The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is taken by more than 3.5 million test-takers per year. It is by far the most recognized test in Anglophone countries for academic, visa/citizenship, and professional purposes.
There is a wide range of reasons why people take their IELTS exam seriously:
- 100% of universities in the UK and Australia accept IELTS results for entrance – as do over 3,400 institutions in the United States.
- 11,000+ organizations worldwide view IELTS as the official indicator of English communication ability.
- IELTS is an important requirement for many ex-pats, international students, and foreign workers before they head overseas or move to a new country, including for UK visas.
IELTS has 1,600+ test centers in more than 140 countries and territories. And, even if you do not happen to have a test center close by, IELTS can also securely be taken online.
The only potential limitation to your IELTS result is your preparation. If you want to get your best score possible on this difficult exam, it’s important to take the time beforehand and fully prepare yourself.
One of the best ways to prepare for IELTS is by acquiring knowledge from a reputable online IELTS class. That is why we have revisited our review of the best IELTS courses available online for 2023. You will find the five best courses available below – as well as our recommended book for those of you who prefer it. We’ll talk about their pros and cons as well as what makes them so effective at preparing you for the IELTS.
These are currently the best online IELTS courses.
Best IELT Courses
We’ve also added a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to answer the most common questions IELTS test-takers tend to have.
Now, let’s jump right into our top picks.
Best overall: IELTS Prep & Practice (Magoosh Online)
Our 2023 top pick for the best IELTS prep course is “IELTS Prep & Practice” from Magoosh, one of the most comprehensive online IELTS preparation courses available. The course suited for students looking to do either the IELTS Academic Test or the IELTS General Test.
Before enrolling, you are required to choose between the two learning pathways – Academic or General. From there, you will get access to a massive amount of preparatory material:
- 120+ lessons
- 10 mock tests
- 1,000+ questions
- Graded speaking and writing assessments
All of the aforementioned materials are continuously being updated based on Magoosh’s analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of IELTS test takers (400 questions have been added since our initial review in 2021). So, whenever or wherever you are planning on taking an IELTS Test, the materials in this course will be relevant and up-to-date.
For those who need to study while on the go, Magoosh also has a very useful mobile app, that is very helpful for reviewing test questions in particular. While a couple of the other picks on this list have mobile apps (Coursera, for example), they are general course apps and not designed for test prep like that of Magoosh.
Depending on which plan you get, you will also have between one and four writing and speaking assessments each. Magoosh was previously lacking graded speaking assessments, but with the recent addition of this, it provides a complete package to prepare yourself.
There is also the possibility to ask questions of the tutors. In practice, this means that you can contact the tutors via the platform and get personalized feedback in case you run into any particular problem.
It is also worth pointing out that this class comes with a full money-back guarantee for people who have already taken an IELTS Test. If you do not improve on your overall band score by +0.5 points, you are eligible for a full refund.
Overall, this makes for the best prep course in 2023 for the IELTS that’s available online.
Best for Live Classes: IELTS Coach (British Council)
“IELTS Coach” comes straight from the co-creator of the IELTS. The British Council is an organization tasked with promoting the English language, as well as international cultural and educational opportunities. As part of this, they run the IELTS jointly with the University of Cambridge, ESOL Examinations, and IDP Education Australia. In other words, they know what they’re talking about when it comes to IELTS prep.
Their offering is quite different from the others on this list, as it comprises almost completely of live classes – both individual and group classes. You’re recommended to be at least at a B1 level in English when starting (if you need more general help with improving your English skills, they also offer a similar product called English Online).
You start by purchasing your pack of credits. The Express pack ($175) gives you 10 credits, the Lite pack ($309) gives you 20 credits, and the Intensive pack ($681) gives you 50 credits. The credits can then be used to purchase classes. 55-minute group classes are 1 credit, while 25-minutes private classes are 2 credits. You are also recommended to take a personal needs analysis with an expert (2 credits) and an IELTS teacher-led webinar (1 credit). You also get unlimited access to grammar and vocabulary webinars.
As you can see, while the classes are quite affordable (around $15 for a group class), the credits can still run out fairly quickly if you’re looking to get more comprehensive training – I would recommend getting the Lite or Intensive packages for most students.
On the other hand, your access is only good for three months, so if you are not sure that you will have the time to use the credits, go for a smaller package.
All in all, IELTS Coach from the British Council is a great alternative for those who prefer teacher-led instruction rather than the self-study that is the focus of most other test prep options.
Best for Writing: How to Pass IELTS – Writing (FutureLearn & Sentinel 9)
“How to Pass IELTS: Writing” is an online IELTS preparation course created by Sentinel 9, a leading Australian educational content producer, in collaboration with the UK-based learning platform FutureLearn.
Students who put in two hours of study time per week will finish the course in six weeks on average. Keep in mind that two hours per week is a relatively small commitment for improving your writing skills for the IELTS (as well as in general – the IELTS is, after all, aimed at measuring your overall proficiency, not how well you can write a test).
Each week, you’ll look at a few different writing assignments, including opinion essays, category charts, advantages & disadvantages essays, map reporting, two-views essays, and process reporting. Starting in week 3, you’ll get a writing assignment ahead of each week’s courses and you’ll spend a considerable amount of time each week after that reviewing writing assignments.
Besides improving your band scores in writing through practice, you can also expect to get the following:
- Information on the assessment criteria. In this section, you’ll learn exactly how IELTS examiners calculate your scores.
- Overall strategy and writing style. In these sections, you’ll learn about basic essay structures to follow and formal and essay writing styles.
The syllabus of this IELTS preparation class is easy-to-follow and beginner-friendly even if it progresses quite quickly. At $79, the price is arguably a bit steep compared to other more comprehensive resources on this page – but if you are struggling with your writing scores on the IELTS, this course is for you.
Note that the course is a “Premium” course on FutureLearn and can only be purchased separately – it is not included in the FutureLearn unlimited subscription.
Best for Speaking: Improve Your IELTS Speaking Score (FutureLearn & Macquarie University)
As the name implies, “Improve Your IELTS Speaking Score” is for those who want to focus on improving their performance on the oral component of the IELTS. The course, delivered by Macquarie University through FutureLearn, is six hours long, divided over two weeks.
This is a very popular and top-rated course, with close to 140,000 students enrolled and a rating of 4.9. It’s designed for everyone who wants to improve their speaking score – but note that you are expected to have at least an intermediate level of English to fully benefit from the course.
The course is not very long, but as it focuses only on one component, you have a good chance of improving your score with its help. It combines video lectures with additional written articles that go through strategies for preparing for the IELTS, as well as some of the main points to improve your speaking (such as putting correct stress on words).
You have two options for accessing the course. First, you can purchase the course for $69 – this will give you lifetime access to this specific course. Second, you can access the course via FutureLearn Unlimited subscription, with full access as long as you keep your account open. The subscription is $279.99 per year and is a better deal if there are any other courses on FutureLearn that you would be interested in taking. It is also possible to sample the course content for free.
Note that while you get a certificate of completion after finishing the course, this certificate does not have anything to do with the IELTS and will not include your band.
Best Free Option: IELTS Academic Test Preparation (edX)
“IELTS Academic Test Preparation” is our choice for the best online IELTS preparation course on edX. It is an 8-week course that is specifically designed for students looking to take the IELTS Academic Test.
The class is presented by English teaching professionals from The University of Queensland, one of the top 50 universities worldwide. These tutors have extensive experience with helping students reach their goal of passing an IELTS Academic Test and enrolling in a university where English is the primary language.
The syllabus is broken down into 4 modules. Each of these modules is dedicated to a specific part of language skills- reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each module also comes with techniques, strategies, and tips for maximizing your understanding of the materials taught.
It is worth mentioning, that for an IELTS Academic test preparation course, I found the class surprisingly engaging. The practice activities that seemed frightening at first eventually became almost addictive. Plus, a significant part of this edX class is interactive. For example, you will get to view videos of other students practicing for the IELTS. Of course, you will also get to provide and receive feedback. Even if this sounds intimidating, it will ultimately improve your confidence for taking the IELTS Test. And, as all the experts say, approaching the IELTS Test with the right frame of mind is at least as important as having a head full of grammar and pronunciation rules.
All in all, for a student looking for a comprehensive and interactive IELTS Academic Test preparation course, this class is another one of the best options out there.
IELTS Preparation Specialization (Coursera)
We have consistently ranked Coursera as one of the very best MOOC providers currently operating. Thus, it is only natural that we will also be looking at what their “IELTS Preparation Specialization” has to offer.
The class is presented by the University of California, Irvine. UCI is consistently rated as one of the top “public ivies” (a public university providing Ivy League-level education).
The full specialization is broken down into 3 separate courses – writing, listening/speaking, reading. Completing all the courses will take students approximately 3 months.
If you are familiar with Coursera online courses, you know that the specializations come with applied learning projects. In this context, applied learning means assessments. In these assessments, students will test their knowledge of the IELTS format/structure, test-taking strategies, and types of questions asked in the IELTS Test.
IELTS Band 7+ Complete Prep Course (Udemy)
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“IELTS Band 7+ Complete Prep Course” is the best Udemy class on IELTS preparation. It is an 80-hour course presented by Keino Campbell, an Udemy MVP in exam preparation. In 2018, Campbell was chosen as the top-rated Udemy instructor in the exam preparation field. In the same year, he was also chosen as one of the most engaging instructors on the learning platform. This is great news for people who need to have a few laughs and a lighthearted atmosphere to get the most out of their online learning experience.
The class itself is not as rigid in structure as the rest of the courses in this list. Sure, if you have never taken an IELTS Test before, I suggest not skipping a single part. However, if you are already somewhat familiar with the general structure and requirements of an IELTS exam, this is an ideal course for focusing only on areas that you struggle with.
Don’t worry, you do not need to figure anything out on your own. The instructor has provided detailed guidelines on how students should select the parts most relevant to their learning needs.
The somewhat loose structure and the relaxed feel of the class will certainly be helpful to a lot of people looking to nail the IELTS General Test. So, bonus points for that. Still, I would hesitate to advise it for an audience preparing to take the IELTS Academic Test. For such purposes, choosing a course focused specifically on the Academic Test would suffice much better.
Online IELTS Course FAQs
Here are quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about IELTS.
What is the IELTS scoring system like?
The scoring system IELTS Test uses is relatively straightforward. Your English communication abilities will be graded via various tests. After completing all of these tests, you will receive a score from 0 to 9. This is the final result (“band score”) that represents your knowledge of the English language. Generally speaking, a band score of 7 will be good enough for most international universities, while a band score of 7.5 will be accepted even among Oxbridge and Ivy League institutions.
To get a more specific idea of how the IELTS grading system works, have a look at this explanatory video from Magoosh IELTS:
What is the difference between the IELTS General and Academic Test?
The main differences lie in the Writing and Reading tests. In these parts of the test, the IELTS General is focused (as the name of the test implies) on topics of general interest. In the Academic Test, the Writing and Reading parts are a bit more specific, focusing more on academic and professional topics.
Is an online IELTS preparation course worth it?
Taking an online IELTS preparation course is very much worth it for anyone looking to achieve a Band Score of at least 6. While you might be confident in your English ability, IELTS is a bit trickier than your average high school English class. To get an exact idea of what the IELTS assessment criteria is like, taking a professional IELTS preparation course would be preferred.
How long are online IELTS preparation courses?
Generally speaking, a good IELTS Test preparation course will take 2-3 months to finish. In addition to refining your general English skills, the best online IELTS Test preparation courses also cover topics like pre-test nervousness, reading techniques, and self-confidence building tips. And, if you want to achieve a great Band Score, all of these little things will come in handy.