My top five IELTS books – for students

If you want to do well in the IELTS exams, invest in some good books. They may be expensive but, good quality books can always be resold on eBay or at your college or university. Better still – get one of these out of the library!

1. IELTS Trainer

This book leads you through six practice IELTS exams step by step. 51zupvmQqnL__SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

  • Brilliant step by step guide
  • Answers clearly explained
  • Quite difficult BUT the IELTS exam is DIFFICULT
  • Expensive but worth it!



2. The IELTS series (1-10)

Probably the most famous IELTS books in the world!41wSjyCKr3L__SX381_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

  • These books are full of exams and answers
  • They don’t explain HOW or WHY about the answers
  • A good way to start studying for IELTS exams
  • Some nice samples of student writing at the back of each book.



3. Cambridge Official IELTS exams

The OFFICIAL guide to IELTS51K-WQao3ZL__SX394_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Step by step instructions on each part of the exam
  • Lots of material and activities to do
  • Great listening sections


4. Official IELTS practice materials

Great practice exams here from Cambridgeuntitled.png

  • IELTS exams that are on A4 paper!
  • Authentic practise papers
  • Not much help with technique here
  • A great place to start your IELTS studies


5. Teach yourself IELTS reading – Richard L King

41T94ydlU3L__SX382_BO1,204,203,200_The first book in the series  explains how students can build up reading techniques. It has two sample IELTS reading exams at the back.

  • Simple and valuable techniques to develop reading.
  • Great value for money!
  • Good synonym and antonym sections at the back



Know any more good books for IELTS. We’d love to hear from you!

Top Five IELTS books – for teachers

Teaching IELTS? An old pro? A newbie? Here are my top five books for teaching IELTS.

1. Instant IELTS – Guy Brook Hart

418C94343QL__SX354_BO1,204,203,200_Ready to use tasks and activities for IELTS students at intermediate and above. This book is an old favourite and my own copy is now battered from constant use.

  • Great worksheets for different levels
  • Activities for listening, reading, speaking and listening
  • 2 complete exams
  • Brilliant teacher’s notes – perfect for beginner IELTS tutors!



2. IELTS Resource Pack – Jon Marks


Really wonderful activities and worksheets that prevent students from getting bored.

  • Interesting and engaging communicative activities
  • Great listening section that uses information from the students themselves
  • Great book to dip in and out of and support a bigger course



3. Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS

51gxtMazhTL__SX382_BO1,204,203,200_Broken into sections that deal with various topics, Cambridge Vocab for IELTS is an extremely useful book. You can use the worksheets in class but they’re a bit traditional, so they’re betterfor homework.

  • Lots of focused vocab learning
  • Great academic vocabulary section at the back.



4. Cambridge Objective IELTS

51bvbOAQVqL__SX389_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThis is an intermediate course book that you could work through with your students. Some of the readings are a bit dull (but then IELTS readings generally are) and some of the activities aren’t very engaging BUT, there are some really good exam sections that explain how different parts of the exam work.

  • Really good exam technique sections
  • Lots of activities to keep students busy


5. Teach yourself IELTS: Reading – Richard L King

41T94ydlU3L__SX382_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe first book in the series is aimed at intermediate students and above and explains how students can build up reading techniques. It has two sample IELTS reading exams at the back.

  • Simple and valuable techniques to develop reading
  • Great for homework or self study
  • Good synonym and antonym sections at the back





What other IELTS resources do you use? Leave a comment!!

A sample IELTS presentation – How to get better at IELTS speaking


There are lots of sample IELTS presentations on youtube but watching these might not help you get better at giving your own presentation.

First – make sure you are familiar with the criteria that you will be marked on in the IELTS speaking exam. There are some excellent videos from the British Council here

Download the worksheet here A sample IELTS presentation


Read the sample IELTS presentation and work through task 1. There aren’t any grammar mistakes in here, so the speaker will score well on grammatical accuracy.

Use the prompts on the second sheet to practise giving presentations. Record yourself on your phone and listen back to them – I know it sounds crazy! – but this will really help you understand the areas you need to develop!

Best of luck

Get more help with your IELTS by getting Richard L King’s great book – Teach yourself IELTS reading



Famous Paintings Class Discussion Slideshow – with Banksy


Here’s a famous painting discussion class you can use as a warmer, cooler, filler or a springboard for art/ research projects with your EFL or ESOL class.

Download the PowerPoint show here Famous paintings or click the picture.

famous paintings

There are lots of ways to run the lesson and it will work with almost all levels. You’ll differentiate by student response.

1.Straightforward PowerPoint show.

Pair your students and have them read the first two questions. They should ask and answer the same questions for every slide. Walk round and listen to them as they chat.

2. Art Gallery Lesson.

Print off the pictures and stick them up around the classroom. Pair students and get them to walk round the pictures together, asking and answering the same questions from the first slide. Ask them to rank the pictures from the ones they like least to the ones they like most

3. The Research project

After doing the PowerPoint presentation, give students, in pairs, a copy of one of the paintings. Get them to find out as much as they can about both the artist and the picture using the internet. There are stories behind all of these famous pictures that are as important as the pictures themselves. Why is Andy Warhol’s picture of soup cans so important? So what about the Mona Lisa’s smile? Knowing more about these pictures will help your students appreciate them.

Please leave us a comment if you use the lesson.





IELTS Academic Reading Test – Sample


Test your IELTS reading skills with this Academic Reading Test from Richard L King.

If you just want the test then: click here to get the Sample Academic Reading task plus answers.

Click here to download a sample IELTS Academic answer sheet

Sample test A

Please follow the steps below!

1.Make sure you have somewhere quiet to do the test. Turn off your phone, the television and the TV. You will need 1 hour. Do not give yourself more time.

2. Print off a copy of the test and answers above. Print off an answer sheet above.

3. Allow yourself 1 hour. Give yourself a break when you finish. Ten minutes should be enough.

4. Check your answers and read the explanations about them. Look for paraphrases and synonyms! Find out WHY your answers were wrong!

You should now have a better understanding of your reading skills.

For more sample IELTS exams, why not check out Richard L King’s book: Teach yourself IELTS Reading



Essential Academic Word List – IELTS


To get the score you want in IELTS you need to know academic vocabulary.

Everyday English:There were some people waiting at the bus stop’

Academic English:There were a number of individuals waiting for public transport’.

Here’s a brilliant list to help! Just a few tips before you start.

You can download a pdf of this list here

DON’T try to learn all of them! Concentrate on section 1 and 2 first.

Check out my other blog on how to learn more IELTS vocabulary before you tackle this.


The following list consists of the head-words in AWL. The 570 head-words in the list given in Coxhead (2000), this list has been re-ordered occurs by frequency, from “group 1” (most frequent) to “group 10” (least frequent).

For detail on the development and evaluation of the AWL, see Coxhead, Averil (2000) A New Academic Word List. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2): 213-238.


group 1

analyse approach area assess assume authority
available benefit concept consist constitute context
contract create data define derive distribute
economy environment establish estimate evident export
factor finance formula function identify income
indicate individual interpret involve issue labour
legal legislate major method occur percent
period policy principle proceed process require
research respond role section sector significant
similar source specific structure theory vary

group 2

achieve acquire administrate affect appropriate aspect
assist category chapter commission community complex
compute conclude conduct consequent construct consume
credit culture design distinct element equate
evaluate feature final focus impact injure
institute invest item journal maintain normal
obtain participate perceive positive potential previous
primary purchase range region regulate relevant
reside resource restrict secure seek select
site strategy survey text tradition transfer

For more IELTS help, check out Richard L King’s Teach yourself IELTS Reading



group 3

alternative circumstance comment compensate component consent
considerable constant constrain contribute convene coordinate
core corporate correspond criteria deduce demonstrate
document dominate emphasis ensure exclude framework
fund illustrate immigrate imply initial instance
interact justify layer link locate maximise
minor negate outcome partner philosophy physical
proportion publish react register rely remove
scheme sequence sex shift specify sufficient
task technical technique technology valid volume

group 4

access adequate annual apparent approximate attitude
attribute civil code commit communicate concentrate
confer contrast cycle debate despite dimension
domestic emerge error ethnic goal grant
hence hypothesis implement implicate impose integrate
internal investigate job label mechanism obvious
occupy option output overall parallel parameter
phase predict principal prior professional project
promote regime resolve retain series statistic
status stress subsequent sum summary undertake


group 5

academy adjust alter amend aware capacity
challenge clause compound conflict consult contact
decline discrete draft enable energy enforce
entity equivalent evolve expand expose external
facilitate fundamental generate generation image liberal
license logic margin medical mental modify
monitor network notion objective orient perspective
precise prime psychology pursue ratio reject
revenue stable style substitute sustain symbol
target transit trend version welfare whereas

group 6

abstract accurate acknowledge aggregate allocate assign
attach author bond brief capable cite
cooperate discriminate display diverse domain edit
enhance estate exceed expert explicit federal
fee flexible furthermore gender ignorant incentive
incidence incorporate index inhibit initiate input
instruct intelligence interval lecture migrate minimum
ministry motive neutral nevertheless overseas precede
presume rational recover reveal scope subsidy
tape trace transform transport underlie utilise

group 7

adapt adult advocate aid channel chemical
classic comprehensive comprise confirm contrary convert
couple decade definite deny differentiate dispose
dynamic eliminate empirical equip extract file
finite foundation globe grade guarantee hierarchy
identical ideology infer innovate insert intervene
isolate media mode paradigm phenomenon priority
prohibit publication quote release reverse simulate
sole somewhat submit successor survive thesis
topic transmit ultimate unique visible voluntary

group 8

abandon accompany accumulate ambiguous append appreciate
arbitrary automate bias chart clarify commodity
complement conform contemporary contradict crucial currency
denote detect deviate displace drama eventual
exhibit exploit fluctuate guideline highlight implicit
induce inevitable infrastructure inspect intense manipulate
minimise nuclear offset paragraph plus practitioner
predominant prospect radical random reinforce restore
revise schedule tense terminate theme thereby
uniform vehicle via virtual visual widespread

group 9

accommodate analogy anticipate assure attain behalf
bulk cease coherent coincide commence compatible
concurrent confine controversy converse device devote
diminish distort duration erode ethic format
founded inherent insight integral intermediate manual
mature mediate medium military minimal mutual
norm overlap passive portion preliminary protocol
qualitative refine relax restrain revolution rigid
route scenario sphere subordinate supplement suspend
team temporary trigger unify violate vision

group 10

adjacent albeit assemble collapse colleague compile
conceive convince depress encounter enormous forthcoming
incline integrity intrinsic invoke levy likewise
nonetheless notwithstanding odd ongoing panel persist
pose reluctance so-called straightforward undergo whereby



IELTS : Making a real study plan


When Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’, he probably didn’t have the IELTS reading exam in mind. His advice however is still valid, if you want to get a better score in the IELTS exam, you will need to study and to do this you’ll need a proper schedule.

Achievable targets

You’ll probably already know what grade you need to achieve in the IELTS exam and so this is your goal but, be realistic. You’ll need to get a feel for what your IELTS level is, to do this, try completing a few sample exams. Stick to the time limit and mark yourself honestly.

If you have a teacher, ask them to mark your written exam. You’ll now know both what target you want to achieve and what level you are at. Be sensible, if you score overall band 5 then you are not going to score a 7.0 in a few months. For most people, it’s reckoned that you improve by a band every six months. Another big issue is that students want to fast track their English and achieve a high score before they know the basics. If you can’t use the tenses in English or have trouble just communicating or writing simple sentences, then forget about anything to do with IELTS, you would be much better just learning English until you have a better level.

Making a timetable

There’s no point in setting yourself a timetable that is unachievable and that you can’t keep. Be honest with yourself and don’t set a schedule that is either too easy or too difficult. Most people learn best in chunks of between twenty and thirty minutes with a few minutes break in between where you can stretch your legs or get a breath of fresh air.

Have enough practise materials

You’ll need quite a lot of material to keep you going. Thankfully there are some excellent materials to help you. You can search for these on the internet or a save money by getting books out from your local library.

Keep a study journal

Maintaining good study notes is the cornerstone to success in academic life. Keep a record of all the practise tests that you have done and what you scored in them. Have a notebook with all the important vocab and structures that you have learned and look at this regularly.

Balancing your life

Don’t spend all your time studying. Your brain can only take in a certain amount of information and so spending all day trying to remember 100 words will only make you forget them the next day. Try to enjoy what you study

Get more help by downloading Richard L King’s Book, Teach yourself IELTS reading



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