Why Using IELTS Preparation Books Can Be Difficult For Second Language Learners?

Over my many years of teaching IELTS in Singapore and other countries, I’ve received many questions regarding the best IELTS preparation Books. However, I rarely recommend any IELTS books. I will address the reasons behind my decision in the following article. Choosing the best book for your IELTS preparation can be an overwhelming task since there are literally hundreds of books to choose from. Most of them claim the same thing, ‘the best IELTS results in a short amount of time‘. Let us take a deeper look at why using IELTS preparation books can be difficult for second language learners.

Problems Associated With IELTS Exam Preparation Books

Course books are often written by native English speakers from the UK or other English-speaking countries. While they are most certainly highly qualified individuals, they often lack insight into what the language learning process is like for second language learners. It can be difficult to wrap your head around some of the concepts taught in such guidebooks.

Another problem that crops up is that such guidebooks require intensive study and focus. They usually have hundreds of hours’ worth of material to go through. However, most IELTS candidates are either working professionals or full-time students, who simply do not have sufficient time in their day to dedicate to going through such a large amount of material before their exam.

Fake Books and Unqualified Authors

Unfortunately these days, there is a growing trend to use the naivety of first time IELTS test-takers to make easy money. A quick search on Amazon yields many quick fix IELTS books, which are written by authors who claim to be qualified professionals. To many unsuspecting students, these books might appear to be good, but when inspected by true professionals they are clearly lacking in many areas and many are poorly written as well.

Outdated IELTS Books

The format of the IELTS exam was altered in 2005. Any books published before that period might not be the best reflection of what to expect on test day.

IELTS Exam Material That Is Too General

Most IELTS books cater to a certain level of the student, ranging from beginner to intermediate and advanced learners. This means that it will not really focus on your specific weak areas. Most students need a tailor-made plan of action to improve the skills which might be holding them back from getting good scores.

Official Cambridge IELTS Resources

One way to ensure that you are using authentic books is to purchase books for IELTS that are published by Cambridge. These books will give you an accurate idea about what the test entails and the true levels of difficulty. They also cater to both the IELTS Academic and General Training tests.

  • Cambridge IELTS book 1-15
  • Official Cambridge Guide To IELTS
  • New Insight into IELTS
  • Complete IELTS Practice Test

To sum up, I don’t really recommend any book for IELTS because I find most of them to be either too vague or too intensive for second language learners. Let’s face it, when you are taking the IELTS exams, all you really want is to pass, and you need clear and easy to follow strategies and instructions on how exactly to that. I think the best IELTS preparation involves getting assistance from an experienced IELTS professional. Choose a tutor or a course that can offer you unique resources that include exactly what you need to know, in an easy-to-understand format and without any of the irrelevant details that most IELTS books include.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.