Here is an annotated list of all the useful links I’ve found for helping students prepare for IELTS. I thought it would be a useful resource for anybody teaching IELTS (as this is what I would really have liked to find when I started!) and I will soon be adapting it and posting it as a resource specifically aimed at students on the Independent English blog (I promised my current class!). There were/are too many for all to be included in a ‘Top 10’ list but they are worth a look nevertheless; whether by you or your students! Let me know if you think there are any links that I should add or if any of the links are broken. I intend to keep adding links to this list, as I come across them.
IELTS! image taken from en.wikipedia.org via google search for images licensed for commercial reuse with modification
This website is very useful, containing sections on writing, reading, speaking, listening, grammar, vocabulary, with advice and opportunities for practice, as well as a section that brings together all the material available for download e.g. sample tests, sample answers for the writing etc. It also boasts a useful collection of student writing, for Writing Part 1 and Part 2, together with feedback on this.
The British Council Learn English IELTS page bills itself thus:
‘In our IELTS section you can find practice materials and advice to help you prepare for the listening, speaking, reading and writing modules of the IELTS test.
You can watch learners from different parts of the world give views and opinions about IELTS. There is a series of videos focusing on the speaking module of the test, as well as online practice activities and mock test papers for the other three modules.’
A good starting point for students, the official IELTS website contains all the information students/test takers need to know about how to register, how to find a test centre etc. It also contains a test sample for each of the 4 components and a complex set of FAQ’s.
Regularly updated with quiz questions relating to the various components of the IELTS exam, typical grammar and vocabulary, this Facebook page is linked with IELTS.org.
A collection of freely accessible practice materials for all four test components, put together by IELTS Exam-Net.
Lots of material for IELTS preparation here, focusing on each of the components as well as on relevant grammar and vocabulary for both General and Academic IELTS (the latter based on the Academic Word list) and providing lots of opportunities for learning how to approach the exam, practising and, in terms of the writing, seeing what other people have produced.
This website contains daily IELTS lessons from ‘Simon’, an ex-IELTS examiner. For example, the latest lesson is ‘IELTS Writing Task 1: using words from the chart’. There are categories for each of the components, and with the writing divided up into Academic Part 1, Academic Part 2 and General. There is also a section for general advice and for relevant grammar and vocabulary.
From IELTS Buddy, another clear overview of this component of the exam, detailing the different question types and requirements, with some useful tips.
From British Council Learn English IELTS page, this is a reading text and some questions, together with an answer key for checking afterwards.
This is a comprehensive page from DC IELTS which includes links to tutorials focusing on each of the reading question types, tutorials focusing on increasing your reading speed, tutorials focusing on the necessary reading sub-skills, a band calculator and some exam tips.
IELTS Buddy gives a clear overview of the listening component of the IELTS exam, as well as a selection of practice tests.
Students can do listening test practice on this part of the British Council Learn English IELTS page.
From the DC IELTS website, this page gives a clear overview of the listening component of the IELTS exam, together with links to 10 lessons that focus on various sub-skills that students need to be confident with in order to do well in this component. It also boasts a Band Calculator that students can use to translate their listening scores into IELTS bands.
Independent English is a site that was set up by DoS and teacher trainer Sandy Millin, with whom I have just entered into collaboration regarding this site. Its goal is to help learners learn independently by publishing posts that both offer a range of ideas and guide students through carrying them out. I haven’t posted any content yet (watch this space!) but Sandy has published this post on IELTS friendly podcasts, which brings together links to a range of podcasts on IELTS style topics e.g. science and global problems, and offers suggestions for using these effectively.
Students can look at the assessment criteria for the speaking component of the exam here.
A series of videos put together by the British Council, giving advice on how to approach the speaking component of the IELTS exam.
A comprehensive overview of the speaking component, this DC IELTS page contains a map of the speaking exam, tips for success, training videos, practice questions, focus on the exam format, on how to use preparation time, speaking component tutorials e.g. on pausing language, and ideas for practice, amongst others.
This post from the IH London Blog helps students prepare for the IELTS writing component, by focusing on how to structure a Part 1 and a Part 2 piece of writing.
Writing Part 1
‘IELTS Buddy’ provides sample Writing Part 1’s for all the possible task types and analyses the process of producing an answer to a Writing Part 1 task.
Again from ‘IELTS Buddy’, students can look at other students’ work together with feedback on it.
This is a link to the criteria used for marking Part 1 of the writing component of the IELTS exam.
A blog post from TEFL Reflections, of a podcast focusing on the Task Achievement category of the assessment criteria for Part 1. NB: This blog has other useful posts relating to the IELTS exam including focus on writing and on speaking.
This article on Exam English explains how to approach an IELTS part 1 with two sources of data within a single task, e.g. a graph and a table.
Writing Part 2
This blog post on the IH London blog focuses on how to improve your writing score by planning more effectively. NB: This blog contains other useful IELTS-related articles in its exams category.
In this section of IELTS Buddy, students can look at example part 2 essays written by other students, together with feedback.
And here is the criteria used for marking Part 2 of the writing component of the IELTS exam.
From Exam English, this is a detailed explanation of what examiners are looking for in the introduction and conclusion of a Writing Part 2 essay.
Another article from Exam English, this time explaining how Part 2 questions work and how to make sure you have answered them fully.
From DC IELTS, this page contains a wealth of material to help students with IELTS essay writing. It looks at the different types of essay, structuring an essay, the process of writing an essay, some sample essays, vocabulary for essay writing, a focus on each portion of the essay (introduction etc.), and guidance on how to review your essay effectively once you’ve written it.
Vocabulary and Grammar
This is a link to all the lessons on the IELTS Simon site that focus on IELTS grammar and vocabulary-related topics, for example ‘IELTS Grammar: natural answers‘ and ‘IELTS Vocabulary: Band 7-9 words‘.
Quizlet is a useful website that allows you to review and memorise vocabulary, while having fun at the same time. Registration is free and can be done by setting up a new account or by using a Facebook or Google account. Students can access sets of flashcards that other test takers have made, or create their own. Quizlet can be used on both smartphone and tablet devices (Apple and Android) as well as your computer.
Here are some sets relating to IELTS that students can use:
Quizlet sets relating to IELTS speaking component.
Quizlet sets relating to IELTS writing component.
Quizlet sets relating to IELTS reading component.
Quizlet sets relating to IELTS listening component.
Here are some materials I wrote, which take you through the process of using Quizlet.
Memrise is another site dedicated to learning while having fun. Registration is free and can be done by setting up a new account or using a Facebook account. Memrise can be used on both smartphone and tablet devices (Apple and Android) as well as your computer.
Here is a selection of the courses that have people have made to prepare for IELTS:
A selection of courses relating to IELTS. Memrise courses relating to IELTS
Other vocabulary resources
Exam English have made a timed quiz relating to words from the academic word list.
Also from Exam English, here students can find the academic wordlist and related tests.
From the DC IELTS website, this is a comprehensive set of activities linked with the Academic Word List, including activities that allow students to see the words used in the context of IELTS writing answers. Includes daily activities and review activities as well.
Wordandphrase.info is a tool for corpus analysis and the academic version enables one to search an academic corpus for words or phrases and generate concordances of examples showing how they are used, as well as definitions, synonyms, collocates and frequency information. Here are some materials I made, which guide you through the process of using www.wordandphrase.info. These materials focus on the general part of the site (www.wordandphrase.info) rather than the academic but the principal is the same. (Creating materials specifically focusing on the academic portion is on my list of things to do!)
Exam English have put together a twenty question grammar quiz for IELTS test takers.
This link, from the IELTS-exam.net website, offers offers “concise yet comprehensive coverage of the grammar necessary in order to be successful in the IELTS test.”
Exam strategies, techniques and tips
Put together by the British Council, students from all over the world give their opinions and tips for the IELTS test.
From IELTS Buddy, this is a collection of lessons relating to each of the four components of the exam, containing lots of tips for how to approach these most effectively.
This is a set of exam tips from the Exam English website.
The top five fears of IELTS test takers and how to overcome them.
Knowing the exam well is a key strategy, and this is a quiz from the DC IELTS page for students to find out where they are with this.
10 Tips to help students succeed in the speaking component, from DC IELTS.
If you are inclined towards the world of tablet and smartphone, as many are these days, here are a couple of apps that might be worth looking at:
This app was developed by Sam McCarter, writer of the Macmillan Ready for IELTS coursebook. It works on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. For free, you get access to a wide range of interactive activities to practice essential IELTS exam skills, and for £3.99 or five dollars, you get that plus ‘take the test with an interactive video examiner’, detailed hints and tips on all the different parts of the exam and an interactive ‘can do’ statement section with which you can score yourself. If the course book is anything to go by, then I would imagine that this app will be worth the small outlay. But even what’s available for free is already a jolly good start and surely worth downloading!
This is a free app developed by the British Council, which enables students to work on building up their IELTS-relevant vocabulary, through doing lots of quizzes and fun activities. There are different topics, typical to IELTS, such as ‘The Environment‘ and ‘Work and Business‘.
In the Classroom
Lesson plans and materials for helping students to prepare for each of the components, including some plans that require minimal materials/preparation.
More material ready to deploy in the classroom, together with advice on how to use it effectively.
For more resources that are useful for teachers (but also including books that are suitable for self-study), you might like to look at my recent ‘Top 10 Resources’ list !
Again, If you know any other useful sites, please comment on this post so I can add the links to this collection!