4 hours burning your eyebrows doesn't help much.
  • Learn new words daily: With an English dictionary, look up words you have never heard of before and try to use them once or twice a day.
  • Listen to songs: listen to a couple of tunes whose singers have great modulation or diction (and also have a wide variety of accents). They allow you to understand the contractions that English has.
  • Watch movies with English subtitles: this will allow you to develop the intonation of the words with those of the texts. It is recommended that you watch movies with actors who have very good diction (50's movies encouraged actors to have a good modulation so that can be understood) and that are also from the European Anglosphere (England and Ireland).
  • Read international newspapers or scientific articles in English: this will help you prepare for the reading part of the exam.
  • Write essays about anything in English: this helps creativity and it is recommended that you time yourself to see how long it takes.
  • Take speaking courses to improve your vocabulary and modulation: speaking training is like lifting weights, at first you won't be able to lift much weight but with effort and dedication you can quickly reach bilingual levels.

IELTS exercises

Writing General Exercise:

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.  

You live in a room in college which you share with another student. 

However, there are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work. 

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter,  describe the situation  explain your problems and why it is difficult to work  say what kind of accommodation you would prefer 

Write at least 150 words. You do NOT need to write any addresses. Begin your letter as follows:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Reading General Exercise

Read the text below and answer Questions 1-8. 

London to Brighton Bike Ride 

The Start. 

The bike ride starts at Clapham Common tube station. 

•Your Start Time is indicated by the colour of your body number in this pack. It is also printed on the address label of the envelope. Please arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before that time. 

• We allocate an equal number of cyclists for each Start Time to ensure a steady flow. Please keep to the time you've been given so we can keep to our schedule and avoid delaying other riders and prevent 'bunching' further down the route. 

• An Information Point, toilets and refreshment stands will be open from very early in the day. 

Ride Carefully 

We put together as many facilities as possible to help ensure you have a troublefree day. But we also rely on you to ride safely and with due consideration for other cyclists and road users. Although many roads are closed to oncoming traffic, this is not always the case and you should be aware of the possibility that there could be vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Please do not attempt reckless overtaking whilst riding – remember it is NOT a race. 

Follow All Instructions 

Every effort is made to ensure that the route is well signed and marshalled. Please obey all directions from police and marshals on the route. If you hear a motorcycle marshal blow his/her whistle three times, move left. 

Wear A Helmet

Every year we are delighted to see more riders wearing protective helmets, but we would like to see every cyclist on the ride wearing one. More than half of reported injuries in cycling accidents are to the head, and a helmet gives the best protection when the head hits the ground. 

Attracting Assistance

If you have an accident, ask a marshal for help; they are in contact with the support/emergency services. To call for help from our motorcycle marshals, give a 'thumbs down' signal. The marshal will do all he/she can to help, providing he/she is not already going to a more serious accident. If a motorcycle marshal slows down to help you, but you have just stopped for a rest and don't need help, please give a 'thumbs up' signal and he/she will carry on. Remember – thumbs down means 'I need help'.  

In Case Of Breakdown 

Refer to your route map and make your way to a Mechanics Point. Mechanical assistance is free when you show your Rider Identity Card; you just pay for the parts. 

Refreshment Stops 

Look out for these along the route. Most are organised by voluntary clubs and their prices give you real value for money. They are also raising money for their  local communities and the British Heart Foundation, so please give them your  support. 

Rain Or Shine – Be Prepared 

In the event of very bad weather, watch out for signs to wet weather stations en route. Good waterproofs, like a cycle cape, are essential. Our first aid staff can only supply bin liners and by the time you get one you may be very wet. 

However, the English summer is unpredictable – it may also be hot, so don't forget the sun protection cream as well! 

If You Have To Drop Out 

We will try to pick up your bike for you on the day. Call Bike Events (01225310859) no more than two weeks after the ride to arrange collection. Sorry, we cannot guarantee this service nor can we accept liability for any loss or damage to your bike. Bike Events will hold your bike for three months, after which it may be disposed of. You will be charged for all costs incurred in returning your cycle.

Questions 1 – 8 

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text? 

In boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet, write 

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information 

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information 

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this 

1 You should not arrive more than half an hour before your allocated starting time.

2 Your Rider Identity Card will be sent to you before the event. 

3 Some roads may have normal traffic flow on them. 

4 Helmets are compulsory for all participants. 

5 Refreshments are free to all participants during the ride. 

6 If you need a rest you must get off the road. 

7 First aid staff can provide cycle capes. 

8 Bike Events will charge you for the return of your bike

General Listening Exercise

You will hear a Communication Studies student talking to his tutor about optional

courses for the next semester.

Dr Ray: Come in. Oh hello Jack. Have a seat. Right ... you said you

wanted to see me to talk about your options next semester?

Jack: That's right. We have to decide by the end of next week. Really, I'd

like to do all five options but we have to choose two, don't we.

Dr Ray: Yes, but the choice depends on your major to some extent. You're

majoring in Communication Studies, aren't you?

Jack: That's right.

Dr Ray So for example the Media Studies Option will cover quite a lot of the

same area you did in the core module on mass communications this

semester - the development of the media through the last two

centuries, in relation to political and social issues.

Jack: Mmm. Well that was interesting, but I’ve decided I'd rather do

something completely new. There's a Women's Studies option, isn't


Dr Ray: Yes, 'Women and Power' – again it has a historical focus, it aims to

contextualise women's studies by looking at the legal and social

situation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries …

Jack: So it would be useful if I intended to specialise in women's studies ...

but I'm not sure I do actually.

Dr Ray: Well, it might still be useful to give you an idea of the issues

involved. It's taught by Dr Steed.

Jack: Oh, really? I'll sign up for that, then. What about the option on

Culture and Society?

Dr Ray: That addresses the historical debate on the place of culture since

the Industrial Revolution in Britain.

Jack: So a historical focus again ...

Dr Ray: Do I get the message you're not so keen on history?

Jack: Well, it's just we seem to have done quite a lot this semester …anyway I'll think about that one. 

Dr Ray: If you're interested in a course focusing on current issues there's the

option on Identity and Popular Culture – that approaches the subject

through things like contemporary film, adverts, soap operas and so


Jack: Oh? That sounds interesting. Can you tell me who runs it?

Dr Ray: Well, it's normally Dr Stevens but he's on sabbatical next semester,

so I'm not sure who'll be running it. It should be decided by next

week though.

Jack: Right, well I might wait until then to decide ... And the last option is

Introduction to Cultural Theory, isn't it. I'm quite interested in that too

– I was talking to one of the second year students, and she said it

was really useful, it made a lot of things fall into place.

Dr Ray: Yes, but in fact in your major, you'll have covered a lot of that

already in Communications 102, so that might be less useful than

some of the others.

Jack: Oh, I'll forget about that one, then.

Dr Ray: Now while you're here, we could also discuss how you're getting on

with your Core Module assignment ...

Questions 01 - 05

What does Jack tell his tutor about each of the following course options?

A) He'll definitely do it.

B) He may or may not do it.

C) He won't do it.

Write the correct letter, A, B or C next to questions 21- 25.

You may choose any letter more than once.

01 Media Studies

02 Women and Power

03 Culture and Society

04 Identity and Popular Culture

05 Introduction to Cultural Theory

IELTS Examples


Band 5 Results

This answer addresses the requirements of the task and appears in letter format. In the second bullet it is well covered, with multiple "problems" presented. In general, however, there is some repetition of the homework rubric, and there is space to include more detail, eg, coverage of the third bullet. The organization of the ideas is not completely logical and the points are not always well connected. Despite these problems, the introduction to the letter is adequate. and the purpose of the writer is clear. There is a variety of vocabulary that is generally adequate and appropriate for the task. Complex structures are attempted but, in general, the sentences are maintained.

Quite simply, grammatical errors are frequent and cause some difficulty for the reader.

Band 7 Results

The content of the letter is relevant to the task. The first two points are covered in detail, with various 'problems' given; the third point could be illustrated more fully, with details of what type of accommodation (not just a single room). The information in the letter is logically organized and proper use of the linking devices makes it read quite fluently.

The vocabulary is well used, the spelling is accurate, and there are some less common words and expressions [borrows | have to share]. There is evidence of more complex sentence structures, but also some grammatical errors, although these do not affect the reader much.


Here you will have examples of corrections by examiners in the Speaking part.

Examiner Comment

The student interviewed was Ilaria, an Italian woman. The speaking test consists of three sections. Let's first look at each of these sections to identify the strengths, as well as the weaknesses.

Section 1

Ilaria was very confident and gave full answers to all questions. It started off well when Ilaria gave a very comprehensive answer to the first question about her family and without being prompted she went on to talk about where her family lived. This type of complete answer goes beyond the question asked and is a good sign that the student is comfortable in English and can speak fluently.

The rest of Section 1 went equally well. Ilaria was not an athlete, so the questions from Topic 1 onwards about health and exercise could not have suited her as well. Despite this, Ilaria gave full answers to all questions. This is important as Ilaria demonstrated that she could speak skillfully on a subject in which she knew little and had little interest. On the other hand in Topic 2 Ilaria showed the examiner that she could answer the questions extensively in English. That's why Ilaria only needed to ask 2 questions in Topic 2. Also in response to the second question in Topic 2,

Ilaria answers yes, absolutely, and then goes on to explain her answer without the examiner having to ask why. This is usually a good sign of a good and fluent candidate. Section 1 was very well answered by Ilaria and I don't feel there were any negative points.

Section 2

Ilaria continued with the same fluency as in Section 1. The examiner allowed Ilaria to speak for a full 2 ​​minutes and she had no problem doing this. Not all IELTS interviews are that long, but it is always the examiner who decides the length of the interview and not the candidate. Ilaria hardly took any of the minutes available for preparation. This is absolutely no problem. It is entirely up to the candidate to decide to take all or part of the minute to prepare. It does not affect the test score in any way. However, the more time a student has to prepare the speech, the easier it is likely to be for the student to speak well. Therefore, I would always advise candidates to take full advantage of the minute. Ilaria doesn't speak as fast, says “erm” a lot, and has frequent brief hesitations. Neither of these is a problem. It is not a mistake to speak slowly. In fact, if candidates speak slowly, then they are less likely to make fluency, grammar, or vocabulary errors and are therefore more confident and comfortable. Hesitations and "erms" are just normal traits of someone who has to speak for 2 minutes on a hastily prepared topic. Ilaria spoke somewhat fluently on the topic in the question and covered the areas the question asked to be discussed in detail and relevant examples. Finally, the examiner asked a question to end Section 2. Ilaria made a short answer to this and that is all that is required. This Section 2 is shorter than many others, but that's because Ilaria didn't take advantage of the minute available for preparation. Again, there are no bad parts in this section.

Section 3

In Topic 1, Ilaria's answers were not as complete as before. She says she didn't know much about it. Despite this he managed complete answers to all questions. However, as long as a student answers each question to a certain extent, the student can wait for question(s) that they can really tap into and talk about more. Then, on Topic 2, she had more to say and spoke at length in response to questions. So while some answers were shorter than others, there are no bad parts in Section 3


The correction of the IELTS speaking test is carried out in 4 parts. Below is how the examiner assesses this student


Ilaria's English pronunciation is excellent, allowing her to be easily understood at all times. There is a trace of accent in his English but this does not interfere with intelligibility at any time.

Grammatical Range and Precision

Ilaria accurately and appropriately uses a wide range of grammatical structures.

Lexical Resource

There is a slightly inappropriate word choice occasionally, but this does not happen very often and does not affect the listener's comprehension.

Fluency and Coherence

Ilaria's fluency and coherence is very good. Ilaria's language is appropriate and the binding language is all correctly used. Ilaria's responses to questions are logically developed and there is little repetition or self-correction.

Estimated IELTS speech band: 9


It would be advisable that, depending on the level that has to be given for the IELTS exam (A1, C1 etc.), a corresponding course is taken. There are several teachers who are prepared to help any student. The British Council are the administrators and creators of the exam so you can start there.

From Speakingathome we can help you prepare for all kinds of IELTS exams.