8 Best At-home IELTS Preparation Tools (with Practice Tests)
A good score on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam shows employers, universities and others that your English is strong. It is even important for securing a visa to places like the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Since it can be such an important test, IELTS preparation is very stressful for most people.
In this guide, we will show you some of the best tools for IELTS preparation at home. These include everything from free video lessons to fun apps to a huge number of IELTS practice tests.
- What Should You Expect From the IELTS Test
- The Most Valuable Resources for IELTS Preparation at Home
- And One More Thing...
What Should You Expect From the IELTS Test
There are two types of IELTS tests: “academic” and “general training.” Those who are going to migrate to an English-speaking country need to get a general training IELTS certificate. If you are going to study abroad, you must pass the academic IELTS.
Both versions of the test have four sections assessing the basic language skills:
- Listening (30 min): 40 questions based on four audio recordings
- Reading (60 min): 40 questions based on a variety of texts
- Writing (60 min): Two writing tasks
- Speaking (11-14 min): An interview to test your conversation and presentation skills
The listening and speaking sections of the academic and general training IELTS are the same. The reading and writing versions have different content depending on which test you take.
The Most Valuable Resources for IELTS Preparation at Home
Take IELTS with British Council
On this website, you will get a lot of useful IELTS preparation information, which is presented in the form of tips and small articles.
In the “Take IELTS” section, you will learn about what IELTS is, what it is for, what format the exam has and tips on what type you should take (academic or general training). The “Prepare” section explains how to study for the exam and what difficulties you can face. Here you will find lots of resources to help you pass the IELTS exam with the highest score. Also in this section, you will find some practice tests to get you comfortable with the exam.
The “Book” section talks about where and when you can pass the exam in your country and how to sign up for the IELTS exam without leaving your house. In the “Results” section you will learn about how to get and understand your exam results.
If you are going to live, work or study in the U.K., you should definitely visit the “UKVI” section. It discusses the specifics of taking the IELTS exam in order to apply for a visa to the U.K.
On the Exam English website, you will find many useful tests that will help you prepare before taking the IELTS exam. You can download PDF practice tests for both the academic and general training tests, with audio recordings and answers.
There are also vocabulary lists and grammar tests for the IELTS.
If you still have some general questions about the exam, look at “Exam Info” on the left side of the page, where you will find articles, tips, recommended tutorials and even mobile apps.
All Ears English
All Ears English provides videos, articles and practice tools for IELTS preparation. Their articles do not tell some abstract stories about the difficulties of the IELTS exam—they give practical advice that will help you during the test. If you have any questions, you can immediately ask them in the comments under each article.
To get started, scroll down to the “Filter by” section and select skills that you want to practice. You will see that all the articles are sorted into specific topics. You will find useful tips on how to pass the speaking part of the exam, train your ear with podcasts, deal with test stress and more.
All the articles are written simply and clearly and the topics are interesting.
This site is divided into two main parts: “IELTS Preparation” and “IELTS Sample Questions.” In the first part, you will find out what you need to study for each section of the test. In the second part, you can find samples of each section to practice with. There are hundreds of samples, including more than 1,000 essay writing prompts!
The advantage of this resource is that there are possible and alternative answers given here, as well as tips on what answer the examiner expects from you and how you should not respond to the questions.
This resource is designed primarily to expand your vocabulary. And if you want to pass the exam with a high score, then you definitely need a strong vocabulary stockpile.
The website contains the words that you need to know to successfully pass the IELTS exam. In the “List” panel on the left side of the page, you will see vocabulary lists for every section of the exam.
If you are uncomfortable with remembering words through lists, you can choose to view them as “word cards” (word and definition together on a card) or “flashcards” (word and definition on different sides of each card). Print these out and study anytime, anywhere!
There are other exercises built in like spelling quizzes, matching exercises and more.
Despite the fact that there are not many videos on this channel, it is still worth reviewing. The pleasant, smiling teacher Liz will tell you about the various subtleties of the IELTS exam.
She covers how to properly greet the examiner, how to build a beautiful complex sentence and how to anticipate a possible question. Visit the playlists page to focus on a specific section of the exam.
Here you will find a huge number of detailed video materials that cover various IELTS features.
Of course, you will find lots of tips to master every section of the IELTS exam. But a cool extra feature is that Ryan interviews people from different countries who have successfully passed the IELTS.
IELTS by IDP
This channel provides the best study materials to help you prepare for the IELTS test. They have videos for every section of the IELTS test so you can achieve your desired score.
Check out their playlists about IETLS terminology, myth-busting and webinar series!
I have tried to collect for you the best resources for IELTS preparation. All the websites contain reliable information from official sources and from real examiners. But IELTS is a complex exam with a complex structure.
Make sure you focus on common mistakes, take practice tests and relax—with the right preparation, you will be fine!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.